Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saved by the Bell: 49ers Tight End Provides Upside & Cap Relief

The news that 49ers starting tight end Vance McDonald will miss this week's game against the Browns due to a concussion doesn't alter the DFS landscape, but it does add an under-the-radar tight end value to the player pool.

With Garrett Celek on injured reserve, the last man standing at tight end for San Franscicso is fourth round rookie Blake Bell, who you can roster for the tight end minimum ($2,500) on DraftKings. Why on earth would you consider investing your heard earned money on a third-string rookie tight end who's saddled with Blaine Gabbert as his quarterback? 

Since Gabbert took over at quarterback for the 49ers in Week 9 (four game sample), tight ends have accounted for 27.5% of the team's receptions and 30.3% of their receiving yards. For context, Greg Olsen is the only tight end in the league this season with higher reception (28.4%) and yardage (32.8%) market shares. Even more interestingly, four out of Gabbert's five touchdown passes have gone to tight ends (two to McDonald and two to Celek). All four of those touchdowns came in the red zone, where Gabbert has thrown to a tight end on nearly 43% of his 14 attempts.

It's a long way of saying Bell (literally the only healthy player at the position on the roster) will have the opportunity to produce fantasy points. The question then becomes, is he good enough to capitalize on that opportunity? Here's what we know about Bell:
  • He's big (6'6'', 252 lbs.) and athletic. Bell posted the best 20-yard and 60-yard shuttle times for a tight end at this year's combine, which suggests he has elite short area quickness and balance.
  • He's extremely raw. Bell played three years at quarterback for Oklahoma, and while he showed major improvement as a tight end late in his senior year and in the post season, he's still a limited route runner and learning the nuances of the position.
  • He flashed in Week 12 against Arizona, catching all three of his targets for 67 yards (though he was quiet in relief of McDonald last week). 
  • He comes with the Footballguys stamp of approval
The matchup with the Browns has been a neutral one for opposing tight ends. Cleveland ranks 15th in fantasy points per game allowed and 19th in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA to the position. But one encouraging aspect of the matchup is that the Browns have allowed the second-most plays against in their red zone this season. Considering Gabbert's tendency to target tight ends when the 49ers get in scoring position and Bell's huge frame, a trip to the end zone is very much in play.

To be clear, no one's suggesting a Rob Gronkowski fantasy line here. But Bell comes so cheap he doesn't need to do all that much to hit value (something like four catches for 50 yards will do just fine) and if he does score a touchdown, he'll be in the running for top point per dollar play of the week. Not bad for a player who will appear on less than 1% of your opponent's rosters.

1 comment:

  1. 3 Receptions for 49 yards. Pretty close prediction. He led the team in receiving yards... they just were owned by Cleveland.