I’ve been working on a lot of TE related content lately, and wanted to put this out there as a visual aide. To get up to speed on the terminology and production model framework, start here, and here. Hit my author page to find profiles on Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and C.J. Fiedorowicz.
Visualizing Tight Ends
Here’s how I constructed the following graph: I culled my database of 200 TEs down to 100, to make it less crowded. I left in all the “Hit” TEs, a representative sample of “Misses”, and made the 2014 rookies orange so they’d stand out. The graph is showing each player’s best collegiate Dominator Rating (DR) on the X axis, and the age at which they achieved it on the Y axis (note age is in descending order). Then for the size of the bubbles I simply added each player’s market share of pass targets and yards/target. A couple of quick comments before the graph: market share of targets and yards/target are important predictive factors, but there’s nothing magical about the way they’re presented here; I simply added them to give you an idea of how predominantly the player figured in their college offense. Also, this chart disregards athletic measures. Mainly I did that because we don’t (and won’t, in ASJ’s case) have all the athletic measurables for the rookie TEs yet. So a lot of what might look out of place on the graph (“Kory Sperry is a stud!”) can probably be explained if you refer back to the athletic measurables (he ran a 4.7 40, has a below average TE Height Adjusted Speed Score, and was nearly 25 in his rookie season). Finally, I put some lines on the graph just to emphasize some of the rough tipping points. The vertical line represents a DR of 0.2, and I put breakout age (BOA) markers at 22 and 23 years.
- If I’d left in the other 100 TEs, the two quadrants on the lower left would look like a giant blue bubble. That’s where most of the Misses fall.
- The Hits that have come from the two quadrants on the lower left are (a) unexciting guys close to the 0.2 DR threshold (Brandon Pettigrew, John Carlson) or (b) super athletic exceptions to the general rule (Jimmy Graham, Jordan Cameron).
- I’m really not enthused about Crockett Gillmore at all.
- While there are a few Hits in the over 23 breakout age/over 0.2 DR quadrant, that area of the chart is pretty sparse for a reason- the majority of NFL capable TEs are already in the NFL by that age.
- Zach Sudfeld and Quinn Sypniewski are basically the same person. Oh.
- Would we be happy if Coby Fleener turned out like Dennis Pitta?
- Do you see now why it isn’t that surprising that Dwayne Allen outplayed Coby Fleener as a rookie?
- C.J. Fiedorowicz sandwiches between Brandon Myers and Owen Daniels. I think that makes sense.
- Zach Ertz is actually the most interesting guy in that part of the chart I think. Athletically he’s a tick behind the top 2014 rookies, but in terms of collegiate production he compares favorably. Ertz may not be available at any type of discount right now, but if and when he is, I’d consider him instead of either Amaro or ASJ.
- The sub-22/sub-o.2 quadrant is interesting. Some awful Misses there, and some moderate Hits. Jared Cook dominates this quadrant in terms of combined market share targets and yards/target, which says something about both him and this cohort.
- That said, I like Levine Toilolo as a potential low cost fantasy target, depending on what Atlanta does in the draft.
- Switching to the sub-22, over 0.2 side, there’s an interesting cluster: Michael Egnew, Tyler Eifert, Jordan Reed, Marcedes Lewis. If you continue up the chart (down in age) just a bit, you get Fred Davis and Martellus Bennett. That’s a really promising area (even though Egnew has yet to produce) to focus on.
- Joseph Fauria is in line with that cluster in terms of production, but not age, which is the mild red flag for him. I still like him though, especially late in MFL10s.
- Ditto Ryan Griffin, whom I profiled at the end of last season. I think he has promise, if Houston moves on from either Owen Daniels or Garrett Graham.
- Jace Amaro comes up just short of this cluster. Though his raw targets in his best college year are impressive, his market share of targets trails the others in this cohort.
- For what it’s worth, Luke Willson might make an interesting TE flier this year, if Seattle cuts Zach Miller. Willson’s a better athlete than Amaro and won’t cost nearly as much to acquire.
- Buffalo: Chris Gragg or Tony Moeaki? Neither is probably a great bet for big production this year, but do people even remember who Tony Moeaki is? He’s only 26 and showed some promise when healthy in Kansas City.
- Note that Eric Ebron had a better DR and combo of market share targets/yards per target, at a younger age, than Greg Olsen. Also note that Ebron’s Breakout Age is similar to Gronk’s – as is his athleticism.
- Colt Lyerla is an interesting guy too, but his immediate comps and market share of targets are less desirable, and his draft slot will likely make him irrelevant for dynasty draft purposes.
- A.C. Leonard’s dot is so small because I don’t have collegiate market share of targets info for him. Like Lyerla, his draft spot will probably make him irrelevant, at least in the short term, for dynasty purposes, but I like him much more than Lyerla.
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins is in some pretty rare company. Depending on his recovery from foot surgery, I like him just behind Ebron as the second best TE this year.
- In that same neck of the woods is Vance McDonald. Probably not much value while Vernon Davis is still playing, but a reasonable handcuff/deep dyno stash. He fits in on the tail end of the aforementioned favorable cluster.
- Also residing nearby is Jeff Cumberland, who just re-upped with the Jets, is also an interesting end-of-bench stash. Athletically and production-wise he’s the peer of any incoming rookie TE (though he was older as a rookie than Ebron, Amaro, and ASJ) and is likely far cheaper.
- Ladarius Green people. We were just a year early.