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Most undervalued tight ends according to the 2021 PFF fantasy projections

PFF's fantasy team has been working tirelessly to produce our fantasy rankings and fantasy projections, which leverage the modeling capabilities of Eric Eager and our research and development team. This series of articles will go through the top fantasy players by best ball ADP at Underdog Fantasy and compare their relative positional value against our half-PPR projections. This analysis focuses on the tight end position.

It’s not intuitive, but projections and rankings aren’t interchangeable. Each provides valuable insight, but they are calculated through different methods. Our projections are based on a combination of model-based efficiency projections and analyst-informed share assumptions. Rankings and ADP are informed by projections, but they combine more opaque effects like upside, floor and contingency value that are more difficult to model into projections.

While acknowledging that projections aren’t a substitute for rankings, I’ve translated our projections into positional rankings for comparison with best-ball ADP ranks in this piece. Projections aren’t necessarily better when it comes to ranking players, but they aren’t as influenced by market sentiment and can be a more independent view of player value.

Below, I’ve visualized the top 48 fantasy wide receivers by current Underdog ADP, contrasting their ranks with PFF projections. Often, our projections agree about the valuation of players relative to ADP, identifying players who should be prioritized or faded in drafts. We also find some substantially misvalued players, and the visualization provides an easy way to judge the magnitude of the differences in rankings.

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The tight ends below are listed in order of positional ADP rank, with the blue points representing Underdog ADP and the red points marking the rank by PFF projections. When two or more measures fall on the same positional rank, the point's color will represent a mix. The lines between points illustrate the magnitude of the difference between the maximum and minimum ranking for each player.

The PFF projections are perfectly aligned with ADP for the first six tight ends coming off the board in fantasy drafts. Our projections don’t see much value among the top 12 tight ends, but they do indicate that drafters should have confidence following ADP when picking tight ends earlier in drafts.

The projections are slightly lower on Logan Thomas than his positional ADP and slightly higher on Tyler Higbee. More concerning is how much lower the projections are on Dallas Goedert and Irv Smith Jr.

Goedert’s ADP earlier this season was buoyed by the assumption that the Philadelphia Eagles would trade Zach Ertz before the season. That looks doubtful now, but his ADP is still anchored to a somewhat unrealistic target share.

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