Key to the table below:
Fant – Player’s rank
in a PPR fantasy league where all touchdowns are worth six points.
0-4% - This column represents the
percentage of games in which a receiver/tight end received no
more than four targets.
0-4 - This column represents the
actual number of games in which a receiver/tight end received
no more than four targets.
Note #1: Tight
ends had to play in at least eight games and average at least
four targets. The top 25 tight ends are all included, with “**”
denoting the players that did not make the cut but figure to have
some impact in 2013.
You may sort the table by clicking on the column headers.
A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Observations: Twenty-seven receivers
(who played at least 15 games) received eight or more targets
in half of their games. At tight end, only two – Witten
and Graham – made the cut; Pettigrew and Hernandez each
would have made it had they played enough games, but Graham is
the only one to meet the original criteria in both 2011 and 2012.
It is also quite telling that if we removed the games-played limitation,
three of the four players are repeats from 2011 (Witten replaced
Gonzalez). Even if we ignore the games-played limitation in both
seasons, that is a shockingly small number for a position that
is becoming increasingly more important in gameplans around the
Throwing out the five players (Hernandez, Pettigrew, Gronkowski,
Cook and Housler) that failed to play at least 15 games, 18 tight
ends saw at least five or more targets in half of their games.
Of those 18, only two finished outside the top 20 (Watson and
Thanks in part to the lack of elite talent at the position, there
appears to be a bit more margin for error (as it relates to a
high number of low-target games) at the tight end position. Five
players that had 5-6 “low-target games” still secured
top-14 finishes while Gates, Chandler and Lewis all had seven
such games and found themselves among the top 16. Somewhat surprisingly,
Myers (sixth) and Pitta (eight) each had six low-target games
and managed to sneak into the top 10.
Fantasy Impact: A smaller grouping
of players (tight ends vs. receivers) will undoubtedly have a
pronounced effect on the final conclusions, but owners need to
start recognizing just how much of an advantage Graham can provide
owners on a weekly basis. With Hernandez ‘s football career
on life support (at best) and Gronkowski’s durability a
legitimate concern, perhaps no other player at any other position
provides the kind of weekly separation that Graham does. Based
on the data I’ve collected in two years, owners need to
select a tight end that will see five or more targets in eight
games or more if they want to have a realistic shot at drafting
a top-20 player at the position. Unlike receiver – which
has its share of big-play threats that sneak into fantasy relevancy
each year with low-target games – a tight end’s ability
to make a sizable dent in fantasy is based almost exclusively
on volume and touchdowns because so few are dynamic big-play threats.
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Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and appeared in
USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine in 2010 and
2011. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy
football internet chat every Sunday this past season. Doug regularly
appears as a fantasy football analyst on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy
Drive” and for 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C).
He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.