We’ve already taken a look back at the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions from a wide lens of 2019 usage and production. Wrapping up the theme, we’re going to put a bow on things by taking the same approach with the tight end position.
Leaguewide Tight End Usage Over the Past 10 Seasons
|Year||Tgt||Lg. Tgt%||Rec||Lg. Rec%||ReYd||Lg. ReYd%||ReTD||Lg. ReTD%||PPR Pts|
Tight ends as a whole had a boost in overall targets, receptions, and touchdowns last season while they increased their leaguewide production across the board. Their spike in those areas lines up with both the wide receiver and running back positions taking a step back. The increase in catches and touchdowns allowed the tight end position in bulk to have their best collective fantasy campaign since the 2015 season.
Outside of leaguewide reception and touchdown rate, the overall target usage and yardage output only rose less than a full percentage point, however. After receiving 21% or more of the league targets from 2010-2011, tight ends haven’t hit that mark in any of the subsequent seven seasons while they’ve been under the 20 percent threshold in each of the past two years.
Even with a boost in the 2019 season, tight end production is still down over the past four seasons from the totals and rates the position was producing yearly a decade ago. The biggest area of decline is in the touchdown department, which has nearly a full overlap in the receiving touchdown spike that the running back position has had over the past several seasons.
Even with their league rate in receiving scores going up, tight ends combined to score fewer than 200 touchdowns for the fourth straight season in 2019. A position once littered with high-quantity touchdown producers has dried up the past few seasons.
Number of Tight Ends to Hit Each TD Mark Over the Past 10 Seasons
|YEAR||3+TD||5+TD||7+ TD||10+ TD|
Even in these arbitrary buckets, the past two seasons have lacked the large, tangible individual touchdown totals we were getting at the position. We’ve had just six tight end seasons with seven or more touchdown catches over the past two years after having six per season 2011-2017. One of those players who reached seven touchdowns this season (Darren Fells) did so with only 341 receiving yards attached to those scores. The 2019 distribution of the touchdowns the position did score increased on the lower levels, however. 32 different tight ends found the end zone three or more times, while 13 caught five or more scores, the most in each area for a season since that big 2015 year.
Touchdowns aren’t everything, and we’ve seen some of those touchdown-dependent fantasy options become high volume targets in their offenses such as Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, but the lack of higher-end touchdown producers at the position who also catch a ton of passes for significant yardage has kept the top of the position in the lower end of output over the past 10 years.
TE1 Output Over the Past 10 Years
TE1 (top-12 scorers) options scored fewer collective points than they did in 2018. Kelce led the position in scoring for the fourth consecutive season despite scoring 40.3 fewer points, Despite that, Kelce still provided the largest TE1 advantage for the position over that run, but TE1-4 in 2019 all scored fewer points than their counterparts in 2018. While the very top of the position was softer last year, it was at least deeper, with TE5-12 all scoring more points in 2019 than they did in the 2018 season.
The past two years have been improvements over the 2016 and 2017 campaigns for lead tight ends, but you can see that overall production in scoring is down from the 2011-2015 stretch and largely impacted by the loss of touchdown production from the best overall options yearly while the reception and yardage totals from those players the past two years are still in a comparable area to the totals in previous seasons outside of the two major spike seasons in 2011 and 2015.