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Draft Strategy

My TE Shares in Early Underdog Best-Ball Drafts

By Matt Schauf 12:40pm EDT 4/12/22


I’ve already showed which QBs, RBs and WRs I drafted most amid 45 entries into Underdog’s Big Board tournament. Now let’s close out with the TEs.

The primary takeaway here: I’m not high on the price tag affixed to this year’s top TEs. Of the top 5 in ADP, George Kittle carries the highest rostered rate at 6.5%. That’s just 3 teams among 46 drafts (including 1 standalone $3 12-team draft).

You will also see some conviction on some later TEs … though that may also have already changed with free agency.

A quick recap on the format:

– Half-PPR scoring
– 20-round drafts
– Large-field tournament with 14-week regular season, then 3 one-week playoff rounds
– Lineup:

QB
RB
RB
WR
WR
WR
TE
FLEX

Nearly all of these entries included 3 TEs, with a couple stopping at 2. (I might have drafted a 4th one time.)

Dan Arnold, Jaguars – 34.8% (16 of 46 drafts)
Evan Engram, Jaguars – 32.6%
Dallas Goedert, Eagles – 30.4%

I’m not gonna lie, Engram signing with Jacksonville might have hurt me deeper than just about anyone else in the football world. Arnold looked like such a fantasy sleeper going well outside the top 20 after operating as a top target for the Jags shortly after arriving via trade. Why would the team bother spending up or a free-agent TE when so many other roster holes need filling?

Engram was similarly going outside the top 20, which made him easy for me to bet on regardless of free-agent landing spot. The fact that these 2 landed together chips away at the upside for both.

Perhaps the situation with Arnold here should signal me to watch the exposure on an individual player, even with non-obvious downside paths. That said, although I’d alter Arnold’s rostered rate in hindsight, I won’t say I fully regret it. Ten of the 16 times I drafted him were to Lawrence rosters. They still play on the same team, so this end-of-draft TE can still help me – especially if Engram goes down.

Goedert’s rostered rate should stand out more than the other 2, because he has been sitting TE7-8 in ADP. He was – and remains – a common Round 7 selection for me, 3+ rounds after the top 5, behind T.J. Hockenson and with a steep drop-off in upside behind him. That Jalen Hurts has been going at a value level only makes his TE more attractive in these tournament formats.

Noah Fant, Seahawks – 15.2%
Tyler Higbee, Rams – 15.2%
Irv Smith, Vikings – 13.0%
Cole Kmet, Bears – 10.9%
David Njoku, Browns – 10.9%
O.J. Howard, Bills – 10.9%
Hunter Henry, Patriots – 8.7%
Austin Hooper, Titans – 8.7%
Zach Ertz, Cardinals – 8.7%
T.J. Hockenson, Lions – 8.7%
George Kittle, 49ers – 6.5%
Pat Freiermuth, Steelers – 6.5%
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins – 6.5%
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys – 6.5%
Kylen Granson, Colts – 4.3%
Travis Kelce, Chiefs – 4.3%
Kyle Pitts, Falcons – 4.3%
Brevin Jordan, Texans – 4.3%
Trey McBride, ??? – 4.3%
Adam Trautman, Saints – 4.3%
C.J. Uzomah, Jets – 2.2%
Harrison Bryant, Browns – 2.2%
Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers – 2.2%
Darren Waller, Raiders – 2.2%
Gerald Everett, Chargers – 2.2%
Dawson Knox, Bills – 2.2%
Robert Tonyan, Packers – 2.2%
John Bates, Commanders – 2.2%
Tyler Conklin, Jets – 2.2%
Mark Andrews, Ravens – 2.2%
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts – 2.2%
Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos – 2.2%

I don’t have a lot of strong feelings mixed up in the rest of the TE group – other than that I’d prefer to wait, stack and collect. That Patrick Mahomes has been going too early all best-ball season only makes Travis Kelce less attractive.

My lack of Albert Okwuegbunam shares could be viewed as a reminder to take more shots on late talent without necessarily trying to figure out the path to production.

Rookie Trey McBride is an interesting case. He opened best-ball season going too high for my tastes (TE20 – ahead of Engram and Arnold, among others). But that has already changed significantly. He’s going 30th among TEs in Underdog’s current tournament, 32nd at the position in FFPC drafting and 31st on Drafters.

I don’t mind taking a shot in that range on the guy who should be the top TE in this class.

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