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Zach Ertz 2021 Fantasy Outlook

Zach Ertz finished as a top 5 fantasy tight end every year from 2017-2019, and as TE8 in 2016. He amassed about 110 targets in 2016-2017 and ratcheted up to 130 and 150 targets in the subsequent years. Why, then, are fantasy footballers completely off of Ertz in 2021? His Underdog best ball ADP is over 200, which means that he’s basically a last-round pick. I mean, Antonio Brown had fewer targets in 2019-2020 combined than Zach Ertz had in his down year of 2020, and AB is also 3 years older than Ertz, but managers are drafting AB nearly 140 picks earlier than Ertz.

Have we lost our minds, or have I lost my mind for thinking Ertz has some sort of value in 2021? I picked up Ertz in my home dynasty auction for $1 this year. Could this last round, $1 player be one of the keys for your successful draft season in 2021? Let’s check out the details.

Before we get into the article, be sure to check out the Team Rise or Fall YouTube channel, and have a look at the 100% FREE Team Rise or Fall Fantasy Football Draft Kit. If you want to level up your best ball game with players like Zach Ertz, go to Underdog and use the promo code Donuts to get a free $25 bonus to your deposit.

In a Nutshell: The 2021 Philadelphia Eagles

The 30-year old Zach Ertz has been seeking a trade away from the Philadelphia Eagles, although he’s so far been unsuccessful. Ertz could be on another team by the beginning of the year, and we’ll cover that possibility in the next section. But for right now, Ertz lands on a convoluted Philadelphia Eagles team. The Eagles crashed from the sky in 2020 under Super Bowl champion coach Doug Pederson, finishing with a 4-11-1 record. In 2021, former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni took the helm of the Eagles and began changing the roster. The Eagles traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Colts, which was largely seen as an expected transaction because the Eagles had exciting young quarterback Jalen Hurts. But then Coach Sirianni stirred the pot in training camp by refusing to name Hurts the starter, instead hinting that Hurts was in a quarterback battle with veteran Joe Flacco. Amidst the coachspeak, Zach Ertz — a standout holdover from the Doug Pederson era — has been looking to leave the Eagles.

Zach Ertz

Just this week, Zach Ertz was meeting one-on-one with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who allowed reporters to hear this snippet: “I’m’ still going to get you some day”

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So, it’s not that Zach Ertz isn’t wanted; he just needs the right team. Ertz’ 2020 was troubled due to an ankle sprain and Carson Wentz’ lost season. However, according to the Team Rise or Fall Study Hub, Ertz was still a top 20 TE in terms of targets, finishing just behind Jimmy Graham (who finished as TE8) and ahead of Robert Tonyan (who finished as TE3). Then, of course, we’ve got the stunning string of production that Ertz amassed from 2016-2019, which basically put him on par with Travis Kelce, recent Darren Waller, and a healthy George Kittle.

Why are fantasy footballers skipping over Ertz, then? The trouble with Ertz is that the Eagles could just not play him. What trade value does Ertz have if he sprains his ankle in week 1? Sure, that’s possible. But it’s also true of basically any player after pick 130, isn’t it? Do we think Anthony Firkser should be drafted ahead of Ertz? Firkser has been in the NFL for 3 years and still hasn’t amassed as many career targets as Ertz had in 2016 alone. In Jonnu Smith’s 2016-2020 seasons combined, sometimes playing in a TE-favorable Arthur Smith offense, he garnered only 10 more targets than Zach Ertz did in 2019 alone. Meanwhile, Nick Sirianni’s years in Indianapolis provided TEs with about 120-150 targets over the past three years. The Eagles de facto TE1, Dallas Goedert, has averaged 65 targets per year over the past 3 years. So if Zach Ertz plays in Philadelphia, he gets 60ish targets at minimum. He could end up with a ton more if all the media drama is, well, just drama.

The Team Rise or Fall Underdog Projections envisions Zach Ertz as TE47 because it doesn’t envision Ertz as playing. And at this very moment, Ertz’ playing time in Philadelphia seems quite limited. Reports out of training camp aren’t positive about Ertz’ situation — heck, he’s literally meeting with head coaches from opposing teams. But if a trade happens, or if Dallas Goedert gets hurt, or if this whole trade drama is just drama — like Aaron Rodgers’ threats to quit — and Ertz takes the field in even a 60/40 split with Goedert, then fantasy managers who draft Ertz will likely end up with a positive expected value.

Fantasy Takeaway

Zach Ertz is massively overlooked in 2021 fantasy football because he’s got a dispute with his team. Aaron Rodgers had a dispute with his team and rumors swirled about his retirement that all seemed for naught. Right now, the drama over Zach Ertz’ situation with the Eagles has him at such a low value that you can get him in the last round of drafts or for minimum cost. If he gets traded, or an injury to Dallas Goedert happens, or the drama appears to be for nothing, then managers who took Ertz at minimum value will immediately get a positive expected value for that draft slot in 2021. With Ertz costing nearly nothing at this point in the pre-season, I would recommend Underdog players feel free to maximize their exposure during these early pre-season drafts until we hear concrete news that Ertz’ situation is without hope.

Original Image Source: Mitchell Neff (Getty Images)

Don’t forget to check out the FREE Fantasy Football Draft Kit for 2021!

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