2019 Fantasy Football: Vance McDonald’s Value





By Chet Gresham – @ChetGresham
Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Last year on Monday Night Football, we saw a man’s soul ripped from his body in real time. That man’s name was Chris Conte, and his soul’s new owner was Pittsburgh Steelers tight end, Vance McDonald. On third-and-10 from the Steelers’ 25-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger hit McDonald on a 15-yard out. McDonald then headed down the sideline where he met Mr. Conte. No words were likely spoken, but the message was clear, GET OFF ME! Conte had no choice, as he was tossed to the side like a losing lottery ticket. McDonald finished the play 75 yards later in the end zone. Conte didn’t return to that game or the field for the rest of the season.



McDonald’s unholy reckoning with Conte isn’t the first time McDonald has made a defender want to change his identity. Breaking tackles and picking up yards after the catch are a regular occurrence for McDonald. Last season. he ranked fourth in yards after the catch for tight ends and first in percentage of broken tackles to receptions. Only D.J. Moore and Golden Tate had a better percentage for pass catchers with over 35 receptions. That’s not too shabby for a tight end.

We can count on McDonald destroying defenders after he catches the ball, but how are his hands? Well, I’m glad you asked. Last season, he had a true catch rate of 89.3 percent, meaning he caught nearly 90 percent of catchable targets according to PlayerProfiler.com. That stat looks even better when you add in that he caught 10-of-15 contested targets, which for you math and Satan worshippers, is 66.6 percent, which fits his soul-snatching ways. Only Travis Kelce and Eric Ebron had more contested receptions for tight ends last season, and they had 29 and 27 contested targets compared to McDonald’s 15.

But McDonald only had 73 targets and 50 receptions last year! Will he see more targets in 2019? Thank you again for your perfectly valid question, prop person. The answer, as many of you know, is, yes. The Steelers lost their best receiver from last year. You might know him from such bank and train robberies as . . . oh, wait, wrong Jesse James. Yes, they lost James, who split snaps with McDonald, but much more importantly they lost Antonio Brown, who was second in the league with 169 targets.



There are plenty of targets to be had, especially on the pass-happiest team in the league last year, but at the moment the man who will take Brown’s spot as a starter is unknown. James Washington, Donte Moncrief, Diontae Johnson? You tell me. There won’t be one person who grabs the bulk of Brown’s targets, but the one person who proved himself well last season, who is still on the team, is McDonald.

But can McDonald stay healthy? I knew you’d bring that up. This interview is over! Ok. Ok. Yes, McDonald is widely known as prone to injury. If he weren’t, he’d probably be a top-five fantasy tight end playing in San Francisco instead of remaking his career in Pittsburgh right now. The good news is that he did play 15 games last season and finished healthy after missing training camp and the first game of the season due to a foot injury. So yes, he’s risky, but there was a glimmer of hope after staying healthy last season, and if you get 15 full games out of him with Antonio Brown and Jesse James out of town, you’re going to get a considerable return on your investment. For more recommendations, check out WalterFootball.com’s Fantasy Football Rankings.







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