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Perhaps this sounds more like trivia than actionable fantasy football advice and analysis, but I think there’s at least one good reason to examine last season’s least efficient fantasy producers.
And it’s not just to laugh — and try not to weep — at the memory of gleefully drafting some of these guys last August.
A lot of raw efficiency measurements, like fantasy points per route run (FPPRR) — made possible with Pro Football Focus’ data — don’t reflect a tight end’s quarterback situation.
Almost any tight end running 25-30 routes per game in an offense headed by a world-class signal caller like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees is going to post hefty fantasy numbers. In offenses run by the Christian Ponders and Case Keenums of the world, efficiency is going to rear its hideous little head.
We’ve already looked at guys like Jordan Reed, Ladarius Green, and the rest of 2013’s most efficient fantasy tight ends. Now for a slightly less pleasant peek at those who did so precious little with their route running opportunities.
- Coby Fleener’s startling inefficiency jumps out here. Fleener, who has a history with Andrew Luck and ran a healthy 30.1 routes per game after teammate Dwayne Allen was lost to injury in the waning weeks of the summer. Pep Hamilton’s offensive approach left much to be desired until ol’ Pep emphasized a hurry-up approach very late in the season, but Fleener’s peripheral numbers say he should’ve been something close to a locked-and-loaded fantasy starter. He was a streaming option instead, and for good reason: he had three receptions or fewer in a whopping 11 games. Fleener’s 2013 FPPRR should be a big, bright red flag to anyone who plans on investing in him as a legit 2014 option. His average fantasy points per game, as indicated by his routes per contest and FPPRR, was around 8.4. And that’s in PPR format.
- I understand that it’s not entirely fair to put Eifert on this list of inefficient tight ends. The rookie behemoth only had two games as the Bengals’ starter, one of which saw him rack up nine targets that included two almost touchdowns. Eifert’s 20.2 routes per game is lower than anyone on this list. It’s only a matter of time until Eifert takes over for the always underachieving Gresham, and until he’s running 25-30 pass routes per week, it’s be tough to tell how efficient he’ll be as a pro. His ridiculous size-speed combination makes me think he’ll never again show up on this list.
- Housler, a talented, athletic tight end by every account, posted disturbing efficiency numbers after missing the first few games of 2013 with a high ankle sprain. Fellow Arizona tight end Jim Dray seemed to absorb much of the red zone action — a significant factor in Housler’s FPPRR. Let’s remember, however, that Palmer loves throwing to tight ends, and Housler couldn’t post anything close to decent fantasy numbers during his 13 weeks of action. I’d like to see what Housler can do with upwards of 30 routes per game, but his 2013 numbers are reason for at least some concern. Then there’s head coach Bruce Arians’ recent comments, which could effectively kill Housler’s fantasy appeal: “Tight ends for me block first, catch second.” Arians, for the record, calls Heath Miller the NFL’s best tight end.
- The Texans’ tight ends stunk. I think that’s a function of Keenum serving as a 5,000-pound anchor around the neck of the Houston offense. Not even Gary Kubiak, the tight end whisperer, could salvage decent statistical seasons for Daniels, Graham, and Ryan Griffin (.28 FPPRR) with Matt Schaub and Keenum at the helm. Houston coaches, in adjusting basic offensive schemes to compensate for Keenum’s shortcomings last season, were forced to use the tight end position in new and less productive ways. That makes these numbers an anomaly in many ways.
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