• Kev White

Dynasty Football: Successful College Metrics - Tight Ends

In the fourth and final installment of this series, ‘Dynasty Football: Successful College Metrics’, I’ll be looking at various metrics from Player Profiler, to understand which athletic and production metrics matter the most for future fantasy production. I’ll be correlating the data against the top dynasty players at each position, as per the dynasty rankings at Fantasy Pros (as at 26/12/2019). I’ll be highlighting which metrics are the most common / important – in terms of predicting future success in the dynasty fantasy football arena.


Through understanding which metrics are most common / important in the highest ranked dynasty players, this will provide you with a major advantage in two main areas of your dynasty league:


1) Improved & more accurate player evaluation ahead of dynasty rookie drafts

2) Identifying ideal buy-low / sell-high candidates for your dynasty team


In part four of this series I’ll be evaluating the TE position…


The TE Data

For the athletic & production metrics, I have considered 50% and above as a ‘successful’ score in each individual category. With regards to draft pick, I have used round 1 as the cut-off point as an extra variable for TE success.


To work out the overall ranking of importance & commonality, I have awarded one point for each metric at or above 50%, with a separate score for top 10 and top 20 to combine and split the data – giving deeper context. I have then combined these scores and ranked accordingly. To give a different perspective on the data, I have also worked out how many of the ‘key’ (green) metrics each player hits above 50% in the right hand column. The players highlighted in red have achieved less than 50% hit rate on the key metrics – in a sense could be considered an outlier from the data.


The Most Common / Successful Metrics

Joint #1 – 40 Yard Time & Speed Score (100% in Top 10, 100% in Top 20)

If you want to be a top 20 dynasty TE, you better be able to run fast, no matter what your size – with 100% of prospects that tested (18/18) achieving an above average result on these metrics. The 40 Yard Time is exactly what you think – the amount of time to run the distance. The Speed Score is almost the same, with body weight factored in & assigning a premium to the larger athlete. Both of these metrics make sense for the TE position – the ability to become a mismatch in the pass game and outrun the opposition, stretch the field and make the most as a receiver after the catch. If a college prospect is to become a viable dynasty asset, they need to be hitting at least 50% on both of these metrics.


Joint #3 – College Dominator & College YPC (100% in Top 10, 90% in Top 20)

College Dominator is a strong metric for TE success in dynasty. It shows an ability to handle and maintain volume in the pass game, obviously great for fantasy success. As it is the % of overall team receiving production – the ‘market share’, it negates if the player was on a poor college offense from an overall production value. If the player can receive a strong workload in college – this translates well to the NFL. College Yards Per Catch (YPC) ties in to the athletic metrics discussed previously – an ability to get down the field and make the reception or catch a pass in the short zone and maximize the yards after catch. A really simple equation for fantasy, you receive more points per reception if you make longer receptions. Combine this with an ability to handle volume and you’re onto a winner.


Interpretation


To summarize, the four most successful college production and athletic metrics in predicting dynasty success for a TE in the NFL are 40 Yard Time, Speed Score, College Dominator and College YPC. These are the key metrics that should be considered the most important metrics in player evaluation of the TE position. SPARQ-x has a fair correlation to dynasty success at the TE – it makes sense due to the nature of success at the position being heavily influenced by athleticism. Another metric with fair correlation is Agility Score, an ability to make smooth, fast movements in a short space – aiding that ability to get free in the receiving game in tight spaces. Catch Radius has some trend with TE dynasty success, the ability to catch off target passes or use wingspan to win the aerial duel. There is also a fair correlation with Burst Score & Arm Length, however these are more sporadic in terms of relativity to dynasty success.


There are two main outlier metrics at the TE position, which have no correlation to dynasty success – Draft Pick and Breakout Age. We can see from the above data that draft capital has no relevance, with the top 2 dynasty TE prospects being taken outside the top 2 rounds in the draft and several others taken outside of round 1 of the actual draft. Also, Breakout Age has no correlation to TE success in dynasty. In a way this makes sense as the position does take a while to adjust to in the NFL – so a similar type of journey is expected from the transition from high-school athletes to college football. Tight End is a position that sees the most late breakout ages, so this makes complete sense from the analysis of the data. When we are considering dynasty prospects at the position, we should not be emphasizing Draft Pick or Breakout Age, instead focusing more on the athletic & raw production metrics.


It should be noted that as per any study, there are outliers in the data and there always will be outliers in player evaluation.

For the TE position, there is nobody from the data that is considered a true outlier – meaning this position provides most certainty in terms of what to look for in your player evaluation. The player closest to being an outlier is Chris Herndon, who hits 1 out of 2 ‘green metrics’ – however I felt it unfair to call Herndon a true outlier as he doesn’t have enough metrics to give us the full picture of his profile.


Whilst the data and results from the production and athletic metrics will point you in the right direction for improved player evaluation and dynasty success, it’s really important to understand there are other factors to be considered in the overall process. Personally I love looking at athletic testing and college production metrics as the data is factual and accurate, unlike the subjective nature of film study or your perception of a landing spot, opportunity or volume. In order to be optimal at player evaluation, I believe you need to be taking other factors into consideration within your own player evaluation – such as landing spot, offensive scheme, volume / opportunity and film study of the college prospects.


Application


From the evaluation of the data, we’ve looked at the four most successful college player metrics for the TE position – but what do we do with this information?


If a player is hitting on 4/4 of these minimum thresholds above 50%, he will have a greater chance of dynasty fantasy success than someone hitting 0/4 of these thresholds. Outliers will always exist but no model or process will ever be 100% accurate.


The information on the key metrics should form part of your dynasty rookie evaluation prior to rookie drafts. It’s up to you as to what weighting you want to put on these metrics, but be sure to use the information alongside the other factors mentioned above. The above data will allow you to highlight potential stars at the position, whilst also helping you formulate your dynasty rookie rankings – spotting the value picks at the different positions, setting up your draft tiers and helping you exploit the sweet spot of a draft (such as trading for the pick at the end of a tier).


Also, through identifying key metrics, it will highlight potential buy-low players in dynasty. You should be considering other factors as well, with scheme & opportunity / volume key to the TE position. Two players I like as potential trade targets based on successful college metrics are David Njoku & Jace Sternberger. Njoku has slid in dynasty rankings in the last 12 months – he was flirting around the top 5 of the position after a promising start to his career – however injuries, drops and under-performance have dampened his dynasty outlook. The Browns were a disaster under Freddie Kitchens in 2019, the arrival of Kevin Stefanski should help, however there have been rumours that he is on the trade block under the new regime. I like Njoku as a buy in dynasty: he hit on 4/4 of the key metrics, will still only be 24 next season and is primed for a rebound season – whether this be in Cleveland or elsewhere. Sternberger was a 3rd round pick of the Packers current regime in 2019, he hits on all 4 of the key metrics and appears to be in line for an expanded role with Jimmy Graham an upcoming free agent. Whilst this would be a dynasty trade aimed more at the long term, he’s worth a gamble as you already know his landing spot, he's tied to a quality QB in Aaron Rodgers and appears to have an expanded role in 2020.


Hope you enjoyed the article & use the analysis provided in your dynasty player evaluation process. You can find all 4 articles of the ‘Dynasty Football: Successful College Metrics’ series right here:


Successful College Metrics – QB

Successful College Metrics – RB

Successful College Metrics – WR

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