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Pass-Happy NFL: The impact on TE fantasy scoring

By Jared Smola | Updated on Tue, 23 May 2023 . 1:27 PM EDT

In this 4-article series, fantasy scoring by position will be analyzed in terms of how it has changed since the NFL became heavily pass oriented.

QB Scoring

RB Scoring

WR Scoring

Examining the TE position

Observations will be listed in the initial sections and advice as to how to apply the data will be provided in the final section.

Overall scoring

It seems like every season fantasy owners extol the vast depth at the TE position. A close look at data since 2005 will give some insight as to whether those thoughts are fact or fiction.

  • The great news is that there is more scoring than ever when it comes to the top 2 TEs. Scoring by the top duo of TEs is up 27% compared with production over most of the last decade. That type of vault in production indicates much more than a league that has become increasingly pass-happy.
  • The group consisting of TEs 3-16 scores 8% more points than similarly ranked TEs of nearly a decade ago. The 8% number is actually significant, as WRs mostly show about a 4% increase in production over the same timeframe.

Based on these numbers, it does seem as if TEs are a stronger position than they’ve been at any time in the past. And with more teams implementing 2-TE sets in their offense, it’s likely this trend will continue upwardly. Even in this year’s NFL draft, a number of receiving TEs were drafted with premium picks.

Scoring in proportion to player tiers

With the top-2 TEs scoring more points than ever, it stands to reason that there would be a massive drop off from the top tier. However, the next 14 TEs don’t show a ridiculous drop off.

  • When looking at the data, a natural tier at TE 3-7 emerged. This group posted 69% of the production compared to the top TEs.
  • The drop-off in the next tier, TE 8-12, was significantly smaller. This group garnered 58% of the points scored by the top TEs.
  • In the past, it would’ve been silly to even look at TE 13-16 as viable fantasy options. But that’s no longer the case. This group only scores 9% fewer points than the TE 8-12 group scores.

TEs as a flex option

In the past, owners would likely have never considered taking a TE as a flex option, unless drafting a pair of the very top players. With scoring at the position up at least 8% since 2005, owners might want to take a flier on grabbing a 2nd TE as a spot starter.

  • If drafting a top-7 TE as a flex player, on average, they score more fantasy points than RB 25-30 and WR 25-30.
  • If drafting from the TE 8-12 group, they generally outscore the RB 31-36 group and to the WR 37-42 group.
  • With the abundance of talent that WR, TEs 13 and beyond are not likely to score enough points to compete with the top-60 WRs.

Using the data to draft a fantasy team

  • If an owner is comfortable doing so, there’s a massive advantage at the position by drafting 1 of the top-2 TEs.
  • Drafting a pair of top-7 TEs is a solid strategy to gain an advantage at a flex position, and also to protect against injury.
  • Selecting from the group of TEs 3-7 should allow owners to save their premium picks for other positional needs, while still having an advantage over a solid number of teams in your league.
  • Owners concerned about losing their TE to injury will find that there are viable options to draft all the way to TE 16.
Jared Smola Author Image
Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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