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Here’s Why I Just Pulled the Trigger on Vernon Davis in the 7th Round of a Dynasty Startup Draft

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Our RotoViz dynasty league starts 3WR, a WR/RB flex, and a WR/TE flex. By the 7th round I had taken 2 RBs and 4 WRs and was tempted to go WR again just for the hell of it. But I decided not to because Vernon Davis was still available. Even though I think there are other TE options available late in the draft that are competitive with the top (healthy) TEs, I decided to roll with Davis. I’ll briefly explain my thinking below, but I’ll also offer a hat tip to Evan Silva because he mentioned Davis last night on twitter and that sent me to PFR looking for evidence.

Delanie Walker is gone. If you look at the table below and add Walker’s targets to Davis’ targets, you can get to 100 targets. That’s good. It wouldn’t be enough to make Davis the top TE in the league on its own, but it’s a good place to start.

SF 2012 Targets

Player Status Targets C Pct Yds TD
Michael Crabtree Out 127 85 66.90% 1105 9
Vernon Davis 61 41 67.20% 548 5
Mario Manningham ? 57 42 73.70% 449 1
Randy Moss Out 50 28 56.00% 434 3
Delanie Walker Out 39 21 53.80% 339 3
Frank Gore 36 28 77.80% 234 1
Kyle Williams 22 14 63.60% 212 1
Bruce Miller 13 12 92.30% 84 0
Kendall Hunter 12 9 75.00% 60 0
Garrett Celek 7 4 57.10% 51 0
LaMichael James 5 3 60.00% 29 0
Ted Ginn Jr. 2 2 100.00% 1 0
A.J. Jenkins 1 0 0.00% 0 0

But then there’s also the issue of Michael Crabtree’s targets. Out of the 49ers pass catchers, who is most qualified to take Crabtree’s targets? The answer for that is partially in the table above (only Kyle Williams averaged a higher yards/target number than Davis) and partially in the table below. Going back to 2009, no one in the NFL has a higher red zone TD rate than Vernon Davis (minimum 25 red zone targets).

Red Zone TD Rate 2009-2012 (Minimum 25 Targets)

Player Targets TD RZ TD Rate
Vernon Davis 35 18 51%
Rob Gronkowski 58 29 50%
Antonio Gates 51 25 49%
Eric Decker 35 15 43%
Fred Davis 28 12 43%
Laurent Robinson 28 11 39%
Jimmy Graham 51 20 39%
Mike Sims-Walker 31 12 39%
Dallas Clark 39 15 38%
Jermaine Gresham 35 13 37%
Dez Bryant 35 13 37%
James Jones 49 18 37%
Vincent Jackson 44 16 36%
Kenny Britt 33 12 36%
Joel Dreessen 31 11 35%
Heath Miller 50 17 34%
Ben Watson 33 11 33%
Jordy Nelson 39 13 33%
Aaron Hernandez 48 16 33%

Davis is red zone efficient and the 49ers will be right to throw him the ball more. But he’s really just efficient in general.

Picking up Delanie Walker’s target is part of the argument, picking up some of Crabtree’s targets is another component, and then Davis’ efficiency that will allow him to do more with less targets is the rest of the argument.

The elements that are in place for Davis this season are close to the same elements that were in place for Jimmy Graham when he broke out. Graham had been extremely efficient in 2010, and the team let Jeremy Shockey leave as a free agent.

Also be sure to check out Jon Krouner’s article on Davis, which has some additional information that I didn’t cover.

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