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Stop that Hype Train! Eric Ebron


It's been five seasons since Eric Ebron entered the NFL. Looking at his days in Detroit, who would have predicted he could put on such a great season with Indianapolis? After four years in the league, Ebron finally seemed to find his place. To call him a sleeper might be a stretch, but given his position and the scarcity of value, even reaching a little to pick him can be very costly.

Outside of the big three of Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle, any tight end can turn into the next big thing. There is so much randomness attached to the position that it doesn't merit over-drafting. That is why instead of going overboard and jumping the gun early on Ebron, owners should either wait or look in another direction.

Let's take a look at why Ebron might let us down in 2019.

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Eric Ebron (ADP 89, TE8)

First things first: the 2018 season was one for the ages for Eric Ebron in terms of scoring. Literally. Since 2010, only two tight ends have scored more TDs in a season than Ebron (13) did last year: Rob Gronkowski (17 in 2011) and Jimmy Graham (16 in 2013). The problem is that almost everything good about his season ends there.

Looking a little deeper into his numbers, things start to look quite suspicious. Let's forget about the 13 TD for the rest of the article and focus on overall receiving production. If a tight end wants to score, he must first get thrown the ball. Ebron had one of the best quarterbacks throwing to him in Andrew Luck last season. He was targeted 110 times by the QB, his career-high, but finished with only 66 receptions. That translates to a mediocre catch rate of 60%. There were 47 TEs with at least 25 targets, and he had the fifth-worst catch rate.

I already mentioned his 66 receptions. Those marked the sixth-highest mark of any TE in 2018. Not bad. On the other hand, though, he finished the season with 750  yards. Although it's not a low number (he ranked fifth in receiving yards among TEs), Ebron only averaged 6.82 Yds/Tgt. A total of 33 TEs had better ratios than that, yet currently, Ebron is considered the TE8 by ADP.

Obviously, Eric Ebron's final numbers were ridiculous and no one can take from that. To log 13 TD and 66 receptions is to end with a huge amount of points at the end of the season in any fantasy league, sure, but the underlying numbers were not good at all. Would anybody think if he gets targeted more this season (could be the case, Ertz and Kelce both had 150+ targets each in 2018) he will score on a similar pace? That'd be insane. Ebron's production last season is as unsustainable as it gets.

A quick look at current ADP rankings show some interesting alternatives to Ebron. David Njoku is being overlooked and has an ADP of 103 (TE10). With a quarterback like Baker Mayfield that looks like the real thing, and an offense so stacked, it is probable that Njoku finds openings on a weekly basis and rack up good numbers with the Browns.

Even more valuable is second-year tight end Mark Andrews (ADP of 164). He will see more passes from Lamar Jackson as he will play with him the whole season, and the QB seems to be more comfortable throwing now. Other buy-low options can be currently found are Jimmy Graham (ADP of 160; enters his second year playing with Aaron Rodgers in a rebuilt Packers' offense) and Kyle Rudolph (ADP of 187; third-most PPR total points from 2016 to 2018).

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