Tight End By Committee (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
Rob Gronkowski
TE21
Tony Moeaki
TE14
Brandon Pettigrew
TE22
Heath Miller
TE15
Dustin Keller
TE23
Visanthe Shiancoe
TE16
Jared Cook
TE24
Ben Watson
TE17
Brent Celek
TE25
Todd Heap
TE18
Jermaine Gresham
TE26
Kevin Boss
TE19
Aaron Hernandez
TE27
Ed Dickson
TE20
Greg Olsen
TE28
Fred Davis

Table 1: Tight Ends TE13-TE28 Based on PPR ADP

Great, now we have 16 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 120 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 – nearly all of the tight ends on the list above have ADPs that are Round 10 or higher (later). Only Rob Gronkowski (111) and Brandon Pettigrew (114) are going on average in Round 10, so everyone else is Round 11 or later. We will have to keep that in mind when we look at the result because if we decide to wait unit Round 11 to get him 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 16 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
Jared Cook
Rob Gronkowski
170.1
2
Dustin Keller
Rob Gronkowski
169.8
3
Heath Miller
Rob Gronkowski
166.8
4
Zach Miller
Rob Gronkowski
165.2
5
Ben Watson
Rob Gronkowski
161.4
6
Dustin Keller
Jared Cook
161.2
7
Visanthe Shiancoe
Rob Gronkowski
160.3
8
Ed Dickson
Rob Gronkowski
159.8
9
Tony Moeaki
Rob Gronkowski
159.7
10
Fred Davis
Rob Gronkowski
159.6
11
Dustin Keller
Jermaine Gresham
159.2
12
Greg Olsen
Rob Gronkowski
159.0
13
Todd Heap
Rob Gronkowski
158.9
14
Kevin Boss
Rob Gronkowski
158.1
15
Jermaine Gresham
Rob Gronkowski
157.0
16
Jared Cook
Jermaine Gresham
155.3
17
Brent Celek
Rob Gronkowski
154.2
18
Dustin Keller
Zach Miller
153.7
19
Dustin Keller
Heath Miller
153.6
20
Rob Gronkowski
n/a
153.1
21
Aaron Hernandez
Rob Gronkowski
153.1
22
Dustin Keller
Brent Celek
151.4
23
Jared Cook
Heath Miller
150.9
24
Dustin Keller
Tony Moeaki
150.7
25
Dustin Keller
Greg Olsen
149.6
26
Jared Cook
Greg Olsen
149.1
27
Jermaine Gresham
Zach Miller
148.7

Table 2: Top PPR Tight End Committee Pairs

As we can see from Table 2, we have some very good pairs to select from for TEBC. There are 19 pairs that are worth more than Rob Gronkowski (projected as TE8) by his lonesome, who is projected to come in with 153.1 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
Rob Gronkowski
16
Heath Miller
3
Ed Dickson
1
Dustin Keller
8
Tony Moeaki
2
Fred Davis
1
Jared Cook
5
Brent Celek
2
Kevin Boss
1
Jermaine Gresham
4
Aaron Hernandez
1
Todd Heap
1
Zach Miller
3
Ben Watson
1
Visanthe Shiancoe
1
Greg Olsen
3

Table 3: PPR Tight End Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, the results are dominated by one guy – Rob Gronkowski. That is a significant result as it gives us the key player to target for the TEBC approach to the draft. There are six other tight ends, however, who appear at least three times – Dustin Keller (8), Jared Cook (5), Jermaine Gresham (4), Seattle’s Zach Miller (3), Greg Olsen (3) and Heath Miller (3). It is quite possible that a pair made up of these six guys could represent nearly the same fantasy value at a cheaper price.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have 27 possible pairs to consider, what exactly does that mean? Should Rob Gronkowski 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, using PPR:

ADP
WR Rk
Tight End
FPs
FP Rk
45
4
Jason Witten
207.0
1
31
1
Antonio Gates
191.5
2
43
2
Dallas Clark
186.9
3
56
5
Vernon Davis
181.2
4
44
3
Jermichael Finley
176.9
5
106
10
Kellen Winslow
157.4
6
72
6
Owen Daniels
157.1
7
111
13
Rob Gronkowski
153.1
8
96
8
Marcedes Lewis
152.5
9
98
9
Tony Gonzalez
149.9
10
75
7
Jimmy Graham
148.7
11
114
14
Brandon Pettigrew
143.9
12
142
15
Dustin Keller
140.3
13
145
16
Jared Cook
138.2
14
148
18
Jermaine Gresham
133.7
15
109
12
Chris Cooley
133.3
16
183
22
Heath Miller
124.8
17
107
11
Zach Miller
121.3
18

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for Top ADP TEs (PPR)

Based on Table 4, we see that TEs beyond the Top 5 are really jumbled all over the place thanks to a good number of people sleeping on Kellen Winslow and several owners drafting Owen Daniels based on his phenomenal last few weeks of work last year. Looking at our possible pairs, the simple answer appears to be to draft Gronkowski and take a decent TE2 to pair with him – and I can agree with that philosophy. I do think that there is another option, and that would be to wait on your tight end beyond Gronkowski’s ADP of Round 9-10 (111 overall) and take a pair of almost the same fantasy value but available much later. Dustin Keller (ADP 142) and Jared Cook (ADP 145) should be both available in Rounds 11 and 12 each, affording patient drafters to get a top end TEBC on the cheap. It also helps that Keller and Cook are the clear top tight ends on their respective teams, while Gronkowski faces a challenge from Aaron Hernandez. This is why I recommend getting Dustin Keller in Round 11 and then Jared Cook quickly in Round 12.

For thoroughness Table 5 should be your guide on Fantasy Draft Day if you attempt to use TEBC.

Rk
Tight End 1
Tight End 2
Value
ADP1
ADP2
1
Jared Cook
Rob Gronkowski
170.1
16
13
2
Dustin Keller
Rob Gronkowski
169.8
15
13
3
Heath Miller
Rob Gronkowski
166.8
22
13
4
Zach Miller
Rob Gronkowski
165.2
11
13
5
Ben Watson
Rob Gronkowski
161.4
24
13
6
Dustin Keller
Jared Cook
161.2
15
16
7
Visanthe Shiancoe
Rob Gronkowski
160.3
23
13
8
Ed Dickson
Rob Gronkowski
159.8
27
13
9
Tony Moeaki
Rob Gronkowski
159.7
21
13
10
Fred Davis
Rob Gronkowski
159.6
28
13
11
Dustin Keller
Jermaine Gresham
159.2
15
18
12
Greg Olsen
Rob Gronkowski
159.0
20
13
13
Todd Heap
Rob Gronkowski
158.9
25
13
14
Kevin Boss
Rob Gronkowski
158.1
26
13
15
Jermaine Gresham
Rob Gronkowski
157.0
18
13
16
Jared Cook
Jermaine Gresham
155.3
16
18
17
Brent Celek
Rob Gronkowski
154.2
17
13
18
Dustin Keller
Zach Miller
153.7
15
11
19
Dustin Keller
Heath Miller
153.6
15
22
20
Rob Gronkowski
n/a
153.1
13
None
21
Aaron Hernandez
Rob Gronkowski
153.1
19
13
22
Dustin Keller
Brent Celek
151.4
15
17
23
Jared Cook
Heath Miller
150.9
16
22
24
Dustin Keller
Tony Moeaki
150.7
15
21
25
Dustin Keller
Greg Olsen
149.6
15
20
26
Jared Cook
Greg Olsen
149.1
16
20
27
Jermaine Gresham
Zach Miller
148.7
18
11

Table 5: Top 27 PPR TEBC Options for 2011

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 6: Suggested PPR TEBC Schedule Plan

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

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