We’ve taken a tour around the positions looking at their bust candidates. Today, we finish our look by checking out some fantasy football bust tight ends. Trying to designate bust tight ends is difficult, b because the position is extremely fluid, as a single touchdown catch usually makes a player a weekly top-12 TE. Because of this, tight ends can vary wildly from week to week, making bust tight ends harder to nail down. For this article’s purposes, bust tight ends are tight ends who will make you extremely upset that you didn’t just wait for Mike Gesicki.
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (TE5, #64 overall)
I think that Darren Waller is a wonderful story; he overcame addiction to make it all the way back to the league as a tight end after the Ravens nabbed him as a wide receiver in the 2015 NFL Draft. Waller finished 2019 finishing third in targets and second in yards and receptions. Given that he was an afterthought last year, a lot of people have an affinity for Waller in their 2020 drafts. First, 2019 Darren Waller is exactly why you don’t go after 2020 Darren Waller. There are plenty of late-round tight ends to take a shot on, letting you use that #64 overall pick on a wide receiver or running back.
There’s another reason why I’m not drafting Darren Waller at his price. Well, a bunch of reasons: Hank Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Lynn Bowden, Josh “I want to catch 60 balls” Jacobs, Nelson Agholor and Hunter Renfrow. There are so many mouths to feed there in Las Vegas, and whenever Waller faced target competition, he faded to the background. He was still top-ten at TE, just not top-five. Of course, I am referring to Hunter Renfrow’s insertion in the starting lineup as the slot receiver. I’m not saying it will necessarily be Renfrow that does it to him this year, but when Renfrow was the starter, Waller averaged 3.8 catches for 59 yards per game. Without Renfrow, that was 6.7 catches for 79 yards. And now the Raiders added at least two top-notch pass catchers in the draft.
Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns (TE9, #93 overall)
Before the San Francisco 49ers backed up the Brinks truck for George Kittle, the Browns made Hooper the highest-paid tight end in the history of the NFL. Seems kind of weird to do when the Browns already have David Njoku (not to mention Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry). Hooper’s big fantasy football value comes from his high target volume in Atlanta. He’s averaged the third-most targets per game in the last two seasons while being slightly above average in yards per target and touchdown rate. He wasn’t transcendent in Atlanta, just prolific due to a high target volume.
Now, he goes to Cleveland where he has to contend with the aforementioned guys for targets (and Kareem Hunt). Kevin Stefanski, the new Browns’ head coach, coached the Vikings last season. Stefanski loves to run the dang football, and the Vikings rode the third-lowest passing rate all the way to the playoffs last season. That gameplan likely comes to Cleveland, where they threw about 4.5 more passes per game than they did in Minnesota. Let’s meet in the middle on pass attempts and round up. That makes it 494 pass attempts for the Browns in 2020. Given the passing game has five strong options, and that OBJ & Landry will both command 120+ targets… it’s hard to chop up Hooper’s target load into anything that would sustain fantasy value.
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints (TE10, #94 overall)
I am the anti-Jared Cook Guy, and I’ve looked quite silly over the last couple of seasons. Granted, that gives me about a decade of being right about Jared Cook, so… scoreboard. Anyway, Jared Cook had 65 targets last year and finished as half-PPR’s TE8. A lot of this has to do when he averaged 61 yards and 1.3 touchdowns per game on THREE TARGETS PER CONTEST in the last four weeks of the season. He caught 11-of-12 passes for 22.36 yards per reception and 5 touchdowns. Before that point, he gamed 14.3 yards per catch and had just 4 touchdowns with a 60.4% catch rate. Beware the late-season burst that doesn’t match the target load, especially when he had fewer targets than Evan Engram in six more games. Stay away from Jared Cook. Don’t trust his lies.