Continuing our look back at the 2018 rookie crop, our attention turns now to Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert. Despite a Christian name that is not exactly a popular word around Philly, Goedert was able to do enough in his first season to convince Eagles fans that Dallas doing well isn’t always a bad thing.
We’ll take a look back at the positives, and negatives, of Goedert’s first year in the NFL from a numbers point of view. We’ll also look at a few players who enjoyed a similar rookie season to Goedert. We’ll take a quick look at how they’ve fared since their rookie seasons. This will allow us to see a possible range of outcomes for Goedert moving forward. Then we’ll touch briefly on his outlook for 2019.
In order to find some comparisons for the first year from Goedert, I set the RotoViz Screener
to find rookies from 2008 to 2018, and selected some basic production and usage numbers as variables. I also included the draft pick. The influence of draft pick on a player’s opportunity declines over time, but it’s still relevant heading into a player’s second season. Then I asked the Screener to find seasons comparable to my target player.
Let’s take a look at the players who enjoyed a similar first season in the NFL as Goedert.
From a fantasy point of view, these are some eye-catching comps. Well, apart from Clive Walford, bless him. David Njoku almost doubled his receptions and receiving yards in his second year, and is one of the most promising young TEs in the entire NFL. Jimmy Graham and Kyle Rudolph have been fantasy mainstays at fantasy’s most toxic position for the last half decade and more. Indeed, in Graham’s second season he dropped a 99-1310-11 stat line.
After trading the 32nd overall selection to the Baltimore Ravens, Goedert was the first player the Eagles selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Eagles were suddenly short at TE after losing Trey Burton to the Bears and Brent Celek to retirement. Even with Zach Ertz hoovering up a large number of targets from both Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, Goedert was able to put up some decent numbers as a rookie.
Goedert saw at least three targets in nine of 16 games last season, including six of his last seven games. He reeled in at least three catches six times, including a career-high 7-73-1 against the Colts back in Week 3. Goedert was only charged with one drop all season and had six games in which he caught every single one of his targets (eight, if we include games in which he was only targeted once). Exactly 50 percent of Goedert’s receiving yards came after the catch, with his 167 yards of YAC was good for 20th among all TEs.
The Eagles offense seemed to change focus at several points of the 2018 season, and Goedert’s involvement is a clear indicator of this. Up to Week 11, Goedert played at least 50 percent of the offensive snaps just three times. From Week 12 onwards, he didn’t play less than 52 percent in any game.
The presence of Ertz is bound to cap any other TE’s opportunities and production. But Goedert is fortunate that the Eagles deploy two TEs more than any other team in the NFL, per Sharp Football Stats. And if that weren’t enough (for fantasy players), they also pass out of 12 personnel more than any other team in the NFL save for one. This was evinced by the fact that Goedert ran a pass route on a healthy 34.9 percent of his 523 snaps as a rookie.
Goedert was able to leverage his usage into three top-12-TE weeks in 2018, with a high of TE2 following Week 3. Despite only seven targets inside the red zone all season, Goedert was able to snare five of them. Three went for touchdowns. Goedert was targeted as he stood inside the end zone on 14.3 percent of his targets. This accounted for 20.7 percent of the Eagles total end-zone targets.
When looking at negatives for Goedert, most of them are not of his own making. The presence of Ertz was a substantial barrier to Goedert, meaning that he was likely to have to get by with scraps. Goedert had seven games with one reception or less. In two games he failed to draw a single target. Twice in the span of three weeks, Goedert had games in which he saw three targets but failed to register a single reception. As previously mentioned, Goedert drew only seven red-zone targets all season long. Five of these came in the season’s opening seven weeks. He was a TE2 or worse in the nine weeks in which he registered a stat.
Goedert did not exactly benefit from the trade that brought Golden Tate to the Eagles, as the numbers below can attest to.
There was also the appreciable difference in production from Goedert with Wentz at QB than Foles. Goedert was more productive in games with Wentz running the offense than Foles.
The Eagles heavy usage of 12 personnel aside, it is very hard to be too excited about Goedert moving forward. Ertz is coming off a season in which he set a new NFL single-season record for TE receptions. He has been Wentz’s main go-to guy since Wentz arrived in the league (although look who has the highest AYA when targeted by Wentz)
He’s also under contract until 2021, with prohibitive dead money charges in the next two seasons. However, the Eagles have a financial wizard in Howie Roseman as a GM, so cap considerations are unlikely to be a major reason for them to move on from a productive player.
So it would appear that Goedert is going to have to wait (and hopefully not pray) for an injury to Ertz in order for him to step into the TE1 chair for the Eagles. He could still have boom weeks, especially if he is able to become more of a consistent threat in the red zone. If the 2018 season is anything to go by, a TE scoring a TD almost immediately guarantees a TE1 finish that week. It would seem that his best bet to fantasy stardom for 2019 would be as a best-ball option, although he remains a definite hold in dynasty.