Tight End By Committee (non-PPR)
By Jeff Pasquino
August 25th, 2011

Over the past few years, there have been two very popular articles written by our very own Chase Stuart that look at an interesting approach to building a fantasy team with late value picks. Based upon the theory of using both Strength of Schedule ("SOS") and taking two players as a combination to build one very good player, he has discussed both Team Defense by Committee ("TDBC") and Quarterback by Committee ("QBBC") as a general fantasy league strategy. In general I think that this is a wise move because very early on in fantasy drafts there are a ton of RB and WR prospects to go after to build a great team. While there are a few studs at QB and also a few choice defenses, I do not see a huge need in leagues to pursue either too hard in the beginning stages of a fantasy draft.

So with this in mind, I started to think about what else can be done with the committee approach. Wide receiver? Perhaps, but not a WR1. Running back? Maybe. Tight end? Hmmm, that's really intriguing. What if you could grab tight ends later in the draft that could combine to perform on a TE1 level, based solely on their current projections and their schedule? Now we're talking. This really got my attention, so I went after this. Let's take a look at how I went about building this committee and then we can digest and discuss the results.

(Tight) End Game

So how to begin? Defenses and quarterbacks are relatively easy to "committee" together. There's usually only one QB and certainly only one team defense per NFL club, so the approach is pretty simple as far as picking out which players / teams to try and pair up. When it comes to tight ends, the line is not quite so easy to draw, but I needed some basis to pick which players it made sense to try and combine for a decent committee. I decided that I would use the following criteria to decide which players to start with for evaluating:

Criteria #1 - TE13 and Beyond

This seems pretty simple. If we want to have a duo that puts up TE1 numbers, that means we want TE12 or better production - else we would just draft TE12 or higher and forget the whole idea. So here is the list of players with which I started, based on their Average Draft Position (ADP):

ADP
Tight End
ADP
Tight End
TE13
Chris Cooley
TE20
Jermaine Gresham
TE14
Brandon Pettigrew
TE21
Todd Heap
TE15
Aaron Hernandez
TE22
Tony Moeaki
TE16
Brent Celek
TE23
Visanthe Shiancoe
TE17
Dustin Keller
TE24
Heath Miller
TE18
Greg Olsen
TE25
Ben Watson
TE19
Jared Cook

Table 1: Tight Ends TE13-TE25 Based on ADP

Great, now we have 13 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 78 potential committees, so there had better be a decent one (or several, we hope) out of all of those couplets. Now, before I go over the method of how to pair them up and the results, we need one more rule:

Criteria #2 - No more than one TE from Round 10 and one from Round 12.

This could get tricky here, but understand the overall goal. The point of TEBC is to "free up" the first 9-10 rounds of your fantasy draft to pursue all of the other positions for your team. Grabbing 3-4 running backs and 4-5 receivers (especially in PPR leagues) after grabbing a stud RB in Round 1 sounds like a good idea to me. This also gives you the flexibility of grabbing a stud QB, depending on your personal preference, or even to get TE1 if there's a huge value play available and have the "TEBC" be your TE2 (although I would only recommend this in very deep leagues with 20+ roster spots). Flexibility is the name of the game here. We all want value in our drafts, and having the ability to grab lots of RBs and WRs in the first 9-10 Rounds gives us that ability.

Here is the good news - all of the tight ends on the list above have ADPs that are Round 10 or higher (later). Only Chris Cooley (121) and Brandon Pettigrew (126) are going on average in Round 11, so everyone else is Round 12 or later. We will have to keep that in mind when we look at the result because if we decide to wait unit Round 12 to get two tight ends to make up our TEBC we may be pushing it a little too far and may not get the combination that we want.

So what do we do now to figure out some TE pairs?

Criteria #3 - Use Footballguys' TE Strength of Schedule

This sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Just take the TE Strength of Schedule to figure out when certain players are more likely to score well. What I did is similar to what the Projections Dominator and Draft Dominator do for you - take the projected fantasy points and slice them up over 16 weeks based on the strength of schedule. I call this result the "distributed fantasy points" for each receiver.

After I had all 13 tight ends with distributed fantasy points on a weekly basis, I just compared all of the possible TE pairs to find the best duos for TEBC. So here we are - time for some results.

Rk
Tight End 1
Tight End 2
Value
1
Brandon Pettigrew
Dustin Keller
102.0
2
Dustin Keller
Jared Cook
100.5
3
Brandon Pettigrew
Jared Cook
98.3
4
Dustin Keller
Jermaine Gresham
97.7
5
Brandon Pettigrew
Jermaine Gresham
96.5
6
Brandon Pettigrew
Heath Miller
95.9
7
Dustin Keller
Chris Cooley
95.8
8
Jared Cook
Chris Cooley
95.7
9
Dustin Keller
Heath Miller
95.5
10
Jared Cook
Jermaine Gresham
95.2
11
Brandon Pettigrew
Chris Cooley
94.9
12
Dustin Keller
Brent Celek
94.6
13
Brandon Pettigrew
Aaron Hernandez
94.1
14
Jared Cook
Heath Miller
94.0
15
Dustin Keller
Tony Moeaki
93.9
16
Brandon Pettigrew
Brent Celek
93.7
17
Brandon Pettigrew
Ben Watson
93.6
18
Brandon Pettigrew
Tony Moeaki
93.5
19
Dustin Keller
Aaron Hernandez
93.2
20
Dustin Keller
Greg Olsen
93.0
21
Jared Cook
Greg Olsen
92.9
22
Jared Cook
Aaron Hernandez
92.8
23
Jared Cook
Brent Celek
92.8
24
Dustin Keller
Visanthe Shiancoe
92.4
25
Brandon Pettigrew
Todd Heap
91.7
26
Jared Cook
Ben Watson
91.7
27
Jermaine Gresham
Chris Cooley
91.7
28
Dustin Keller
Ben Watson
91.4
1
Daniel Thomas
Fred Jackson
188.8

Table 2: Top Tight End Committee Pairs

As we can see from Table 2, we have some very good pairs to select from for TEBC. There are 28 pairs that are worth more than Tony Gonzalez (projected as TE11), who is projected to come in with 91.3 points. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Tight End
Frq
Tight End
Frq
Tight End
Frq
Dustin Keller
11
Aaron Hernandez
3
Greg Olsen
2
Brandon Pettigrew
10
Ben Watson
3
Tony Moeaki
2
Jared Cook
9
Brent Celek
3
Todd Heap
1
Chris Cooley
4
Heath Miller
3
Visanthe Shiancoe
1
Jermaine Gresham
4

Table 3: Tight End Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, the results are dominated by three guys - Dustin Keller (11 appearances), Brandon Pettigrew (10) and Jared Cook (9). That is a significant result as it gives us the three key players to target for the TEBC approach to the draft.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have 28 possible pairs to consider, what exactly does that mean? Should Tony Gonzalez be the basis of our comparison? Of course not. Remember our goal - find a pair of tight ends that can combine for TE1-type fantasy production. To figure that out we need a better metric, so here are the projections for the Top 18 TEs:

ADP
WR Rk
Tight End
FPs
FP Rk
35
1
Antonio Gates
129.1
1
48
3
Jason Witten
126.7
2
54
5
Vernon Davis
120.7
3
51
4
Jermichael Finley
115.7
4
43
2
Dallas Clark
115.4
5
100
9
Rob Gronkowski
102.8
6
89
8
Marcedes Lewis
100.1
7
76
6
Owen Daniels
98.5
8
109
12
Kellen Winslow
96.3
9
79
7
Jimmy Graham
96.0
10
108
11
Tony Gonzalez
91.3
11
126
14
Brandon Pettigrew
87.7
12
159
17
Dustin Keller
87.3
13
184
19
Jared Cook
86.1
14
185
20
Jermaine Gresham
80.3
15
121
13
Chris Cooley
78.9
16
223
24
Heath Miller
77.7
17
107
10
Zach Miller
75.8
18

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for Top ADP TEs

Based on Table 4, we see that TEs beyond the Top 5 are really jumbled all over the place as a tier in performance starts to appear. Fantasy points dip from 115 or more points down into the 95-100 range for the bottom half of the TE1 choices. The good news is that the Top 3 TEBC pairs in Table 2 are all right in that same range - meaning that if you can secure two of the three top TE2s for your committee then you should do just fine. So the plan for TEBC for non-PPR is pretty simple - get two of these three tight ends: Brandon Pettigrew (ADP 126) Dustin Keller (159) and Jared Cook (184). Considering the ADP values and the similar pair fantasy scores, I officially recommend getting Dustin Keller in Round 14 and Jared Cook in Round 15 just to be safe.

Here is a final summary of the combined schedules for Dustin Keller and Jared Cook, and when the committee approach suggests starting each one:

Wk
Suggested Starter
Opponent
1
Jared Cook
at Jacksonville
2
Dustin Keller
Jacksonville
3
Jared Cook
Denver
4
Jared Cook
at Cleveland
5
Dustin Keller
at New England
6
Dustin Keller
Miami
7
Dustin Keller
San Diego
8
Jared Cook
Indianapolis
9
Dustin Keller
at Buffalo
10
Jared Cook
at Carolina
11
Dustin Keller
at Denver
12
Dustin Keller
Buffalo
13
Jared Cook
at Buffalo
14
Jared Cook
New Orleans
15
Dustin Keller
at Philadelphia
16
Jared Cook
Jacksonville

Table 5: Suggested TEBC Schedule Plan

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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