In another world, in another time, way back in 2019, Zach Ertz was fantasy relevant.
The Eagles tight end ranked near the top at his position — along with Darren Waller, George Kittle, Mark Andrew and, of course, Travis Kelce. That season capped a three-year stretch when Ertz was among the elite at the position (ranking third, second and fourth in consecutive years). Ertz had first become relevant in 2014 — ranking as TE6 behind Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Jason Witten and, of course, Travis Kelce.
Ertz fell off a cliff last year, playing in just 11 games and seeing his receptions, yards and targets drop dramatically. Nothing new. Players who have been around a while get old quickly in the NFL. Thus, time to write him off. No longer a fantasy factor.
But, he was enjoying a modest rebound this year, on pace to double his 2020 numbers. Not great, no better than a streaming fantasy option to address injury or bye-week issues or a cheap DFS dart, but better.
Now? Well, Ertz was traded by the Eagles to the Cardinals on Friday. That is good news for Ertz, and for fantasy managers, because teams don’t often make trades for players they don’t intend to use. So whatever his role in Arizona, we expect it to be more than it was in Philadelphia.
First, the Cardinals have a better offense. Second, part of the reason is because Kyler Murray is a better quarterback than Jalen Hurts. Third, the Cardinals don’t have another legitimate tight end, like Philly’s Dallas Goedert, to compete with Ertz for snaps and targets.
That’s a whole lot of good stuff headed toward Ertz. But before you invest heavy in acquiring him, understand: The Cardinals have more weapons in the offense — receivers DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore (and to a lesser degree running back Chase Edmonds), whose talents demand attention in the passing game.
Those are a lot of mouths to feed. But we’re not trying to scare you off pursuing Ertz on waivers this week, we’re just trying to manage your expectations.
Here is the best you should expect: Peak Maxx Williams. Williams suffered a knee injury in Week 5 and is expected to miss the rest of the season. So the Cards clearly needed, or at least wanted, a decent replacement. But we don’t expect them to change their offensive approach to give Ertz a larger role than Williams had. We are just hoping it is comparable.
And comparable isn’t all bad. Williams was TE4 in Week 2 (16.4 PPR points) and TE6 in Week 4 (17.6). The problem, the one week in between he was TE26 (4.9). But there is often volatility among fringe tight end options.
Plus, it’s unlikely Ertz hits Maxx’s max, because Williams caught 16 of 16 targets this season. That is not a sustainable rate for anyone, including Williams or Ertz.
Expect Ertz to be a weak option each week, but even that is better than what he was.
They can help
Alex Collins RB, Seahawks
With Chris Carson sidelined, expect Collins to continue to get the lion’s share of rushing work. Note: No guarantee Carson will get his job back if Collins continues to produce.
J.D. McKissic RB, Washington
Antonio Gibson’s shin problem is more likely to get worse than better over the course of the season. McKissic also is heavily involved in the passing game.
Le’Veon Bell RB, Ravens
Virtually an equal split between Bell, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman on Sunday. If filling an RB5 opening on your roster and want to guess on which emerges as the leader of this committee, go Bell — simply based on upside.
Jarvis Landry WR, Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. is brittle and wholly unreliable. We’re not buying Donovan Peoples-Jones as a consistent option. Landry (knee) could return in Week 8. It is possible he is available, having not played all season.
Can’t count on ’em
Miles Sanders RB, Eagles
Kenneth Gainwell has gotten the rushing TDs and an equal passing share. Sanders should not be in your starting lineup, no matter where you drafted him.
Damien Harris RB, Patriots
Nice job Sunday (18-101, one TD). But we’ve seen you all season, and your paltry 3.7 per-carry average the first five games. And we know you are one fumble from the doghouse. Happy to trade you.
Kenyan Drake RB, Raiders
We trusted you before, and you burned us. No way we’re buying a two-TD game on just six touches as some dramatic shift in expectations.
Darren Waller TE, Raiders
What are we gonna do with you, Darren? You haven’t topped 15 PPR points since Week 1 and have just one TD in that time. Yet somehow, you’re still TE5 for the season. We can’t bench you, but please get better.