Now for another installment of our Fantasy Stock Watch periodical. This series takes a look at players who either exceeded their anticipated contributions this year, or failed to live up to them and what we can expect come 2014. The biggest concern: you want to draft based on value, rather than paying for stats that will be hard to repeat and/or paying an expectant price for development that may not come.
Fantasy Stock Watch 2014: Other Entries
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens
2013 ADP: 196 (TE23)
2013 Position Rank: TE50
2013 Expectations: Dennis Pitta
By the time the draft rolled around, Dennis Pitta’s outlook had changed considerably and his preseason injury had rendered him virtually undraftable. In the promising days of May and June, however, he was the sleeper TE darling of just about every fantasy enthusiast out there. Why wouldn’t he have been? Pitta finished 2012 as the 7th highest scorer at his position and posted 61 catches for 669 yards and seven scores. With Anquan Boldin‘s departure, Pitta who had a budding rapport with QB Joe Flacco, was the perfect candidate to fill the void over the middle.
Again, the dislocated hip suffered in July derailed all of that, but it is important to remember that the fantasy community was very high on Pitta heading into training camp this year.
2013 Results: Dennis Pitta
Originally, his injury was thought to be a season ender. It nearly was, as the fourth year TE wasn’t activated until December and managed to participate in just four games this year. When on the field though, Pitta made an immediate impact. He drew a shocking 11 targets in his first game action of 2013, catching six balls for 48 yards and scoring a touchdown, reminding us all of the potential we saw in the preseason.
He finished the year with 33 looks in four games and making 20 catches. The cumulative numbers are underwhelming, but Pitta did enough in the four games to close the season to suggest that he’ll be fully ready to contribute in 2014.
2013 Outlook: Dennis Pitta
Assuming no further set backs, Pitta is ready to contribute for the Baltimore Ravens this year. The team sorely lacked consistent offensive production from the TE position this year as all of Dallas Clark and Ed Dickson suffered with drops and overall contributions at different points in the season.
While Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones each put together solid seasons for Baltimore, it stands to reason that the team will look for a complementary pass catcher heading into the season as neither of these players fit the chain-moving receiver style that serves as a strong complement to Torrey Smith. That said, there still should be plenty of opportunities for Pitta. His 8.25 targets per game to close the season translate to 132 over the course of a full season. We pointed out that just six TEs drew more than 100 last year in our season review, and Pitta seems like a good bet to join them.
That prediction seems to be bolstered by the arrival of Gary Kubiak in Baltimore. Per the Baltimore Sun, Kubiak has plans for Pitta: “I remember studying Dennis, and I’m very impressed with him as a player,” he said. “I know he went through a tough year this year with getting injured, but that position has always been a big part of our offense. I’m sure it won’t be any different.”
C.D. Carter at XN Sports is among those to share our viewpoint in the impact of his new offensive coordinator, and he highlights the history of production from the position as part of the former Houston Texans Head Coach’s offenses. Perhaps more notable than the raw production numbers shared there, is the fact that in his last two full seasons (15 games each in 2011 and 2012) TE Owen Daniels picked up a combined 189 targets. For Pitta, who caught 67.8% of his passes in 2012 and put up 11 yards per reception, those looks could easily translate into a 70 reception, 750 yard season – a number that just ten TEs topped this season. If Kubiak has the impact that is expected, his overall target and efficiency numbers should increase suggesting a much higher ceiling.
Of course, all of the above assumes that Pitta (an unrestricted free agent) even returns to the Ravens next season, and we’ll have to watch how the offseason plays out in general, but if he is back in Baltimore expect a fully healthy Pitta’s hype train to pick up right where it left off in the 2013 preseason – deservedly so.