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Tight Ends to Prioritize or Fade in Standard vs. PPR Leagues


It feels impossible--even more with the current pandemic we're experiencing still ongoing worldwide--but the NFL offseason can be considered over in terms of high-impact moves. The first-year draft and free agency are long gone, most players have extended their deals or found new homes, and teams are ready to start moving the rock come the regular season.

For us fantasy GMs, the draft season is only gearing up and it will stay that way for the following days and weeks. Preparing for what is waiting for us in our virtual war rooms is a key part of the process, and the first thing to know is the language our leagues will speak to us. Excuse me for being a little poetic. What I mean is, you better know if you're going to battle your foes in Standard or PPR (Point-Per-Reception) scoring systems. The only difference between those leagues comes down to a simple matter of awarding one extra point to players that catch a pass. Standard scoring was a staple in the early days of fantasy football but PPR has become the most played system lately.

With both Standard and PPR-scoring systems in mind, it's time to discover which players are surefire bets in one system but potential duds in the other. Today, I'm highlighting two tight ends who are primed to become studs in Standard leagues but not so much when used in PPR-format, and two more that fall on the other side of the equation: studs in PPR leagues and duds in Standard ones.

 

Evan Engram, New York Giants

The same as the draft came, the draft went, and with it the chance for the Giants to bolster their wide receiver corps. While the group isn't barren of talent, Engram is one of the team's best assets other than RB Saquon Barkley on the entire offense. The knock on Engram, though, is his health: he could only stay on the field for eight games last season. The positive side is how good he looked in that half-season: He racked up close to 500 yards on only 44 targets, scored three touchdowns, and in a full 16-game season he'd (ideally) project to double those numbers.

Doing this type of pure-mathematical projection of stats isn't very smart though. That's why I looked at PFF's numbers to see where they were projecting Engram to finish in 2020 and things can't look much better.

In terms of ADP, Engram is obviously out of the Big Three (George Kittle, Zach Ertz, and Travis Kelce), and also below Mark Andrews. Even with that, Engram projects to reach 700-plus receiving yards, score four touchdowns, finish with 170 PPR points on the year, and catch 72 of 99 targets. You heard that right: 72 passes caught in 2020.

Comparing PPR to Standard projections, Engram comes out as the tight end suffering the highest hit in fantasy points from one format to the other. His yardage numbers are mostly based on volume and he needs to be fed to really stand out. That's why his yards per target project to a low 7.2 (lowest mark among TEs expected to reach 100 PPR points in 2020 along with Jack Doyle) and Engram should only be considered a reasonable bet in PPR leagues.

VERDICT: Prioritize in PPR, Fade in Standard

 

Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

Will Henry stay healthy for the full season? Hard to know, but the odds are pointing south. No matter what, in just 12 games last season Henry was able to finish as the TE8 in standard leagues and TE9 in the PPR format. The Chargers featured Philip Rivers last season at quarterback but won't do so in 2020. That is a hit on Henry's chances to rack up targets and receptions, as Rivers always showed love for his tight ends but now that is up in the air with a change coming to the Chargers QB spot.

The best thing about Henry is his efficiency when on the field. Even projecting to just 60 receptions in 2020 he also is expected to top the 750-yard mark, making him one of the most prolific players at the position on low volume of chances. As PFF puts it, he should average around 9.0 Yds/Tgt and 12.7 Yds/Rec. Those numbers rank sixth and third among tight ends with 100-plus fantasy points projections in Standard leagues.

Henry's five touchdowns last season were pretty much what anyone could have expected from him, and on a greater number of games played next season, it's not hard to have him at least equaling or even topping that number.

VERDICT: Prioritize in Standard, Fade in PPR

 

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams moved from both RB Todd Gurley II and WR Brandin Cooks this offseason. Those two alone are freeing up 122 targets in an offense that didn't add any major weapon this offseason. Although both Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee shared chances in 2019 at the tight end spot, Higbee was the only logging more targets, receptions, yards, and ultimately fantasy points last year finishing the season with 160.4 PPR points, ranking as the TE8.

Higbee was seventh in targets among tight ends and should see a boost in that department come next season. Although Higbee's catch rate was quite high (77.5%) his yardage didn't reach staggering levels with just 734 yards on 69 receptions averaging 10.6 Yds/Rec. That ranked 15th among tight ends targeted at least 50 times, making Higbee a player that needs a high volume to rack up points via yards.

In a similar case to that of Engram, Higbee suffers quite a hit in Standard leagues, going from a projection of 174 PPR points to just 102 in Standard formats due to the low yards per target projection (7.6), making him a risky proposition in the latter type of league.

VERDICT: Prioritize in PPR, Fade in Standard

 

Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints

Only one tight end scored double-digit touchdowns last year (Baltimore's Mark Andrews) and only one another, our man Cook, reached nine on the season. I'm the first expecting some regression for them, but even with that, I have to prioritize Cook in Standard leagues over PPR in 2020.

It is not that Cook was a high-volume tight end last season when it came to targets, and that now is about to fall off a cliff. In fact, PFF projects him to around 70 targets in 2020, something that is on par with his 65 from last season. I don't see a great change there, but it could happen if Drew Brees builds a quick rapport with shiny new WR Emmanuel Sanders.

Drafting Cook in a later round looks good assuming he can keep up his scoring production and yardage. He's far from the most reliable tight end in terms of catch rate but his yardage numbers are incredible compared to the rest of the players available at the position. Judging his 2020 projections, and among the tight ends projected to reach at least 90 fantasy points in Standard leagues, his Yds/Tgt mark of 10.0 would rank second only behind true-incognito Rob Gronkowski's 10.6 and first among "proven" tight ends.

Cook projects as one of the most efficient tight ends of 2020: Even with only 50 receptions expected from him he should reach around 700 yards and become the only TE to reach that number with such low volume of chances.

VERDICT: Prioritize in Standard, Fade in PPR

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RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More