TE Charles Clay, Arizona Cardinals
HT: 6-3, WT: 245, Born: 2-12-1989, College: Tulsa, Drafted: Round 6
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Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: Charles Clay (135), C Ivory (136), C Palmer (137)
Position: Z Ertz (101-TE11), M Bennett (112-TE12), Charles Clay (135 - TE13), L Green (138-TE14), A Gates (146-TE15)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: D Amendola (128), L Green (129), Charles Clay (130), K Robinson (131),
Position: M Bennett (112-TE12), L Green (129-TE13), Charles Clay (130 - TE14), H Miller (138-TE15), A Gates (143-TE16)
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The Miami Herald has reported that the team is thinking of an extension for Clay, who is in the last year of his contract. That could be a sign they want to continue to increase his role after a very good 2013. Dion Sims is more of a run blocker than a pass catcher, Michael Egnew is already on the roster bubble and his only real competition could be from rookies Arthur Lynch and UDFA Gator Hoskins. Lynch is (like Sims) more of a blocker and Hoskins is more one-dimensional than Clay. Given that and Clay's vaster experience, their threat to his snaps are minimal. We see Clay as a decent TE2 this year, as his production in 2013 is pretty much his ceiling in this offense.
|1||San Diego Chargers|
|2||at New York Giants|
|3||San Francisco 49ers|
|5||at Denver Broncos|
|7||at Oakland Raiders|
|9||at Dallas Cowboys|
|10||St. Louis Rams|
|12||at Seattle Seahawks|
|13||at Atlanta Falcons|
|14||Kansas City Chiefs|
|15||at St. Louis Rams|
|17||at San Francisco 49ers|
|18||at Carolina Panthers|
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Clay was thrust into the starting tight end job by default after Dustin Keller’s season-ending surgery. The best thing he has going for him is his versatility. On Sunday, he lined up at fullback, tight end, in the slot, and out wide. When he was matched up with a linebacker, Ryan Tannehill did well to find him. While he is not quite the athlete that Dustin Keller is, he is doing his best impression. If Brandon Gibson is the intermediate to deep target in the middle of the field, then Clay is the safety valve across the short middle. While many viable fantasy tight ends have come from being a trusty dump-off target, Clay is a better for the Dolphins than he is for fantasy players. If the offensive line continues to struggle, more and more Clay will be asked to stay in and block for his quarterback rather than run a route. Likewise, he doesn’t have the size to be a dominant red zone target, meaning he will very rarely offer any touchdown potential. He’s a fun player to watch line up all over the formation, but he isn’t useful for fantasy purposes.
Week 2 - Clay’s career best day was buoyed by two very significant plays. First, his big catch and run in the first quarter was a slight fluke after Antoine Bethea looked like he was going for an interception, but was late and just plain missed on the tackle. Clay did make a strong play on the ball and overall, has looked very good as a safety valve receiver, but expecting long receptions from him on a weekly basis is asking a bit too much. Another oddity, but one that turned Clay’s day into a huge one in fantasy terms, was his 1-yard touchdown plunge. I’m not sure if Mike Sherman knew he was giving Clay his first career carry, but it ended up that way and Clay converted the short yardage attempt. With the coaching staff not showing any confidence in either running back, it may not be shocking to see Clay get a few carries as the upback in some I-formation short-yardage situations. But, clearly, this is not something that can be relied upon. His rapport with Ryan Tannehill is still good enough so that he’ll routinely see the third most targets on the team in a given game. While chasing 100+ yards and the touchdown he scored this week is not advisable, he’s no worse than some of the other TE2 options out there. Seeing a full complement of snaps is certainly not a bad thing.
Week 3 - Clay had another all-around performance in the Dolphins’ offense, as he continues to be the top tight end for Miami. Playing in the slot, in-line, and in the backfield, the versatile Clay also continues to draw the eye of his quarterback. His 6 targets were tied for second behind Brandon Gibson for the team high. Clay did drop two of his targets, with one resulting in Tannehill’s only interception. But, this is about what to expect from Clay on a week-to-week basis. He’ll never be completely shut out of the box score, but his 100-yard, one touchdown game last week was a bit of an aberration.
Week 4 - Charles Clay scored his first receiving touchdown of the season, and second over all in 2013 on Monday night. His score came early in the fourth quarter of a game that was already out of hand. It’s still a good sign for Clay’s value going forward, as he reeled in all 6 of his targets and is showing he can be a threat in the red zone, whether it’s as a running back or a pass catcher. He sits just fourth on the Dolphins in targets, with 25, but is only 5 behind the team leader, Brian Hartline. Ryan Tannehill will look his way because he won’t receive much attention from linebackers and safeties, and he’s very underrated as a route-runner and pass catcher. However, his long on the night was 14, putting to rest any possibility that he would grab another 67-yard catch like he did in Week 2. He’s just not that type of player. His upside is limited and he is very touchdown dependent, but in a PPR league, he is a very good bye-week option as he’s now averaging 5 catches for 60 yards through 4 games.
Week 5 - Clay really had only two plays of note against the Ravens, but both were big. First, was his touchdown at the end of the second quarter. After Tannehill missed Wallace twice, with one overthrow, and then a Wallace drop, the Dolphins had 3rd and goal from the Ravens 9. Clay was matched up against Jimmy Smith wide left. It was a clear mismatch, as Smith could not handle the physicality of Clay. Tannehill saw this and made a perfect back-shoulder throw to the front pylon to Clay, who adjusted and made the play. With no other true red-zone weapons, I’m interested to see if the Dolphins try to create mismatches for Clay in the scoring area more often. His second big play was a shockingly big play down the right sideline against James Ihedigbo. It was another matchup that saw Clay line up out wide in single coverage. Instead of overpowering the defensive back in this situation, he ran right by Ihedigbo. Tannehill dropped his throw right into Clay’s breadbasket, allowing him to gain an extra 20 yards after the catch. Clay has suffered his share of the drops so far in 2013, with 4, but he’s gaining the trust of Tannehill. In an always murky field of tight ends, Charles Clay may just be stating his case to be considered a backend TE1.
Week 7 - Clay scored his fourth touchdown of the season on Sunday, but that was his only mark in the box score. Clay ran a pretty good number of routes, but also stayed in to help the woeful pass protection on a few occasions. Also, whenever the Dolphins would use their 12 personnel to run the ball, it often featured Dion Sims and Michael Egnew, who the coaching staff apparently likes better in that role. He got in the end zone early, so it was likely a disappointment for anyone who started Clay with Jimmy Graham on his bye or otherwise in a bind at tight end, but that’s what Clay is at this point. He’ll have his big target games, but with the three wide receivers seeing 29 of Tannehill’s 37 passing attempts, there just was too few targets left for the tight end. However, Wallace and Gibson are likely to stay inconsistent, so Clay is certainly a tight end to keep an eye on, especially through the bye weeks.
Week 9 - It was another inconsistent day for the Dolphins’ tight end. He secured all three targets thrown his way, but the long went for 9 yards, and he finished with just 22 yards. Similar to many other low end TE1’s and high end TE2’s, Clay is very touchdown dependent. Like Hartline, he’s likely see more targets than he saw on Thursday because Ryan Tannehill is likely to throw the ball more than 28 times per game for the rest of the season. He’s averaging 4 catches for 45 yards this season, and with Brandon Gibson down, he’ll could possibly bump that to 5/55, but with the emergence of guys like Jordan Reed, Julius Thomas, and Jordan Cameron, once the bye weeks are over, he’ll be off the TE1 radar. If there’s one silver lining, it may that Clay could see some high leverage carries in the future. The Dolphins don’t seem to trust Lamar Miller in short-yardage, and Daniel Thomas is failing miserably. Clay took his only third and short carry for 13 yards last night, so he could see an uptick in rushes, with a possibility of some goal-line looks. That would bump his value slightly, but fantasy owners would still need to get into the end-zone to have a really big week.
Week 10 - Even with the presence of Revis Island on Mike Wallace, Charles Clay continued to see a small role in the Dolphins’ offense. When Miami fell behind 15-0, Ryan Tannehill worked the middle of the field. But, instead of Clay benefitting, Tannehill peppered Rishard Matthews with targets. Clay let down his quarterback early with a drop on a 20-yard pass, and then Tannehill shied away from his tight end for most of the rest of the game. Going into the Dolphins’ final drive, Clay had two catches for 4 yards. The versatile tight end also received two carries, but neither was with a chance to score. Clay is still in the muddled mess of tight ends ranked 10-15 in points, but it’s getting to the point where fantasy owners have to consider starting other options over him.
Week 11 - Charles Clay rewarded the few fantasy owners who stayed patient with him in Week 11, tying his season high in catches, recording his second highest yardage total, and adding a touchdown to boot against the Chargers. For the last three or four weeks, Clay hadn’t been more than an afterthought in the offense, as the running game and wide receivers took more of a prominent role. And, usually, Clay doesn’t get peppered with targets. He only received 7 looks from his quarterback in this one, but he made the most of them. Obviously, his best play was the rampaging catch-and-run he had from 39 yards out. He caught a quick 4-yard out on a 1st and 5 and simply ran by Manti Te’o, who was in coverage on him. Te’o whiffed, then Clay “truck-sticked” Marcus Gilchrist at about the 20-yard line, before shaking another tackle from linebacker Donald Butler. At that point, Eric Weddle was probably so impressed with the run that he let Clay walk in from the 5 without so much of an effort to bring him down. Impressive, sure, but Clay has cleared 54 yards just twice this season. Clay is a top 15 TE, but in a year where the dearth of tight ends is as evident as ever, Clay has a decent enough floor not to hurt fantasy owners.
Week 12 - One week after posting 90 yards and a touchdown, Charles Clay crashed back to Earth with a 4 catch, 27-yard performance. Such is the life for any tight end ranked from about 10 to 15, especially this season. Clay did see 7 targets, but couldn’t do his usual damage in the middle of the field with Thomas Davis covering him for most of the day. Ryan Tannehill still looked his way on crucial downs, but the versatile tight end couldn’t shake Davis’ coverage. On a day where Tannehill hooked up with 10 different receivers, it was promising to see Clay tie for 2nd on the team in targets. He’ll usually see 5-8 targets consistently, and he’s often very efficient with his targets, but it’s more likely he’ll turn those targets into about 40 or 50 scoreless yards instead of 80 or 90 and a touchdown. It’s the unfortunate business of being a backend TE1 these days.
Week 13 - Charles Clay continues to alternate dud games with solid ones, and that trend continued with 7 catches on 10 targets against the Jets on Sunday. For the third time this season, Clay reached 80 yards in a game, and his 581 yards rank 8th among tight ends in 2013. He is the definition of a backend TE1 in this day and age; not trusty enough to throw into a lineup week after week, but just good enough to get away with most weeks. After scoring a touchdown in 4 out of 5 games, from Weeks 2-6, Clay has just one TD over the last six games. But, working the middle of the field against Demario Davis and Dewan Landry on Sunday, Clay didn’t need a TD to be an efficient scorer for fantasy owners. His day could’ve been bigger though. He handled a third and goal carry from the 1, but was stuffed by the mauling defensive line of New York. He has one rushing TD this season, but with Daniel Thomas sidelined for the near future, Clay could handle a few goal-line and short yardage carries. Although it’s unwise to rely on that in the fantasy playoffs, Clay is certainly worth a look over similarly frustrating tight ends like Tim Wright, Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker, Heath Miller, and even Antonio Gates in the fantasy playoffs.
Week 14 - Charles Clay continues to impress, recording 80+ yards for the third time in four games, and scoring his sixth and seventh touchdowns of the season. The Steelers were always in their base 3-4 defense or their dime package, with six defensive backs, so Clay either saw coverage from a linebacker like Lawrence Timmons or Vince Williams, or a safety such as Will Allen. None of them could stay with them, as Clay worked the middle of the field. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Hartline and Clay are targets 1a and 1b for Tannehill, with most of the passes that go to Mike Wallace just being forced. Clay got open at will, and was able to turn upfield and use some of his athleticism to pickup yards after the catch. He first touchdown was of the easy, walk-in variety, but his second TD will be talked about for a while. He was lined up by himself, split wide to the right on 2nd and 6, ran a sticks play, but had Keenan Lewis and Troy Polamalu tackled him, he would’ve been short of the line of gain, setting up a 3rd and 1. He shook off Lewis and Polamalu, and ran in from 10 yards out. It may end up being the play of the Dolphins’ season if they end up making the playoffs. Clay continues to produce, and is now 5th in TE scoring for the season behind Graham, Davis, Thomas, and Cameron. The problem has always been consistency for Clay, but he’s been stringing together performances over the past month. With Rob Gronkowski now down, Clay gets another bump up the totem pole as well.
Week 15 - In what’s been an ongoing theme throughout the season, Charles Clay put up a dud performance after having three out of four weeks of great production. Seeing just two targets, it was an unfortunate performance after many fantasy owners who lost Rob Gronkowski or were desperate may have been relying on Clay for some value. He played 51 our of 64 snaps, so it wasn’t a matter of playing time. Belichick and the Patriots decided to take away Tannehill’s safety valve, but the Dolphins adjusted and found other ways to hurt the Patriots. Tannehill found 10 different receivers on the day, which is somewhat unaccustomed for him. Charles Clay’s real life value was huge though. On his one catch, a fourth and 5 conversion on Miami’s game winning drive, he caught the ball around the line of scrimmage, eluded three defenders, and picked up the game saving first down. It’s not the first time this season Clay has shown off his after the catch chops. He’s scored several touchdowns this season after running through multiple defenders and breaking tackles. Clay should bounce back with a better game against Buffalo, but there’s always an odd man out every week among Miami’s pass catching corps.
Week 16 - One week after registering just one catch, Charles Clay posted 4 catches on a day where the Miami offense was about as anemic as it gets. Seeing 7 targets, Clay played his usual middle of the field role for the Dolphins. While fantasy owners who had rode Clay over his recent run of success have to disappointed with his showing in the fantasy Super Bowl, Clay’s day could’ve been worse, especially with the way the offense was playing. Clay was forced to stay in and pass block on a number of occasions with Miami struggling to stop the Buffalo pass rush. As he’s demonstrated before, though, Clay can turn a 7-yard catch into 12-15 yards. Although he doesn’t possess any quick twitch moves, he has some wiggle with the ball in his hands, capable of making at least one man miss and picking up a few extra yards. Make no mistake about it, Clay has been a top-10 tight end this season. With the Dolphins unlikely to bring back Dustin Keller, the versatile Clay will likely return to the same role in 2014. Capable of playing in-line, in the slot, and in the backfield, Clay will be on the back-end TE1 radar next season after putting in a breakout campaign in 2013.
Week 17 - Charles Clay finished his 2013 breakout season with another solid, if unspectacular game. Although his final 3 games probably came as a disappointment to fantasy owners who had been using Clay after Rob Gronkowski went down or had picked him up off the waiver wire earlier in the season, Clay proved he will have a role going forward for this Dolphins team. Asked to stay in pass block a little more than fantasy owners would like to see, Miami will surely upgrade its offensive line this offseason, reducing the need for Clay to chip before going out on a pass route or help shutdown an opposing teams’ edge rusher. Clay has shown the versatility to line up all over the formation, a knack for sure hands (although he’s suffered a few bouts with the drops), and some elusiveness to bounce off defenders after the catch. He is a safety valve for Ryan Tannehill in addition to being a red zone target. Despite suffering his share of clunker games like nearly every other tight end in the game, just 8 TEs finished with more receiving yards than him. Additionally, just 5 TEs had more than the 7 total TDs he recorded in 2013. With Dustin Keller on a one-year deal, and youngsters Dion Sims and Michael Egnew filling a blocking roll for now, Clay should return as the #1 option at TE for Ryan Tannehill. While he’s no slam dunk, Clay has to be on the backend TE1 radar for now.