NFL Week 14 Fantasy TE Breakdown: Pay Up for Travis Kelce

Dec 09, 2018 6:09 AM EST
Credit:

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87).

  • Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce tops the FantasyLabs NFL DFS Models once again and should be in your lineup in Week 14.
  • In this piece, I'll highlight a few key situations to target this week, but check out the full piece on FantasyLabs for more.

Read the full version of this piece on FantasyLabs.

We are in the final month of the year, and the 2018 NFL season is still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 23.9 points per game per team entering Thursday. The action continues with a 13-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

In this positional breakdown, I’m looking at four tight ends at the top of the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.

If you want more information on the rest of this week’s tight ends, subscribe to FantasyLabs, where you can access the large suite of analytical DFS tools I use to research every player.

After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news feed.

For updates on Vegas spreads and over/unders, check out The Action Network Live Odds page.


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Model Tight Ends

With all the salary savings available at other positions, expensive tight ends are easier to roster this week, and two of them are standing out at the top of the FantasyLabs Pro Models.

  • Travis Kelce: $6,700 DraftKings; $8,000 FanDuel
  • Zach Ertz: $6,400 DraftKings; $7,400 FanDuel

Travis Kelce: Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) vs. Baltimore Ravens, 51 Over/Under

UPDATE (12/8): Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is out. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (acquired) is not expected to play after joining the team on Thursday. Tight end Demetrius Harris (knee, illness) is officially questionable but unlikely to play after not practicing on Thursday and Friday.

This spread opened at -9, but early money moved the line toward the Ravens, and it has now moved to -6.5, even though the Chiefs have gotten 65% of the tickets and 58% of the money as of Saturday evening.

This reverse line movement suggests that sharp money is betting against Kansas City. As noted in Geoff Schwartz’s Week 14 Trench Report, the Ravens match up well with the Chiefs.

There’s significant reason to believe that the Chiefs could put up fewer points this weekend than we’re used to seeing: The Ravens are top-five against in run defense and pass defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. On top of that, in head coach Andy Reid’s tenure, Arrowhead Stadium has a league-worst 15-29-1 over/under record.

Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87).

No home team since 2013 has lost over bettors more money (-32.1% return on investment) than the Chiefs (per Bet Labs). Most of those games were with Alex Smith at quarterback, but Kansas City isn’t an easy place to play, especially during the winter: The forecast is calling for a game-time temperature of 30 degrees.

But none of that will probably matter much to Kelce. He is currently in full-on #ZeusMode and could have another big game this week: Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is out, and Kelce has been nearly unstoppable in the five games in which Watkins has played less than 80% of the snaps.

  • Week 4 (at Broncos): 20.8 DraftKings points, 7-78-1 receiving on 12 targets
  • Week 9 (at Browns): 28.9 DraftKings points, 7-99-2 receiving on nine targets
  • Week 10 (vs. Cardinals): 10.6 DraftKings points, 6-46-0 receiving on seven targets
  • Week 11 (at Rams): 31.7 DraftKings points, 10-127-1 receiving on 15 targets
  • Week 12 (at Raiders): 42.8 DraftKings points, 12-168-2 receiving on 13 targets

If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will.

Zach Ertz: Philadelphia Eagles (+3) vs. Dallas Cowboys, 44.5 O/U

UPDATE (12/8): Left tackle Jason Peters (ankle) is expected to play despite not practicing all week. Running back Josh Adams (shoulder) is in after practicing in full on Thursday and Friday. 

Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving (ankle) is out, as is linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring).

Kelce is the best tight end in the league right now, but Ertz is a close second. Among all players (not just tight ends), Ertz is sixth with 121 targets and second with 93 receptions. He’s top-eight with 19 red-zone targets.

He’s the team leader with 978 yards receiving, 887 air yards, 280 yards after the catch and six touchdowns. Ertz is the modern-day prototype tight end, capable of playing snaps inline (351), in the slot (301) and out wide (107).

Even with the return of No. 1 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in Week 4, Ertz has dominated the team’s aerial usage. In truth, he’s the team’s clear top receiving option.

  • Ertz (Weeks 4-13): 16.5 FanDuel points per game, 88 targets, 72-763-6 receiving
  • Jeffery (Weeks 4-13): 10.5 FanDuel points per game, 65 targets, 43-492-4 receiving

Not even the addition of slot receiver Golden Tate has been able to keep Ertz from hitting his usual numbers.

  • Ertz (Weeks 10-13): 16.9 FanDuel points per game, 37 targets, 32-334-3 receiving
  • Tate (Weeks 10-13): 8.6 FanDuel points per game, 27 targets, 18-182-1 receiving

Tate eventually might steal slot targets from Ertz, but so far the tight end has been able to maintain his middle-of-the-field workload.

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86).

The Eagles have a relatively low implied Vegas total of 20.25 points, but I’m not worried about Ertz’s ability to produce this weekend: In Week 10, Ertz put up a slate-high 33.5 FanDuel points, 14 receptions, 145 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 16 targets.

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) missed that game, and he’s out again this week. Without Lee, the Cowboys will certainly be weaker at defending the tight end position.

Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is having a Defensive Rookie of the Year-caliber campaign, and third-year linebacker Jaylon Smith is flashing the talent that had him slated for the first round till he injured his knee in college, but they collectively have allowed an 81.5% catch rate this year.

Ertz will doubtlessly win his snaps when he’s matched up against them.

Finish reading the rest of this piece on FantasyLabs.

Positional Breakdowns & News

Be sure to read the other Week 14 positional breakdowns.

• Quarterbacks
• Running Backs
• Wide Receivers

For more in-depth NFL analysis information, check out The Action Network.



Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian.

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