Should You Fade Zach Ertz in 2019 Fantasy Football?
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86).
On this week’s NFL edition of The Action Network Podcast, Sean Koerner and I were joined by J.J. Zachariason (Editor-in-Chief of FanDuel and numberFire).
On the show, we talk about how to approach tight ends in 2019 fantasy football drafts, and we do a full breakdown of the position.
In this quick piece, I want to explore a little bit something that J.J. says on the show: That he’s fading Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz at his current average draft position.
Should You Fade Zach Ertz in Fantasy?
Early in the episode, J.J. makes the case for fading Ertz.
— Matthew Freedman (@MattFtheOracle) July 17, 2019
For J.J., the case against Ertz is not hard to make.
Last year, Ertz saw a career-high 156 targets, 116 receptions, 1,163 yards, eight touchdowns and 74.4% catch rate while playing in 16 games.
People are drafting Ertz now as if he will simply do this year what he did in 2018, but that’s not a safe assumption to make.
If Ertz suffers an injury, or if his efficiency negatively regresses, or if he loses target share due to the addition of veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson or development of second-year tight end Dallas Goedert, he will likely fail to deliver value.
He has a high floor, but to J.J., Ertz doesn’t have a sufficiently high ceiling to justify his draft position.
2019 Fantasy Football Outlook for Zach Ertz
What’s our outlook for Ertz in 2019?
Within our Fantasy Football Draft Kit, we have 2019 projections for every fantasy-relevant player.
If you look at the 2019 projections for Ertz, you’ll see we’re expecting him to regress toward his career averages. Specifically, we have him projected for 91 receptions, 976 yards and seven touchdowns.
But even though we’re projecting Ertz to take a step back this year, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t think you should draft him.
After all, he’s likely to be a top producer at a position plagued by inconsistency and scarcity.
Along with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, Ertz is one of “The Big 3” — and it’s a little painful to finish a fantasy draft if one of these guys is not on your roster.
Here’s how Koerner breaks down the The Big 3 in his Best Ball Tiers.
Kelce is in a tier all of his own.
Ertz and Kittle are essentially tied for No. 2 TE for me.
One thing is for sure: When the first one of these two is selected, the guy remaining immediately becomes the most valuable player available. There’s about a 35-point gap between them and the next tier.
If you miss out one of the top three TEs, your draft plan has to shift and you have to wait to see which TEs from the remaining couple tiers slip to you. I always try to make sure to have a TE from the top-two tiers.
For Koerner, it’s not as if Ertz is a must-draft player — but if you want a top tight end and you miss out on Kelce and Kittle, then Ertz is the guy you have to draft.
In his piece on tight ends to target or avoid, Ian Hartitz seconds Koerner’s take on The Big 3: “I’m targeting these three whenever possible in fantasy drafts of all shapes and sizes considering their unique statuses as talented No. 1 options on projected high-scoring offenses with very good-to-great quarterbacks.”
In our fantasy football rankings, we currently have Ertz No. 2 and Kittle No. 3, but I agree with Sean: For me, they’re essentially tied at No. 2.
If you’re concerned about the Eagles offense or Ertz’s role in the passing game, you’re more than justified to fade Ertz and take Kittle if you’re looking for a tight end in the early rounds. But if Kelce and Kittle are already off the board and you’re desirous to avoid the tight end quagmire, you’ll need to draft Ertz despite the legitimate concerns he carries.
The Action Network Podcast with J.J. Zacharison
Be sure to listen to the rest of our episode with J.J.
Here’s a quick guide to time codes for specific topics within our conversation:
- Approaching TEs (1:50)
- Late Round Targets (5:55)
- TEs to Fade (7:15)
- Best of the Rest (11:50)
- Njoku Warning (20:50)
- Mark Andrews (26:40)
- Rookies (35:30)
- Gronk’s Return? (39:20)
And also check out the previous episodes in our extensive positional breakdowns.
Next episode, we will dive into the top-12 fantasy wide receivers. Be sure to tune in!