Consistent Greatness 2016: Tight Ends

James Simpson

How many leagues are you in? How many players do you own? What percentage of players in the NFL don’t you own, and how do you decide if you want to acquire them or not (whether in a startup or in your existing leagues)? Is it the ‘tape’? Athleticism? Opportunity? Yearly scoring?

There are many ways to look at past performance and consider the future, but for me, breaking down scoring by week is more beneficial than considering a single year of statistics. Yearly scores don’t adjust for a one-week wonder, or a fast start but floundering finish. By looking at each week, we get a better idea of how consistent players were over time. In the final piece in this year’s series, I’ll break down the top dynasty tight ends and how they’ve performed over the past three years.

Tight Ends

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Why do I love tight ends? Actually, I don’t. This has always been the position that evades me and causes the most confusion. Apart from the obvious game-changing greats, it seems to be the least influential and least valuable position for dynasty success, and unless you’re in a TE-premium league; can be easily covered with little difficulty. Even in leagues that do place more emphasis on the tight end, the curve and difference in production between the elite few and the average many stays the same, and I’m more than happy to be in the cluster of tight end fantasy mediocrity and instead use my resources elsewhere.

The Method

The method is best explained in part one, but in short the aim is to work out the percentage a player hit a baseline score to be in the top 12 (‘TE1’), 13-24 range (‘TE2’) or top 24 (‘TE1/2’) player at their position in any given week. I calculated the baselines from what it has taken to score in these ranges over the past three years. The scores for tight ends as a group were extremely low compared to the other positions:

TE1 – 11.0

TE2 – 6.1

After calculating these baselines, I then went through and tallied how many times each tight end in the July DLF ADP data has scored above them (removing rookies and Jeff Heuerman, who is the only player in the ADP data who hasn’t yet scored in the top 24). The number of times each player hit the baselines was compared with games played to come up with a percentage.

The Key

  • GP – Games played
  • TE1/2 – Weeks the player scored 6.1 points or more
  • TE1 – Weeks the player scored 11.0 points or more
  • TE2 – Weeks the player scored between 6.1 and 10.9 points
  • % – Percentage of weeks the player placed in each category versus games played


  • I used PPR scoring from the FFToday stats page
  • Playoff games are not included

The Results

Before we go through the top performers in each category, here is the full data set:

Rob Gronkowski273730813833891335
Jordan Reed2634164711322779618
Tyler Eifert252910349311966310
Travis Kelce263215471444299126
Greg Olsen3148306381738791021
Coby Fleener2748132713272654510
Zach Ertz2546153314302963511
Eric Ebron2327622622124400
Ladarius Green2635720617133700
Julius Thomas283821556162771924
Delanie Walker3145245316364089716
Gary Barnidge30371232616184925
Jimmy Graham2942286751233791433
Dwayne Allen2625624520114400
Austin Seferian-Jenkins2316531531106316
Martellus Bennett2943194415353479819
Clive Walford24151753364000
Antonio Gates3643245611263581819
Zach Miller3111436327764218
Will Tye241343132375400
Charles Clay274316371740337749
Vance McDonald26273111441500
Jason Witten3448194017353675715
Maxx Williams221221732554200
Jordan Cameron2741133214342766410
Kyle Rudolph2631929826175526
Richard Rodgers2429724828155213
Jace Amaro24131853864618
Tyler Kroft23611711723300
Crockett Gillmore241931642173715
Lance Kendricks2844511920143200
Cameron Brate25133230032300

And now, to the top and bottom scorers in each category.

Top TE1/2%

top te12

  • It’s not Gronk! After surprisingly topping this list last year, Travis Kelce is still the top player at reaching the top 24 on a regular basis. Year one: 67-862-5, 183.2 fantasy points. Year two: 72-875-5, 189.5 fantasy points. While he isn’t exactly lighting up the league (only two 100 yard games in two season), he’s providing an outstanding floor (only three games under 6.1 points)
  • 6.1 isn’t exactly a tough number to reach, so Rob Gronkowski doesn’t blow us away here – but we will get to that
  • Savvy veterans fill up the 80-70% range, but Delanie Walker separates himself from most of the pack and was a top 24 scorer in every week in 2015. He’ll be a solid option for a few more years with Marcus Mariota at the helm
  • Considering his lofty startup price, should we want Tyler Eifert to be higher on this? He was an underperformer in his first two seasons (mostly due to injury) and a very erratic scorer last year

Bottom TE1/2%

bottom te12

  • This is comprised of breakout candidates and youngsters, mostly. Considering the tight end landscape and lack of top performers, it makes sense that a lot of players are drafted based on potential and may not have done much, and it also doesn’t take a lot for one to jump up in value
  • Ladarius Green will finally get his chance to prove he isn’t all hype. With Martavis Bryant out and Le’Veon Bell on the sidelines for the first four games, we will know soon whether Green has got what it takes
  • I believe Eric Ebron will boost his numbers in 2016. Now is the time for him to ascend in a pass-heavy offense
  • Maxx Williams was a hot player last year who has been quickly forgotten about. He’s one of my favorite dynasty buys

Top TE1%

top te1

  • This shows the difference-making that Gronkowski provides
  • Jimmy Graham didn’t play badly enough for long enough for his scores to drop far from his New Orleans days. Although he wasn’t at his peak when he suffered the injury, he is still more than capable of being a big playmaker if he can regain his health
  • Only Jordan Reed and Travis Kelce are under 27 years old, so it’s clear that tight ends perform after years of development (or that the current most talented players are older) – we should remember that they can perform deep into their thirties

Bottom TE1%

bottom te1

  • Most of these players were high draft picks who we have high expectations for, but haven’t yet performed. I wouldn’t hold anything against them, and I’m more than happy to gamble on a few of these names
  • Dwayne Allen only had one TE1 game last year, and no ‘superstar weeks’ (more to come on them) – what is his upside?

Top TE2%

top te2

  • Eifert barely scrapes in here, and didn’t get on the top TE1 list
  • Jason Witten is an outstanding professional. He’s played in all 16 games for 12 straight seasons (192 games) and continues to have an impact
  • As George Kritikos points out, the Adam Gase effect could be huge for Jordan Cameron. I would argue the Ryan Tannehill effect is always a reason to approach with caution, but I do expect some form of bounce back from the Dolphin

Bottom TE2%

bottom te2

  • Cameron Brate had three big games last year, and nothing else. Will he be involved this year? Or will the talented Austin Seferian-Jenkins get his head straight?
  • Gronkowski, Graham, Thomas and Greg Olsen don’t bother with TE2 weeks compared to TE1 ones. Go big or go home.

Superstar Weeks

Being good or great is desirable, but taking it one step further and consistently being an elite talent and difference-maker is what makes a dynasty superstar. I took the average top overall score in the last three years (28.0 points) and the TE1 requirement (11.0) and split them to determine a ‘superstar week’ (19.5).

top ss

  • Gronkowski naturally takes the number one spot here, but Graham is a close second. After that, the drop is quite steep
  • Julius Thomas had two touchdown-heavy seasons with Peyton Manning, but didn’t continue that red zone success in Jacksonville. I think his best days are over, but if there is touchdown regression from the Jags’ receiving duo, he could certainly be someone who is undervalued right now
  • Martellus Bennett, if utilized correctly (which we know he will be on the Patriots), is capable of big things. Don’t overlook him


This is always a fascinating exercise for me. I just can’t get enough of weekly breakdowns. It’s yet another way of determining who my targets are for the season, but this year no one really stands out versus their ADP. Gronkowski is easily number one, and the Reed, Eifert and Kelce trio can be interchanged after him. Olsen is still solid, but to me things get very murky after here, and it seems to happen every year.

I don’t know who will break out, but I also don’t know if any of them will gain enough value/produce enough to be worth investing in. Assuming I don’t own one of the top five, I’m targeting a few of the lesser-valued players and assuming one will over-perform. Thomas (TE10), Walker (TE11) and Graham (TE12) are the ones with lofty one-year potential. Allen (TE14) is finally the lone tight end in town, and should out-perform expectations, and Zach Miller (TE21) has taken a while to make an impact but might finally be in the right place at the right time. At TE27 and TE28, Maxx Williams and Jordan Cameron might be the best dynasty acquisitions at the position. It’s still Gronk then the rest, but there is a large pool of usable players at tight end.

That’s it for Consistent Greatness in 2016. No doubt, I’ll be back next year.

Please let me know if you have any questions, requests or ideas in the comments section below.

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james simpson