• Drew W

Is Zach Ertz an Upside Fantasy Pick?

Zach Ertz has been a mainstay of the Philadelphia Eagles offense since being drafted in 2013 in the second round. Gradually from that time his production has increased to where he’s a perennial top 5 fantasy tight end. After regressing slightly from 2018 to 2019 is there upside to drafting Zach Ertz in 2020? Lets take a look at some numbers and find out.

Ertz has had five straight seasons with at least 100 targets and in 2019 he had 88 receptions on 135 targets for 916 yards and 6 touchdowns through 15 games. Those numbers placed him as the 4th best tight end in overall points scored as well as points per game for tight ends in P.P.R. (Point Per Reception) scoring. 2018 had him at 116 receptions on 156 targets for 1,163 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those numbers were good for 2nd in both overall points scored and points per game for tight ends in P.P.R. scoring. So 2019 obviously saw regression which coincided with the emergence of second string tight end Dallas Goedert who had 58 receptions on 87 targets for 607 yards and 5 touchdowns.

If we look at the Eagles offense as a whole we can get a better understanding of Ertz’s potential upside for 2020. To start, there is uncertainty surrounding their wide receivers. Starters Alshon Jeffrey and Desean Jackson are both coming off of significant injuries. Jeffrey is coming off a Lisfranc injury in December which currently has him on the P.U.P. list. It is unlikely that Jeffrey is ready to start the year and if so will have to stay on the P.U.P. list for at least the first 6 games.

Jeffrey has also only played one full season in the last 5 years due to a variety of injuries. Desean Jackson is coming off an abdomen injury which sidelined him last year for 13 games and parts of 2 others. Jackson has also missed 27 games over the last 6 years because of injury. The Eagles also did draft wide receiver Jalen Reagor in the 1st round of the 2020 draft. For all the excitement and promise that Reagor brings to Philadelphia, he’s also a rookie that struggled with dropped passes last year in college and as with all rookies it’s hard to predict when they’ll start contributing.

The Eagles also have 2nd round draft pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside who underwhelmed and was barely able to get on the field last year when the Eagles desperately needed wide receiver help. Undrafted college quarterback turned wide receiver Greg Ward showed some promise last year but at best would be the fourth wide receiver.

The Eagles offense did run the most offensive plays in the league in 2019 though. They also ran a league high 46.1% of those plays from 2 tight end sets. Ertz was Carson Wentz’s favorite target in the red zone last year targeting him 16 times for 8 completions and 5 touchdowns. Wentz heavily targeted tight ends as a whole last year to a tune of 235 targets total. Even with the rise of Dallas Goedert the Eagles offense has shown that it can support 2 quality tight ends for fantasy.

Now what does all this mean for Ertz’s fantasy value entering the 2020 season. Right now according to fantasypros.com A.D.P. for Ertz is 41 which is the 5th pick in the 4th round and the 4th tight end off the board. According to fantasymojo.com in the last 4 days in Footballguys Players Championship drafts which is tight end premium (1.5 points per reception for tight ends) Ertz A.D.P. is 33rd which is the 9th pick of the 3rd round also being the 4th tight end off the board. I believe that these draft spots are in line with what Ertz’s floor would be in fantasy. The following reasons are why I believe that Zach Ertz has a much higher ceiling than his A.D.P. shows and that he actually is an upside pick:

- 2019’s fastest paced offense

- League high use of 2 tight end sets

- Most targeted Eagles receiver in the red zone

- Wentz’s reliance on tight ends

- Questions about wide receiver health and production

Overall, I think that Zach Ertz is a great pick at his current A.D.P. and will once again be a top 5 tight end in fantasy football in 2020. I also think that if things fall correctly in line for Zach Ertz that his upside could be the top tight end in all of fantasy football in 2020.

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