This is a follow up to my previous posts about wide receivers and running backs.1 Again, I’m trying to wrap up my perception of player values before getting immersed in draft coverage. The simplest part of value to analyze is just “how did the player perform vs. expectations.” The chart below shows PPR points/game for the top 29 drafted, plus many notable undrafted tight ends from last season.2 Below you’ll find some of my thoughts, but I encourage you to draw your own conclusions from the chart.
I think this type of exercise is valuable, in both dynasty and redraft formats. Over the course of a season we develop internal narratives about the value of certain players. Sometimes “just looking at the numbers” can help challenge those narratives. Perhaps our belief is right – perhaps wrong. But this kind of exercise can point out players or situations that need more analysis.
- [Insert 1000 words about Gronk’s magnificence here.]
- But seriously, wow. If you played in a redraft league that drafted early last offseason3 you probably got Gronk for even less. Frankly, is there a reason you wouldn’t draft Gronk this high again?
- Health and consistency were issues, as is his own free agency and the Peyton Manning Decision. But no disputing Julius Thomas’ per-game performance. Is he just a product of Manning? Is that offset by potentially landing in a higher-target situation as a free agent? His value might be tough to pin down but personally I’m interested in acquiring him at any sort of discount, even a modest one, if his owner has doubts. Not so much because I love Thomas but because of the players after him.
- There’s a big ADP gap from Thomas to Greg Olsen. There’s also a big production gap from Thomas to Jason Witten. So while I like Olsen a lot, he’ll be 30 this upcoming season so his dynasty value would seem to be on the wane. Witten’s performance was basically on par with his draft expectation, but that point total wasn’t that distinguished, and he’s also got a lot of age-related risk.
- Jimmy Graham was perceived to be a disappointment this year, despite solid per-game numbers. He’ll also be 29 this upcoming season. Not old yet, but getting there. For what it’s worth, Graham was 2 points/game better in games where Brandin Cooks also played.
- In one of my MFL10s last season, I remember feeling pleased to have landed both Jordan Cameron and Vernon Davis on my roster. Welp. I may just be a masochist, but if their ADP drops significantly this year I’ll probably be interested again. In dynasty maybe I can get one added in to another deal. I think both are worth exploring more as potential rebound candidates.
- In the RotoViz Dynasty League, I swung a preseason trade that included landing me Tyler Eifert in exchange for Jordan Reed. Another welp. But after missing last season, Eifert’s value should be very low. He’s another cheap TE I’ll be looking at closely heading into next season.
- I think I’ll ride the Antonio Gates bus until the wheels finally fall off. Ditto Olsen.
- Somewhere along the way Martellus Bennett became a legitimate TE1, but he may not be universally perceived that way. Delanie Walker is a similar player in that regard. Not a sexy name, but cheap and useful production. I like acquiring them as add-ins to other deals, if you lack one of the few dominant TEs.
- By the way, Coby Fleener was better than Dwayne Allen on a per-game basis.
- Despite a frustrating season, Charles Clay was a fringe TE1. A return to full health and a potential new landing spot are encouraging.
- Know who I really like heading into next season? Last season’s rookies Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. As Rich Hribar pointed out yesterday, tight ends often take time to develop in the NFL, and are often acquired more cheaply once their rookie seasons are complete. I like all three. All three figure to be better next season.
- Larry Donnell is the perfect embodiment of the streaming TE philosophy. Can he be good again next season? Sure, why not? If we expect the high profile rookies to improve we should expect him to as well. Hold him if you got him.
- But the other point about guys like Donnell is to not invest too much equity in the position. Next year will have a different Larry Donnell, most likely, who you’ll be able to scoop up on waivers.
The purpose here is not to suggest buying or selling any particular player. Rather, it’s to encourage you to think critically about player values. Use the chart as a starting point for further analysis, knowing that most fantasy players will base their expectation of player values on the previous season’s performance. So in general, players above the trendline will be valued more, and those below it less. Use that as a starting point for identifying potential buys and sells heading into next season.