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2013 Ceilings, Floors for Elite Tight Ends: Aaron Hernandez Is Overvalued


Aaron Hernandez is a short (6-1) tight end who has never played 16 games in a year, doesn’t have a 1,000-yard season to his name, and plays as the No. 2 tight end on his own team. But he’s still getting selected in the third round of fantasy drafts as the third tight end off of the board. Why?

In my opinion, Hernandez has a limited ceiling, even in the Patriots’ potent offense. Although fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski obviously doesn’t completely prevent Hernandez from lighting it up, having a Pro Bowl tight end as the first option over the middle of the field is still a drain on Hernandez’s fantasy upside. Unless Gronkowski gets hurt, I don’t think Hernandez can really break out.

But who really cares about my opinion? You should really just concern yourself with what the numbers say regarding Hernandez in 2013. In regards to his ceiling and floor, the Tight End Similarity Score app has a lot to say.

I’ve already used the apps to generate ceiling and floor projections for the draft’s elite quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. As a refresher, the apps provide 20 “comparables” for each player, giving you an idea of the range of potential outcomes a player might experience. To calculate ceilings and floors, I’ve tracked the numbers for each player’s top four and bottom four comps, respectively, in each statistical category. In doing this, we can get a really strong sense of the risk and reward surrounding each player.

At the tight end position, two players—Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham—stand out above the rest with ADPs of 1.11 and 2.03, respectively. A tier below, Hernandez checks in at third at 3.08, and Jason Witten is getting drafted fourth at 4.02.

Below, I graphed the potential upside for those top four tight ends based on their top comps. I used PPR scoring.


Not surprisingly, Gronkowski and Graham lead the pack. Gronkowski’s upside in particular is outstanding, as his peak season is 1.7 points per game higher than Graham’s. More important, the numbers seem to confirm my suspicion that Hernandez isn’t necessarily a high-upside player. His top comps have posted 1.1 points per game lower than Witten—a soon-to-be 31-year old.

Worse, Hernandez doesn’t possess a very high floor, either, i.e. he’s not really a safe pick.


Again, Hernandez checks in below Witten. The production of his bottom four comps is just 77 percent of that for Graham’s comps. Adding the ceiling and floor production numbers together, we can get a good idea of the risk/reward surrounding each tight end.

1. Rob Gronkowski: 26.9
2. Jimmy Graham: 25.6
3. Jason Witten: 22.8
4. Aaron Hernandez: 21.4

No matter how you slice it, Hernandez simply isn’t worth his current third-round ADP. He has just a miniscule probability of going for 1,200/10, and there’s good evidence that he shouldn’t even get drafted ahead of Witten in PPR leagues.

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