ZWK

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  1. Studs matter more than depth. But high-upside young guys are primarily "potential studs", not depth. Guys like Golden Tate and Eric Decker are strong depth. Guys like John Ross and Josh Doctson are potential studs.
  2. You're probably right that Derby should be higher, as the favorite to be Denver's top receiving TE. I don't see much in particular to like about him, but sometimes guys like Barnidge and Brate emerge. And looking it up, I see that Denver have a new OC in Mike McCoy who is apparently TE-friendly so there's a decent chance that some Denver TE will have fantasy value. I do pay attention to draft pedigree / what I thought of a TE when he entered the league, even among TEs who have been in the NFL for a few years. TEs often take a few years to develop, and early rounders are more likely to emerge (like 2013 2nd rounder Vance McDonald and 2014 3rd rounder CJ Fiedorowicz, who needed some time before they did much as receivers). ASJ is an early 2nd rounder from 2014 who has a good shot to be the Jets' top receiving TE - he is still a year younger than Derby. Maxx Williams is a late 2nd rounder from 2015 who has missed time with injuries, on a team where the top TE spot looks like it'll be open to competition. They seem to have a better shot than the tier 8 guys of emerging as good TEs, and they also have an opportunity to emerge this year (which is good because of the urgency consideration - you want to be able to churn the bottom of your roster rather than keep a roster spot filled as you wait on a guy). The vets in tier 7 are all guys who have a good shot to be fantasy TE2s this year, or potentially low-end starters. Zach Miller in fact was a low-end fantasy starter last year, ranking 10th in ppg (min 8 games). If I only had 1 startable TE on my roster then I would be looking at these guys as possible backups to add for cheap, and if I had a hole in my roster at TE I might even consider collecting a few of them to find a cheap stopgap starter. Barnidge has the smallest chances of being top-24 fantasy TEs this year, out of that group, but we should learn a lot about his chances by the start of the season (depending on where he signs and what the team says about his role). If things look bad it'll be easy to cut him, and if the things break in his favor then he has higher upside than most of the other vets in that tier. Ladarius Green is sort of similar to Barnidge, with more risk and more upside. He also might prove cuttable by opening day. Heuerman, Leggett, Saubert, and Kittle all also have the urgency factor working in their favor. There isn't a clear established starter in DEN, NYJ, ATL, or SF. They're all young mid-round guys with a chance to seize a larger role, which makes them good options for churning since they're easy to cut if they don't.
  3. On the down side, I don't see many plays in that highlight video where Henry is beating man coverage. There are a lot of defensive breakdowns, and plays where SD schemes to get him open with a rub or a fake WR screen, and plays where he found a soft spot in the zone. I count 5 plays where he beat a man one-on-one (at 0:32, 1:15, 2:10, 3:43, and 3:50 - the one at 2:10 is my favorite), and all 5 were against a LB. Contrast that with, say, Travis Kelce, who made a lot more plays against man coverage including against DBs.
  4. In Henry's favor, he did have nice efficiency stats including 1.88 yards per route run (4th best among TEs, min 200 routes run), 9.02 yards per target (6th best among TEs, min 30 targets), and a 33.9% DVOA (4th best among TEs, min 25 targets). I don't think he's a low-upside player, just lower upside than the 3 rookies.
  5. If a league is TE premium (1.5 PPR for TE and 1.0 or less for other positions) and it has a flex spot then that does increase the value of solid TEs. I have Hunter Henry ahead of the rookies in that format, and possibly also ahead of Eifert (who is older, more injury-prone, and heavy on TDs relative to receptions). (I am actually in a league like this, and own Henry there.) If you just add flexes without giving any bonus to TEs, then that mostly just lowers the baseline for RBs and WRs. That increases the value of all RBs and WRs, including solid non-elite ones. It devalues QBs and (to a lesser extent) TEs relative to RBs & WRs, and doesn't have much effect on the within-position rankings at QB or TE. Larger starting lineups do increase the importance of depth relative to studs, but studs are still pretty important for winning championships. I generally take the approach of: try to find studs to build around, and seek out cheap depth in the offseason. Good call. He should probably be up near Hodges, Butt, and DeValve.
  6. I basically agree with EBF on shape of the Henry vs. Engram/Njoku debate, I just come down in favor of the riskier higher ceiling guys. Some more brief player capsules: On tier 5: Martellus Bennett has Aaron Rodgers, which gives him plenty of upside. Rudolph finally had a breakout year, but it was too Pettigrewesque for my taste. I have Walker ranked 4th in this tier but I might take him ahead of the other guys if I'm in win-now mode and in a league where TEs are relatively cheap to add. On tier 6: TE19 (Jonnu Smith) through 25 (Coby Fleener) are all pretty tightly packed together. Smith & Higbee are high-upside young athletic guys who have an uphill battle to amount to anything, Brate & Fiedorowicz are solid early-career guys who probably won't offer much fantasy value in leagues with only 12 TEs starting each week (though they still have some upside), and Allen, Doyle, and Fleener don't look like great TEs but do have great QBs. Howard going to the Bucs was bad news for Brate (both because it's competition and because it's a bad sign about what they think of him) but not necessarily the end of his fantasy value - TEs often take a couple years to develop and Brate will be an unrestricted free agent in 2 years. There is still a chance that Fleener will do in 2017 what everyone was hoping for in 2016, now that he has had another year to get familiar with the NO playbook and develop rapport with Brees. Jack Doyle has Andrew Luck. Coby Fleener has Drew Brees, and his mediocre 2016 doesn't necessarily doom him - he has had another year to get familiar with the NO playbook and develop rapport with Brees. Tier 7 is relatively low-upside TE2s (aka potentially decent stopgaps) and not-so-great prospects, although some of them could be low-end TE1s (like Pitta, if none of Baltimore's other TEs step up). In start-1 TE leagues, I probably wouldn't want to own anyone in tier 8 or lower unless I had taxi squad space, or was churning a roster spot (e.g., as we find out who is likely to get the TE targets in Denver. Even with the tier 7 guys I might not want to use a roster spot on them if I don't need to.
  7. I see Fiedorowicz as the kind of guy who might hang around the borderline TE1/TE2 part of the rankings but isn't that likely to emerge as a difference maker. His efficiency stats were bad (YPT, DVOA, fpts/target) - I expect that part of that was Osweiler loving to dump it off, but that also helped him get so many targets (10th most among TEs). Fiedorowicz started 15 games according to PFR - he didn't have many targets in his first 3 games but in 2 of the 3 he played more than half the snaps and led Houston's TEs in snaps. So pro-rating his last 12 games seems kind of iffy. Even if we do just focus on those 12 games, you neglected to pro-rate everyone else's stats. 52/552/4 in 12 games would've ranked 15th in ppg (min 8 games, 0.5 ppr), behind guys like Zach Miller (47/486/4 in 10 games) and Camero Brate (57/660/8 in 15 games). Henry did have very good efficiency stats as a rookie. But I think that some of that was Rivers (who doesn't have many years left), and it's also a small sample size. He doesn't have the athleticism or draft pedigree of guys like Njoku and Engram, and often the difference-makers at TE do. Henry is a safer bet than than rookies to string together several top-10 TE seasons, so in some formats I'd prefer him, but in a league with only 12 TEs starting each week I'll roll the dice on the athletic rookie first rounders.
  8. Post-draft tight end rankings. Assuming 0.5 PPR, 12 TE starters, and about 250 position players rostered. Age as of 9/1/17. Prev from 2/13/17. Tr Rk Player Team Age Prev 1 1 Rob Gronkowski NE 28.3 (1) 2 2 Travis Kelce KC 27.9 (2) 2 3 Jordan Reed WAS 27.2 (3) 3 4 Tyler Eifert CIN 27.0 (4) 3 5 Evan Engram NYG 23.0 rook 3 6 O.J. Howard TB 22.8 rook 3 7 David Njoku CLE 21.1 rook 3 8 Hunter Henry LAC 22.7 (5) 3 9 Eric Ebron DET 24.4 (6) 3 10 Zach Ertz PHI 26.8 (7) 4 11 Gerald Everett RAM 23.2 rook 4 12 Greg Olsen CAR 32.5 (8) 4 13 Jimmy Graham SEA 30.8 (9) 5 14 Martellus Bennett GB 30.5 (15) 5 15 Adam Shaheen CHI 23.9 rook 5 16 Kyle Rudolph MIN 27.8 (13) 5 17 Delanie Walker TEN 33.1 (12) 5 18 Austin Hooper ATL 22.8 (17) 6 19 Jonnu Smith TEN 22.0 rook 6 20 Tyler Higbee RAM 24.7 (18) 6 21 C.J. Fiedorowicz HOU 25.9 (14) 6 22 Cameron Brate TB 26.2 (11) 6 23 Dwayne Allen NE 27.5 (19) 6 24 Jack Doyle IND 27.3 (28) 6 25 Coby Fleener NO 28.9 (27) 6 26 Vance McDonald SF 27.2 (16) 6 27 Ladarius Green 27.3 (10) 7 28 Julius Thomas MIA 29.2 (25) 7 29 Zach Miller CHI 32.9 (23) 7 30 Dennis Pitta BAL 32.2 (24) 7 31 Jared Cook OAK 30.4 (32) 7 32 Gary Barnidge 31.9 (22) 7 33 Maxx Williams BAL 23.4 (20) 7 34 Austin Seferian-Jenkins NYJ 24.9 (26) 7 35 Charles Clay BUF 28.5 (31) 7 36 Clive Walford OAK 25.9 (21) 7 37 Jesse James PIT 23.2 (36) 7 38 Antonio Gates LAC 37.2 (35) 7 39 Jason Witten DAL 35.3 (37) 8 40 Bucky Hodges MIN 22.1 rook 8 41 Jake Butt DEN 22.1 rook 8 42 Seth DeValve CLE 24.6 (29) 8 43 Jeff Heuerman DEN 24.8 (34) 8 44 George Kittle SF 23.9 rook 8 45 Eric Saubert ATL 23.3 rook 8 46 Michael Roberts DET 23.3 rook 8 47 Vernon Davis WAS 33.6 (30) 8 48 Jordan Leggett NYJ 22.6 rook 8 49 A.J. Derby DEN 25.9 unr 8 50 Jace Amaro TEN 25.2 (33) 8 51 Lance Kendricks GB 29.6 unr 8 52 Richard Rodgers GB 25.6 (38) 8 53 Darren Waller BAL 25.0 (49) 8 54 Crockett Gilmore BAL 25.8 (58) 8 55 Stephen Anderson HOU 24.6 (53) 9 56 Jermaine Gresham ARI 29.2 (41) 9 57 Jerell Adams NYG 24.7 (43) 9 58 Erik Swoope IND 25.3 (44) 9 59 Troy Niklas ARI 25.0 (45) 9 60 Nick Vannett SEA 24.5 (46) 9 61 Jacob Tamme 33.5 (47) 9 62 Virgil Green DEN 29.1 (57) There were 5 rookie TEs drafted in the first 45 picks of the NFL draft. All 5 were admired primarily for their receiving (with only Howard standing out as a blocker as well), and 4 of the 5 showed excellent athleticism at the combine (with Shaheen's 4.79 40 time lagging behind the rest). All 5 crack my top 15. Add in Hunter Henry, who is coming off a strong rookie year, and Eric Ebron, who is still only 24 years old, and there is quite a group of young TEs. My numbers were highest on Engram, both for production and for athleticism, and I think draft position also points slightly in his favor over Howard and Njoku after adjusting for the fact that New York clearly didn't draft him for his blocking. Howard & Njoku are right there behind him, with excellent size/athleticism though not as much production. Henry's impressive-for-a-rookie-TE season puts him up there, and I think he's a safer bet to have at least a solid NFL career, but I am less excited about his upside so he slots in after the rookie first rounders. Eric Ebron has been gradually sliding down my ratings as his production hasn't lived up to what the Lions hoped for, but he hasn't slid that far because his production has still been okay (and improving each year), he is still only 24, and apparently he was playing through injuries last year. I expect that there would be a lot more excitement about Gerald Everett if he'd been taken at pick 44 in one of the previous few draft classes (e.g., as the first TE off the board 11 picks ahead of Maxx Williams) - he is another high-upside receiving TE and PFF had a lot of good things to say about him. Shaheen's athleticism and reputation weren't as good as the others, but they weren't bad, so he's a tier back at #15. Not far behind them are 2nd year TE Austin Hooper, who looks like the starter for last year's top passing offense, and rookie Jonnu Smith who also has the athleticism and college production but wasn't drafted until pick 100. 2nd year TE Tyler Higbee is another high-upside prospect, although the fact that the Rams chose to draft Everett in the 2nd round is a negative sign for him. The dynasty TE position is deeper and more talented than it has ever been before. Things aren't quite as strong at the top as they have been, though, as all of the top 4 have injury troubles (Gronk, Kelce, Reed, and Eifert). They have a pretty clear rank order in my eyes, as no one matches Gronk's production, Eifert has been the least productive, and Reed has much bigger injury concerns than Kelce.
  9. Kizer had 472 rushing yards last year and ran a 4.83 40, Trubisky had 308 rushing yards and ran 4.67. Not exactly Kaep vs. Flacco.
  10. Average is around 9.4 YPT among the 100 players with the most receiving yards each season. This year Jones ranked 86th out of 100 in YPT among the 100 players with 743+ receiving yards.
  11. NCAASavant stopped updating partway through the season. (They have also had other issues in the past; when I have used them it has been as a source for catch rate data, which I combined with data on YPR from other sources to get YPT.) I am now getting my 2016 target data from Bill Connelly at Football Study Hall - he has Zay Jones at: 2016 SR 12 games 221 targets 158 1746 11.1 8 TD That's 7.9 YPT, which is very low. Different offensive systems help receivers in some of my stats and hurt them in other stats. If a receiver catches lots of short passes or WR screens then that increases his yardage total but hurts his YPT. If a team has other good receivers that should hurt a receiver's market share but help his YPT (because defenses can't focus entirely on him, and the QB doesn't have to force it to him). If a team is run heavy with one good receiver then that should help the receiver's market share but limit his totals. These don't all balance out perfectly, but they do at least partially offset each other. I think the biggest remaining flaws are a tendency to overrate receivers on certain types of offenses, including receivers on elite offenses (like Baylor in its heyday), WR1s on extremely run-heavy teams (like Georgia Tech), and some relatively one-dimensional deep threats. But I do manage to catch many of these mistakes by incorporating data on size/athleticism. And they all involve overrating some players, rather than underrating players. In general, successful NFL WRs typically show an ability to beat the defense for long receptions, red zone touchdowns, or big plays in the return game or running game. Catching short passes by finding the hole in the underneath zone is a nice skill to have, but a receiver as to do more than that to be a weapon in the NFL.
  12. I liked Higbee a lot as a high-upside prospect. The most likely outcome was that he wouldn't pan out, but he had maybe a 25% chance of hitting it big. (The fact that they chose to draft Everett is a sign that the Rams aren't that optimistic about Higbee, so I'd now lower that to 15-20%.) A 15-25% chance of hitting it big is good reason to get excited about a player in the mid rounds of a rookie draft, but it's not much cause for concern about him getting in the way of his teammate's opportunity to succeed.
  13. I would be pretty excited for Zay Jones. I would be pretty excited to trade you the pick. (My thoughts on Jones.)
  14. 2.01 is a bad spot to be picking in PPR. This pick seems like a tossup between about 8 different guys (including Trubisky & Everett, who aren't listed yet). I'd be trying hard to trade down if I was on the clock here.
  15. New? The last 2 times that a Ram had 750+ receiving yards in a season are Kenny Britt in 2016 and Torry Holt in 2008. But that doesn't actually tell us much about what to expect of the Rams going forward. If Goff develops into a solid QB, or if they find a new QB within the next couple years, then things can change very quickly.