Tight End By Committee
By Jeff Pasquino
August 13th, 2012

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
Brent Celek
TE21
Heath Miller
TE14
Owen Daniels
TE22
Ed Dickson
TE15
Jared Cook
TE23
Dallas Clark
TE16
Coby Fleener
TE24
Tony Moeaki
TE17
Dustin Keller
TE25
Martellus Bennett
TE18
Greg Olsen
TE26
Marcedes Lewis
TE19
Kyle Rudolph
TE27
Lance Kendricks
TE20
Kellen Winslow
TE28
Scott Chandler

Table 1: Tight Ends TE13-TE28 Based on ADP

Great, now we have 16 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 130 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 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). In fact, only the Brent Celek and Owen Daniels are borderline Round 10 / Round 11 guys. 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 this pair 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.

Rnk
Tight End 1
Tight End 2
Value
1
Dustin Keller
Owen Daniels
109.8
2
Brent Celek
Dustin Keller
107.5
3
Brent Celek
Owen Daniels
106.0
4
Owen Daniels
Greg Olsen
104.3
5
Brent Celek
Jared Cook
104.0
6
Dustin Keller
Greg Olsen
103.7
7
Brent Celek
Greg Olsen
103.4
8
Dustin Keller
Jared Cook
102.2
9
Brent Celek
Heath Miller
102.1
10
Brent Celek
Coby Fleener
101.9
11
Owen Daniels
Jared Cook
101.8
12
Brent Celek
Lance Kendricks
101.4
13
Dustin Keller
Heath Miller
101.3
14
Dustin Keller
Coby Fleener
101.2
15
Brent Celek
Scott Chandler
100.5
16
Dustin Keller
Ed Dickson
100.5
17
Owen Daniels
Coby Fleener
100.2
18
Brent Celek
Kyle Rudolph
100.1
19
Dustin Keller
Kyle Rudolph
100.1
20
Owen Daniels
Heath Miller
99.9
21
Brent Celek
Marcedes Lewis
99.7
22
Brent Celek
Ed Dickson
99.5
23
Dustin Keller
Marcedes Lewis
99.3
24
Dustin Keller
Tony Moeaki
99.3
25
Owen Daniels
Marcedes Lewis
99.2
26
Dustin Keller
Kellen Winslow
99.1
27
Brent Celek
Dallas Clark
99.1
28
Brent Celek
Kellen Winslow
99.0
29
Dustin Keller
Scott Chandler
99.0
30
Dustin Keller
Dallas Clark
98.8
31
Brent Celek
Martellus Bennett
98.7
32
Owen Daniels
Lance Kendricks
98.0
33
Dustin Keller
Martellus Bennett
97.9
34
Owen Daniels
Dallas Clark
97.6
35
Owen Daniels
Kellen Winslow
97.4
36
Owen Daniels
Kyle Rudolph
97.3
37
Owen Daniels
Tony Moeaki
97.3
38
Owen Daniels
Martellus Bennett
96.9
39
Brent Celek
Tony Moeaki
95.8
40
Brent Celek
n/a
95.8

Table 2: Tight End Committee Pairs

As we can see from Table 2, we have some very good pairs to select from for TEBC. There are 39 pairs that are worth more than Brent Celek (projected as TE11) by his lonesome, who is projected to come in with 95.8 points. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Tight End
Frequency
Tight End
Frequency
Brent Celek
16
Kyle Rudolph
3
Dustin Keller
14
Dallas Clark
3
Owen Daniels
13
Kellen Winslow
3
Coby Fleener
3
Martellus Bennett
3
Greg Olsen
3
Tony Moeaki
3
Heath Miller
3
Ed Dickson
2
Jared Cook
3
Scott Chandler
2
Marcedes Lewis
3
Lance Kendricks
2

Table 3: Tight End Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, the results are dominated by one guy Brent Celek. That is a significant result as it gives us the key player to target for the TEBC approach to the draft. The next two on the list Dustin Keller and Owen Daniels gives us options for the second half of the pairing for TEBC.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have 39 possible pairs that are better than Brent Celek, what exactly does that mean? Should Brent Celek 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 16 TEs:

ADP
TE Rnk
Tight End
FPs
FP Rnk
14
1
Jimmy Graham
169.1
1.0
15
2
Rob Gronkowski
168.7
2.0
51
3
Antonio Gates
130.4
3.0
56
4
Aaron Hernandez
123.4
4.0
62
5
Vernon Davis
119.7
5.0
67
7
Jason Witten
117.5
6.0
65
6
Jermichael Finley
113.1
7.0
93
9
Brandon Pettigrew
104.1
8.0
98
10
Tony Gonzalez
102.5
9.0
88
8
Fred Davis
97.4
10.0
125
12
Brent Celek
95.7
11.0
149
15
Dustin Keller
95.3
12.0
137
13
Owen Daniels
93.8
13.0
157
16
Greg Olsen
84.7
14.0
118
11
Jermaine Gresham
84.1
15.0
146
14
Jared Cook
82.0
16.0

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for Top 16 ADP TEs

Based on Table 4, we see that TEs beyond the Top 10 are really jumbled all over the place thanks to a good number of people sleeping on Brent Celek and several owners drafting Jermaine Gresham based on 2011 (and ignoring the fact that the Bengals are improving their wide receivers). Looking at our possible pairs, we have 34 duos that are higher than Fred Davis (TE10) in projected fantasy points and four pairs that exceed Brandon Pettigrew (TE8), which would be a reasonable target to strive for with a TEBC approach. This tells us that choosing the correct pair can give us the result we wanted - TE1 production on the cheap.

Considering all of the results, the committee recipe looks very clear get Brent Celek. Nabbing Celek in Round 10 locks him into your lineup and then you can pick the next tight end that you like from the list of 12 possible pairs with Celek. Based on the relative cost and value for the top candidates, the situation for Owen Daniels is very appealing. Matt Schaub is healthy again and the Texans are lacking at wide receiver after Andre Johnson. Given the big offenses in both Philadelphia and Houston, I am recommending Brent Celek and Owen Daniels as the TEBC for 2012. Take Celek in Round 10 and follow up with Owen Daniels no later than Round 11 (just to be safe) to pair together for your TE committee. Yes, that is a round earlier than expected, so if you want to wait then there are many options near the top of Table 2 that will be there in Round 12 (like Greg Olsen, Jared Cook or Heath Miller).

For thoroughness, Table 2 should be your guide on Fantasy Draft Day if you attempt to use TEBC.

Here is a final summary of the combined schedules for Brent Celek and Owen Daniels, and when the committee approach suggests starting each one:

Week
Suggested TE
Opponent
1
Brent Celek
at Cleveland
2
Owen Daniels
at Jacksonville
3
Brent Celek
at Arizona
4
Owen Daniels
Tennessee
5
Brent Celek
at Pittsburgh
6
Owen Daniels
Green Bay
7
Owen Daniels
Baltimore
8
Brent Celek
Atlanta
9
Owen Daniels
Buffalo
10
Brent Celek
Dallas
11
Brent Celek
at Washington
12
Brent Celek
Carolina
13
Brent Celek
at Dallas
14
Owen Daniels
at New England
15
Brent Celek
Cincinnati
16
Brent Celek
Washington

Table 5: Suggested TEBC Schedule Plan

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

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