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Jordan Reed, Eric Ebron, and Catching Up on Tight Ends

jordanreed

RotoViz has had a lot of TE coverage this offseason. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to check it all out, but if not…here ya go. This post will catch us up on some of the offseason TE news of interest. If you’d like to do some of your own research, hit the College Career Graphs App and the TE Sim App.

Levine Toilolo

Toilolo has this going for him: a clear path to playing time. Assuming Atlanta does nothing else at the TE position, Toilolo is definitely a streaming option this season, and possibly more. Tony Gonzalez is out of the picture, and there are no other TEs of note on the Falcons’ roster. Here’s his comps, referencing the same TE model I used this offseason:

Levine Toilolo Comparables

NameHtWtBMI40 ydAgilityExplosionYPTTgtPctPkRookie AgeBestDR
TopHit76.00249.4330.364.6311.28153.0010.0917.1475.7122.840.26
Ave Hit76.725129.954.6611.41151.629.4018.6078.4023.200.23
Top Miss76.5252.430.44.7311.51147.88.714.418223.70.198
Levine Toilolo8026028.64.8611.6614410.7211.60133.0022.400.18
Greg Estandia8024026.44.86006.2625.30260.0024.100.35
Zach Miller7925328.54.7211.431498.0724.7038.0023.200.18
Martellus Bennett7924827.94.6812.171527.8321.6061.0021.800.28
Joseph Fauria7925929.24.7212.02155.59.8418.40260.0023.000.29
Scott Chandler7927030.44.7811.341418.3617.80129.0022.400.24
Matt Spaeth7927030.44.83009.2517.5077.0024.100.22
Zach Sudfeld7925328.54.7811.491508.7917.50260.0024.700.26
Joey Haynos80264294.8711.34153.57.7616.70260.0024.300.17
Dion Sims7726231.14.7511.881477.8216.00106.0022.900.21
Andrew Quarless7624830.24.6811.861449.5714.90154.0022.240.17
Zack Pianalto7624529.84.8211.261408.6414.30260.0022.590.16
Troy Niklas7927030.4012.121469.3913.3021.280.17
Lyerla, Colt7524230.24.61016711.209.8022.130.171
Kevin Boss7925528.74.7811.37151153.0024.000.33

He’s not an exceptional athlete by any means. But he’s got a decent draft slot and he’s very young, which both work in his favor. He’s also quite agile, but overall is a borderline prospect. I’ve been adding him very late in some MFL10s, given his (so far) clear opportunity. He’s also undrafted in keeper/dynasty formats as well. Low acquisition cost, pathway to starters snaps in an offense that has the fourth most pass attempts over the past three years? Sign me up!

2014 Rookies

Jace Amaro improved his 40 time – a lot – at his pro day. The improved 40 time raises his Height Adjusted Speed Score (HASS) from 112.2 to 117.1. If you check my earlier post on Amaro, you’ll see that bump pushes his HASS into “Hit” territory and really solidifies him as my second ranked TE from this class. He’s pushing Ebron for top prospect, in my opinion. But I still prefer Eric Ebron, even though he was recently blasted by an “anonymous” player personnel type:

“Hell no,” the personnel man said when asked if Ebron was as good as the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert. “He’s OK. He’s completely overrated, and he’s a pain in the (butt). And don’t ask him to block anybody, because he’s not going to do it.”

To that I say: “Whooooo carrrrrrrreeeeessss?” This is almost assuredly meaningless pre-draft smokescreen/annoyed scout/noise-not-signal stuff. This stuff happens every year, and the only possible benefit that can derive is if it causes your league mates to devalue Ebron. “Attitude” is notoriously difficult to quantify and I say just ignore it. More important than that is his Phenom Index score, for example, which is better than Vernon Davis‘. His production level at a young age is very impressive.

Ebron Won’t block? Who cares. The “TEs must be good blockers” narrative is getting a little tired as far as I’m concerned. Know who sucks at blocking? Jimmy Graham. Does anyone care? Nope. Check out this quote, from last season:

One thing holding Graham down as a tight end is his run blocking; he sucks at it. But the Saints have figured that out. The tight end’s been asked to block on runs for 118 snaps and has a -4.2 grade in that category, via PFF. Gronk’s played in four games and has already blocked on runs for 63 snaps. Gates has done it for 219 snaps. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily better than Graham at run blocking, but the Saints don’t see a point in wasting Graham on those plays.

Ya think? The point of a TE blocking is to take a defender out of the play, right? From the same article:

Graham’s combination of height and size at his position forces defenses to rearrange so that mismatched linebackers aren’t struggling to cover Graham

So having a mismatch TE that’s a legitimate receiving threat…forces the defense to rearrange and maybe even takes a defender away from playing the run? Whodathunkit! Look, I get that blocking is important, and that drawing defenders with a pass route is different than blocking them. But the point is that a competent offensive coordinator ought to be able to design plays that maximize Ebron’s ability, to the benefit of the whole offense.

Ebron drops passes? Meh. Two points here. First, let’s look at career catch rate for the top 3 2014 TE prospects:

Player Targets Receptions Catch Rate Yards/Target
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 201 143 71% 9.0
Eric Ebron 175 105 60% 10.4
Jace Amaro 190 130 68% 8.2

 

So yeah, Ebron’s catch rate is the lowest. But is it awful? I don’t think so. Especially given that he’s being targeted further down field. And finally, this tidbit is leftover from my earlier work on TEs. Wanna know the R^2 between collegiate catch rate and NFL fantasy points/target? It’s 0.0058. Basically, there’s no relationship there. How about the R^2 between collegiate catch rate and NFL catch rate? 0.1056. So that’s a stronger relationship obviously, but maybe not something we need to worry about too much, eh?

Jordan Reed

 

 

I couldn’t possibly agree with this more. Know why I think that?

 

I wonder if Mr. Silva reads RotoViz? I think that would be awesome if he did. Regardless, he seems to be pointing out one of our favorite axioms around here: Size Matters (not that kind of size, perv. THIS kind of size.) We love larger WRs because they tend to be better at scoring TDs, which is, after all, kinda the point. And TEs are…wait for it…larger than WRS! Compare these two articles by Jacob Myers from last season. Basically, in 2012, only 5 WRs averaged more than three fantasy points/game in the red zone while 11 TEs did. You get the idea.

I’ve already gone on record saying I think the Andre Roberts signing improves their offense. And I’ve also spoken favorably about what DeSean Jackson has accomplished as a WR. That should help Washington move the ball, but when the field gets shorter, I’d bet on Reed being the primary beneficiary. Take a look at what the TE Sim App projects for him. Including a single-target game from last year, and without factoring in the arrivals of Roberts and Jackson, he gets a healthy top end projection of 13.5 PPR points/game. With only Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul behind him, unless Washington drafts another TE, Reed should be in line for a lot of work.

Ryan Griffin

 

 

At this point I should probably give Mr. Silva some royalties for all his tweets I’m using. Garrett Graham is the higher profile TE on the Texans roster, but according to multiple reports (here’s one), O’Brien likes to involve two TEs in his offense. Think Patriots. Obviously Graham and Griffin are nothing like Gronk and Hernandez were. But two TEs means Griffin sees the field and has a shot at decent production. First profiled here, Griffin is a second year TE whose Dominator Rating/Breakout Age profile and Phenom Index score put him ahead of Joseph Fauria, for example. Griffin is undrafted in redraft formats, and is essentially so – 39th TE – in Dynasty start ups. So there’s basically no acquisition cost and a fair opportunity. But how does Griffin compare to Graham?

Name Ht Wt BMI 40 yd Agility Explosion YPT TgtPct Pk Rookie Age BestDR
Garrett Graham 75 245 30.6 4.71 11.44 146.5 8.71 23.7 118 24.41 0.41
Ryan Griffin 76 261 30.2 4.87 11.44 147.5 10.08 18.3 201 24 0.39

Obviously Graham is no longer a college prospect, but this gives you an idea at least of how they compare. Despite being much slower, Griffin is also much bigger and just as agile and explosive, and was similarly dominant in college. He was also younger, which helps his projection. I like Griffin as an end-of-bench stash in dynasty, and a definite “monitor” throughout the offseason/preseason.

Josh Hill

It was recently reported that the Saints are “high on second year TE Josh Hill.” Earlier this offseason I ran a series of articles that broke down what key elements to look for when projecting TEs to the NFL. Check ’em out to get familiar with what we’re looking at here. The good news is that he compares pretty well to the model late round/undrafted successful TE. But his specific comps aren’t that great:

Josh Hill Comparables

NameHtWtBMI40 ydAgilityExplosionYPTTgtPctPkRookie AgeBestDR
TopHit76.00249.4330.364.6311.28153.0010.0917.1475.7122.840.26
Ave Hit76.725129.954.6611.41151.629.4018.6078.4023.200.23
Top Miss76.5252.430.44.7311.51147.88.714.418223.70.198
Josh Hill7722927.24.6611.19163.55.220260.0023.610.18
David Thomas75240304.6711.42150.59.2921.4086.0023.500.20
Drake Dunsmore7424130.94.6310.76152.510.0714.60233.0024.160.21
Owen Daniels7524530.64.6510.99148.58.1210.5098.0024.100.21
Mike McNeill7623228.24.6711.09158.510.1813.00260.0024.820.18
Charles Clay7524530.64.6911.22151.510.8218.30174.0022.880.17
Danny Noble7724829.44.7211.291447.149.10260.0023.750.19
John Phillips7725029.64.7811.11145.56.664.20208.0022.560.19
Michael Palmer7726030.84.780141.58.8914.70260.0022.950.20
Dan Gronkowski7825529.54.7911.181556.8311.20255.0024.940.15
Tom Santi7725029.64.811.3515711.1915.00196.0023.100.19
Joey Haynos80264294.8711.34153.57.7616.70260.0024.300.17
The guys in that list with success were all drafted much higher than Hill. Also Hill’s target percentage in college wasn’t zero, but I don’t have that piece of data, so I had to put zero in to make the table sort. For now, he’s nothing more than just a name to file away. But if the Saints don’t add to the TE position in free agency/draft, he may be worth keeping an eye on.

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