Exploiting Value Through KTC: TE Sells

KeepTradeCut (KTC) is a free and fantastic tool for the dynasty gamer. It is a great way to gauge how the dynasty hive mind values different players and picks. This website essentially provides “market value” for all kinds of assets, using over 900,000 data points and counting. It is important to note, however, that the market is not always correct. The best part of this crowdsourcing tool is that it allows the savvy dynasty manager to recognize and exploit weaknesses in the market.

Checkout the other editions in the series here:

Like any other position, playing dynasty fantasy football at a high level requires knowing when to sell tight ends at optimal value before their value falls off a cliff. This article will take you through some names to put on the trade block either: 1) during the offseason or 2) during the 2021 season. Players that you expect to have a solid upcoming campaign should be held onto until the season begins. Players who you expect to regress during the upcoming season should be sold during the offseason before the season starts. Buying any of these players at their current value is not ideal. 


Travis Kelce 

Current KTC Value: 6,286

Current Positional Ranking: TE1

Sample Trade using KTC’s trade calculator:

Before burning me at the stake for calling the number one tight end of the last five years a sell, hear me out. 

When looking at the best fantasy TE’s of the current generation, by far the closest comparison to Travis Kelce is Tony Gonzalez. When looking at both of these players’ age 26-32 seasons (7 seasons), both Kelce and Gonzalez were top 3 TE’s in fantasy in all but one of these seasons (86% rate). Both Gonzalez and Kelce were also top 3 TEs in their age 30, 31, and 32 seasons. 

Considering these factors, it’s fair to say Gonzalez provides us a solid historical reference for gaining a glimpse into what the rest of Kelce’s career might look like. From age 33-35, Gonzalez was a top 3 TE exactly 0 times. Gonzalez was a top 5 TE for 2 out of these three seasons and a top 10 TE in all 3. While this is still very solid fantasy production, it would be a disappointment for Kelce owners if he achieved similar results. 

This is not to say there isn’t a strong likelihood that Kelce is a top 3 TE next year, or even the year after. However, Kelce is valued as the TE1 in dynasty, and considering he will be entering his age 32 season in 2021, there’s very little margin for error if he’s going to maintain this value for an extended period of time. 

Anything less than a TE1 overall performance in 2021 will lead to dynasty managers seeing the writing on the wall and his dynasty value decreasing (even if only marginally). Additionally, if Kelce were to miss time due to injury, his value would drop more than most because of his age. In other words, Kelce is currently at peak value. 

It is unlikely that Kelce is still valued as the TE1 in dynasty next year, and extremely improbable that he’s valued as the TE1 in 2023. Therefore, by definition, Kelce is a depreciating asset. 

Despite the fact that he’s a fantastic win-now piece, you’d be better off long-term if you were to flip him now for a maximum return. There are other TE’s that can offer similar production that are years younger (such as Waller and Kittle), and also young, up-and-coming TE’s that could ascend into the elite territory sooner rather than later (such as Pitts and Hockenson). You can currently flip Kelce for any of these guys, plus something on top in most cases. 

Robert Tonyan 

Current KTC Value: 3,135

Current Positional Ranking: TE13

Sample Trade using KTC’s trade calculator:

Going all the way back to 2012, Robert Tonyan and Julius Thomas are the only TE’s to have finished as a top-three TE while ranking fourth on their team in target share. Robert Tonyan was also the only TE during this nine-year stretch to finish as a top-three TE while receiving less than 90 targets. In fact, Tonyan only had 59 targets last year. 

The only reason Tonyan was as effective as he was last year was because of his insane 21.2% TD Rate. Almost a quarter of all Tonyan catches were in the end zone last year. This is obviously unsustainable. 

The uncertainty around Aaron Rodgers is also a headwind to Tonyan’s dynasty value. If Rodgers leaves or retires, Tonyan receives a massive downgrade at QB. Additionally, the Packers added more target competition in Amari Rodgers (3rd round pick out of Clemson), who operates predominantly in the short to intermediate parts of the field. Rodgers was also an excellent red-zone target last year at Clemson, finishing with seven touchdowns in twelve games. 

While Tonyan is a fun breakout story, there’s no reason he should be valued six spots ahead of a guy like Logan Thomas (who finished one slot below Tonyan last year). Tonyan’s also valued similarly to players like Adam Trautman and Pat Freiermuth. Flipping him for either one of these young TE’s would be a wise move. 

Irv Smith Jr. 

Current KTC Value: 3,364

Current Positional Ranking: TE10

Sample Trade using KTC’s trade calculator:

Irv Smith Jr. is a player I had high hopes for entering 2021. He showed a few flashes throughout 2020, finishing as a top 3 TE in weeks 14 and 16. Kyle Rudolph signed with the Giants, and things looked to be trending up for Smith. 

Recently, however, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer was asked if he expects Irv Smith Jr’s role to increase in 2021. The way he responded was extremely discouraging. “I don’t think it’s a bigger role for him whatsoever,” Zimmer said. “It’s a bigger role for Tyler Conklin.” 

Some may be quick to dismiss this as ‘offseason coachspeak.’ However, Conklin’s role down the stretch in 2020 was a significant one. From weeks 10-17, Conklin had a 70% snap share. Conklin also received an average of 5.3 targets per game in the last four games of the season. Compare this to Irv Smith Jr’s 71% snap share and 5 targets per game during the same stretch, and there’s reason to believe Irv won’t have the breakout 2021 season many dynasty managers were hoping for. 

Considering the fact that Smith Jr. is only entering his age 23 season in 2021, there is still long-term hope for him to develop into a reliable fantasy TE. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely to happen anytime soon. This will likely lead to Smith Jr.’s value declining over the next year or two, as his owners become impatient and disappointed with the lack of improvement. 
Although Smith Jr. could actually end up becoming an excellent buy candidate eventually, he’s currently a dynasty sell because of the fact that his value is likely to go down in the short term. 

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