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One of the most exploitable inefficiencies in dynasty fantasy football is the difference between where players are selected in startup drafts and their 2021 projection. High-priced players are more long-term bets, so their 2021 projection is less significant than lower-priced players with much lower long-term hit rates. For the later picks, in particular, players projected to outscore their draft position should be targeted. Below are tight ends who see a difference in their real draft position and 2021 Footballguys consensus projection.
Rob Gronkowski represents a classic dynasty buy profile. All-time performers at the tight end position have historically been productive as long as they have a starting job. These tight ends may lose some ceiling but tend towards very high floor production. At a TE3 cost (TE27.5 in May), Gronkowski is projected at TE17 with a top 10 finish firmly in his range of outcomes.
Since 2017, Tyler Higbee has played 57 games. In the 49 with Gerald Everett also playing, Higbee had a 16 game pace of 55 targets, 38 receptions, 437 yards, and two touchdowns. In the 8 games without Everett, Higbee had a 16 game pace of 116 targets, 90 receptions, 1008 yards, and 10 touchdowns, which would have been TE3 in 2020. With Everett’s departure in free agency, Higbee is in line for an uptick in usage. Higbee is projected at TE10 at a TE16.5 cost in May. Higbee has a good chance to outproduce his cost in 2021 and is in a multi-year window.
Irv Smith has been a popular dynasty breakout candidate, but his 2021 projection as TE19 fails to match his TE10 real draft position in 2021. This is a trap scenario where his cost will fall after the season if he produces as projected. Tight end is a popular position to project young player breakouts, but our projections point towards Smith as an avoid or sell player more than a dynasty breakout candidate.
Cole Kmet is entering his second year with a real draft position of TE16. A second-round selection in 2020, Kmet has been largely insulated in value since the draft, but that will only last so long without the production to back it up. With Jimmy Graham still on the roster and a quarterback situation in flux, Kmet only projects as TE26 in our consensus projection. If you can pivot from Kmet to Higbee or up a tier, now is a good time to do so.
Zach Ertz is projected as TE31 while being selected at TE21 in real drafts. This could change if he is traded or cut by Philadelphia, but Ertz is retaining enough market value to make a pivot up the board. Adding Ertz to move up a tier of production or pivoting to a more certain profile at a lower cost like Gronkowski is a good pivot.