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10 Re-draft Targets in 10 Days: #6 Greg Olsen


Image via Football Schedule.

If you’re new to this series, I’m going through fantasy football ADP and picking out 10 ideas to target in your re-draft league. This is basically a draft plan where I’m giving you the value case for each guy that I’m touting.

So far I’ve advocated for Marques Colston, Eric Decker, Mike Williams, Brian Hartline and a three-headed QB monster featuring Sam Bradford, EJ Manuel and Geno Smith. In some sense these are very boring players. But they’re all value plays and they offer a ton of production for that boredom. Of the WRs I’ve touted, their current average ADP as a group is WR32. But they also on averaged the following stat lines in 2012: 127 targets, 1,070 yards, and 8 touchdowns.

As I’ve gone through this series, I’ve realized that there is a reason that I approach drafts the way that I do. I always start with middle-round WRs because I have the most confidence in my model there. I want to have a lot of confidence in the middle rounds so that I’ve built in room for error when I draft guys in the first three rounds. Those early picks are the ones with the most potential to go wrong, so I want to feel like I can screw them up when I make them because I’m building crazy equity later in the draft.

Here’s what my targets would look like on a draft board with today’s guy also shown.

Draft Round Player
4 Marques Colston
6 Eric Decker
9 Mike Williams
11 Brian Hartline
12 Greg Olsen
13 Sam Bradford
14 EJ Manuel
16 Geno Smith

Unless Rob Gronkowski is healthy going into the year, I think waiting on TE will be one of the biggest no brainers in 2013. After Gronk there just isn’t enough separation to justify spending a high pick on any of the other tight ends. Greg Olsen is currently being drafted in the 12th round in a 12 team league, so that’s the guy you have to think about when Jimmy Graham and Aaron Hernandez are the next tight ends slated to come off the board during your draft. Is Jimmy Graham worth drafting 10 rounds in front of Greg Olsen? Is Aaron Hernandez worth drafting 7 rounds in front of Olsen? To answer that, consider this comparison of their per game numbers from 2012:

Greg Olsen 2012 27 255 16.00 6.50 4.31 52.69 0.31 0.48 8.10
Jimmy Graham 2012 26 259 15.00 9.00 5.67 65.47 0.60 0.19 7.20
Aaron Hernandez 2012 23 245 8.00 9.88 6.12 55.88 0.62 (0.11) 5.60

*FPOP is a fantasy scoring efficiency metric that is the equivalent of fantasy points per target if you also adjust for field position.

I should mention that to be fair to AHern, I threw out two of his games where he wasn’t targeted heavily.

Olsen was actually the most efficient of this comparison group in 2012. That’s worth remembering because his usage has room to improve. Maybe it won’t improve, but he was efficient enough that the Panthers could throw to him more often. By contrast, Aaron Hernandez actually scored fewer fantasy points with his targets than an average tight end would be expected to score. If you suggested to me that AHern had a down year and could rebound in ‘13, I wouldn’t disagree with that; I just wouldn’t pay TE3 prices and then keep my fingers crossed hoping that he can grow into the price I’m paying for him. I also think that there’s some chance that AHern could see his per game targets decline. Why would that happen? Because at 5.6 yards per target, that’s actually pretty inefficient for the NE offense and basically exposes them to the risks of the passing game (sacks/ints), but without many more yards to show for their effort than if they were running the ball. So I don’t think it’s sustainable. AHern’s usage declining isn’t a high likelihood proposition, but it’s within the range of outcomes.

If you want to compare Jimmy Graham to Olsen, it’s true that Graham was better in 2012, I just don’t think he was 10 draft rounds better. To think about this issue, let’s look at what you could get in either part of the draft (Graham’s early rounds, or Olsen’s late rounds) depending on where you decided to pick your tight end. Below I’ve paired each player with the WR that is immediately after them in ADP.

Option #1: Demaryius Thomas + Greg Olsen

Option #2: Jimmy Graham + Santonio Holmes

So if you’re willing to give up about 3 points per week at tight end, you can upgrade from Santonio Holmes to Demaryius Thomas. One is an undersized overachiever that might be catching the ball from Mark Sanchez again. The other is Demaryius Thomas.

Let’s discuss some potential events that could happen that would slightly change the value paradigm that I’m offering for tight ends. The following are what I would call the exceptions to my position:

  1. If Gronkowski is healthy going into the season and you can draft him in the 2nd round, then you should. Gronk is a reasonable approximation of Calvin Johnson, who is going in the first round.
  2. If Aaron Hernandez is the only healthy, experienced pass catcher in NE, he eventually becomes a value. I don’t think that will be the case, as Amendola is there and the Pats have brought in a ton of guys. Also, it’s not like AHern was suffering from lack of usage in 2012 and he still didn’t perform like a guy worthy of a premium. As long as we’re talking about healthy, it’s worth noting that AHern is coming off of his own shoulder surgery.
  3. This doesn’t qualify as a real world event like the previous two points do, but if you’re in a league where tight ends get a bonus PPR (like 1.5 or 2) then I think you can draft Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen instead of just Olsen.

If you’ve read this and just refuse to take Greg Olsen because he’s boring, let me try to change your mind by suggesting some high upside guys that you could draft as your back-up to Olsen. Maybe drafting another tight end with high upside will make you feel better. In that case, you can get all of the following tight ends in the last round of your draft:

NFL Team Usage 40 Time College Receiving Yards/G
Rob Housler ARI Starter 4.46 50
Chris Gragg BUF Depends on Scott Chandler 4.5 57
Ladarius Green SD Depends on health of Antonio Gates 4.45 67

Housler is easily the best value right now because he’s the starter and is also extremely athletic. Bruce Arians has also said that when Housler came out of college, he (Arians) thought that Housler might make sense as a wide receiver. I could also see a scenario where Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd start at the outside wide receiver positions and then Housler is left to run the deep seam as the vertical element in Arians’ offense.

If you can’t get Housler, it’s likely that the other two would be available on the waiver wire in most re-draft leagues.  However, if Antonio Gates doesn’t look healthy in training camp I think you want to get Ladarius Green before his value increases.

That’s six re-draft ideas down and four left to go.

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