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Hot Reed: Don’t Forget About Jordan Reed in your Drafts in 2019

Player Fatigue – Real and Dangerous

Player fatigue is a very real phenomenon in fantasy football. It can become ingrained in the manager that a player who has “hurt them” before should never be allowed to do so again. It is sensible in life to protect ourselves from harmful situations, of course. But adopting this mindset can, in fantasy football at least, blind us to situations that we should really look to take advantage of.

Most fantasy players have come to accept that the tight end spot is somewhere between a cesspit and a dumpster fire on a weekly basis. To an extent, this is true. Taking 2018 as an example, it may have felt like if you didn’t have Travis Kelce, George Kittle or Zach Ertz, then you stood a good chance of posting a zero from the TE spot. It’s true, not many TE’s are dominant on a weekly basis. Weekly contributors can be found. But player fatigue must be avoided if you are to be successful.

Don’t Forget About Me

A player who seems to have exhausted the patience of the fantasy community of late is Washington TE Jordan Reed. I will admit he is a name that could be said to have let people down over the last few years. In 2016, he was the first TE to be drafted, according to MyFantasyLeague ADP data. He rewarded his owners with a TE9 finish. Somewhat chastened by this, expectations were tempered in 2017 . . . when he was the third TE off the boards. He missed most of the season and saw 34 TEs score more fantasy points than him. Last year, he actually delivered something close to his ADP value, finishing as the overall TE13 (but 12th in fantasy points per game) after being taken as the 10th TE in drafts. Despite this, people seem intent on forgetting about him. He is the TE17 over at the FFPC as I write this.

The Washington offense is not one that generally rouses much excitement from fantasy owners, I know. But if we step back, we can see that Reed could be in a position to dominate the receiving work on his team. This would put him in play to become a weekly contributor once again, if not a superstar.

Reed in 2018

From a counting point of view, Reed was quite a big part of the Washington offense in 2018. He led the team with 84 targets, commanding a 20.1% target share in the games in which he played 1. Reed was able to deliver 54 receptions for 562 yards on those targets, but only two touchdowns.

Reed’s output last season was firmly in the midpoint of his last five seasons, as the data from the RotoViz screener app shows.

It was far from a dominant season, despite his opportunities. But there were other factors at play that held Reed down. He did, as we have come to expect, fail to play in all 16 games. But his 13 outings were the second-most of his career. Reed was also hampered by less than exemplary play from his assortment of quarterbacks in 2018.

Reed’s connection with Alex Smith last year was the worst of his career among QBs who’ve sent at least 50 targets his way.

Part of the reason for the low AYA numbers with Smith is the lack of touchdowns. Between 2013 and 2017, Reed scored on six percent of his targets. Last season, this number fell to 2.4 percent. Reed saw 17.9 percent of the Washington red-zone targets last season, and if he continues to command a lions share of these high-value targets then his weekly touchdown upside would make him a viable weekly option.

Looking Ahead

As we head into 2019, we cannot ignore the fact that Reed appears to be at or close to full health for the first time in what seems like decades. Nor should we discount the difficult schedule that Washington is facing. Last season, Washington had the sixth fewest total offensive plays in the whole league. They also had the 11th lowest pass to run ratio, with 1.34. With a choice of Colt McCoy, Case Keenum or rookie Dwayne Haskins at QB, they make look to be quite run-heavy again in 2019. However, according to Sharp Football Stats, Washington faces the fourth hardest schedule in terms of run defenses this season. By contrast, they have the eighth easiest pass defensive schedule. They may be forced to air it out more than they’d prefer.

Competition? More like Company

If Washington is forced to fill the air with footballs, then Reed should easily be atop the target totem pole. This should be apparent when you look at the players on Washington’s wide receiver depth chart. In terms of productivity, this group cannot hold a collective candle to Reed.

There are rookies Kelvin Harmon and Terry McLaurin to consider, of course. But if McLaurin can build on his strong camp and seize a starting job, his inclusion could be a further boost to Reed’s opportunities. McLaurin profiles as a deep threat, as evidenced by his 4.35 40-yard dash time and 20.0 college yards per reception.

Defenses forced to honor his speed will be more welcoming to underneath receivers like Reed. Reed has had a teammate who boasts game-changing speed in the past, namely DeSean Jackson. His numbers enjoyed quite a boost whenever Jackson was in the same lineup as him.

Outlook

The Washington offense is not going to be among the leagues most high powered, I think we can all agree. But Jordan Reed looks to be the one player in it that we can expect some weekly production from, given the “weakness” of his competition at his track record of production when healthy. Don’t let past pain be the reason you click on someone else’s name when drafting this autumn.

Image Credit: Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Jordan Reed.

  1. He commanded 17% of the total team targets  (back)

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