We have been covering a lot of ground this fantasy offseason. From providing player analysis, top-down team production, learning the ins and outs of what goes into the game theory elements of fantasy, you can find all of our offseason content in one central 2020 hub to get you prepared for your upcoming fantasy drafts.
This week, we are going to dive into the stats that matter the most for weekly fantasy output and which of those stats have the largest rollover year over year and sync up with future scoring the best in hopes of hashing out a few signals to apply to this season. So far, we have covered the stats that matter for the wide receivers and the running backs. Now, we are looking into the stats that matter for the tight end position.
Tight End Fantasy Related Articles:
2020 Fantasy Football Tiers: Tight Ends
How Should You Approach Tight Ends in 2020 Fantasy Football?
What We Can Learn From Tight End ADP For 2020
Fantasy Output and Fantasy Trends: Tight End
Tight End Red Zone Fantasy Points Vs. Expectation
Tight End Red Zone Reliance
Best Ball Roster Construction: Tight End
2019 Strength of Schedule Recap: Tight End
Highest Correlation to Weekly Fantasy Points Scored For Tight Ends
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As a reminder, we are looking at every individual performance since the 2012 season for the weekly correlation portion here. Similar to the wide receiver position, receiving yardage pops as having the highest influence on weekly scoring for tight ends regardless of the scoring format although it is a tick higher in correlation for the wideouts.
Where yardage is a touch higher for the receivers, touchdown influence is a smidge higher for the tight ends. As was the case for wide receivers, we can also spot the significant difference that receptions have in scoring that reward points for catches.
One interesting nugget for tight ends is that snaps played have a much lower correlation for the position than the wide receivers. That is likely affected by the wide range of assignments that a tight end has per snap compared to wide receivers. Tight end snaps cover run blocking, pass protection, and running actual pass routes.
We only get fantasy points for the successful end of one of those outcomes, which is why we see routes run be more relevant than actual snaps played for the position. Next week, we are going to be diving into positional archetypes at each position and will be highlighting the tight ends that regularly run a high amount of routes per snap played.
Year-Over-Year Correlation Categories and N+1 Scoring for Tight Ends
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Getting together a table of statistics from the past decade, we can shift gears toward the tight end statistics that carry the largest rollover year-over-year. Where there were just four statistics that held a 50% correlation at wide receiver and just three for running backs, we have a sturdy 11 different statistics above that threshold for tight ends.
There is more stability in tight end production per player, but unfortunately, the position is also collectively the lowest-producing one from a fantasy stance. Compared to the wideouts, nearly everything remains more stable for tight ends with the exception of games played, which is lower for tight ends, but still above the mark for running backs.
The top three stats here that are the stickiest for tight ends are the same for wideouts, just in a different order. Once again, the most important statistics to focus on are per game usage based. A player such as Evan Engram ranked third at the position in targets per game (8.5), sixth in receptions per game (5.5) and sixth in yardage per game (58.4), but missed eight games last season. We can definitely question if Austin Hooper can sustain the usage he had last season moving to Cleveland from the pass-happy Atlanta offense, but he priced down this season after being a top-five tight end in all three of those per game statistics in 2019.
It will be interesting to see how the Seattle snaps get divvied up at tight end this season since both Will Dissly and Greg Olsen were top-12 tight ends in receiving yardage per game a year ago, although Dissly was just 21st in targets per game while active. Jared Cook was just 19th in targets per game (4.6) and 17th in receptions per game (3.1), but did rank ninth in yardage per game (50.4) on the strength of career-high output in efficiency per target and reception.
The next highest stat is our first rate statistic in team target share, although it is a usage stat disguised as a rate one. Team target share has a much higher carryover for tight ends than wide receivers, where it checked in as the 11th stickiest stat with an r-squared of .4412. There were only five tight ends in 2019 that had a team target share over 20% for the entire season – Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, and Zach Ertz — with Engram carrying a 21.5% target share in the games that he was active. Not much of a surprise, but those are also the top six tight ends in current ADP.
Some other tight ends that were top-12 in that department a year ago that are not currently being selected as top-12 tight ends are Mike Gesicki (14.5%), Dallas Goedert (14.2%), Jack Doyle (14.0%), and Olsen (12.9%). We have question marks on Goedert and Olsen’s roles in their passing games coming into 2020, but Gesicki has little in his way to sustain being a top-three option in his passing game while Doyle is unsexy, but in a system that has favored tight end usage while replacing Eric Ebron with Trey Burton on the depth chart, which has potential to be a downgrade.
Staying consistent with the other positions we have looked at to this point, things begin to take a turn south once we get to anything touchdown related and then nosedives when we reach the actual efficiency metrics. Touchdowns per game and per season rollover at a higher rate for wideouts than they do for tight ends with that correlation nearly cut in half compared to anything above those categories. Keeping things consistent for every position so far, touchdown rate per opportunity has almost zero carryover to the following season.
Getting to the tail end, efficiency, and the lack thereof for tight ends is barely relevant in staying stagnant. Catch rate, targets per route, yards per route, and yards per target do check in higher for tight ends than wideouts, but as usual, we do not want to hang our future endorsements or takedowns on a player for the upcoming season based on last season’s efficiency output.
When we turn things over to which statistics have a larger correlation to overall fantasy points scored the following season, things get interesting. Yards per team pass attempt was a top-five indicator for future scoring for wideouts, but for tight ends, it jumps all the way to the top spot. These were the top-12 tight ends in yards per team attempt in 2019…
We obviously have our top-shelf players here, but players such as Tyler Higbee, Cook, Hooper, Noah Fant, Goedert, and Jonnu Smith are being drafted at palatable costs outside of the top of the position to take swings on despite a few of those players carrying concerns in usage and rolling over high efficiency metrics from a year ago. A number of those tight ends also currently are being drafted in that TE7-12 strike zone that has been far more productive than the tier above them over the past decade.
Behind yards per team pass attempt, receiving yardage, receptions, and targets per game and per season from the year prior all have strong correlation to the scoring output for a tight end in the following season.
Closing this down, here are our takeaways for tight end statistics…
- Receiving yardage is the highest correlated statistic for individual game performance regardless of format
- Focus on Routes Run over snaps played for tight ends
- Tight end statistics are more stable year-over-year than the other positions, but also are not as productive to begin with
- Team usage stats such a team target share and yards per team pass attempt carry a lot of appeal for tight ends
- Continue to emphasize per game production while fading efficiency output