Monday, August 17, 2015

Musings: Tight End Mania in San Francisco

The 49ers put in a forgettable effort during a 10-23 loss to the Texans in the preseason opener. But there was a note-worthy development to come out of the dink-and-dunk fest that marked the vanilla preseason San Francisco offense. The middle of their defense was Swiss cheese with inside linebacker Navorro Bowman out (but that's another topic).

The 49ers held out Vernon Davis and tried out seven other tight ends during the course of the game - yes, seven.

The team has to be preparing for life after Davis - which may be an ominous sign for Davis' fantasy prospects during 2015. I'm not implying he's done just yet, but the time is coming when he will be done (and last year's lackluster 26/245/2 receiving campaign on Davis' part doesn't inspire a lot of confidence for 2015).

After Colin Kaepernick and the first team left the field, most of the completions went to tight ends: Garrett Celek (two targets for 2/29/1), Blake Bell (two for 2/15/0), Asante Cleveland (three for 3/10/0), Vance McDonald (one for 1/8/0) and Derek Carrier (one for 1/5/0).

What does that mean for your Week 1 lineups at FanDuel?

It means that you should avoid Vernon Davis because the entire tight end position in San Francisco is too unsettled. Davis has a Week 1 salary of $5,300, tied for the 13th most expensive tight end. Davis is currently TE25 in the Footballguys staff's consensus rankings (season-long).

That means that Davis is too poor a value to start in DFS cash games. Should we anticipate that he'll have a sufficiently low ownership percentage, with sufficiently high upside potential, to warrant a start in tournaments?

No. It's okay to sacrifice a bit of value for the sake of uniqueness -- but that's too much of a sacrifice. Moreover, in San Francisco's run-heavy offense, Vernon Davis really doesn't have anything like the upside potential he had earlier in his career.

"Don't start Vernon Davis in FanDuel contests in Week 1" might seem like obvious advice, but sometimes stating the obvious has value in illustrating certain principles. In this case, the principles we are urging are (1) in cash games, to look for value (in the form of relatively high projected points per dollar of salary), and (2) in tournaments, to look for players with a high ceiling, especially players expected to be uncommonly owned, but don't sacrifice too much value in pursuit of those latter traits!

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