For the third straight season Philadelphia Eagles TE, Zach Ertz, ranked as a top-four tight end in fantasy football. As a whole, he finished as the 63rd ranked player according to NFL Fantasy Football. The question heading into 2020 will be how well Zach Ertz produces despite TE Dallas Goedert’s emerging presence in the offense. Moreover, fantasy owners should anticipate significant inconsistency from Ertz some weeks due to Philly’s struggles in the passing game.
Last season, Zach Ertz continued his fantasy success after generating 215.6 fantasy points in 15 games (14.4 points/game). Despite the Eagles turbulent offense, he finished the season with 88 catches for 916 yards and six TDs. As a result, he finished as the fourth-best TE in 2019 but was less than seven points away from second place. As we look into next season, Ertz is projected to have similar production in 2020.
|Receptions||Yards||Touchdowns||Targets||Fantasy Points||Fan Pts/Game|
Currently, lineups.com has Zach Ertz slated to be the fourth-best tight end in fantasy football. He is projected to haul in approximately 80 receptions for 933 yards and six touchdowns. This means that we expect him to hover around the same production next season. Fantasy football experts, like Sean Koerner, have noted that Ertz could experience some notable regression, but not enough for him to fall out of the tier two range. He will most likely encounter inconsistent lapses that will frustrate his fantasy managers.
ADP: Mid-Third/Fourth Round pick
Auction Price: $22
When it comes to draft projections, it’s important to be cognizant of where players rank within their respective positional groups. In terms of weekly consistency, Ertz probably won’t fare as well as elite TEs, like Travis Kelce. While Ertz’s upside is amongst the league’s best TEs, he had his fair share of duds that frustrated his fantasy managers in 2019. This will likely decrease Ertz’s draft stock because fantasy owners will need to complement him with a decent TE during Ertz’s tougher matchups.
Only 4 players in the NFL have more targets/catches than Ertz does since start of 2018 season.
The tight end market is about to be reset. Ertz is going to a new contract with No. 1 WR money.
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) February 21, 2020
If Ertz’s auction price remains around this range, it might be best to select him through the draft rather than auction. Given that players like Austin Hooper, Darren Waller, and Mark Andrews have only had one year of solid fantasy production, it is still safer to draft Ertz instead. It would be wise to draft Zach Ertz within the fourth or fifth rounds.
Heading into 2020, fantasy owners should not anticipate Ertz being in the same class as TEs Travis Kelce and George Kittle. As long as Chiefs QB, Patrick Mahomes is paired with Kelce, Travis will receive a high number of opportunities and elite fantasy output. Likewise, George Kittle’s presence in the 49ers productive offense will ensure that he is an elite TE in both real life and fantasy football. Conversely, Ertz plays in an inconsistent offense and will compete with Dallas Goedert for touches. As a result, his floor is a borderline tier 1/2 TE whose weekly fantasy projection dependent on his matchup.
While there are a lot of factors that could hinder Ertz’s fantasy success, I don’t anticipate him having severe regression. For starters, he is currently the no. 1 receiving option on the Eagles, which makes him incredibly valuable compared to tight ends, like Austin Hooper. Plus, the Eagles don’t run the ball a lot, compared to teams like the Ravens and Raiders. Therefore, he will likely receive more targets than TEs Mark Andrews and Darren Waller. It’d be risky to label him as a surefire top-three TE, but top-five is definitely foreseeable.
Philadelphia Eagles Offense
A big issue for Ertz will be competing with Dallas Goedert for touches. Throughout the regular season, four of Ertz’s five worst games came when Goedert scored 10+ fantasy points. Given that Wentz favors tight ends, Goedert will continue to receive a high number of targets next season. As a result, Ertz will likely experience mild regression as a borderline tier 1/2 TE as Goedert becomes a more integral player in Philly’s offense.
Even if Goedert takes touches away from Ertz, Zach is still primed to be a focal point of Philly’s offense. Since Wentz was drafted to the Eagles in 2016, he has targetted Zach 100+ times in every season they have played together. In fact, Ertz has led the Eagles in target share for two consecutive seasons due to his chemistry with Wentz. This means that even if Ertz witnesses some regression or inconsistency, he doesn’t figure to fall below the top-seven TEs.
Last season, the Eagles offense suffered a multitude of injuries at the receiver position. This caused defenses to focus most of their attention on him. Consequently, he was often double-teamed and struggled to get open relative to his 2018 season. Even though Ertz still excelled, this tight coverage caused him to have a sharp decline in catch rate (74.4% in 2018, to 65.2% in 2019). Unless the Eagles trade for a reliable veteran WR, like Brandin Cooks, or draft a prospect such as Henry Ruggs, this issue will likely exacerbate in 2020.
Strength of Schedule
The Eagles strength of schedule has many favorable matchups for Ertz because nine of his games will be against teams that struggled against TEs last season. His easiest matchup looks to be against the Arizona Cardinals, who allowed the most fantasy points to TEs in 2019. Staying within the NFC West, the Seahawks also project to be a good matchup for Ertz since they surrendered the third-most fantasy points to tight ends last season. Given that both the Cardinals and Seahawks ranked in the bottom ten for passing defense last season, Ertz is slated to be a must-start against those defenses.
Moving to Ertz’s divisional matchups, the NFC East will also provide Ertz with many opportunities. All of his divisional rivals ranked in the top-ten for allowing the most TE fantasy points according to Pro Football Reference. Plus, the Cowboys were the only defense in the NFC East who was tough against the pass. However, with the departure of defensive playmakers, like Byron Jones, the Cowboys will most likely revert into a porous defense that fails to limit Zach Ertz.
The only two matchups that are definitely going to hinder Ertz’s fantasy production will be the Ravens and 49ers. Last season, the Baltimore Ravens were the NFL’s stingiest defense against TEs. Heading into 2020, they look to repeat their defensive success with the addition of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. As if that wasn’t daunting enough, Ertz will also go up against an opportunistic Niners defense that limited offenses to less than 170 passing yards/game. Ertz’s fantasy managers should also be wary of starting him against the Steelers too because they excel at limiting passing yardage.
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