The last 18 months greeted us with a lot of fundamental change and unexpectedness in our daily lives. One thing that has stayed relatively constant is the complete clusterfart provided by the fantasy tight end position. In 2021, some of you used heavy draft capital to snag Travis Kelce, Darren Waller or George Kittle — maybe even Mark Andrews — in which case, you hit if you got Kelce or Andrews at fair value, but Kittle has been an injury-derailed bust yet again, and while Waller has been a top five-to-six TE, he hasn’t had the booms (outside of Week 1) you’d like to see with that level of investment. With the way this position has played out this year, we can surmise at least 50% of fantasy owners missed at the TE position in 2021. Out of FantasyPros’ top-10 tight ends in terms of draft rankings (ECR) entering the season, FIVE are currently outside of the top-10 fantasy tight ends through Week 6 — four of which are outside the top 14 while three are outside of the top 20 (Kittle, Logan Thomas, Robert Tonyan). Luckily, some owners have already found their saving grace by snagging Dawson Knox or Dalton Schultz (yours truly), but not all have been so lucky, and most of us play in enough leagues where we’re still looking for help with one or more teams. But have no fear, as the answer is near. All you need to do is ask: Please, sir, can I have some Mo’.
Over the last three weeks, Mo Alie-Cox has performed as the TE10 in half-PPR formats with 11.15 FPPG. During that time, he is averaging four targets per game, but the bulk of those targets are occurring in the red zone, as Alie-Cox has caught three touchdowns on seven receptions for 120 yards. And this should come as no surprise, seeing as Alie-Cox is 6-foot-5 and roughly 270 pounds. In the Oct. 4 Buy/Sell column, I listed Cox as a buy, writing: “You can certainly make a case that Alie-Cox is the biggest red zone threat on this offense and he certainly provides a bigger mismatch for opposing defenses than Doyle. I listed Mo as my deep sleeper at the TE position coming into the year, and there’s a good chance he makes good on that prediction.”
Now, a huge part of Alie-Cox’s appeal is something many ‘perts aren’t talking about. It’s this elite red zone threat component mixed with the existence of Frank Reich and Carson Wentz. If you will, take a moment to recall how Reich turned Eric Ebron into the TE4 overall during his first year as Colts head coach in 2018. Ebron averaged 11.8 half-PPR FPPG that year, behind only Kelce, Zach Ertz and Kittle. Ebron caught 66 passes — 13 of which went for touchdowns (to which he added three rushing scores). That equated to a touchdown on 20% of Ebron’s receptions in 2018, all the while ceding snaps to — you guessed it — Jack Doyle. Because of his decreased snap count, Ebron’s early-season production was viewed as unsustainable, but Reich’s tendency to go to him in the red zone paid dividends and rewarded owners who opted to stick with the veteran.
Enter Alie-Cox. Mo isn’t seeing the same target share as Ebron did in 2018, as his 4.0 targets per game the last three weeks significantly trail Ebron’s 6.9 targets per game that year. But there’s reason to believe that Alie-Cox’s current role should continue to produce top-12 fantasy performances, and there might even be some potential for further upside. While Alie-Cox continues to split snaps with Doyle, the latter saw his snap share drop to a season-low 29% last week as Mo is slowly-but-surely surpassing Doyle on the depth chart. Over the last three weeks, Doyle has seen three total targets while Alie-Cox has received 12 targets. And while Alie-Cox’s 85 routes run is low enough to cause reasonable concern, he is being targeted on 31.6% of those routes — which indicates the production we’ve observed over the previous-three weeks could be more sustainable than most think.
On top of that, add in the Wentz factor. In Wentz’s first-four seasons in Philadelphia from 2016-19, Zach Ertz finished as a top-six tight end every season: No. 6, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 5, respectively. Both Wentz and Reich (seeing as Reich OC’ed the aforementioned 2016 and 2017 Philly offenses) have a track record for creating fantasy value at the tight end position — and even more so when provided with an elite red zone threat, such as Ertz, or Ebron, or Alie-Cox.
As it currently stands, Alie-Cox is ranked as the ROS TE34 over at FantasyPros, which strikes me as incredibly low. With the information I’ve laid out above — especially with Doyle’s diminishing role and Alie Cox’s expanding role mixed with his his percentage of targets on routes run — Alie-Cox should have numerous paths to finishing as a ROS top-20 TE with upside for cracking the top 12-15. I opted to snag Mo off waivers in two leagues this week instead of going for Ricky Seals-Jones, and why you don’t need to be nearly as bold — Alie-Cox is as good of a flier as any for those TE-needy teams looking for help during the influx of bye weeks.
That’s all for this week, Razzball fam! As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.