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Dynasty Price Check - Robert Tonyan

A growing number of managers are focused on the construction of rosters in anticipation of the 2021 regular season. This includes participation in Best-Ball drafts, which provides an outlet to assemble teams that will not require additional management. Building a roster in this format also serves as a resource to prepare for the eventual process in redraft leagues.

Those of you who participate in dynasty leagues are also considering a plethora of options as we progress toward this year’s rookie drafts. The enticement of restructuring rosters in this format delivers massive appeal and the team at RotoBaller is aware of your ongoing management process. That is why we’re supplying an extensive collection of material that will help you determine whether to retain your roster components or alter the current makeup of your teams. 

That includes our collection of dynasty price check articles that will provide a data-driven analysis of various players. This breakdown will focus on Robert Tonyan, who entered the NFL in 2017 but soared from irrelevance to secure a place among the TE1s during 2020. Multiple factors will determine whether he will sustain that status during the 2021 regular season. But the numbers that he delivered last season supply a blend of encouragement with tangible reasons for concern.

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Profile

Team: Green Bay Packers
College:  
Indiana State
Height/Weight:
6'5", 240 pounds
2017 Undrafted Free Agent

 

An Unexpected Rise To Relevance

Tonyan began his collegiate career as a quarterback at Indiana State before transitioning to wide receiver. He completed his final season with the Sycamores in 2016 and signed with Detroit as an undrafted free agent in 2017. He was released by the Lions before their season opener but signed with Green Bay later that season. He performed on just 260 snaps for the Packers from 2018-2019, while accumulating 21 targets, 14 receptions, 177 receiving yards, and two touchdowns during that sequence.

This left fantasy GMs without incentive to consider Tonyan as a potential resource entering the 2020 regular season. He was not targeted during the Packers’ season opener. But he collected 14 targets (4.7 per game) from Weeks 2-4 while leading the NFL with five touchdowns during that span. He also finished sixth among all tight ends with 173 yards (57.7 per game) and was eighth in receptions (13/4.3 per game) during those contests.

He ultimately finished the season at WR3 in PPR scoring behind Travis Kelce and Darren Waller and completed the year at WR5 in point-per-game scoring. He also tied Kelce for the league-lead among tight ends with 11 touchdowns - which fueled a significant percentage of his fantasy production.

Tonyan became one of 12 different tight ends to attain a double-digit touchdown total since 2010 (Travis Kelce/Rob Gronkowski/Mark Andrews/Eric Ebron/Jimmy Graham/Tyler Eifert/Jordan Reed/Antonio Gates/Vernon Davis/Julius Thomas/Marcedes Lewis). He also joined Kelce, Andrews, Graham, and Ebron as the only five at their position to accomplish it since 2016.

      Tight End TDs Year
Rob Gronkowski 17 2011
Jimmy Graham 16 2013
Eric Ebron 13 2018
Tyler Eifert 13 2015
Vernon Davis 13 2013
Rob Gronkowski 12 2014
Antonio Gates 12 2014
Julius Thomas 12 2014
Julius Thomas 12 2013
Travis Kelce 11 2020
Robert Tonyan 11 2020
Rob Gronkowski 11 2015
Rob Gronkowski 11 2012
Jordan Reed 11 2015
Jimmy Graham 11 2011
Mark Andrews 10 2019
Travis Kelce 10 2018
Jimmy Graham 10 2017
Jimmy Graham 10 2014
Rob Gronkowski 10 2010
Antonio Gates 10 2010
Marcedes Lewis 10 2010

Tonyan capitalized on his opportunities throughout the season amid the touchdown-oriented nature of his scoring. He led all tight ends in catch rate (89.7), and his percentage rose in targets that were collected inside the red zone (90.9%). He also led all tight ends in Football Outsiders DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average) and was second only to Kelce in DYAR (Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement).

Tight Ends Catch %
Robert Tonyan 89.7
Cameron Brate 82.4
Mo Alie-Cox 79.5
Richard Rodgers 77.4
George Kittle 76.2
Kyle Rudolph 75.7
Drew Sample 75.5
Jordan Akins 75.5
Darren Waller 73.8
James O'Shaughnessy 73.7
Anthony Firkser 73.6
Tyler Higbee 73.3
Travis Kelce 72.4

 

Reason For Concern

But in the aftermath of his frequent visits to the end zone last season, any doubt that he can replicate his 2020 touchdown total is justified. The list of tight ends that have generated double-digit touchdowns in multiple seasons since 2010 decreases sizably, as only Gronkowski (5), Graham (4), Gates (2), and Kelce (2) have scored 10+ at least twice during that sequence.

Tonyan’s touchdown prowess completed the proverbial heavy-lifting that was required for him to finish at the aforementioned TE3. But he only finished 24th at his position in targets from Weeks 1-17 (59/3.7 per game) and was 13th in both receptions (52/3.3 per game) and receiving yards (586/36.6 per game).

Tight Ends Targets Targ/Game Receptions Yards TD
Darren Waller 146 9.1 107 1196 9
Travis Kelce 145 9.7 105 1416 11
Logan Thomas 109 6.8 72 670 6
Evan Engram 109 6.8 63 654 1
T.J. Hockenson 101 6.3 67 723 6
Noah Fant 93 6.2 62 673 3
Hunter Henry 93 6.6 60 613 4
Eric Ebron 91 6.1 56 558 5
Dalton Schultz 89 5.6 63 615 4
Mark Andrews 88 6.3 58 701 7
Hayden Hurst 88 5.5 56 571 6
Mike Gesicki 85 5.7 53 703 6
Rob Gronkowski 77 4.8 45 623 7
Jimmy Graham 76 4.8 50 456 8
Zach Ertz 72 6.5 36 335 1
Austin Hooper 70 5.4 46 435 4
Jonnu Smith 65 4.3 41 448 8
Dallas Goedert 65 5.9 46 524 3
George Kittle 63 7.9 48 634 2
Gerald Everett 62 3.9 41 417 1
Tyler Higbee 60 4 44 521 5
Tyler Eifert 60 4 36 349 2
Jared Cook 60 4 37 504 7
Robert Tonyan 59 3.7 52 586 11

Tonyan was also 23rd at his position in air yards (446) and 24th in percentage share of air yards (11.8). He was also 15th in yards after catch (234), while 17 other tight ends exceeded Tonyan’s 11 red-zone targets during the season.

Tonyan was also just 15th among tight ends in offensive snaps (733) and 27th in snap count percentage (61.8). But his involvement was largely consistent, as his weekly percentages ranged from 58%-73% during 15 of his 16 regular-season matchups.

Tight Ends Target Share Air Yards aDOT
Darren Waller 27.7 1129 7.7
Travis Kelce 25.3 1223 8.5
Mark Andrews 24.9 907 10
George Kittle 24.1 463 7.3
Evan Engram 21.8 785 7.2
Logan Thomas 19.2 800 7.3
Noah Fant 18.2 622 7.1
T.J. Hockenson 18 710 7
Hunter Henry 17 723 7.7
Dallas Goedert 16.7 553 8.5
Mike Gesicki 16.3 943 10.4
Jonnu Smith 15.5 360 5.4
Eric Ebron 14.9 650 7.1
Austin Hooper 14.8 451 6.3
Hayden Hurst 14.4 566 7.3
Dalton Schultz 14.4 556 6.7
Zach Ertz 12.8 544 7.6
Jared Cook 12.7 665 11
Rob Gronkowski 12.7 845 10.6
Jimmy Graham 12.7 515 6.6
Robert Tonyan 11.8 446 7.9


Competition For Targets

General Manager Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur declined the opportunity to infuse additional talent into Green Bay’s receiving arsenal during the 2020 NFL Draft, which has been widely discussed. That destined the Packers to rely on Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard as complements to Davante Adams. This also elevated Tonyan’s level of importance to Aaron Rodgers, who desperately required a second dependable weapon option beyond the exceptional Adams.

The 28-year old Adams remains cemented as Green Bay's WR1 and can be considered as the NFL's premier receiving weapon entering Week 1. He has now averaged 148 targets, 103 receptions, and 1,252 yards since 2018  while averaging 10.9 targets, 7.5 receptions, and 91.6 yards per game during that span. That includes his stellar 2020 season when Adams finished WR1 in scoring while leading all receivers in targets per game (10.6) and yards per game (98.1).

He also commandeered a league-best target share of 34.1% and tied for the league lead by capturing 10+ targets in 10 different contests. He was also fourth overall in this category (149) despite being sidelined in Weeks 3-4 with a hamstring issue. Adams also led the league in red-zone targets (27), tied for second in receptions (115/8.2 per game), and was fifth in percentage share of air yards (38.6).

Valdes-Scantling led the league in yards per reception (20.9) among receivers who collected 20+ targets. He also surged to career highs in multiple categories during his third season, including receiving yards (690), touchdowns (six), and yards per target (11.0), while also tying DeAndre Hopkins and D.J. Moore for the league lead in receptions of 40+ (six). However, he also placed outside the top-100 in catch rate (52.4). Valdes-Scantling is also an unrestricted free agent, which has added to the uncertainty surrounding the composition of Green Bay’s offensive weaponry.

Lazard assembled averages of 4.6 targets, 3.3 receptions, and 45.1 yards per game while performing in 10 games during 2020, as a core muscle injury rendered him unavailable for the Packers’ six remaining matchups. His season highs in receptions (six) and yardage (146) were attained in Week 3 when Adams was sidelined with his hamstring issue.

There is nothing contained in the performances of Valdes-Scantling and Lazard to suggest that LaFleur and Gutekunst should be content with their wide receiver options beyond Adams. The Packers’ backfield rotation could also be restructured if Aaron Jones does not resurface with the team. Jones finished ninth among all backs with 63 targets last season (4.5 per game) even though he was sidelined in Weeks 7-8 with a calf issue. A transition from Jones to A.J. Dillon as the team’s primary back would shift additional targets from Green Bay's backfield to Tonyan and the Packers' wide receivers.

 

Tonyan’s Current Value

It is impossible to ignore the enormous role that touchdowns played in Tonyan's 2020 output, and regression should be expected. This will make it difficult for Tonyan to finish among the top-five in scoring once again unless his per-game averages in targets, receptions, and receiving yardage rise this season. Fantasy GMs are largely skeptical that he can match last season’s scoring total, which is indicated by his current ADP of 90 (TE11) in best-ball drafts.

However, any zeal that might exist for bypassing him during the redraft process should not compel managers to lose all confidence in Tonyan’s ability to function as a starter - if he already resides on your dynasty roster.

If this scenario applies to you, then you likely seized him from your league’s waiver wire early in the 2020 regular season. You should not dismiss Tonyan’s success in gaining the trust of Rodgers as you consider retaining, acquiring, or trading him during the offseason. Nor should you discount his proven ability to maximize his opportunities during 2020, as finding a favorable alternative from your available options at the position might be an arduous task.

Even though he did not attain the favorable target share that was commandeered by other tight ends last season, he still functioned as an unquestioned starter. His ability to maintain status as a TE1 during 2021 will improve if Tonyan returns to the Packers, with Rodgers spearheading Green Bay’s aerial efforts for a 14th consecutive season.

Tonyan is currently a restricted free agent, and any offer sheet that he receives from another franchise can be matched by Green Bay. But if the Packers extend the least expensive tender offer (right-of-first-refusal tender), and fail to match an offer from another team, then Green Bay would lose him without receiving any compensation. This increases the incentive for the Packers to keep Tonyan. That scenario would present him with the opportunity to collect additional targets from Rodgers - whose comfort level in locating his tight end was on display during 2020.

Even though he will turn 27 in April, it is also wise to remain realistic about the dearth of enticing options that may exist in your league at this problematic position. If you are involved in a dynasty startup, you can expend an early-round selection on Kelce, George Kittle, Waller, Mark Andrews. or T.J. Hockenson. But if you are unwilling to make that level of investment, many of your remaining options are contending with talent deficiencies or complete uncertainty at their teams’ quarterback positions as we approach free agency. These potential hurdles should not exist with Tonyan if he returns to the Packers as expected.

Any concern that a sizable decline in production is imminent can also be tempered by an additional reminder that locating a dependable option at this position can become a nightmarish experience.

His usage could be impacted if the Packers add a wide receiver that can perform with greater proficiency and reliability than Valdes-Scantling and Lazard. However, the uncertainty that currently exists regarding the components within Green Bay’s offense will dissipate during the upcoming weeks. Tonyan can still maintain his standing as a TE1 without matching last year’s touchdown total if he is located by Rodgers with greater frequency. That could also transpire even if LaFleur and Gutekunst infuse another wide receiver into the equation, as Tonyan’s favorable catch rate underscores his reliability when Rodgers launches passes in his direction.

This supplies the incentive to retain Tonyan while avoiding any excessive urge to trade him. If you are focused on addressing other roster needs by moving him, then you should target an early second-round selection in return.



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Welcome to our fantasy football Breakouts, Busts, and Locks, a series on RotoBaller where our writers look at three key players on each NFL team. Today, we're talking about the Washington Commanders. With Carson Wentz under center, what will we see from this Commanders team this season? Can they be a surprise contender in the... Read More


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Fantasy Football Injury Report for NFL WRs: Preseason Updates on Drake London, Jameson Williams, N'Keal Harry, Jakeem Grant

Below you will find our latest fantasy football injuries report for wide receivers throughout the second week of August. As the NFL preseason continues, the injury statuses remain murky for various NFL receivers, including Drake London, Jameson Williams, N'Keal Harry, and Jakeem Grant. With peak fantasy football draft season soon approaching, these are some key... Read More


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NFL Teams With Favorable Late-Season Schedules: Stack 'Em

Predicting what will happen from one season to the next is hard. But we know what defenses looked vulnerable and could still be vulnerable. So here are what could be favorable matchups when fantasy football crunch time happens.Featured Promo: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off and win big in 2022. Exclusive access... Read More


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Who Is Standing Out In NFL Training Camps? Fantasy Football Sleepers To Draft

As NFL training camps rage on and preseason games get underway, keen fantasy managers are looking to find the best players for their roster this upcoming season. Sometimes, all it takes is some solid detective work during camp to find the most impactful, up-and-coming players. Understanding workloads, training camp reps, and positional battles could give... Read More


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Aaron Rodgers: 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Sleeper and Undervalued Quarterback

If you want to win your fantasy league, you have to hit on the right sleepers. Every year, players get identified as mid/late round picks that you HAVE to draft. You've probably seen 15 different Twitter threads just today about sleepers. But some of these sleepers wind up being bad. You have to make sure... Read More


Derrick Henry - Fantasy Football Rankings NFL Injury News, DFS Picks

Updated Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

    Fantasy Football Rankings by NFL Position ALL - QB - RB - WR - TE - DEF Above you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings, tiers, player news and stats for your 2022 fantasy football leagues. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's fantasy football rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Fantasy Football PPR... Read More


Treylon Burks - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Preseason NFL Depth Charts Analysis: Interesting Trends for Fantasy Football

Now that we've reached the point in the year where NFL teams are playing preseason games, we've also reached the point where teams are putting out their unofficial preseason depth charts. On one hand, these are unofficial. But on the other hand, it can be fun to read into things. So, let's do examine some... Read More


Jakeem Grant Sr. Is Out For The Season, Who Will Replace Grant?

The Cleveland Browns signed All-Pro return specialist Jakeem Grant Sr. to a three-year, $10 million contract in the offseason in an attempt to improve their return game. Based on the contract, the Cleveland front office obviously prioritized upgrading the return game heading into 2022. Unfortunately, Cleveland got bad news when Grant went down during Tuesday's... Read More


Is Christian McCaffrey Healthy? Is McCaffrey Worth Drafting Early for Fantasy Football

After an incredible 2019 season, Christian McCaffrey has dealt with injuries both of the past two seasons. This was further amplified by the draft capital fantasy managers spent on him, which was in many cases the No. 1 overall pick. The disappointment these injuries created is hard to forgive and forget but 2022 is a... Read More


Wan'Dale Robinson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

Wan'Dale Robinson - 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Sleeper and Undervalued Wide Receiver

It can sometimes be tricky trying to decipher whether or not a certain rookie player is going to be worth taking in fantasy football drafts. There aren't numbers to go off from a previous season in the NFL and some teams choose to deploy rookies differently than others. Amid all the uncertainty, Wan'Dale Robinson of... Read More


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