In superflex and tight end premium fantasy football leagues, our second quarterback or tight end is often pretty ugly. Choosing which mediocre passer to start in the flex can be the difference between leaving Week 1 with a win or not. At least there are more than 32 NFL tight ends guaranteed to see the field every week.
Still, there are times when injuries, roster construction or bye weeks force us to the waiver wire. Many of the following players are already rostered in the deepest of leagues and are solid plays in superflex and tight end premium leagues. Others would make great streaming options in Week 1 if they're still available.
PFF’s projections see Taylor carrying the ball 6.7 times in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals. This falls right in line with his career average of 6.6 attempts in games he starts and finishes. Either of these numbers would give Taylor the second-highest projection for carries by a quarterback on the week.
Playing the Bengals is a great way for Taylor to open his Chargers career — PFF's Strength of Schedule tool views Cincinnati as the easiest matchup for opposing quarterbacks in the entire league. Cincinnati’s defense ranked bottom-12 in pass rush and coverage last year, and the team didn’t add any defensive players via the draft until Round 3. As long as Taylor is the starter in L.A., his rushing floor will be second only to Lamar Jackson. He’s a viable starter even in leagues that only start one quarterback.
Like Taylor, Fitzpatrick has sneaky rushing upside of his own. He hit four carries in eight of his 13 starts last year and topped 20 rushing yards or punched in a score in six games. Fitzpatrick isn’t on Taylor’s level as a runner but offers more upside through the air.
Despite missing three starts, Fitzpatrick finished 10th in the NFL with 65 deep pass attempts last year. The Dolphins are +6.5 dogs heading into New England, but a consistent deficit will bump up Fitzpatrick’s pass attempts and force him to be more aggressive. His arm gives him a higher ceiling than the aforementioned Taylor.
Most valuable AFC East players over the last 5 years per PFF WAR
1. Tom Brady
2. Tyrod Taylor
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
4. Devin McCourty/Stephon Gilmore pic.twitter.com/k9QdQLT7MF
— PFF (@PFF) June 16, 2020
Either AFC East legend is worthy of being your second superflex quarterback until their respective first-round rookie usurps them.
If you're in a superflex and you don't have a second quarterback, things are going to get ugly. Still, Trubsiky is a player who consistently goes undrafted in superflex but has attributes worth chasing if you’re in dire straights at the quarterback position.
Trusbsiky began the 2019 season lacking his one saving grace for fantasy purposes: carries. He recorded only five rush attempts through three weeks and then injured his shoulder in Week 4. He returned to face the Saints and dropped back 56 times without netting a single carry. From Week 8 on, he averaged 4.3 carries for 17.2 yards per game and scored twice. With a full offseason to heal, Trubsiky should have no problem leveraging his 4.68 40-yard dash wheels into some rushing production.
He also gets an incredibly soft matchup versus the Lions. Trey Flowers was Detroit’s only defensive player inside the top 100 in pass rush grade (min. 100 pass rushes) last year. Unsurprisingly, the Bears have a top-10 passing advantage based on PFF's OL/DL Matchup Chart. Trubsiky will likely stumble and hand over the starting QB role to Nick Foles eventually, but that won’t be the case in Week 1.
Ebron has flown under the radar as one of the league’s most consistent receiving threats at tight end. After a poor rookie season, Ebron has never fallen below a 65.7 PFF receiving grade. He hasn’t been an elite weapon to this point, but his arrow is trending in the right direction — he's still only 27. Ebron is coming off his best PFF receiving grade (71.1) even while catching passes from from Jacoby Brissett — the veteran QB averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt last year.
Now Ebron will be working with Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 5,129 yards at 7.6 yards per attempt in 2018. He missed most of 2019 with an elbow injury, but reports suggest he's fully healthy now. The offensive upgrade from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh is going to let Ebron’s talent as a receiver shine once again.
Tight end premium formats typically give the position extra points for receptions, which makes target-hogging tight ends even more valuable. Like it or not, that description could fit Doyle this year. With Ebron out of the picture and T.Y. Hilton as the only established pass-catcher on the team, Doyle is slated to be the No. 2 receiving option to open the year.
Phillip Rivers has been a machine at producing successful fantasy seasons from tight ends throughout his career.
Phillip Rivers season averages when throwing to TEs since 2007:
114 targets, 82 catches, 986 yards, 9 TDs
cc: Jack Doyle
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) March 17, 2020
In 2019, Rivers’ deep ball completely vanished. He finished 20th in adjusted completion percentage and 32nd in passer rating (min. 20 attempts). He’ll be looking to check down more than ever this year, making Doyle a high-floor option every week.
Akins is the deepest tight end play listed here but has some upside as the primary receiving TE for Deshaun Watson. He’s competing with Darren Fells for snaps, but the 34-year-old Fells is primarily an in-line blocker with some occasional red zone usage. Akins led all Houston tight ends with 55 targets last year and was the most efficient, averaging 7.6 yards per target.
The Texans face the Chiefs in the first game of the 2020 season on Thursday, and the matchup has an absurd 56.5 over/under total. That number is nearly a touchdown more than the second-highest total of the week. Akins is a desperation play, but he could find the end zone this week.