Offenses That Favor & Limit Tight Ends (2020 Fantasy Football)
How often do we hear about a specific coach utilizing a certain position group, which allows for more opportunity to be a fantasy producer? The answer is constantly. By knowing how a coaching staff will employ a certain scheme and personnel usage, this allows fantasy owners to gain an edge over their league mates in all formats. If you recall, last offseason the fantasy community debated how Bruce Arians was going to utilize O.J. Howard. Simply put, by knowing that Bruce Arians historically has not used tight ends in a fantasy-friendly manner, you would have had the awareness to avoid Howard at cost. Similarly, looking at the tight end landscape in 2020, I will be discussing several teams that we can expect to be favorable, as well as less than desirable when using their tight ends.
We all know the teams that have top tier tight ends and are heavily targeted in their respective offenses. This includes the Ravens, Eagles, Chiefs, and 49ers, but there are a few offenses and schemes that should benefit their tight end corps in 2020.
Notes: Coaching history information from dynastyleaguefootball.com and 2020 ADP from here at FantasyPros.
Offenses That Favor Tight Ends
As mentioned above, it’s no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles rely heavily on production from their tight ends, something that Frank Reich has certainly brought with him to Indianapolis from his days in the city of “Brotherly Love.” From his time as the offensive coordinator of the Chargers and Eagles, as well as his first 2 years as head coach of the Colts, Frank Reich’s offenses have ranked 12th, 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th in terms of tight end target ranks.
Additionally, over the last four seasons, we have not seen a Reich tight end corps have a combined target share lower than 25.78%. Some of the tight end usage in 2019 could very well have been due to the lack of receiving weapons in the wide receiver corps, but with the recent news surrounding Ty Hilton’s continued hamstring issues and uncertainty at receiver behind him, 2020 could be much of the same.
With the departure of Eric Ebron during the early stages of free agency and Mo Alie-Cox starting training camp on the PUP list, 2020 could be a year in which we see Jack Doyle and Trey Burton make an impact on an offense looking for playmakers in the passing game.
New York Giants
Jason Garrett always seems to be one of those coaches that people like to dislike, especially if you ask many Dallas Cowboys fans. Despite being best known for his tendency to clap at such an exorbitant rate, even Jason Garrett has some redeeming qualities.
With Joe Judge coming to the Giants as their new head coach with minimal coaching experience, it stands to make sense that Garrett, as the offensive coordinator, will have control in leading this offense in 2020. From 2007 to 2010, Jason Garrett’s last run as an offensive coordinator, his tight ends ranked 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd in total targets with a total target share of 29.25% being the lowest over that stretch. Whether it is Evan Engram finally staying healthy for an entire season or Kaden Smith picking up where he left off in 2019, the New York Giants are one of the premier tight end situations for fantasy purposes.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are one of the more interesting teams to project heading into 2020. With the return of Tyrell Williams and the addition of Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, and Lynn Bowden via the draft, the Raiders’ pass-catching options are going through one of the more drastic transformations in the entire NFL. While many seem to be down on the expected usage of tight ends in this offense moving forward, Jon Gruden and offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, might have something to say about that.
Over the last two seasons under Gruden and Olson, the Raiders ranked 9th and 5th in terms of tight end targets, which resulted in a 21% and 27% target share. While we aren’t exactly certain how Jason Witten will be utilized in this offense or even the progress that Foster Moreau is making during offseason rehab, we should expect Darren Waller and this tight end corps to have ample opportunity to shine in 2020.
Offenses That Limit Tight Ends
Much like the Bruce Arians and Tampa Bay Buccaneers conversation we saw in 2019, there are a couple of teams that we need to look at that might not use their tight ends as much as some fantasy owners would like.
There is growing excitement around this Arizona Cardinals offense heading into the 2020 season. Kyler Murray showed extreme promise during his rookie campaign, the midseason acquisition of Kenyan Drake gave a boost to the running game, and DeAndre Hopkins bolstering the wide receiver corps is everything fantasy owners could hope for.
As you may have noticed, one position group was left out amid all the praise. Another 2019 midseason arrival was tight end Dan Arnold. While there is some talk of him being a sleeper to target during this offseason, I think fantasy owners need to pump the brakes. While he did show a few flashes in his three games with the Cardinals last year, Arizona did rank 32nd in tight end targets in 2019 with 43% of their passing plays coming with zero tight ends on the field. No other team was over 16% in zero tight end packages on passing plays. While we don’t have a large sample size when looking at Kliff Kingsbury’s tight end usage, if 2019’s 8.32% combined target share for the position is any indication, it does not look promising.
New York Jets
This is another situation where people within the fantasy community, both redraft and dynasty, seem to be excited about the New York Jets’ tight end situation and in particular, Chris Herndon. While he is a relatively low risk at his current price of TE21 in redraft and TE23 in dynasty ADP, expectations need to be tempered.
Tight end target shares under Adam Gase as both an offensive coordinator and head coach have left much to be desired. Over the last seven seasons, Gase’s offenses have ranked 9th, 20th, 11th, 31st, 19th, 31st, and 29th in terms of tight end targets. Over the last four seasons, no total tight end target share has exceeded 15.3%. While many want to point to Chris Herndon’s extremely impressive rookie campaign as a sign of hope, there should be cause for concern as many things have changed, which include new coaching staff and scheme, lower depth of target with Sam Darnold at quarterback, and additional weapons that Herndon will have to battle for targets. I know Chris Herndon left us wanting more after his 2018 season, but 2020 could leave many disappointed.