Commissioner Guide: Does TE-Premium Scoring “Fix” the Disparity at Tight End?
In my previous Commission Guide article, I discussed the overall poor performance of the TE position in fantasy football in recent seasons, culminating in the 2020 season saw a massive gap between the top two TEs and the rest of the field. If you need a reminder; 2020’s TE1 performed like a top-3 WR while TE3 was performing like WR42. At the end of that article, it was suggested that leagues consider dropping the required TE position in favor of a “pass catcher” flex, which would allow owners to start a TE or WR.
There was obviously a lot of pushback to the idea of eliminating a “core element” of Fantasy Football. As you can imagine, some of the pushback was the same crowd that does not approve of Superflex/2QB leagues because…tradition…because…NFL-like settings… yawn. 2021 is likely to see the Saints use their Superflex line-up even more often with a Jameis Winston/Tayson Hill combo, and let’s not overlook Tim Tebow reuniting with Urban Meyer in Jacksonville. (Ok, the second one is unlikely to happen, but the Saints are definitely running a Superflex line-up in 2021!) And to the “NFL-like” response, simply look back at the TE usage across the league, as many teams do not feature their TE position, which leads to the whole point of not requiring one in Fantasy Football.
Over the past few seasons, more leagues are looking to implement “TE-Premium” scoring as a compromise to increase TE scoring. In case you are not familiar, TE-Premium scoring allows additional points to the TE position, typically by adding an additional half-point per reception. In half-PPR leagues, RB and WRs get .5 pt per reception, while TEs would receive a full 1. In Full PPR, the TE would be receiving 1.5pts per reception. A less common setting is increased TD points for TEs, such as 7 or 8 points for a TD instead of the traditional 6. For this article, I’m going to focus on the impact of the additional half-point per reception.
The theory is that giving TEs more points will make them more fantasy relevant, and overall, it’s effective in raising the scoring of TEs. In a 2020 TE-Premium league, Travis Kelce would have outscored all the WRs. Down the line, using the Logan Thomas example from above, he would jump from a comparative WR42 finish up to a WR30 level. Excluding the top two TEs (who each jumped 3 positions when compared to WRs), the average TE gains 13 ranking spots against their WR counterparts. Overall, TE-Premium scoring will make TEs more viable players for the Flex Positions in normal Fantasy Football Leagues.
Unfortunately, when comparing the impact of TE-Premium scoring within the TE position, the added points is the definition of the classic cliché – “A rising tide lifts all boats”. The added points for receptions essentially provide every player with the same net increase and the drastic gap between the top TEs and the rest of the field remains.
When looking at the range of players who finished between TE3 (72 receptions) to TE 24 (41 receptions), the grouping averaged 51 receptions on the season. In that same TE3-24 range, TE23 had the lowest reception total (30 receptions), while TE3 had the highest total (72 receptions). In that sample of 21 players, only one had over 70 receptions, five players finished with reception totals in 60s, with the lowest scoring 60 reception TE finishing as TE15. Five more players finished with reception totals in the 50s. The largest grouping was seven players finishing in the 40s, the highest 40 reception finisher coming in at TE8.
The biggest changes are seen in relation to TD scoring. For example, a low reception/high TD TE, such as Robert Tonyan (52 rec., 11 TDs) would fall 1% farther behind the top TE, while a higher reception/low TD TE, such as Noah Fant (63 rec., 3TDs) would close the scoring gap ever so slightly, finishing 1.75% closer to the top TE.
TE-Premium Scoring only improves the value of TEs in relation to the other positions, such as WR, while having a near-zero impact within the position. TE-Premium Scoring doesn’t “Fix” the disparity at the position. However, if you follow my suggestion to remove the required TE position in lieu of adding a “pass catcher flex” as suggested in my previous article, implementing the TE-Premium Scoring would be a great way to increase the value of the TE position in relation to the WR position; a change that actually would impact the value of TEs in Fantasy Football leagues.