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Positive and Negative Touchdown Regression Candidates: Tight End

Kyle Pitts - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Tight end is one of the hardest positions to nail down, especially since different leagues have different settings. Tight End Premium has started to take off, giving an added boost to those top options. Most of the tight end landscape nowadays is boom-or-bust or middle-of-the-pack.

Looking at tight ends in 2023 and the touchdowns they scored, it’s obvious to see one number pop out more than the others. Sam LaPorta’s ten touchdowns in 2023 were the most by the position. Five tight ends scored six touchdowns over the season. An additional five tight ends scored five times.

Plenty of tight ends had down touchdown numbers as well. Travis Kelce scored five touchdowns in 2023, but in 2022, he scored 12. George Kittle scored six times last season, scoring 11 times the previous season. Many factors affect whether or not a tight end will score in a game, including quarterback play, injury, and opportunity. Considering these things, look at two positive and two negative touchdown regression candidates at the tight end position for 2024.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars (Positive)

Last season, Evan Engram finished with 230.3 PPR fantasy points and 13.5 fantasy points per game. The veteran tight end caught 28% of Jacksonville’s passes in 2023 and had 114 catches to end the season. That is up from the 73 catches Engram had in 2022. Additionally, he had a 23.8% target share on the Jaguars last season.

Engram was known for his monster games in 2023. He scored 16.8 or more points in five games. In two of those games, Engram had over 23 points. Week 15 showcased Engram’s biggest fantasy week, with the tight end gaining 32.5 points.

The former first-round draft pick had a brilliant rookie season with the New York Giants but followed it up with four disappointing seasons. Engram has spent the last two seasons with the Jaguars, finishing as TE5 in 2022 and TE2 in 2023.

He has played an important role as one of Trevor Lawrence’s most trusted weapons and should continue to be Lawrence’s security blanket in 2024. Look for Engram to post more touchdowns in 2024 than the four he put up in 2023.

 

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons (Positive)

Kyle Pitts only had three touchdowns in 2023 and was plagued by bad playcalling and quarterback play. Last season, Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke were the quarterbacks under center for Atlanta. 37% of the throws to Pitts were deemed uncatchable balls. Ridder was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, and Heinicke is the Falcons’ backup quarterback.

Former head coach Arthur Smith is known for not getting his playmakers the ball. Last year, he focused on getting veteran tight end Jonnu Smith involved, often hindering Pitts’ playmaking ability. New head coach Raheem Morris and new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson will find a way to target Pitts. Additionally, tight end Smith is now with the Dolphins.

In his rookie season with Matt Ryan at the helm, Pitts looked like a good fantasy football tight end. Pitts was a Pro Bowler that season, going for 1,026 receiving yards. Recently, Atlanta signed veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins to a four-year deal worth up to $180 million. Cousins went down with a torn Achilles in Week 8 of the 2023 season but posted 2,331 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, and five interceptions before his injury.

The former Vikings’ quarterback threw for more than 4,000 passing yards in three consecutive years before his injury-shortened 2023. Cousins has been known to get the ball to his tight ends, as T.J. Hockenson, Tyler Conklin, Kyle Rudolph, and Jordan Reed have all found ways to thrive while he is under center. Pitts had only three touchdowns in 2023, so look for him to increase that number with Cousins.

 

Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions (Negative)

Detroit Lions’ rookie sensation Sam LaPorta finished as the tight end one for the 2023 fantasy season. LaPorta’s ten-touchdown season catapulted him to the top of fantasy scoring. In 2023, the Detroit tight end was fifth in receiving yards (889), fifth in targets (120), and fourth in receptions (86) at the position.

Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals’ starting tight end, only had three touchdowns in his 2023 season. He caught 81 of the 106 targets he saw. McBride finished the fantasy season with 10.7 points per game in PPR leagues, ending the season with 181.5 points total. LaPorta, on the other hand, had 86 receptions on 120 targets for 14.1 fantasy points per game and 239.3 points overall.

Ten touchdowns are a lot of touchdowns to tally in one season. LaPorta’s teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown scored ten times as well in 2023, seeing 16 targets and catching 11 balls. Per NFLsavant.com, St. Brown had a target share of 30.77% in the red zone, while LaPorta saw 21.15%. Three of St. Brown’s touchdowns over the season came in the red zone, while LaPorta brought in four touchdowns. Additionally, Josh Reynolds scored four touchdowns in the red zone on a 17.31% target share.

The Lions’ offense was firing last season, and they’ll look to continue that production in 2024. LaPorta will still be valuable for your fantasy team if you have him on your roster, but it’s wishful thinking if you believe he will score as many touchdowns in 2024 as he did in 2023.

 

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (Negative)

Don’t expect Njoku’s numbers from 2023 to translate over to his 2024 season. In 2023, he found the end zone six times. Njoku’s stats benefited from having Joe Flacco starting at quarterback. Deshaun Watson injured his throwing shoulder in Week 3 and returned from injury in Week 7. He reinjured his shoulder that same week but returned in Week 9. In Week 10 he sustained an arm fracture, and his 2023 season was over.

Last season, with Watson in the mix, Njoku scored 6.8 points or less three times. Without Watson at QB, Njoku scored double-digit PPR points in nine games. Njoku’s two biggest games came in Week 14 and Week 15, where he scored 27.1 and 26.4 points. Those were two games in which Flacco was the starting quarterback.

In five games played with Flacco under center, Njoku has 30 catches for 390 yards and four touchdowns. Only two of Njoku’s touchdowns in 2023 were delivered by Watson. Over Njoku’s career, he has played in 11 games with Watson at quarterback and has put up 42 receptions for 394 yards and three touchdowns.

He will be a serviceable tight end for the season as he is still one of the major targets on the Browns’ offense, but his numbers won’t look nearly as special as they did with Flacco under center.



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