Gonna have to start this one with some bad news, folks …
We don’t have a whole lot to go on for projecting TE matchups.
There’s just nothing that I have found that carries over well year to year for predicting which defenses will be friendly or harsh to our fantasy TEs.
This chart shows the year-to-year correlations in the stat categories listed on the right side:
What I mean by “year-to-year correlations” is that I lined up annual numbers for each defense in those categories and then checked the correlation from 1 season to the next in each category. The closer we get to either 1 or -1, the stronger the correlation. A correlation of 1 between fantasy points per target allowed in 2019 and 2020, for example, would indicate that you could tell how the team would perform in that category in 2020 based on how it did in 2019.
The closer to 0, on the other hand … well, the closer to zero correlation.
In case you find that chart difficult to read, let’s put it another way: The highest average correlation for any of these stat categories over the 6 sampled seasons was 0.203 (receiving yards). No other category reached 0.15.
So, basically, there has been no meaningful correlation year to year in how these defenses fare in any category. And the same has been true for any other category I’ve looked at.
It’s also difficult to match up the skill of the defense with the fantasy points allowed to this position.
If you look at each season’s ranking for fantasy points allowed to the position, you’ll find higher target volume in the “top” half (more points allowed) and lower target volume in the bottom half. But receptions and yards tend to explain more of TE scoring than either targets or TDs.
If we could tell where the highest target volume would hit, then we might have an easier time projecting these matchups. Even if it’s receptions and yards correlating more highly, those numbers will tend to come from situations that find more targets. But it’s tough to tell where that opportunity volume will come from.