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Wait until the fifth round to draft a TE in fantasy football

(AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Any fantasy football vet knows to draft a kicker last, but when should you draft a tight end?

According to mock drafts, Jimmy Graham is going in the late first round of 12-team non-PPR leagues, which means if you are picking in the top half of the draft, you will have to find another option for the tight end slot. But assuming a standard scoring league that starts two running backs, three wide receivers and a tight end, when is the optimal time to pull the trigger? Between the fifth and eighth rounds, because that’s when the average value added by a remaining tight end is greater than either running back or wide receiver.

To determine value remaining I used the Value Based Draft approach, or the amount of points you can expect a player to score over the worst starter at the position. For example, Graham is expected to score 195.4 fantasy points in a standard, PPR league. That’s 94.1 points better than the 12th best projected tight end, Martellus Bennett.

Now let’s translate that to a fantasy draft.

As you can see, the added value of running backs drops quickly and is almost non-existent by round four, so if you don’t have both your running backs by then you can expect some slim pickings.

Avail VBD

The value of wide receivers declines at a steady rate, but by round five, the average value of a tight end is not much different than what’s left at wideout, so it makes sense to grab one of the tight ends available. Here are the best wide receivers and tight ends who you are likely going to be available in rounds five through eight:


There are a host of wideouts to choose from here, but only a few tight ends that can still have an impact. Of course you can always nab one of the top three (Graham, Rob Gronkowski or Julius Thomas), but I would only do so after securing a number one running back.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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