For about a month the RotoViz studisticians have been hard at work on a top-secret content project: The first annual (just go with me on this) 2013 RotoViz Composite Rookie Rankings! Leading up to the draft, rankings for one position will be released each day. Today, you can survey the composite rookie TE rankings in this piece.
On Monday (Apr. 23), Matthew Freedman released the RB rankings, on Tuesday (Apr. 23), Jon Moore released the WR rankings, and on Thursday (Apr. 25), Shawn Siegele will finish the series with the QB rankings. Be sure to check out these great articles each day!
These rankings were created by six different RotoViz writers, with the intention that they be used to help fantasy players in dynasty leagues. These rankings can be thought of as the distillation of all the content we have been producing since January into a compact set of four simple lists. We each reviewed all of the articles on the site, separately examined our perspectives and those of our fellow contributors, changed and then re-changed our opinions, all for the sake of presenting to you what we believe is one of the most useful dynasty tools available to those with rookie drafts in the next few weeks.
Since we produced the rankings before the NFL Draft, certain assumptions accompany them, such as the rounds in which players are likely to be drafted, the roles they are likely to play in the NFL, etc. After the draft, some of us will likely put out some articles commenting on how a specific player’s draft status and team affect his value as a dynasty asset, but, in general, these are the rankings and we stand by them.
Given that we balanced considerations of talent, opportunity, and style of play, I think we did a pretty good job. As Frank put it in an email, “This is pretty cool, I would actually probably use the composites before I would even use my own ranks.” For the most part I concur, and I speak on behalf of all the RotoViz contributors when I say that we hope (and anticipate) that you will too.
Note that the composite rank for any given player is not the mere average of the six different ranks he received from the contributors. Rather, in order to avoid the skewed effects of an outlying ranking, we used a simple point system of Frank’s creating to derive the composite rank. In other words, when you see that Eddie Lacy is ranked 1.0, not 1.67, don’t worry—that’s intentional.
The six rankers were Frank DuPont, Jon Moore, Shawn Siegele, Davis Mattek, Ryan Rouillard, and Matt Freedman—or as we are “commonly” (not) known in some circles: The Fantasy Douche, The College Football Experiment, The Banana Stand, Hoodie, ADP—Yeah You Know Me!, and The Oracle. We are so NOT losers—and with, these rankings, you won’t be a loser either.
2013 Composite Rooking Tight End Rankings
Tyler Efiert: Composite Rank, 1.0
Tyler Eifert from Notre Dame was your unanimous #1 tight end with not one dissenter in the ranks. When looking at his physical profile and college production, it is pretty easy to see why. Standing a monstrous 6’6, with an impressive 4.65 40 time, Eifert is a rare combination of red zone efficiency and potential to produce in the middle of the field. NFL scouts basically agree that he is the safest best at the position and that bodes well for his future fantasy production since he will likely be drafted into a favorable situation for receiving targets.
Zach Ertz: Composite Rank, 2.0
For a majority of this draft season, Ertz was widely considered the consensus #2 tight end but has recently began to see a swoon in his draft status. While I ranked him as my second tight end, I can see why Matthew felt comfortable putting him all the way down at 5 and why Ryan put him at 3. He is almost as tall and fast as Eifert, but on the field, he simply isn’t as good. There are real concerns about his blocking ability, and a part time player at the NFL level will most likely not be a fantasy relevant player. His college statistics are very Coby Fleener-esque, which we now know isn’t a very positive thing. Given that these two players played at the same school in the same system, it should be surprising that Ertz had significantly fewer Yards per Target than Fleener. The sky isn’t falling, but Ertz is still not the homerun that we believed he was a few months ago.
Travis Kelce: Composite Ranking, 3.0
After Eifert and Ertz, there is no uniformity on how to rank these athletes. Kelce is similarly sized to both of the top 2 guys, but many actually believe he is faster. He ran a 4.61 40 at his pro day but was just recovering from a sports hernia. Kelce is about as raw as it gets, with one real year of college production and he was consistently banged up. Those who are very high on him compare him to a raw Rob Gronkowski, an incredibly powerful and agile player for an athlete his size, but if he can’t get on the field (due to injuries or character concerns), it won’t matter. However, this sort of speed and strength creates an interesting prospect.
Vance McDonald: Composite Ranking, 4.0
McDonald began to be noticed at the Senior Bowl, ironically because Kelce was unable to work out. Continuing the streak of very impressive physical athletes, McDonald is tall, strong and ran a very impressive 4.60 40. His college stats don’t look very impressive, meaning that his draft stock is directly tied to his impressive physical attributes. If you can’t tell by my rankings, I’m not tremendously high on McDonald or Kelce because they are such massive projects at the next level. For every uber-athlete that works out as a professional, a la Rob Gronkowski, there are 5 Dorin Dickerson’s.
Jordan Reed: Composite Ranking, 5.0
If you follow me on twitter or read my stuff elsewhere, you would already know why Jordan Reed is my #3 tight end. The way that Reed was used projects very favorably to a productive NFL career. He was able to line up in the backfield as an H-Back, in-line as a blocker and a receiver, and in the slot. While Reed is NOT!!!! a good blocker at all, his versatility is going to keep him on the field. Per Greg Peshak Reed has the 2nd most yards after the catch of any FBS tight end and that reflects Reed’s usage pattern and skills. What Reed excels at is catching the ball on the move and running through and around defenders in the open field. Jon Moore had Reed all the way down at 10, with some valid concerns about his size-speed combo. To assuage those concerns, I present you with a comparison with former University of Florida tight end, Aaron Hernandez. In their final season, they both had a 30% Market Share of Yards and Reed had a significantly larger Market Share of Touchdowns. The offense changed over the course of their careers, but it is clear that Reed has a very high fantasy football ceiling.
Gavin Escobar: Composite Ranking, 5.0
Escobar ended up right about where I expected him. As tall as Eifert, but not nearly as fast, Escobar only ran 4.78 and 4.81 40’s at his pro day, neither of which impressed me. Physically, the only outstanding part of Escobar is the extreme length of his arms, which gives him a chance to make some difficult catches. Like Reed, however, he is a subpar blocker, which is going to make it hard for him to see the field. Escobar played in a relatively weak Mountain West conference and his Market Share numbers aren’t impressive. Most of the rankers, other than Shawn, seemed to believe that he was a relatively middling talent. The most intriguing thing about Escobar is his basketball background, but Sigmund Bloom, of Footballguys and Bleacher report, doesn’t believe that he has the same ‘my ball mentality’ that Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates possess. Not a favorite of mine.
Chris Gragg: Composite Ranking, 7.0
With Gragg there is a real sense of uniformity among the rankers, except for from Jon. Without Jon ranking him all the way at number 3, Gragg would be much lower on this list. The reason that Gragg is intriguing is his wide receiver-like 40 time. Finding a player who stands 6’3, weighs 244 pounds and runs a 4.46 is pretty rare. Gragg was basically a bit player in the Arkansas offense, never receiving more than 60 targets in a single season as he was injured for most of his senior season. His NFL future will depend on becoming a ‘move’ tight end. He just isn’t strong enough or big enough to play in-line and that hurts his long time potential.
Dion Sims: Composite Ranking, 8.0
As you can probably tell so far, the Rotoviz staff likes tight ends as tall and as fast and possible. Sims is yet another bit player, but one that was able to gain over 20% of the Market Share of yards in his final season at Michigan State. Of all the rankers, the Fantasy Douche himself liked him the most, putting him all the way at 5. The 4.68 40 at 35 inch vertical leap mean that Sims has a future in the red zone, but for a player with Sims potential, he never produced more than 3 touchdowns at the collegiate level as well as only converting more than 30% of his chances in very limited playing time his freshman year.
Joseph Fauria: Composite Ranking, 10.0
Shawn and I did not rank Fauria at all. This ranking is mostly reliant on Matthew ranking him all the way at number 3! Unlike a lot of the other physical projects at this position, Fauria actually produced in a meaningful way in college. His extreme height (6’8) is very tantalizing and he runs the same 40 time as Escobar. Fauria was very impressive in the redzone, converting 50% of his chances in his final season at UCLA. As is to be expected from someone so tall, Fauria probably isn’t going to be sent down the field on go routes very often, but he will tower over any defender assigned to him. My ranking reflects a belief that he will have a Kellen Davis-esque role (read: not fantasy relevant), but if he turns himself into a real NFL player, a 15 touchdown season is a possibility.
Jake Stoneburner: Composite Ranking, 11.0
Normally, white guys who are bit players in a Big 10 offense are ignored by the fantasy football community. However, when you are 6’4 and run a 4.5 40, some eyes will be opened. The non-uniformity after Dion Sims means that the rest of the rankings really reflect personal taste, and Stoneburner has some qualities we like to see in NFL tight ends. He is fast enough to beat the average NFL linebacker, but probably isn’t going to burn many safeties. He wasn’t particulary productive in college, but the Ohio State offense is a tough place for a receiving tight end to play. What lead his placement at #9 for me was a ridiculous 60% conversation rate on redzone touchdowns.
Matt Furstenburg: Composite Ranking, 12.0
I didn’t rank Furstenburg, and those who did were not very high on him. Jon put him at 12, and Shawn had him at 8. Not particularly big, and not particularly fast, not much stands out about the 4 year kid from Maryland. In both touchdowns and yards, he was never able to capture more than 15% of a Market Share and only barely eclipsed 7.5 yards per target.
Justice Cunningham: Composite Ranking, 13.0
We have officially reached ‘physical project only’ territory. The most passes Cunningham ever caught in a season 23, but did so on only 31 targets. He only scored one touchdown in his college career. The reason that he was able to garner my #9 ranking was an impressive 20 yard shuttle time as well as high target to catch ratio. To be fantasy relevant at the tight end position, you have to block well and convert on third downs, something that numbers indicate he will be able to do. As we’ve seen with the last 5 guys on this list, finding tight ends in this draft who can actually play in-line is pretty difficult, but that is something Cunningham is willing and able to do.
Levine Toilolo: Composite Ranking, 14.0
I did not rank Toilolo but a strong case can be made for him. Toilolo played with Zach Ertz at Stanford and has not received even close to the same attention. Yet, Toilolo had an eerily similar yards per target number, at just a shade under 10. He actually had a larger market share of touchdowns than Ertz, until his last season and his Redzone TD Rate dwarfs Ertz’s. He is a similar physical specimen to Fauria, having the same 6’8 height, but his hype train is much smaller. Most likely, Toilolo is headed to becoming an UDFA, but one to keep an eye on.
Mychal Rivera: Composite Ranking, 16.0
This ranking was all Frank, who ranked him as his #11 tight end. I would imagine that what caused Frank to rank him was a 40% Redzone TD rate his final season, in combination with a not-to-slow 4.78 40 time. For the rest of us, Rivera’s mediocre measurables and lack of production were concerning.