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The tight end position was as maddening in 2012 as any position in recent fantasy football history. We’ve already established that.
For that reason, I think it’s helpful to look at which tight ends did the most with the snaps they were given in the final eight weeks of last season, if only to give us an idea of how teams use these tight ends and how that translates to fantasy points. Efficiency measurements also help us better understand which players are reliable fantasy commodities in what has become the least predictable position. Match-ups, trends, and injuries should always be taken into consideration, but identifying tight ends who score the most points per snap is a good way to avoid that dreaded, god-forsaken doughnut in our fantasy roster — a horror owners knew all too well as they juggled tight ends all season.
On a somewhat related note, check out tight ends who racked up the most fantasy points in the final eight weeks of last season, and what that might mean for 2013.
Below are the ten most efficient tight ends of 2012, based on their fantasy points per snap (FPPS), according to Pro Football Focus. This list is composed of tight ends who played at least half of their team’s offensive snaps in 2012.
- Dennis Pitta – .22 FPPS
- Jimmy Graham – .22
- Dallas Clark – .16
- Tony Gonzalez – .15
- Aaron Hernandez – .14
- Jermichael Finley – .14
- Greg Olsen – .14
- Lance Kendricks – .13
- Brandon Myers – .12
- Heath Miller, Kyle Rudolph and Antonio Gates – .12
Pitta, once again, jumps off the stat sheet, as he did in our review of the hottest second-half tight ends. Pitta, who made his presence felt in the Super Bowl against San Francisco’s excellent cover linebackers, also led the league in second-half points per opportunity, or fantasy points scored for every pass tossed his way.
Clark’s FPPS is likely so high because the Buccaneers used him so sparingly in a few games down the stretch – following a pattern from the season’s first half. The Bucs targeted Clark disproportionately in the red zone, a surefire formula for artificially inflating FPPS. Clark’s No. 5 ranking here may be encouraging if and when Tampa Bay upgrades at the position this spring (targeting Martellus Bennett, maybe).
Here are the least efficient tight ends of Weeks 8-16. Once again, I’ve included only tight ends who played more than 50 percent of their team’s offensive snaps.
- Kellen Davis – .02 FPPS
- Logan Paulsen – .05
- Vernon Davis – .06
- Anthony Fasano – .06
- Rob Housler – .07
- Brent Celek – .07
- Joel Dreessen – .07
- Zach Miller – .08
- Dwayne Allen – .08
- Brandon Pettigrew, Owen Daniels, Marcedes Lewis, Ben Watson – .10
Let me translate that first number: Kellen Davis is a stone-handed giant who will never be a fantasy option, no matter how the Bears try to shoehorn him into their offense. Even Jermichael Finley thinks Davis has bad hands.
And now for the second number: Logan Paulsen runs as if frantically trying to escape the pull of quicksand. I’m not sure there’s a slower skill position player in the NFL. He might not even be a replacement level tight end.
I think Miller has as good a chance as any of these tight ends – save Davis, perhaps – to see a nice value bump headed into the 2013 season. At least mostly healthy for the first time in ages, Miller became Russell Wilson’s prime target in the Seahawks’ Divisional Round playoff loss to the Falcons last month.
The vastly overpaid Miller caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown against an Atlanta secondary that had kept tight ends in check for most of 2012. Miller was targeted just 53 times last season (he caught 38 passes), a number that is sure to rise – maybe even double – if the oft-injured tight end can manage to stay healthy.
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