Quarterback/Tight End Shuffle Up: Evan Engram breaks the rules

We’re back for another season of Shuffle Up. We did the running backs in Week 5, the wideouts last week, and now we tackle the quarterbacks (don’t flag us, NFL) and the tight ends.

The prices you see are not suggested auction prices — those numbers are so room-contextual, it would be a fool’s errand to suggest any one size fits all. The dollar values below are merely used as a way to compare the players and give you a sense of where the tiers lay (in my opinion, anyway); where talent clusters and where it falls off.

Players at the same price are considered even. And honestly, a $1-2 difference isn’t a big deal. I’m not going to pretend some lofty level of certainty with these prices when I know what a snow-globe league the NFL is.

I’m not ranking injured players. You can put Andrew Luck and Greg Olsen anywhere you want.

Assume a modified PPR scoring system, a half-point per reception. I reserve the right to tweak this list in the first 24 hours of publishing. Bring your respectful disagreement to Twitter: @scott_pianowski.

Quarterbacks

$30 Tom Brady
$27 Drew Brees
$26 Deshaun Watson
$25 Dak Prescott
$24 Russell Wilson
$24 Cam Newton
$23 Carson Wentz
$22 Matt Ryan
$22 Kirk Cousins
$19 Alex Smith
$19 Jameis Winston

Prescott is one of those lovely fantasy players who offers us floor and upside every week. Consider his scoring placement in his five games: QB13, QB7, QB12, QB8, QB2. He’s capable of winning you a week on his own, and he’s never bottomed out. And with an Ezekiel Elliott suspension possibly in play at some point, Prescott’s role in the offense is likely to expand. He’s a handy and opportunistic runner, too . . . Everything has fallen Watson’s way during a charmed rookie year; the Texans defense is sunk by injuries, and DeAndre Hopkins is back in business. Watson is also buffering his bottom line with handy rushing, though at times he needs to use better judgment and get to the ground or the sideline quicker.

The Patriots have shifted the scope of the offense with Brandin Cooks around. Brady averaged just 156 air yards per game last season, per Player Profiler, but he’s first in the league this year, at 210.8 per week. The downside to this: Brady’s getting hit a lot more than usual. New England might want to scale things back a little bit, given their starting quarterback is 40 years old . . . The Seahawks generally need a month or two to figure out their offense. Although Wilson’s QB rating is over 91 for every month, he has 55 touchdown passes before Halloween for his career — and 80 afterwards. I scooped up some Wilson and Doug Baldwin shares while the Seahawks were on their Week 6 bye. I don’t see a difference-maker in the backfield; it’s going to be Wilson, as usual, driving this offense — making stuff up half the time — if they’re going to go anywhere.

$17 Andy Dalton
$17 Matthew Stafford
$17 Marcus Mariota
$16 Philip Rivers
$15 Carson Palmer
$13 Ben Roethlisberger
$13 Derek Carr
$10 Jared Goff
$10 Tyrod Taylor
$8 Trevor Siemian
$7 Jacoby Brissett
$6 Brett Hundley

End-of-season fantasy rank is a stat covered with noise, but nonetheless it shocks me that Roethlisberger has been a Top 10 quarterback in just three of 14 seasons. It speaks to his injury-prone nature, of course, but also to his inconsistency. I’m stunned to see so many excuses made for Big Ben this year; this is someone I don’t trust against bad matchups, on the road, or to stay healthy. Name brands die awfully hard . . . Hundley gets a reasonable initial price for upside of the unknown, plus the Packers have excellent skill players around him . . . Carr has always been a good-not-great player; his MVP steam last year was comically off-base. If Amari Cooper can’t get back to Pro Bowl-level play, Carr all of a sudden has just one difference-making target on his offense.

$5 Eli Manning
$5 Josh McCown
$5 Case Keenum
$4 Jay Cutler
$2 Mitchell Trubisky
$2 Blake Bortles
$2 C.J. Beathard
$1 Joe Flacco
$1 Kevin Hogan
$1 DeShone Kizer

I’d stare at the sun for 12 straight hours before I’d watch a full game of Baltimore Ravens offensive tape. The NFL should black out the remainder of Baltimore’s schedule.

Tight Ends

$32 Rob Gronkowski
$27 Zach Ertz
$26 Travis Kelce
$22 Evan Engram
$21 Cameron Brate
$19 Hunter Henry
$18 Delanie Walker

If you had blindly faded all rookie tight ends in the fantasy era, you’d be far ahead of the game. Oh, Hunter Henry had some moments last year, and Rob Gronkowski came out of the womb spiking, and Jeremy Shockey made an instant splash. But the highly-touted rookie TE is more likely to be a land mine, not a gold mine. Enter Engram, who has a shot to be the best rookie TE we’ve seen since this silly little game was invented.

Sure, it helps that the Giants lost every important wideout in Week 5. But Engram’s productive Week 6 at Denver (5-82-1), when he was the only downfield threat the Broncos had to be concerned about, was a validating performance. Engram is basically a big wide receiver — the Giants rarely trouble him with blocking assignments.

Back to Henry for a second — the Chargers have finally seen the light. Henry and Antonio Gates were roughly even in snaps through four weeks, but since then it’s been 113 snaps for Henry, 78 for Gates. Not coincidentally, the Bolts won both games, and Henry posted a solid 8-132-1 line. The torch is passed. Get onboard and enjoy the ride . . . Brate has actually left some points on the field, with a drop here and there, but he’s also scored touchdowns in four straight games and his bye is out of the way. You’ll appreciate that last fact more and more in the coming weeks, with six teams sitting in both Week 8 and Week 9.

$17 Jimmy Graham
$17 Jordan Reed
$16 Austin Seferian-Jenkins
$13 Kyle Rudolph
$11 Jason Witten
$10 Jack Doyle
$8 Tyler Kroft
$8 George Kittle

I’m drinking the ASL Kool-Aid and redemption stories. He just turned 25. He was highly-touted as a second-round pick in his draft class. He was headed for a 2015 breakout, had he stayed healthy. And the 2017 Jets offense is plucky and useful, for as long as they can keep Josh McCown healthy . . . Doyle is littering the field with drops and missed opportunities, but the Colts rarely ask him to pass block, and maybe Andrew Luck will be a factor in the second half of the year . . . Kroft will be a handy bye-week fill-in, and I’m holding him in the Stopa League, where two starting quarterbacks are required. Tyler Eifert was known as a red-zone dominator, when healthy, and Kroft had a two-score game against Cleveland. The Bengals don’t have a dynamic second receiving option after A.J. Green, so there’s a major opportunity coming for Kroft. And it’s not like Kroft was a stiff at Rutgers; he was a third-round draft choice, and Player Profiler comps him to Kyle Rudolph.

$6 Austin Hooper
$5 Jared Cook
$5 Zach Miller
$4 Benjamin Watson
$4 Ed Dickson
$4 Martellus Bennett
$3 Tyler Higbee
$3 Vernon Davis
$3 Ryan Griffin
$2 Jermaine Gresham
$2 Darren Fells
$2 Coby Fleener
$2 Nick O’Leary
$2 David Njoku
$1 Jesse James
$1 Julius Thomas
$1 AJ Derby
$1 O.J. Howard
$1 Antonio Gates

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