2013 Fantasy Tight End Review
January 30, 2014 | Jeff
Greetings, fellow fake footballers. As the Super Bowl quickly approaches, turn off that annoying daily Disney creation that rhymes with “Bortscenter” and join The Fake Football as we dive into our final 2013 fantasy football positional review. We still have plenty of cold and rainy winter months (I live in Seattle) to dig into deeper statistical happenings, so this will be a brief overview of a few notable performances from the fantasy tight end position. This review will give us a base to work from as we construct our 2014 fantasy football rankings, which will be unleashed to the public in coming weeks. Now, buckle up and make sure your seats and tray tables are in the ‘upright and locked’ position as we check out the final 2013 rankings of the fantasy tight end position (6 pt TDs, 10 yds/pt, .5 PPR scoring system).
With the injury fueled demise of The Gronk, the tight end position was a one man show in 2013. Our main man Jimmy Graham led the way at the fantasy tight end spot and it was not particularly close. Jimbo outscored the rest of the field by 73.5 fantasy points over the course of the season, which amounted to nearly four points per week. That may not sound like a ton, but think back to how many close fantasy matchups you had last season? Remember that late Monday Night Football interception that turned a win into a loss? Well, Jimmy’s weekly advantage over the rest of the field erased those issues for his owners. Even more fascinating is Graham’s advantage over the bottom tier starters in fantasy leagues. In a twelve team league for example, someone was starting a player like Jared Cook (who finished as our TE12 below) every week and that is without factoring in bye weeks. Graham scored 140 more points than Cook last season, amounting to over EIGHT points per week. That is a big time advantage in the world of fake sports, and Graham will have a lock on our #1 tight end ranking in 2014, as he finished 2013 in the top spot among NFL tight ends in catches (86), targets (142), yardage (1,215), and touchdowns (16). Big Jimbo means business.
At first glance, the name that surprised me near the top of the tight end leader board was Vernon Davis. Obviously Davis has serious skills and has been a fantasy force for quite some time, but I didn’t expect to see him at TE2. Vernon’s beefy touchdown total (second among NFL tight ends with 13), boosted his fantasy production considerably and gave him the edge over high volume tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Jordan Cameron. The most impressive aspect of Vernon Davis’ 2013 season was his average of 16.3 yards per catch, which tied his career high from 2010. Let’s look at this stat from two different vantage points. First, the average yards per catch (YPC) among 2013’s Top 12 highest scoring fantasy tight ends was 12.0 YPC, giving Davis a 4.3 yard per reception advantage over every other starting fantasy tight end. Second, take a look at the final 2013 statistics for fantasy wide receivers. Vernon Davis averaged more yards per catch than all but eight wide receivers. Incredibly, DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, Demaryius Thomas, and Jordy Nelson all averaged less yards per catch than Vernon Davis. Those are mighty impressive numbers from a fella who checks in at a healthy 250 lbs. The only thing holding Davis back is his usage (just 52 catches on 84 targets in 2013), but he will assuredly be a Top 3-5 option next season.
When scrolling through the final tight end standings below, a few numbers jump out in the “Fantasy Points Per Game (Fan PPG)” column. Highlighting these numbers helps illustrate the tight ends that packed the most punch when they were on the field, despite the fact that some of these players missed significant time over the 2013 season. The first player, of course, is Rob Gronkowski. Gronk’s arm/back/knee/techno pumping fist issues limited him to just seven games last season, but they were seven games of fantasy dominance for those that owned him. Gronkowski finished at TE16 despite playing less than half of the season, and his 14.7 fantasy ppg average was second only to Jimmy Graham. Gronk will once again be a Top 3 option next season, but he will need some healthy reports on his bum knee over the offseason to justify that ranking.
Another tight end stud who missed time due to injury was Washington’s Jordan Reed. The rookie out of Florida finished the 2013 season as our TE21 despite playing only 9 games due to concussion issues, and averaged a solid 10.0 fantasy points per game when healthy. That 10.0 ppg mark eclipsed the ppg averages of Top 10 fantasy tight ends Greg Olsen, Charles Clay, Antonio Gates and Martellus Bennett. I am ready to pencil Reed well into my Top 10 fantasy tight ends for 2014 with a full, and most importantly healthy, offseason under his belt.
If you take notice of the bottom of the list below, you will note that there are 51 tight ends included. I aimed to make it a Top 50 list, but that would have excluded our good pal Dennis Pitta, who happens to be our own @CDCarter13‘s most favorite tight end. In order to avoid hate mail from Mr. Carter, I included a special 51st TE slot just for Pitta. However, a novelty coffee mug branded “2013’s 51st best tight end” does not do Dennis Pitta justice. After dislocating his hip in late July, Pitta was held out of game action until Week 14, robbing the fake football community of a tremendous fantasy draft target. Upon his return, Pitta was given plenty of attention by Joe Flacco, as he averaged 8.3 targets per contest (for reference, Jimmy Graham averaged 8.9 targets per game in 2013). Anquan Boldin isn’t going to ditch his new digs in San Francisco to help the Baltimore Ravens offense, so Pitta will attempt to claim the title of “Joe Flacco’s Top Target” (which is very prestigious) that should have rightfully been his at the start of the 2013 season. The addition of tight end supporter Gary Kubiak as the Ravens new offensive coordinator even furthers the support for Pitta as a Top 10 fantasy tight end in 2014.
Check out the final fantasy tight end standings below!