Fantasy Equity Scores: Late-Round Flier Tight Ends Who Might Not Be Terrible August 7, 2015  |  Chet


 

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Probably this is the least sexy batch of fantasy equity sores we’ll have all year. The reason is simple: these tight ends are late-round fliers — many with no discernible role in their respective offenses.

But some of them are in potentially top-end offenses, and could serve as wise investments for fantasy owners looking to stock up on players in high-flying offenses on the cheap.

The median and high equity scores for the below tight ends are miles apart in many cases because it’s difficult to project how big a part these guys will play — how many pass routes they’ll run and how many targets they’ll see.

Most of the high equity scores here show a scenario in which the player seizes and maintains a central role in their offense. The median prospects reflect what will likely reflect reality for these players: maddening inconsistency that leaves them worthless, fantasy wise, unless they grab a touchdown.

There is a somewhat hopeful history of late-round tight end success since 2012. It’s a history that makes 13th and 14th round dart throwing a legitimate strategy as others scorch the earth with a first round Gronk pick or a third round Jimmy Graham selection.

Dennis Pitta, who went un-drafted in 2012 fantasy drafts, finished as a top-6 option that season, along with Heath Miller, who was taken in the 14th round. Kyle Rudolph was taken in the 12th that year and finished as TE8.

The 2013 season saw Julius Thomas, that year’s TE3, emerge in the final weeks of August and go in the 13th round. Charles Clay turned in a top-6 fantasy campaign after going un-drafted in 12-team leagues, and Martellus Bennet was TE9 after being drafted in the 14th round.

Antonio Gates went in 2014’s 13th round and outscored Jimmy Graham in standard scoring, posting a top-2 season. Travis Kelce was a top-6 tight end after going in the 13th round after late-summer buzz, and Coby Fleener was TE7 after owners took a flier on him in the 14th round.

A lot of the aforementioned tight ends were hardly reliable on a week to week basis, but that’s the nature of the tight end position — one that hinges not so much on catches and yardage, but touchdowns. There’s reason to believe that a couple — maybe a few — of the below tight ends can emerge as real fantasy assets in 2015.

And if they all flame out, sign the petition for me to delete my Twitter account.

 

Player ADP Median equity score High equity score
Dwayne Allen TE13 -4 (TE17) 1 (TE12)
Kyle Rudolph TE14 1 (TE13) 3 (TE11)
Vernon Davis TE15 3 (TE12) 8 (TE7)
Antonio Gates TE16 3 (TE13) 6 (TE10)
Coby Fleener TE17 7 (TE10) 9 (TE8)
Tyler Eifert TE18 5 (TE13) 11 (TE7)
Ladarius Green TE19 -1 (TE20) 4 (TE15)
Larry Donnell TE20 7 (TE13) 12 (TE8)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE21 4 (TE17) 7 (TE14)
Maxx Williams TE22 3 (TE19) 7 (TE15)
Virgil Green TE23 8 (TE15) 11 (TE12)
Charles Clay TE24 9 (TE15) 13 (TE11)
Jordan Reed TE25 13 (TE12) 17 (TE8)
Richard Rodgers TE26 10 (TE16) 17 (TE9)

 

*  Probably you want to throat-punch me after seeing median and high equity scores for Vernon Davis, he of 26 receptions in 2014. Davis, outside of the first quarter of the season opener, was an unusable fantasy asset as the San Francisco offense morphed into one of the NFL’s least efficient units. Davis still played a lot of snaps. He just wasn’t involved in the horrid Niners’ passing attack, either due to injury (he was injured the entire season and didn’t talk about it), incompetence on the part of the team and its quarterback, or a general disinterest that pervaded the team in a lost season. Taken as the fifth tight end off the draft board in 2014, Davis is now free in re-draft, going in the middle of the 13th round. He’s a dart throw, as Fake Football scribe Rich Hribar says, and I like my tight ends that way. Davis is a bona fide athletic freak, a downfield threat, and a red zone monster who vanished in 2014, and Colin Kaepernick is now without Michael Crabtree. Why does that matter? As Fantasy Douche showed this off-season, Davis’ production has been highly dependent on Crabtree’s presence in the lineup.  He notched 12.55 fantasy points when Crabtree was out, about five points better than when Crabtree suited up. Kaepernick was one of the league’s best red zone passers in 2014 despite a debacle of a campaign, which bodes well for a guy (Davis) who scored 13 touchdowns two short years ago. I don’t think age is a valid argument in dismissing Davis as a fantasy option in 2015. Davis is 31. We’ve seen tight ends post fantastic fantasy seasons well past their early-30s. I’m in on Davis at his price, even if NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal writes that Davis could be a training camp cut.

 

*  Tyler Eifert is a giant athletic freak on a team that’s not exactly bursting at the seams with great pass catchers. There’s A.J. Green, Gio Bernard, and some other guys in tiger stripes. Eifert in 2013 was hampered by the presence of future Hall of Fame candidate Jermaine Gresham, though Eifert’s usage in the only game Gresham missed that year is encouraging. Andy Dalton peppered Eifert with nine targets. So what if Eifert only reeled in three of those balls for 56 yards. I’ll sign up for nine tight end targets anytime. We’ve never seen how the Bengals will use Eifert as a giant, speedy mismatch against safeties and linebackers because the big guy suffered a season-ending injury in the first half of the first game of 2014. Eifert, standing at 6’6″ and weighing 252 pounds, will undoubtedly be a red zone factor — maybe the red zone factor — for Cincinnati in 2015. At least one Bengals beat writer believes that health is the only thing stopping Eifert from a breakout 2015 campaign. Don’t forget that Eifert sports top-end athleticism, with an almost-extraordinary height-adjusted speed score, an almost-unmatched catch radius and a sparkling agility score, per PlayerProfile.com.

 

*  Projecting median and high prospects for the two Denver tight ends is tough action for a couple reasons. First, you have to believe that Owen Daniels is not as washed up as his numbers made him appear to be in 2014, when he did precious little as Baltimore’s starting tight end. He was among the league’s least efficient tight ends in Gary Kubiak’s familiar scheme. Daniels is listed as the Broncos’ No. 1 tight end, though Virgil Green looms like so many No. 2 tight ends in Kubiak’s offense have loomed. There’s also the matter of price, which I think has been lost in the debate over Denver’s tight ends: Daniels demands an early eighth round selection while Green can be had for free. Those familiar with the Broncos’ view of Green’s potential and his spot in the pecking order charge that the hulking tight end is every bit as capable as Julius Thomas. His run and pass blocking, route running, and hands leave very little to be desired, according to observers. From the Mile High Report: “Green possess the best physical skill set of any of the Broncos tight ends and he also knows how use that size effectively.” I refuse to spend a mid-round pick on the aged Daniels with Eifert, Fleener, Davis, and yes, Green, available for much cheaper.

 

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