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“Off the Matt” Rookie Tight Ends – JUST SAY NO.

Cassidy claims that he can, “sell Raid to a bug, Ima hustla, I could sell salt to a slug.”  Impressive. However, not even a businessman that shrewd could sell me on a rookie tight end having an instant impact in the fantasy world.

Quick history lesson on rookie tight ends…

– In the last decade no rookie tight end has exceeded 650 yards receiving.

– No rookie tight end has ever amassed 900 yards receiving

– In this century only two rookie tight ends have recorded more than five touchdown receptions.

For comparative purposes…

– In the past five seasons there have been at least ten tight ends have 650+ yards receiving.

– 14 tight ends have had 900+ yard seasons over that same time.

– 38 tight ends have recorded six or more touchdowns.

Top 5 rookie tight end fantasy seasons in the last decade.

5. Tony Moeaki (2010): 47 / 556 / 3 – – 20th rated tight end

4.  Tim Wright (2013): 54 / 571 / 5 – – 13th rated tight end

3.  Aaron Hernandez (2010): 45 / 563 / 6 – – 11th rated tight end

2.  John Carlson (2008): 55 / 627 / 5 – – 7th rated tight end

1. Rob Gronkowski (2010): 42 / 546 / 10 – – 5th rated tight end

There you have it.  Only two rookie tight ends have put up top 10 fantasy numbers over the past decade.

Will this year be different?

Maxx Williams, Ravens

mwDon’t be fooled by Maxx’s pedestrian 2014 line of 36 / 569 / 8.  Playing for the run heavy Golden Gophers of Minnesota did not afford him a ton of opportunity in the passing game.  Accounting for 28% of their total completions, 31% of their passing yards, and a robust 67% of the passing touchdowns showed his true value in their limited passing game.

Playing in a run heavy offense in college has its advantages.  Williams is regarded as a top notch blocker.  In the past, rookie tight ends have struggled to get on the field because of sub par blocking skills.  This will not be a problem for Williams as he has proven he is not afraid to stick his nose in there.

At 6’4” 249 and running a 4.78 he will look the part of an NFL tight end.  In his two college seasons he showed elite ball skills on limited opportunities.  With his size and 34-inch vertical jump he will become an instant red zone weapon who will win his fair share of jump balls.

Don’t underestimate the value that new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman could add to this offense, specifically Williams.  Last season, Martellus Bennett churned out a career high 90 receptions.  While I do not expect Williams to sniff anywhere near that number, it is evidence that Trestman knows how to use the tight end and get them in favorable matchups.

For fantasy purposes, keep an eye on the status of Dennis Pitta.  If Pitta starts the season on the PUP, Williams would most likely be the Week 1 starter.  The picture could be more cloudy if Pitta is deemed healthy and ready to roll Week 1.

There is at least one guy out there who will be rostering Maxx Williams…

“I think Maxx Williams could be NFL Offensive Rookie of the year.”

– Mel Kiper Jr.



Clive Walford,Raiders

Any Mychal Rivera fans out there?  Probably not, but just in case there are you might want to skip reading this next statistic.

Among the 137 qualifying tight ends, Mychal Rivera rated the worst in regards to run blocking according to a study done by Pro Football Focus.

How Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie views Walford…

“We saw Clive as a complete tight end, he’s not only a receiver or a cwblocker-type guy; he’s a guy that’s big and strong enough to pound it versus the D-linemen, and he can flex out and run the routes and be that pass receiver. He’s pretty much the total package when you’re looking at a complete tight end. We didn’t think he was one-dimensional.”

Versatility is important.  His ability to block (which will obviously be an upgrade) and be a viable receiver could be enough to get him on the field as early as Week 1.

Last season Rivera finished with 91 targets, which rated seventh most among all tight ends.  It should be noted that the Raiders have made upgrades to their receiving weapons by adding Michael Crabtree and drafting Amari Cooper.  With the quality of the outside weapons increasing, it is hard to imagine any tight end in this offense hitting 90+ targets.

This is going to be an interesting battle to watch when training camp picks up in July.  I do not believe that Rivera is going to disappear all together from this offense, but his inability to run block cannot be overlooked.  A likely scenario to play out will be that both Rivera and Walford see equal playing time, making both fantasy irrelevant.


MyCole Pruitt,Vikings (deep sleeper)

Pruitt showed well at the combine posting top scores in the 40 yard dash and vertical jump.  His athleticism cannot be questioned, nor is productivity in college as he tallied 2600 yards and 25 touchdowns in his 4 years at Southern Illinois.

A big knock on Pruitt is his inability, and some cases desire, to block.  The good news is by landing in Minnesota he will be working with Norv Turner who has been able to utilize tight ends who don’t care much for the blocking aspect of the game (cough*Jordan Cameron*cough).  Pruitt will be a long shot to make an immediate impact this season, but with the often injured Kyle Rudolph ahead of him, he might be on the field sooner than expected.  No need to roster Pruitt on draft day, but keep him in mind if Rudolph goes down with injury.

If you have taken anything away from this article, let it be that it is very difficult for rookie tight ends to make a big splash in their first season.  With that said, if I had to select one from this crop it would be Maxx Williams based on ability, offensive situation, and that he spells his name with two X’s.


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A/S/ the old school AOL instant messenger days... 31/M/PA Elementary Physical Education by day, chasing around my 1 and 2 year old boys by night. I started playing fantasy football when I was 9 years old (94'). My older brother let me be a co-owner on his team. We had one of those giant C-Band satellite dishes and had heard that there was a way to get every football game through a new package called "Sunday Ticket." My first memory was watching Terry Allen run around for the Vikings and I have been hooked ever since. I don't know what the world record is for most consecutive Sundays watching a minimum of seven hours of football, but I have to be on my way to achieving it.

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