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Target Regression Candidates: Tight End


In the NFL and fantasy football, things can change as easily as the snap of a finger from campaign to campaign. One season, somebody breaks a record, and the next, they are fighting for targets and struggling to produce.

Based on game script, chemistry, and availability of weapons, targets can fluctuate for pass-catchers. In a position like TE, targets could be hard to come by at all depending on which team you are on. Naturally, some TEs could have breakout seasons too. Nevertheless, if your last name is not Kittle, Ertz, Kelce, etc., you may have to work extra hard to snatch away targets from WRs.

Heading into 2020, there are quite a few TEs who should be due for a target regression. The small collection of tight ends who have a huge role in their offense are not affected by this, but aging veterans or those who may have to deal with new additions on the team could be in trouble in terms of their fantasy value. Let’s look at some candidates who are due for fewer targets in 2020:

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Jason Witten, Las Vegas Raiders

For this article, specifically, Jason Witten is the biggest name to probably experience a target regression. The 38-year-old returned to the Cowboys last season after a brief one-year retirement. Nevertheless, he still finished 10th among tight ends in targets with 83. For a guy who returned to the game after retirement, that’s not bad at all.

In addition, Witten compiled 63 receptions, 529 yards, 8.4 yards per catch, and four touchdowns in 16 games. This offseason, the Tennessee product decided to head West and sign with Vegas. It will be a problem for an aging veteran like Witten to produce on this team considering they have young wideouts like Henry Ruggs III and Tyrell Williams, along with a breakout tight end in Darren Waller.

Last season, Waller accumulated an incredible 90 receptions, 117 targets, 1,145 yards, 12.7 yards per catch, and three touchdowns in his fourth-year of playing in the NFL. Coming off a proven year, Waller has solidified his role as the TE1 on the Raiders and Witten will now be a TE2 on the team who should see a notable decrease in targets.

 

Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks

Like Jason Witten, 35-year-old veteran Greg Olsen played admirably in his last season with the Carolina Panthers in 2019. The TE notched 82 targets, which ranked 11th among NFL tight ends. The Miami product finished with 52 receptions, 597 yards, 11.5 yards per catch, and two touchdowns in 14 games last year.

Like Witten, Olsen decided to head West this season too, as in Seattle. Now on a new team, Olsen’s role is better than that of Witten, as he will be the TE1 heading into the season, but he will nevertheless have to fight with WRs Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, along with other TEs Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister, for targets.

Dissly dealt with injuries the past two seasons, but when healthy, he proved to be serviceable for QB Russell Wilson. The TE grabbed 23 receptions, 27 targets, 262 yards, 11.4 yards per catch, and four touchdowns in six games in 2019. This means there should be no doubts about the 24-year-old’s ability to play.

Hollister also amassed 41 receptions, 59 targets, 349 yards, 8.5 yards per catch, and three touchdowns in 11 games last season. This TE is also only 26, so if Olsen experiences any setbacks or struggles on the field, these two TEs can capably fill in for him. Expect Olsen to have a decrease in targets due to other pass-catchers and while also needing to build rapport with Russell Wilson.

 

Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears

Jimmy Graham proved to fantasy owners last season that he isn’t what he used to be in terms of being a dominant player. His 2019 season with Green Bay was one of the worst statistical campaigns he endured during his 10-year career. Last season, the TE finished 18th in targets among tight ends with 60. Nevertheless, that was the second-lowest target total of his career, only ahead of his rookie season.

In addition, Graham posted 38 receptions, 447 yards, 11.8 yards per catch, and three touchdowns. He recorded his second-lowest career reception and yard total as well, only ahead of his rookie season again. For this aging veteran who is now on the Chicago Bears, targets may come at the beginning of the season, but the Bears drafted another tight end in Cole Kmet out of Notre Dame for a reason. Therefore, Graham’s time in the Windy City may not be as impactful because of his age and the fact that a young tight end could cut into his production at any time in 2020. If last year was any indication, Graham could see a similar number of targets to 2019 or even end up with less considering the Bears generally have better receivers than the 2019 Packers.

 

Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For Tampa Bay tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, who finished 22nd and 25th in targets among tight ends last season with 56 and 53 targets, respectively, the goal of getting more targets this season is now complicated by the presence of former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and the 2019 breakout of WR Chris Godwin. This is already adding to the presence of elite receiver Mike Evans.

The Bucs have plenty of mouths to feed, and their tight end position has become crowded suddenly. As if fighting with each other was not hard enough, Brate and Howard will now have to share targets with Gronkowski, who already has chemistry with QB Tom Brady.

It’s not like all three tight ends aren’t talented, but there are simply too many mouths to feed for each to get very decent production. This is also factoring in the WRs. Howard finished with 34 receptions, 53 targets (career-high), 459 yards, 13.5 yards per catch, and one touchdown last season. Brate recorded 36 receptions, 55 targets, 311 yards, 8.6 yards per catch, and four touchdowns last season.

Not only will the presence of other talented pass-catchers lower their targets, but Howard and Brate enter the season as the TE2 and TE3 on the team, respectively. Their overall fantasy values now lower as a result too.



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RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More