Fantasy Football Stat of the Day: Tight ends with boom-ability


(Leading up to the 2021 NFL season, FTN’s Tyler Loechner will dive into the fantasy football numbers to bring you his Fantasy Stat of the Day, five days a week.)

In Wednesday’s Stat of the Day article, we examined the WRs who had the most big plays (40-yard TDs) in 2020. This helped surface some WR options that hit the “boom” button for your fantasy squad more often than others.

Today’s piece will take a similar approach for the TE position. We had to lower the threshold for a “big play” from 40 yards to 20 yards, because TEs simply don’t catch very many long TDs. 

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Robert Tonyan is the deep-ball TE king, but Mark Andrews is close behind

The chart below shows last year’s TE leaders based on TD receptions of at least 20 yards. (Note: This doesn’t mean the ball traveled 20 yards in the air, just plays of at least 20 yards).

Player 20+ Yd TDs
Robert Tonyan 4
Mark Andrews 3
Travis Kelce 2
Hayden Hurst 2
Jared Cook 2

There were also 18 TEs last year with one TD of at least 20 yards, including George Kittle, Darren Waller, Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert and Noah Fant

When doing this research, I was surprised at how few TEs catch long TD passes. The fact that only five TEs had multiple such TDs was not the expected result.

However, surfacing names like Robert Tonyan (last year’s TE TD leader, along with Travis Kelce), and top-five options like Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce convinces me that there’s something meaningful to this stat — even if it’s a bit noisy.

From just the above list, here are some initial thoughts:

  • Robert Tonyan: Obviously, his fantasy value is largely tied to whether Aaron Rodgers suits up. But Tonyan’s penchant for big plays makes him a killer pick at the TE14 (!!) in Underdog Best Ball drafts.
  • Mark Andrews: The fantasy community isn’t sleeping on Andrews, per se — his ADP is still as the TE6 — but people have put rookie Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson ahead of Andrews on draft day. They will see more volume, but Andrews will see more big plays.
  • Travis Kelce: Not much else to say here. Kelce remains the consensus TE1 (though I secretly have George Kittle as my No. 1 TE).
  • Hayden Hurst: His fantasy value is shot with Atlanta selecting Pitts.
  • Jared Cook: As the TE19, Cook has value as a TD threat on the ascending Chargers offense that does have a need at TE with Hunter Henry out of town.

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