Fantasy Football: 2013 Tight End Review – The Target Multiplier

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Vernon Davis, fantasy football

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Closing out the look back on 2013 results with an eye shifted forward still, we shift gears to the tight end position. Resident XN Sports tight end tarot card reader C.D. Carter has already been fleshing out lots of great content on the efficiency and lack thereof at the position, and you can check out some of those hits below as well as some other position reviews.

Fantasy Football: Finding An Edge in Tight End Matchups

Fantasy Football: The Most Inefficient Tight Ends of 2013

Wide Receiver Review – The Red Zone

Running Back Review – FPPRR

Running Back Review – Touchdown Effect

Quarterback Review – Weekly Performance

If you need a refresher on the target multiplier, go and check the wide receiver post right now. In short, it’s how much better a receiver was on a per target basis for his quarterback than throwing to anyone else on his respective team. With the help of Pro Football Focus, interceptions thrown while targeting that player are included. We’re not necessarily blaming the receiver, but finding both parties at fault.  A multiplier of one is average. If you enjoy per target work with quarterback scoring involved, Dynasty League Football’s Eric Hardter reinforces what our thoughts were on Keenan Allen.

The Best Above Par

Player

Team

Targets

QB REC. PTS

TGT X

Vernon Davis

SF

84

82

1.73

Mychal Rivera

OAK

60

30.28

1.46

Tim Wright

TB

76

42.84

1.38

Jordan Reed

WAS

59

27.96

1.33

Logan Paulsen

WAS

50

22.68

1.30

Brent Celek

PHI

51

40.08

1.28

Dallas Clark

BAL

52

21.72

1.27

Julius Thomas

DEN

90

79.52

1.26

Charles Clay

MIA

102

50.36

1.18

Delanie Walker

TEN

86

44.84

1.17

Jordan Cameron

CLE

118

54.68

1.14

Brandon Myers

NYG

76

28.88

1.13

*Players with 50 or more targets

From weeks five through 15, Davis was actually the highest scoring tight end in standard fantasy leagues on 24 fewer targets than Jimmy Graham over that timeframe. He became the first tight end in NFL history to have two seasons of 13 or more touchdowns. He missed one game entirely and left two others early with injuries, so owners missed out on production still. Even when Michael Crabtree returned, Davis scored in six of those eight games including the postseason.

With Crabtree missing most of the season, Davis and Anquan Boldin accounted for 80 percent of Colin Kaepernick’s fantasy output passing the football in 2013. To put that in a little perspective, Josh Gordon and Cameron accounted for 65 percent of the Browns’ passing performance.

If you followed C.D. Carter before last season kicked off, he tipped you off on both Cameron and Thomas as late round buys last summer. The rest of the list is made up of mostly seamstress streamers, which is more reason to invest on a tight end stable if you don’t chase one of the big fish early.

I have no real concern with Reed if Washington doesn’t do anything to upgrade the receiver position because he’s their second best talent after Pierre Garcon. But the fact Paulsen had eerily similar results on nearly identical targets does speak to the space created by all of the play action that Washington ran under the Shanaclan. With Kyle gone to Cleveland, I do have some trepidation on Reed if another capable wide receiver is brought into the fold because Jay Gruden inherited two first round tight ends in Cincinnati and has had trouble using them effectively (more on this later).

Small usage, Big Results

Player

Team

Targets

QB REC. PTS

TGT X

Jeff Cumberland

NYJ

40

29.92

2.55

Joseph Fauria

DET

30

32.28

2.50

Ladarius Green

SD

29

27.04

1.71

Jermichael Finley

GB

34

22

1.44

Ryan Griffin

HOU

28

11.76

1.31

Kyle  Rudolph

MIN

46

20.52

1.31

 

Here’s where you can see that big touchdown totals on a small amount of targets can really pump up your overall score. There’s a lot to cover with this group, so let’s get into each player.

-          Cumberland was sneaky effective last season in a year where the Jets passing game was submarined by the uneven play of rookie Geno Smith. 23.1 percent of Cumberland’s targets were on throws 20 yards or more downfield, second most out all NFL tight ends (Davis at 28 percent led). The soon to be 27-year-old just resigned and will be on the radar for stream city in 2014.

-          Fauria was hardly used between the twenties last season. Fourteen of his 30 targets overall came inside the red zone, turning six of those into scores. With the Lions rumored to be resigning Brandon Pettigrew, it will be hard to trust him going forward as a weekly option unless Pettigrew drops the pen signing his deal.

-          The Green Monster appeared to finally be uncaged weeks 11 through 13, catching nine of 16 targets for 206 yards and two scores over the three week stretch. Afterwards, he played under half of the offensive snaps in three of the remaining four games. With Antonio Gates likely back for one more campaign for salary purposes, Green will remain a late round stash in redrafts in hopes of a bigger role or in case Gates is lost to an injury.

-          Finley has reportedly been cleared to return to football activities after a frightening injury. He’s a free agent, but if concerns over his neck force him into a cheap deal back in Green Bay, it’s not a terrible thing by any means.

-          Griffin was the best of all the Houston tight ends last season and is a cheap version of free agent Garrett Graham. Houston quarterbacks were 24 percent better targeting Griffin over Graham and 26 percent better targeting him over Owen Daniels. If Graham moves elsewhere, Griffin should see the field plenty under Bill O’ Brien. For Dynasty purposes, Daniels will be 32-years old and headed into the final year of his contract.

-          Rudolph has shown the ability to find the end zone in his first three seasons, scoring 15 times in 39 games and on 13.8 percent of his career 109 receptions. Now he gets to work with Norv Turner who once made Randy McMichael as fantasy hero and in an offense with no other true red zone threats through the air.

 

The Bad

Player

Team

Targets

QB REC. PTS

TGT X

Tyler Eifert

CIN

60

17.8

0.61

Antonio Gates

SD

113

46.88

0.64

Andrew Quarless

GB

53

16.48

0.67

Rob Housler

ARI

57

16.16

0.67

Heath Miller

PIT

78

25.72

0.68

Brandon Pettigrew

DET

63

22.64

0.79

Coby Fleener

IND

87

34.32

0.83

Martellus Bennett

CHI

94

46.36

0.86

Greg Olsen

CAR

111

54.64

0.88

*Min 50 targets

Gates and Olsen were two of only seven tight ends with 100 plus targets and collectively provided under one point (.9) more for their quarterbacks than Jimmy Graham did on 82 fewer targets. Gates is blocking the freedom of Green still despite Philip Rivers being 36 percent worse targeting him than any other Charger. Olsen will likely never see the immense volume of 2013 again, which pushed his ineffectiveness to decent totals.

Bruce Arians recently stated that tight ends are for blocking first, and it showed in Housler’s production. While he was hobbled much of the season, Housler was still outscored by tight end legends Clay Harbor and Sean McGrath. In the same conversation, Arians also dubbed Miller the best tight end in football. At least his blocking first claim holds merit as Miller had his best fantasy season ever the year after Arians left Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, coming off of a torn ACL, Miller had his red zone stock plummet, catching only one of nine targets for a touchdown in 2013.

Fleener had every possible star align with college offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton taking over play calling duties and then Dwayne Allen and Reggie Wayne lost to injury last season and still never maximized either opportunity. Andrew Luck was actually more effective targeting Griff Whalen (1.15 TGT X) than Fleener. With both returning this season and his inability to play with any consistency, he’s unlikely to ever be a real fantasy factor again.

Eifert struggled as a rookie and was semi lost amongst a good playmaking group in Cincy. He had up and down usage and never really carved out a role, but never did anything with his opportunities either. He was the second tight end that the Bengals took in the first round in four seasons that came with elite college receiving pedigree that has flamed to this point. Whether that speaks to their individual capability, better options around them, or Gruden not being able to effectively remains to be seen.

*Stats were provided from ProFootballReference.com and ProFootballFocus.com

Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer.