TE Zach Ertz | Philadelphia Eagles | 5th Year
2016 Stats: 78 receptions for 816 yards, 4 TDs
In each of his first four NFL seasons, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has increased his catch total-from 36, to 58, to 75 to 78 last year. He had a strong finish in 2015, with 35 catches for 450 yards over his last four games, and expanded on that with 63 receptions (86 targets) for 666 yards and four touchdowns from Week 9 on last year (nine games). He had at least six catches in seven of those nine games, though a badly timed Week 16 performance (two catches for 33 yards) probably hurt his fantasy owners.
If Ertz could ever put together a full season of great production, he’d surely be a top-5 fantasy tight end. Will 2017 be the year it happens?
The Eagles addressed their need at wide receiver in free agency, signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. That bumps question marks like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham down the pecking order, while also surely affecting Ertz’s target volume.
Ertz set a career-high with 17 red zone targets in 2016, with 12 of those coming over the final five games. But he only had six catches on those 17 targets, and three of his four total touchdowns on the season. Then-rookie quarterback Carson Wentz deserves some blame for that poor catch and conversion rate in the red zone, but Ertz also has just 13 touchdowns in his four NFL seasons. For a player his size (6-foot-5), that noted lack of end zone trips is at least odd.
At this early point, Ertz is being drafted as a low-end TE1 in 12-team standard and PPR leagues (via Fantasy Football Calculator). That seems about right, but there’s a chance Ertz puts it all together and returns great value by finishing as an upper tier tight end.
Zach Ertz 2017 Projection:
76 receptions for 850 yards, 5 TDs
Breakout Percentage: 60%