TE Brandon Pettigrew, Free agent
HT: 6-6, WT: 263, Born: 2-23-1985, College: Oklahoma State, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 20
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The competition from rookie Eric Ebron pushes Pettigrew to perform like he has earlier in his career. The Lions are committed to distributing the ball more and Pettigrew shows that last season was just a fluke. He probably won’t get back to the 80 catches that he had back in 2011, but 60 receptions might be possible in a best case situation. He is still a big red zone targets, and could snag four or five TDS given the right situation.
The presence of Ebron limits Pettigrew’s offensive production even further than it did last season. The Lions made a commitment to him during the off season so he’s not going away, but with so many capable pass receiving tight ends, Pettigrew gets lost in the mix. Averaging less than three receptions a game, and only a couple TDS won’t be enough to make him valuable in many fantasy leagues.
Pettigrew is a curious case this season, and we’re going to have to watch how the pre-season shapes up to determine his real value. Back in 2010 and 2011, Pettigrew was a starting quality fantasy tight end, posting big reception numbers and solid receiving stats. But the last two years have seen a serious decline in his production, and his big play ability seems to have vanished. The Lions gave him a four year contract extension in March so they want him to be a part of their offense, but the selection of Eric Ebron and the emergence of Joseph Fauria last season seem to put a serious cap on what you should expect from Pettigrew this season.
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - It was a tough day for Pettigrew against the Vikings. Pettigrew had a drive-killing holding penalty on fourth-and-one early in the game, forcing a field goal after a long drive. He then dropped a short target, which was nearly ruled a fumble. Finally, Pettigrew found an opening on a screen pass for a handful of rare yards after the catch before he was stripped from behind. The fumble came on the edge of field goal range, halting yet another promising Detroit drive. In addition to Pettigrew’s poor play, rookie Joseph Fauria made a few impact plays in his first NFL game. Fauria’s development could impact Pettigrew’s production and involvement in the passing game going forward.
Week 2 - After one of his worst NFL games in Week 1, Pettigrew rebounded to have a positive impact or two against the Cardinals along with two, now-common, dropped passes. He had room after the catch early in the game as Stafford found him on a play-action rollout, a staple of the Lions offense. Late in the fourth quarter, Pettigrew made a true highlight reel catch as he fully extended for a Stafford pass that was nearly past him by the time he got his hands on it. For all the times Pettigrew drops the routine play, he was the lone Detroit receiver that stepped up and made a play in the fourth quarter this week. Pettigrew also added two dropped passes on third downs earlier in the game to his day, both on third down.
Week 4 - After having three subpar games to open the season, Pettigrew rebounded with a solid effort against Chicago. He caught all seven of his targets as Stafford’s favorite possession target with Nate Burleson out of the lineup. Most were quick hitch routes or out-breaking patterns with little room after the catch. While his yardage was low, he did not drop a pass or fumble, two things that have recently plagued the tight end.
Week 5 - After a slow start to the season, Pettigrew has put together back-to-back solid performances. This week the Lions offense needed all the help it could get against Green Bay without Calvin Johnson or Nate Burleson in the lineup. Pettigrew still managed to throw in an untimely drop in the game, but caught his remaining targets. He made two uncharacteristic highlight reel plays. One came after the catch on third-and-long, as he leaped over an oncoming defender for the first down and getting Detroit into field goal range. Another came on a perfectly thrown pass down the seam where Pettigrew had to fully extend to make the great catch. That level of athleticism has not been present with Pettigrew in quite a while.
Week 6 - It was a ho-hum game for Pettigrew against Cleveland this week. He caught all four of his targets in a possession role. Joseph Fauria has become the tight end of choice in the red zone, leaving short routes in the middle of the field to Pettigrew. On his highest-impact plays, Pettigrew converted a third down with a crossing route reception and eludes a defender for a solid gain in the fourth quarter. Even with a limited Calvin Johnson and Tony Scheffler out of the lineup, Pettigrew’s role in the offense was minimal.
Week 7 - Pettigrew got a rare goal line target against the Bengals, which was his lone highlight pass. Against tight coverage, Pettigrew used his big frame to shield the defender and convert the short target. Tight coverage was typical as Pettigrew was unable to shake free most of the game against Cincinnati. On one of his early targets, a floating pass from Stafford in Pettigrew’s direction was nearly intercepted as Pettigrew make little effort to break up the play.
Week 8 - Pettigrew made another outstanding catch this week against Dallas. Stafford found Pettigrew down the seam, requiring a full-extension grab for the sizeable gain. In addition to his highlight reception, Pettigrew also threw in a dropped third down target in the final two minutes of the game and a false start penalty on a third down earlier in the game. Pettigrew remains very inconsistent from week-to-week and snap-to-snap. Joseph Fauria did not play much this week as Pettigrew is still the unquestioned starter.
Week 10 - Pettigrew had another good game against Chicago this week. The entire spectrum of tight end routes was on display as Pettigrew made a leaping grab over the middle, down the seam, and gained yards after the catch on outlet and intermediate routes. Pettigrew has played much better of late than the drop and penalty-filled games early this season. His effort after the catch and willingness to fully extend for passes are key elements to his improved play.
Week 11 - Pettigrew made a tough reception on the opening play of the game against Pittsburgh. On the play his knee was caught up and twisted underneath him and he was helped off the field. After missing a few plays and getting his knee wrapped, Pettigrew was back on the field. Stafford was wild on two passes in Pettigrew’s direction. One on a deep target down the middle of the field and another an end zone look that forced Pettigrew to fully extend on the play. While Pettigrew had a chance for the score, it would have been a true highlight play to haul in the off-target throw. After the injury Pettigrew did not appear limited by his early knee injury.
Week 12 - Pettigrew had an up-and-down game against Tampa Bay, showing athletic flashes at times and looking half lost on occasion. His highlight play was another full-extension grab down the seam, a play Detroit seems to dial up at least every other game. Pettigrew caught the perfect pass over linebacker coverage, finishing off the touchdown drive with his second score of the season. He also drew a defensive pass interference penalty to convert a third down. The questionable plays include a lackluster effort on an outlet target as Mathew Stafford was being pressured in the pocket. Pettigrew a hot read and the ball arrived without much notice from the tight end, resulting in an interception returned for a touchdown, a turning point play. On another target, Pettigrew put up just one hand on a perfectly-thrown seam route resulting in an incompletion instead of a big play.
Week 13 - Pettigrew struggled on his limited targets against the Packers. He caught a routine play-action pass for a short gain, but got alligator arms on a high-leverage target in the red zone. On third down, Stafford threw a well-thrown ball down the seam to Pettigrew in the end zone. Pettigrew got both hands on it, but did not fully extend to have much of a chance at the touchdown. In addition to that play, Pettigrew threw in a false start penalty when Detroit was in a goal-to-go situation late in the first quarter.
Week 14 - Pettigrew converted a much-needed third-and-long early in the game. Detroit struggled to establish any offense and Pettigrew came wide open over the middle. Pettigrew was not involved in the offense again until dropping a low target in the flat late in the fourth quarter. This week marked Pettigrew’s fourth straight game with less than 40 receiving yards.
Week 15 - Pettigrew had his third straight with less than 25 receiving yards, but did the most with his two targets against Baltimore. Both came in the fourth quarter and in high-leverage situations. Pettigrew was one of the few receivers to convert a third down for Detroit as he turned up-field, diving for the first down marker. On his other reception, Pettigrew corralled a well-thrown seam pass and absorbed a vicious hit. He was shaken up on the play, but held on to the pass.