The best measurement of a tight end is how they fared against a defense relative to all others that also faced that defense. That removes the element of schedule strength because the best game that the 49ers allowed may only be an average one from a lesser defense.
The Top-8 fantasy performances against each defense were arrayed and each tight end was recorded for how often they were in the Top-8, the Top-4 and Top-1 versus a defense last season.
Adding up those numbers yields a BTA score since they are better than the average tight end that faced a defense. It also weighs the performances since a Top-1 also counts as a Top-4 and a Top-8.
Bottom line – this is about how well a player did against a defense relative to all the others in his position did when they faced them. The reality is that there are few difference-making tight ends but this measurement shows how well a tight end really performed against his schedule and not just compared to all other tight ends.
With so few players of any consequence, there are no big surprises here. Travis Kelce and Darren Waller naturally take the top spots and George Kittle struggled with injuries in 2020. Logan Thomas, Robert Tonyan, T.J. Hockenson, and Eric Ebron all improved last year. Each turned in at a Top-8 performance in over half of their games and all but Ebron return to the same team with a chance to further their impact to the offense.
Mark Andrews fell in the metric thanks to the decline in touchdown passes from Lamar Jackson. This remains a fantasy position with only a handful of notable players, but Thomas, Tonyan, and Hockenson are expected to only get better. Rob Gronkowski placed well in the metric though would pinball between big games and nearly nothing from week to week. The return to health of O.J. Howard could keep Gronkowski just as inconsistent again this year.
Here are just the No. 1 performances allowed by a defense (a total of 32). The difference between Kelce and all others is profound.