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TE By Committee

Finding a Starting Tight End by Committee for 2013

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 running back and wide receiver prospects to go after to build a great team. While there are a few studs at quarterback 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 quarterback 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 Player ADP Player
TE13 Brandon Myers TE20 Ed Dickson
TE14 Brandon Pettigrew TE21 Tyler Eifert
TE15 Fred Davis TE22 Dwayne Allen
TE16 Jermaine Gresham TE23 Coby Fleener
TE17 Dustin Keller TE24 Rob Housler
TE18 Jordan Cameron TE25 Jake Ballard
TE19 Heath Miller TE26 Marcedes Lewis

Table 1: Tight Ends TE13-TE26 Based on ADP

Great, now we have 14 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 91 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 Brandon Myers and Brandon Pettigrew 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 14 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.

Rank Tight End 1 Tight End 2 Value
1 Jordan Cameron Dustin Keller 101.4
2 Jordan Cameron Brandon Myers 99.8
3 Jordan Cameron Brandon Pettigrew 99.0
4 Jordan Cameron Dwayne Allen 98.3
5 Jordan Cameron Jermaine Gresham 98.3
6 Jordan Cameron Marcedes Lewis 97.7
7 Jordan Cameron Fred Davis 97.6
8 Dustin Keller Brandon Pettigrew 96.6
9 Jordan Cameron Coby Fleener 96.2
10 Jordan Cameron Ed Dickson 96.2
11 Dustin Keller Brandon Myers 95.3
12 Brandon Pettigrew Dwayne Allen 94.9
13 Jordan Cameron Rob Housler 94.8
14 Brandon Pettigrew Jermaine Gresham 94.6
15 Dustin Keller Jermaine Gresham 94.4
16 Dustin Keller Dwayne Allen 94.3
17 Jordan Cameron Heath Miller 94.3
18 Fred Davis Dwayne Allen 93.8
19 Brandon Pettigrew Fred Davis 93.6
20 Jordan Cameron Zach Miller 93.3
21 Dustin Keller Ed Dickson 92.9
22 Jordan Cameron Scott Chandler 92.7
23 Dustin Keller Marcedes Lewis 92.5
24 Dwayne Allen Marcedes Lewis 92.5
25 Brandon Pettigrew Coby Fleener 92.4
26 Jordan Cameron Tyler Eifert 92.3
27 Jordan Cameron Luke Stocker 92.3
28 Dustin Keller Coby Fleener 91.9
29 Brandon Pettigrew Ed Dickson 91.7
30 Dwayne Allen Brandon Myers 91.6
31 Fred Davis Jermaine Gresham 91.6
32 Fred Davis Brandon Myers 91.5
33 Jermaine Gresham Brandon Myers 91.5
34 Dustin Keller Fred Davis 90.7
35 Fred Davis Coby Fleener 90.7
36 Marcedes Lewis Coby Fleener 89.9
37 Brandon Pettigrew Brandon Myers 89.8
38 Brandon Pettigrew Heath Miller 89.7
39 Dwayne Allen Jermaine Gresham 89.6
40 Brandon Pettigrew Marcedes Lewis 89.4
41 Fred Davis Ed Dickson 89.3
42 Jordan Cameron n/a 89.3

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 41 pairs that are worth more than Jordan Cameron by his lonesome, who is projected to come in with 89.3 points. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Tight End Freq Tight End Freq
Jordan Cameron 15 Marcedes Lewis 5
Brandon Pettigrew 10 Ed Dickson 4
Dustin Keller 9 Heath Miller 2
Fred Davis 8 Luke Stocker 1
Dwayne Allen 7 Rob Housler 1
Brandon Myers 6 Scott Chandler 1
Jermaine Gresham 6 Tyler Eifert 1
Coby Fleener 5 Zach Miller 1

Table 3: Tight End Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, the results are dominated by four guys – Jordan Cameron, Brandon Pettigrew, Dustin Keller and Fred Davis.  That is a significant result as it gives us the key player to target for the TEBC approach to the draft.  The next six on the list – Dwayne Allen, Brandon Myers, Jermaine Gresham, Coby Fleener, Marcedes Lewis and Ed Dickson – gives us options for the second half of the pairing for TEBC.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that we have 41 possible pairs that are better than Jordan Cameron, what exactly does that mean? Should Cameron 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 23 TEs in standard scoring:

ADP TE Rank Player FPs FP Rank
19 1 Jimmy Graham 164.0 1
35 2 Rob Gronkowski 145.2 2
51 3 Jason Witten 124.8 3
61 5 Vernon Davis 119.4 4
54 4 Tony Gonzalez 118.1 5
90 7 Greg Olsen 108.8 6
82 6 Kyle Rudolph 98.2 7
102 10 Jermichael Finley 97.6 8
106 11 Owen Daniels 96.1 9
101 9 Jared Cook 95.4 10
96 8 Antonio Gates 91.1 11
169 18 Jordan Cameron 89.5 12
121 12 Martellus Bennett 84.6 13
138 14 Brandon Pettigrew 83.8 14
163 17 Dustin Keller 83.0 15
156 15 Fred Davis 80.5 16
181 22 Dwayne Allen 79.3 17
125 13 Brandon Myers 79.7 18
160 16 Jermaine Gresham 77.7 19
205 26 Marcedes Lewis 76.9 20
175 20 Ed Dickson 76.6 21
186 23 Coby Fleener 73.8 22
193 24 Rob Housler 69.2 23

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for Top 20+ ADP TEs

Based on Table 4, we see that TEs beyond the Top 7 are really jumbled all over the place thanks to a good number of people sleeping on Jordan Cameron and several owners drafting Jared Cook based on his new home in St. Louis.  Looking at our possible pairs, we have 5-7 duos that are about even or slightly higher than Jared Cook (TE10) plus 3-5 points for a bye week filler, and one pair that is similar to Jermichael Finley (TE8) with a similar bye week score added.  Those top pairs 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 Jordan Cameron. Nabbing Cameron in Round 10 or 11 locks him into your lineup and then you can pick the next tight end that you like from the list of possible pairs with Cameron, seven of which represent the top seven TEBC options.   Based on the relative cost and value for the top candidates, the situation for both Jordan Cameron and Dustin Keller are very appealing.  Cameron is a solid sleeper in Cleveland, where the Browns lack playmakers in the passing game and QB Brandon Weeden needs a safety valve.  Keller is on a one year contract in Miami and looking to prove to everyone that he can get back to TE1 level production before he becomes a free agent again in March. With this in mind, I am recommending Jordan Cameron and Dustin Keller as the TEBC for 2013.  Take Cameron late in Round 10 or early in Round 11 and follow up with Keller no later than Round 13 (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 14 (like Marcedes Lewis or Coby Fleener) if Keller is gone. 

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 Jordan Cameron and Dustin Keller, and when the committee approach suggests starting each one:

Wk Suggested Player Opponent
1 Jordan Cameron Miami
2 Dustin Keller at Indianapolis
3 Jordan Cameron at Minnesota
4 Jordan Cameron Cincinnati
5 Jordan Cameron Buffalo
6 Jordan Cameron Detroit
7 Jordan Cameron at Green Bay
8 Dustin Keller at New England
9 Jordan Cameron Baltimore
10 Dustin Keller at Tampa Bay
11 Jordan Cameron at Cincinnati
12 Dustin Keller Carolina
13 Jordan Cameron Jacksonville
14 Jordan Cameron at New England
15 Dustin Keller New England
16 Dustin Keller at Buffalo

Table 5: Suggested PPR TEBC Schedule Plan

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


More from Jeff Pasquino:

For The Win: Week 1 - September 1
I Will Survive: Managing Survivor Leagues - August 25
WR3 By Committee - PPR: Update - August 22
WR3 By Committee: Update - August 22
Perfect Draft: 10 Teams - August 20
Perfect Draft: 12 Teams - August 20
Perfect Draft: 14 Teams - August 20
Perfect FPC Draft - August 20
Average Auction Values - August 19
RB2 By Committee - PPR: Update - August 18