Gerald Everett was signed by the Seattle Seahawks and there was much rejoicing within the fantasy community. Funny thing is, they don’t quite know why they are so excited. So, I’m here now to clarify for fantasy gamers what the bet they are making is and then ask again if they want to make that bet.
The Target Conundrum
Anyone who has read any of my work is likely familiar with this study and concept. If not, the first few paragraphs and charts of this article will tell you everything you need to know so I advise you to check that out. But the idea is simple: the vast majority of fantasy relevant players lead their team in targets or are at least second. And 100+ targets is the main barrier to entry for fantasy difference makers.
For example, in half point PPR, every top 24 WR last season got 100 targets. In full PPR, the WR24 or very backend WR2 was Curtis Samuel who not only had 97 targets, but he also had 41 carries for 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns. There are exceptions from time to time of course and they typically come in the form of high efficiency field stretchers like Tyreek Hill and Tyler Lockett . But, in this day and age, we have enough data to create some guidelines for predicting fantasy success without relying on “eye test” or “gut feeling” or other outdated guesstimations. We prefer science and the science says: A. you want 100 targets and B. the vast majority of 100+ target players are either first or second on their team in targets.
Tight ends operate on similar rules. In full PPR, every top five fantasy tight end has gotten either 90+ targets or 10+ touchdowns going all the way back to Randy McMichael in 2003. In half point PPR, the lone exception was Mark Andrews with 88 targets this year, which was a down year for tight end with limited Kittle, Ertz, etc. and a lot of players missing games with COVID (including Andrews himself).
In terms of being a top two target on their team, there are exceptions as well, but they are also anomalies that you don’t want to bet on. Robert Tonyan in 2020 was technically a top five fantasy tight end and he technically was not the second target on the team as Aaron Jones and MVS saw four more targets than him. But, if you relied on the low target, touchdown dependent Tonyan, he likely pulled your pants down in front of all your friends in your fantasy championship game in week 16 when he caught one pass. Whoopsies.
Beyond him, you have to go back to 2014 Martellus Bennett when slingin’ Jay Cutler managed to throw 100 targets to FOUR different players: Alshon Jeffrey, Brandon Marshall , Matt Forte , and Martellus Bennett . On average over the last five years there is one team per year that has three guys that all get 100+ targets and the third guy usually isn’t particularly fantasy relevant; some examples would be the 2018 Giants (Odell, Saquon, Shepard) or 2020 Washington Football Team (McLaurin, Thomas, McKissic). Not the teams you would have expected, huh? In 2017 no team did it and besides teams like the 2018 Giants where a target hog in Odell got hurt, these teams are usually in the top ten in the league in pass attempts (the 2014 Saints and 2019 Panthers for instance who also did it were first and second in the league respectively, throwing the ball over 650 times). So essentially you are guessing which teams throw an abnormal number of times and pray that it’s a highly consolidated target share among the top three players. Or someone gets hurt.
The reality of what I’m trying to convey here is that, unless you are betting on an outlier season, you want a tight end who is a top two target on his team. That doesn’t guarantee that he’s a top five tight end, again it’s a barrier to entry. And why do we care about being top five? Pretty simple. If you are in a 10-12 team league that starts one tight end (like most teams are) and your tight end isn’t top five or six, you mathematically have a below average starting player in your lineup. Which is a great way to come in third place. If your starting tight end doesn’t have top five in his range of outcomes, you should consider yourself “still looking for a tight end."
And that brings us to your bet. I like Gerald Everett . I could get into his stats in terms of aDOT, YAC, etc., they are all good. This isn’t about that. This is about the bet you are making by making him your starting tight end in fantasy football. And, after what I’ve said so far, it should be obvious.
The paths for Gerald Everett to have top five tight end upside are:
B. One of Lockett and/or Metcalf gets hurt
C. You project Gerald Everett to score double-digit touchdowns
D. The Seahawks become one of the league leaders in pass attempts and the targets are highly consolidated among Lockett, Metcalf, and Everett
That’s it. Those are your options in normal leagues. If you are in “best ball” or two-tight end or some 18-team, tight end premium league, you can say “guys who have back end tight end-one upside are valuable in my league.” Cool. Everyone else needs to pick one or two of those paths above and explain why they think that is likely. Not that it’s possible, but that it’s likely.
Personally, here’s how I feel about those options.
- Lockett and Metcalf both got ~130 targets last year. I don’t expect Everett to show up on a cheap one-year deal and knife in front of one of them.
- I don’t predict injuries
- I don’t project 10+ TDs to any tight end. Not even Kelce.
- This is the most reasonable but think of this: Russ has played all 16 games in nine straight seasons. He’s averaged 481 pass attempts per year. The MOST he’s thrown is 558 and the Seahawks were 20th in pass attempts per game. So your bet here is that the Seahawks let Russ cook like never before and completely abandon their philosophy and that Everett is on equal footing with Lockett and Metcalf in terms of targets. If that were the case, there is an easier way to make that bet: draft Russell Wilson in every single one of your leagues.
I’m a big tight end guy. I like Gerald Everett . That’s why I’m disappointed with his landing spot for fantasy football. I believe he can be a back end tight end-one. Which is a good place holder while you look for a breakout tight end. Probably best to just let someone else make that bet.