About this time every year, I like to shine a light on each position
and focus on how they fared among their peers on a weekly basis.
While I am very much a believer that fantasy football is a weekly
game and play the matchups as much as anything when it comes to
fringe starters, there is something to be said for the handful of
players who stack one top 10 or top 20 finish upon another. Among
other things, it suggests that defenses have not found an answer
to slowing him down (or that the offensive play-caller consistently
puts him in positions to succeed).
Knowing how each player ranked among his position group each
week is a handy little tool - whether you want a quick reference
guide in your redraft leagues to help set expectations for a certain
player or need an idea on the range of a player's performances
to help break a tie between two or three options in your DFS lineups.
For the sake of time and space (not to mention my sanity), not
every player that has scored a fantasy point appears below. The
first cutoff was the player had at least five non-zero games,
which should theoretically remove non-regular players and minimize
any fluky occurrences. The last qualification was for the receiver
to post an average rank of at least 24 (the worst finish for a
Key to the table below:
AR - Average weekly finish Max - Best weekly fantasy finish Min - Worst weekly fantasy finish TE1 - How often he finished among the top 12
at his position TE2 - How often he finished between 13th and
24th at his position TE1% - Percentage of TE1 finishes TE2% - Percentage of TE2 finishes
While Travis Kelce has not provided the significant positional advantage
he has in recent years, it is not as if he has been a bust. What
he has been for his fantasy managers is a weekly TE1 in all but
two games. As I discussed in July's Anatomy of a League Winner -
TE piece (and several other spots since), managers were pushing
their luck if they were hoping for another truly elite effort from
a tight end during his age-32 season.
The bigger surprise here is probably Mike Gesicki, although his
overall ranking (TE3) and even his spot in this analysis needs
some context. The Dolphins have been one of the pass-heaviest
teams in the league this season, which should not have come as
much of a shock to anyone who remembers my offensive line piece
from late June (The Big Uglies - AFC). What most people were not
predicting was Miami playing without Will Fuller (missed all but
two games, out since Week 4) and DeVante Parker (missed five games,
out since Week 8) for so many games. Jaylen Waddle and Gesicki
have been force-fed as a result. In short, Gesicki's volume (he
is tied with Mark Andrews for third among tight ends with 69 targets)
is going to leave him in a great position to continue racking
up top 12 and top 24 finishes, although last week was a prime
example of why I would struggle with him as my top option every
1) Tight end has not been the cesspool it often is in 2021. Nine
players have finished inside the weekly TE1 ranks in half of their
games, while another seven have done it 40 percent of the time.
Even more encouraging, two players from that second group appear
poised to join the first group. Dan Arnold and Pat Freiermuth
have each registered two top-seven finishes in the last three
weeks and are getting the kind of volume necessary to maintain
their recent level of play.
2) There should never be a game in which T.J. Hockenson sees
only one target, regardless of whether his quarterback only attempted
25 passes or not. HC Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties
for the Iowa product's forgettable performance in Week 10, putting
an inglorious end to Hockenson's three-game streak of TE1 finishes.
His fantasy managers also experienced a stretch in Weeks 3-5 in
which Detroit was slow to adjust to defenses adjusting to Hockenson.
Like Gesicki, he will bust on occasion because of his quarterback
and play-caller situation.
3) Pitts has been exceeded the hype in some ways and disappointed
in others, but it would be completely inaccurate to say he has
been a disappointment. We saw an example of his incredible future
in Week 5 (9-119-1) and Week 7 (7-163-0). Since that game, Calvin Ridley has not been with the team due to a personal matter. In
his last three outings (all without Ridley), the primary defenders
on Pitts have been Stephon Gilmore, Marshon Lattimore and Trevon Diggs. In other words, he is not only being asked to be his team's
primary receiver as a rookie, but Atlanta's opponents are also
treating him as the primary receiver. As such, we have only seen
one TE1 performance from him over that stretch. For his sake (as
well as the Falcons' playoff hopes), fantasy managers can only
hope Ridley is ready to return to the game soon.
3) Enjoy the Hunter Henry experience for as long as you can.
Henry is the overall TE3 over the last five weeks despite not
seeing more than four targets in any game. To say he is due for
some major touchdown regression would be an understatement, if
only because he is averaging a score every three catches since
Week 3. Perhaps the most interesting part of Henry, however, is
that last week's two-TD effort was his first TE1-level performance
since Week 5. It is almost unfathomable that a tight end could
score five touchdowns over a five-game period and finish as a
TE1 only once.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.