If you want a guarantee that mankind will always continue to exist, just look to fantasy team owners and how they act around rookies. Optimism is limitless with everything shiny and new and with nearly nothing to go by, the human mind invariably envisions very big things from these untried players. We’re an optimistic bunch overall and in the case of tight ends, it is entirely and without reason or payoff. Leave them alone in a redraft league.
Tight ends are used more in recent years. These last two seasons have produced more yardage by tight ends than any other seasons in NFL history (14,233 and 14.062 yards). Each season witnessed the top ten tight ends gain over 650 yards. Two players each season topped 900 yards as a tight end. But this doesn’t apply to rookies. Quarterbacks? Plenty of recent rookies were worthwhile like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. Running backs? How about Trent Richardson, Doug Martin Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy. Wide receivers? Keenan Allen was a gem. Three others topped 900 yards in their first year over just the last five seasons.
Tight Ends? Crickets…
Despite this truth, there will always be at least one or two drafted if not more.
There are two rookies that garner fantasy attention and it seems reasonable (if you ignore history). Eric Ebron is a speedy 6-4/250 giant from North Carolina heading to Detroit where they set records with pass attempts. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is a 6-5/262 red-zone terror who pulled down 15 touchdowns over his final 25 games for Washington. Both are being drafted and especially Ebron in the hopes of grabbing the next… the next… the first rookie tight end that mattered.
Consider that in the last two seasons, the top ten tight ends have all gained at least 650 yards each. Most ended with more than 750 yards and four players topped 900 yards since 2012. But no rookie in the last ten years have ended with more than 650 yards as a rookie. Here are the five best tight ends for the last decade and their rookie results:
John Carlson – 55 catches, 627 yards and five touchdowns
Tim Wright – 54 catches, 571 yards and five touchdowns
Aaron Hernandez – 44 catches, 563 yards and six touchdowns
Tony Moeaki – 47 catches, 556 yards and three touchdowns
Rob Gronkowski – 42 catches, 546 yards and ten touchdowns
Yes, Gronkowski scored ten times along with his mediocre yardage but five of those touchdowns came over just two games and Tom Brady hardly had a Calvin Johnson to target that season. And over half of Gronk’s games totaled fewer than 30 receiving yards. Tight ends don’t become fantasy worthy until their second season if ever.
Here are a few other notable tight ends and their rookie season:
Jimmy Graham – 31 catches, 356 yards and five touchdowns
Vernon Davis – 20 catches, 265 yards and three touchdowns
Jason Witten – 35 catches, 347 yards and one touchdown
So while Ebron, Seferian-Jenkins, Jace Amaro and the rest of the rookie cast may end up rightfully on your fantasy team starting in 2015 and beyond, the chances that they’ll serve you this year is so small as to be a wasted pick.
Now then, can I interest you in a Charles Clay, or something in Kyle Rudolph perhaps?