Fantasy Football is a game, but like the real sport we love it is constantly evolving and being analyzed from a variety of perspectives. As part of our 2013 Fantasy Football Draft Guide, I dialed in a few folks from around the industry to pick their brains and see if we can’t further bring you another valuable resource to aid in your fantasy football preparation.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to discuss fantasy football with and in some cases work alongside these folks. The fantasy football community is welcoming and filled with both innovative and dedicated people who love talking about it.
In day 4, we’re kicking into the TE Edition of the 2013 Fantasy Football Interview Series with C.D. Carter, who basically writes everywhere and even about Zombies. Sometimes known as Denny, he busts out the fantasy knowledge at The Fake Football, 4 for 4, Sports Jerks Network, has been featured at RotoWorld and recently released How To Think Like A Fantasy Football Winner.
2013 Fantasy Football Interview Series: TE’s with C.D. Carter
Perhaps no position currently carries more uncertainty than TE this season. It is unanimous that Jimmy Graham is in a tier of his own and is currently being drafted accordingly, but after that there are a lot of options and the position boasts exceptional depth. At his current price tag Graham is expensive – at what point would you select him and where do you peg his value?
Those drafting Graham in the first round of any draft – standard or PPR – are banking on him equaling or exceeding his extraordinary 2011 fantasy production. It’s possible, of course, but in the range of outcomes for any player, the very top end is dangerous to bank on. Taking Graham in the first round means you won’t get a shred of value – because of the devastating opportunity cost of passing on an elite running back or receiver – unless he sets fantasy football records.
I’d be comfortable drafting Graham at the turn of the second and third rounds in PPR leagues because, well, I think he will be fantasy’s highest scoring tight end by a wide margin. I would draft Graham at the turn of the third and fourth round in standard leagues. This, of course, will happen in zero leagues this summer.
Educated fantasy owners study mock drafts, mock themselves, analyze ADP data and read all the sleeper, busts, projections and everything else they can. Is there a specific form of analysis that you would recommend our readers pay particular attention to in regards to the TE position? After Week 1, is there anything else during the season that owners should be looking at?
I’ve advocated streaming tight ends all offseason. You can read more about that in the extensive piece I wrote for Rotoworld in July, but just for a quick synopsis: we can now stream tight ends like we do defenses because there are a vast number of useable tight end options every week, even on the waiver wire. To answer your question: focus on matchups. The NFL’s tight end-friendliest defenses make themselves known very early in the season, so pay close attention to which defenses are being gouged by tight ends and plan accordingly.
Denny, you’ve been spreading the good word on fantasy points per route run (FPPRR) can you briefly explain this statistic to our readers and enlighten us all on your findings as they pertain to the TE position?
Fellow Sports Jerks Network fantasy writer Rich Hribar has joined me in utilizing Pro Football Focus’s route running data from 2008-2012 and projecting players based on the number of pass routed they’re going to run in 2013. This is an incredibly useful exercise for guys like Jordan Cameron and Jared Cook, neither of whom has ever had a full complement of pass routes. Measuring a tight end’s per-route efficiency we believe is more predictive than simply looking at how many fantasy points a tight end scores per snap, since some tight ends are asked to block much more than others. I can’t wait to apply FPPRR to players in season.
As you mentioned, you have been a big advocate of streaming the TE position, which is always a little risky. Is streaming a better approach than grabbing 2 TEs later in the draft and playing the matchups? With the position’s depth, both approaches look like they can work, so let us into your ideal TE situation.
I don’t think streaming tight ends is any riskier than committing to a mediocre tight end even when he faces a brutally difficult matchup. Why roll with the same guy when you know there’s a better play on the waiver wire, or on your bench? It’s very much a decision-based approach, and requires owners not to be fixated on results. A tight end streamer doesn’t have to draft two tight ends, unless they have a deep bench and can afford to burn the space. Think of the waiver wire as your bench, and dip into it any time your “starter” faces a defense that has shut down tight ends.
So, the hype-train has run off the track on Jared Cook, Rob Housler, Jordan Cameron and others, but who is your safest bet in the middle rounds at the position?
Rob Housler, amazingly, is still going in the 14th round of drafts. Cameron has reached the 12th round, but that could change after a spate of negative training camp reports on everyone’s favorite tight end darling. I think Jared Cook is being overdrafted as the ninth tight end off the board; my FPPRR projections have him as a possible top-12 option, but nothing in close to a top-5 tight end.
I suppose Owen Daniels could exceed his ADP, but I’d much prefer waiting a couple rounds and drafting Martellus Bennett – an ideal streaming option with top-10 potential. And while Pitta’s injury was devastating to those who saw him as a potentially elite option in PPR leagues, his absence instantly created a late-round option in Ed Dickson, who hasn’t impressed in the FPPRR metric, but very well could if he inherits even most of Pitta’s role as Joe Flacco’s over-the-middle safety valve.