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Who Wants to Draft a Non-Millionaire Player? – Part 2

Who Wants to Draft a Non-Millionaire Player? – Part 2

Author: Steven Van Tassell

It is time for Part 2 of our series on non-millionaire players who are likely to help you win your 2020 Dynasty Owner League Championship. There were so many WRs that we could have just written an article on them and there are enough TEs to warrant a separate article as well, but let’s throw in a few kickers for good measure.

While the first TE wasn’t drafted until the second round of the 2020 NFL draft (Cole Kmet by the Bears), there were four taken in the third round who might be productive in 2020 as well as the Broncos fourth round pick Albert Okwuegbunam who was taken with the 118th pick. However, none of these players are ranked here, as they all miss the cut. Each one of them will likely make over $1 million in salary (based on the rookie wage scale) with Albert O missing the cut by only $11,011.

We also won’t mention the second best TE in 2019, George Kittle, who earned that spot behind Travis Kelce despite missing two games. Kittle only costs $674,572 against your Dynasty Owner salary cap for 2020, which is a lot of talent for very little salary cap money. However, his deal has just one year left and it’s possible that the 49ers sign him to a new deal in the off-season to keep him off the free agent market. That’s not a guarantee as a few days ago, NFL Network reporter Mike Silver is saying that the 49ers and Kittle’s agent haven’t spoken since February and Kittle wants to be paid like a wide receiver  instead of a tight end (https://www.si.com/nfl/49ers/news/49ers-and-george-kittle-not-close-at-all-to-contract-extension).

We’ll also rank kickers since you need to have a couple of them on your Dynasty Owner roster. The top three kickers (Justin Tucker, Harrison Butker and Wil Lutz) in projected 2020 Dynasty Owner fantasy points are all signed long-term (4 or 5 years) with average salaries north of $4 million per year. None of them will be listed here, but four others will for those of you who don’t want to spend that much on a kicker.

All stats are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3-point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.

Standard Dynasty Owner scoring for kickers gives you 1 point for every extra point, while a missed extra point will cost you 1 point. It’s 2 points for a field goal of between 0 and 39 yards, 4 points for a field goal between 40 and 49 yards and 5 points for a field goal of 50 yards or longer. A missed field goal of between 0 and 39 yards will cost you 3 points, while a miss of 40 yards or more is a loss of 2 points.

These Tight Ends Are Like Donuts

Why are tight ends like donuts? Because a good one is so good and wonderful, while a bad one makes the owner of the donut sad. The beauty of the donut is in the eye of the beholder, just ask Homer Simpson.  Also, donuts come in dozens and we’ve identified a dozen tight ends who meet our criteria and are worth taking a longer look at and rank. This list is pretty exhaustive and even includes an undrafted rookie free agent who might end up as the Opening Game starter for his team.

  1. Mark Andrews (BAL – $863,290 thru 2021): Andrews is projected to be the third highest scoring TE in Dynasty Owner this year with 244.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. That’s just 11.9 points less than the projected points for Travis Kelce for $8.5 million less in salary. Think of the players you could draft with an extra $8.5 million! Andrews finished fifth among all TEs in Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019 with 205.2 points and he had to share some of the TE load with Hayden Hurst, who was traded to Atlanta in the off-season. Two more full seasons of Andrews at his salary with Lamar Jackson throwing him passes easily makes his the top TE on this list and maybe even a first round Dynasty Owner draft pick this year.
  2. Will Dissly (SEA – $777,658 thru 2021): Despite injuries and the Seahawks’ signing of veteran TE Greg Olsen this off-season, Dissly captures the number two spot on this list. He’s only played 10 games over two NFL seasons due to a torn patellar tendon in his right knee that ended his rookie season in 2018 after just four games. Then he followed that with a torn Achilles injury in Week 6 last year. In those 10 games, Dissly has scored six TDs and recorded 31 receptions for 418 receiving yards. In Dynasty Owner fantasy points, he has scored 108.5 points in just 10 games, or an average of 10.85 per game, which projects to 173.6 points if he could play in all 16 games. That would have made him the seventh overall TE in Dynasty Owner last year. Hopefully, he stays injury free and earns his high ranking on this list for Dynasty Owners who have faith in him.
  3. Ian Thomas (CAR – $801,999 thru 2021): Greg Olsen is gone from Carolina and has moved on to Seattle, leaving Thomas as the top TE for the Panthers. There are plenty of offensive players in Carolina to catch the ball from new QB Teddy Bridgewater – you may have heard of one of them, last name McCaffrey. Even with Kyle Allen and Will Grier at QB for Carolina for almost all of last season, Carolina TEs still produced 69 receptions for 744 yards and 3 TDs – good for 161.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Thomas should get the bulk of the TE targets and receptions, especially since Carolina just released veteran TE Seth Devalve, and with better QB play from Bridgewater this year, he should either match or exceed the 2019 Carolina TE production.
  4. Jace Sternberger (GB – $966,832 thru 2022): Sternberger is in a similar position as Ian Thomas, so they are more like 3a and 3b. Both are the anointed starter at the TE position despite limited production in 2019 because of the departure of a veteran University of Miami graduate (Jimmy Graham for Green Bay). Limited probably isn’t the right word for Sternberger’s production in 2019 since he had a season long Blutarsky (0.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points all season). He did produce some in the playoffs for the Packers (3 receptions, 15 yards receiving and a receiving TD) so he’s got momentum coming into 2020. Thomas gets the nod ahead of Sternberger based on the fact that he actually has produced at the NFL level and is over $150,000 less expensive. Sternberger probably is in a better situation offensively to contribute and has an extra year on his non-millionaire contract, but that’s not enough to overtake Thomas.
  5. Kaden Smith (NYG – $680,002 thru 2022): As the main TE replacement for an injured Evan Engram in the final six games of the 2019 season, Smith had a good run. In those six games after the Giants’ bye week, Smith had 75.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, or 12.6 points per game. However, don’t forget that Eli Manning started two of those games and in those games, Smith didn’t do so well. In the four games with Daniel Jones at QB, he had double-digit Dynasty Owner fantasy points and averaged 16.75 points per game. If Giants’ starter Evan Engram gets hurt, the Giants will likely just plug Smith in and keep moving on. Even if Engram is healthy, there should be room for Smith to carve out a role with the Giants and be worth owning at only $680,002 in Dynasty Owner salary.
  6. Thaddeus Moss (WAS – $768,333 thru 2022): How does an undrafted rookie free agent get to be the #6 guy on this list? Three reasons: 1. Opportunity; 2. College Production; and 3. Genetics. Let’s take them in order. First, the Washington TE situation is ripe for Moss to go out and be the starter in Week #1. Their top TE in 2015, 2016 and 2018 was Jordan Reed who was released, their top TE in 2017 was Vernon Davis who retired and their top TE from last year was Jeremy Sprinkle who only managed 55.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points despite playing all 16 games. Secondly, Moss produced for LSU last year with 44 receptions for 494 yards and 4 TDs in his last 10 games, including 9 receptions for 135 yards and 3 TDs in the two College Football Playoff games. Finally, he’s the son of Hall of Fame WR Randy Moss. What’s not to like here?
  7. Christopher Herndon (NYJ – $792,841 thru 2021): Herndon is projected as the #23 TE in Dynasty Owner in 2020, ahead of all the players on this list except Mark Andrews. It pains me to be not as high on a fellow Miami grad like Herndon as others are, but here are my reasons. Injuries – he missed the final two games of his senior season in college with a knee injury, then fractured a rib and pulled a hamstring last year, which limited him to one game played in 2019 (he also missed four games due to a violation of the NFL substance abuse policy). In his place, Jets TE Ryan Griffin played well and was rewarded with a three-year, $10.8 million contract. Even though Griffin is 30 years old, why give him so much money if you are convinced Herndon is your TE of the future? Seems curious. Finally, Adam Gase is a terrible head coach, so we need to downgrade Herndon for that this year.
  8. Dawson Knox (BUF – $880,400 thru 2022): As a rookie last year, Knox was a decent player for your Dynasty Owner practice squad. He had two productive games in which he had a TD and double-digit Dynasty Owner fantasy points, so he could have been a Starter or Bench player those weeks. On the other hand, the Bills added WR Stefon Diggs in the off-season, possibly meaning fewer targets for Knox. He also didn’t convert his targets into receptions last year, catching just 56% of his passes, although that was right in line with the overall Buffalo QB completion percentage of 58.3% and starter Josh Allen’s percentage of 58.8%. Knox is worth drafting late in your Dynasty Owner draft, but don’t count on using him in your lineup unless he proves himself early in the 2020 season.
  9. Jordan Akins (HOU – $831,271 thru 2021): One of three Houston Texans TEs to make this list is Jordan Akins. He’s a third-year, 28-year old who went to college at the University of Central Florida. Akins got the chance to shine in 2019 with the injury to his teammate Jordan Thomas (more on him later) and ended up the season with 89.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. He was consistently steady, but unspectacular all season with one big game (22.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in Week 3 versus the Chargers). He finished with 5.0 or fewer Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 8 out of the 15 games he played in, but that was still good enough to be the #25 ranked TE in Dynasty Owner in 2019. Still, there’s a lot of competition for receptions in Houston so Akins might not perform at his 2019 level in 2020.
  10. Foster Moreau (LV – $752,098 thru 2022): Being the backup to a top 5 TE (Darren Waller) probably isn’t the best place to find a good value, unless you’re a TE playing under Jon Gruden in Oakland (correction, Las Vegas – man is that going to take some getting used to). Even worse for Moreau is that he’s probably now the third string TE with the arrival of former Monday Night Football color commentator Jason Witten. So why does Moreau make this list? It’s all about the touchdowns, baby!  Raiders TEs have scored almost half of the team’s receiving TDs (19 of 41) since Gruden’s return to coaching in 2018 with backup TEs scoring over half (10 of 19) of those TDs. The Raiders also ran 52 pass plays in 2019 with three TEs on the field – the highest in the league according to the nice folks at Sharp Football Stats (https://www.sharpfootballstats.com/personnel-grouping-frequency.html). Dynasty Owners might not get a lot of production from Moreau in 2020 except in those situations barring injury, so he’s extremely doubtful to catch another 5 TDs this year. But be patient and wait for 2021 when Witten will likely be retired (again) and Moreau can get all of the backup TE work in Vegas.
  11. Jordan Thomas (HOU – $644,602 thru 2021): Don’t confuse him with Jordan Akins. This is Jordan Thomas, a third year, soon to be 24-year old who went to college at Mississippi and caught one pass in 2019 for 8 yards after spending most of the season on injured reserve. However, he did have 65.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2018 with four TDs before his injury plagued 2019 season. Even though Thomas is over $185,000 cheaper and almost four years younger than Akins with the same number of years left on his contract, he’s behind his teammate because of how Akins’ produced in his absence in 2019.
  12. Kahale Warring (HOU – $910,114 thru 2022): The third and final Houston TE on this list is Kahale Warring. The only one missing is the team’s top TE (Darren Fells) who makes $3.15 million per year. Warring was a third-round pick by the Texans in the 2019 draft from San Diego State, so he has one more year left on his contract than the Jordans. However, he didn’t play a down in 2019 which is the main reason he’s last on this list and last on the depth chart among the four Texans TEs. Indications are that the Texans may keep all four TEs on their roster if all of them are healthy since Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien ran 187 plays last year with at least two TEs on the field (ranked third behind Philadelphia and Minnesota and just ahead of Baltimore and Kansas City). Shout out again to Sharp Football Stats (https://www.sharpfootballstats.com/personnel-grouping-frequency.html) for the data. This will give Warring a chance to prove that he was worth his 2019 draft selection spot and higher salary than either of the Jordans.

The Four Horsemen of the Kicking Game

First, the Four Horsemen were the 1924 Notre Dame backfield under Coach Knute Rockne, then it was the wrestling group consisting of Nature Boy Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard and the Minnesota Wrecking Crew tag team of Ole and Arn Anderson (this is the original group and the only one that matters; no apologies to future “Horsemen” like Steve “Mongo” McMichael – who didn’t deserve the honor). Now, the most recent group are the four kickers who have more than one year left on their contracts for less than $1 million in Dynasty Owner salary. Even though the Four Horsemen travel as a group, let’s rank the four of these kickers individually:

  1. Matt Gay (TB – $711,443 thru 2022): Even though he has the highest salary of the group, although by a small margin, Gay ranks first here for a couple of reasons. First, he projected to score the most points of the group in 2020 (106.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points). Second, he has produced before for his Dynasty Owners as he scored the most Dynasty Owner fantasy points among the four in 2019 (114.0). Third, the Tampa Bay offense is the best of the four teams represented so Gay should have more chances than the others. And finally, his Dynasty Owners will have him on contract for three years, unless he gets a new contract sometime soon.
  2. Austin Seibert (CLE – $695,114 thru 2022): It’s a bit of a drop-off after Gay on this list. Gay is projected to score 106.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points compared to just 93.0 points for Browns kicker Austin Seibert, or nearly a full point less per game. Not a lot, but every point counts in Dynasty Owner! With two new offensive linemen and a new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski replacing the clearly over his head Freddie Kitchens in Cleveland, the Browns offense should be better in 2020. This will give Seibert more extra point chances and likely more FG chances and maybe more than the two chances from 50+ yards that he had last season.
  3. Jason Sanders (MIA – $637,800 thru 2021): Even though Sanders scored more Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019 than Austin Seibert (91.1 vs. 88.0 for Seibert), savvy Dynasty Owners recall that Sanders caught a one-yard TD pass in Week 13 versus the Eagles to give him 7.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Without that TD reception, he would have finished the year behind Seibert with only 84.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. He is also projected to score fewer Dynasty Owner fantasy points than Seibert this year, only 88.0 points. And it’s unlikely that he’ll catch another TD pass this year since his catch last year was the first one by a kicker since 1977. Those factors plus the one year less year left on his contract weigh more heavily than the $57,314 in salary cap savings, so Sanders ranks third.
  4. Greg Joseph (TEN – $660,000 thru 2021): Joseph is fourth simply because he is in no way guaranteed to be the Titans kicker in 2020. The team has already signed undrafted rookie free agent Tucker McCann (who will actually cost you more in Dynasty Owner at $763,333) and rumors are out there that they are interested in bringing a veteran kicker to training camp to compete. Hopefully, you’re not diving this deep for a backup kicker in your Dynasty Owner draft or you might spend $660,000 on Joseph and still need to pick up a kicker in the Free Agent Auction during the season if he’s released.

Conclusions

Just like at WR, there are plenty of lower paid TEs with multiple seasons left on their rookie contract who could make their way on to Dynasty Owner rosters in 2020. As mentioned in the first part of our series, mixing in some of these non-millionaire players is necessary to be able to afford the talent that can help you win your League Championship this year. And isn’t that what it’s all about.

Even if you have Travis Kelce, grabbing one of the guys on this list will be necessary to offset his $9.37 million salary. Dynasty Owners can’t afford to have two high-priced TEs on their roster unless they are willing to sacrifice at other positions, since everyone has to stay below the $110 million hard salary cap. Having one (or more) of these players will help out with that problem.

There has been plenty of activity in the Dynasty Owner universe over the past two weeks and more to come soon. Beta users have signed up for spots in the new 12-team leagues and live drafts start this coming weekend.

If you missed Part 1 on QBs, RBs and WRs, here’s the link to the article (https://dynastyowner.com/2020/06/draft-a-non-millionaire-player-part-1/). And if you didn’t watch it already, everyone should check out the live mock draft on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m6ELEZQcQE).

There are also mock drafts going on constantly with some beta users setting up specific times to join that are helping to calculate ADP for the 2020 early drafts. We also had recent articles from the rest of the Dynasty Owner writing team – Milos Ljubic (@LjubicMilos on Twitter) and Chris Wolf (@ckwolf21 on Twitter). All of this great content is available to help you win your Dynasty Owner league and maybe become the winner of the 2020 Chase for the Ring!

Steven Van Tassell is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

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