The 2018 season had its fair share of up and downs. For the tight end position, the downs were aplenty. This “25 Statistics” series will cover all relevant fantasy football positions (QB, WR, RB, TE, DST, and yes, even Kickers). In this edition, we will revisit some of the stats that the tight end position generated in 2018. This list will include a lot of stats that will surprise you and some may encourage you to look ahead into what it could mean for the 2019 season.
*Stats below are based on Half PPR scoring unless otherwise specified.
25 Statistics: TEs in 2018
1. Travis Kelce was the #1 tight end in 2018. He ranked 2nd among TEs in targets (150), receptions (103), receiving yards (1,336), and touchdowns (10). Kelce has now finished as a top-2 TE in each of his last 3 seasons (2016: #1, 2017: #2, 2018: #1).
3. Due to foot and ankle injuries, O.J. Howard missed the final 6 games of the season. Amazingly, he still ended the season ranked as the TE13 in half PPR, TE14 in full PPR, and the TE10 in standard leagues.
4. George Kittle has got some speed. He has the longest reception by a TE on the season (85 yards). He also owns the second-longest reception (82 yards). Kittle owns 3 of the top 6 longest receptions of the season for TEs.
7. Travis Kelce scored more fantasy football points than the #9 WR. To put the TE production drop off in perspective, the #5 TE scored fewer fantasy points than the #23 WR. There was an 83.5 point differential between the #1 & #5 TE. Only 15.1 points separated the top 5 WRs.
8. Rob Gronkowski had his worst statistical season (when active in 11 or more games) of his career in 2018. Playing in 13 games this season, Gronk ranked 13th in targets and receptions, 6th in receiving yards, and finished the year as the #11 TE. He had 8 (active) games with fewer than 7.1 fantasy points.
9. Eric Ebron led all TEs with 13 receiving TDs on the season. He scored at least 1 TD in 10 of 16 games. Although he finished as the #4 TE, he still had games that hurt your fantasy teams. Ebron scored fewer than 6 fantasy points in 5 games this season, including a ZERO in Week 11.
10. Dallas Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin decided to have a game in Week 17. He caught 7 of his 8 targets for 119 yards and 3 TDs, making it the second highest (#1: Zach Ertz in Week 10) fantasy point week out of the TE position on the season. Jarwin was the only TE in 2018 to catch 3 TD passes in a single game.
11. Travis Kelce began the season with just 1.1 fantasy points in Week 1. Since that week he scored under 10 fantasy points in 5 more games. 3 of those 5 games came in the final 3 weeks of the season. We all know Kelce got you to the playoffs, hopefully, he did just enough to help you win a championship in the final weeks.
12. It was difficult to find consistency from the tight end position in 2018. George Kittle would get the award for most consistent as he had just 5 games scoring under 10 fantasy points. The fewest from any TE this season.
13. It was a rough year for Carolina Panthers’ TEs. Greg Olsen had his second consecutive injury-riddled season, playing in just 9 games. Ian Thomas was active all 16 games and still managed to finish 1 spot behind Olsen in TE rankings (Olsen: 24th, Thomas: 25th). Thomas did show some promise toward the end of the season. He may be a viable late-round option in 2019.
14. George Kittle finished the season with the most receiving yards (1,377) by any tight end in NFL history. Travis Kelce finished the year just 41 yards shy of the of that number.
15. Though it was a bad year for the position, 3 TEs had 1,000+ receiving yards (Kittle, Kelce, Ertz). The most since 2015 when 4 TEs had 1,000+ yards.
16. Travis Kelce had his 3rd consecutive season with 1,000+ yards. He is just the second TE to accomplish this in NFL history. The other? Greg Olsen (2014-2016).
17. No TE (with 33 or more targets) had a better catch rate than Austin Hooper in 2018. He caught 71 of his 88 targets for an amazing 80.7% catch rate. The next closest TE was Kyle Rudolph, catching 79% of his 81 targets.
18. Fantasy owners may be done with Jimmy Graham but he had his 3rd consecutive season with 90 or more targets. With Mike McCarthy out of Green Bay, it’s possible Graham will be utilized more in the red zone in 2019.
19. Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce are the only 2 TEs to have over 100 targets in each of the last 4 seasons.
20. Mr. Reliability…21% of Travis Kelce’s targets were on 3rd down as well as 23% of his catches. He was often targeted in the red zone (17% of his targets), while 16.5% of his receptions occurred in the red zone.
21. Sometimes it goes both ways in fantasy. The Chiefs were a haven for TEs and we’re not just talking about Travis Kelce. Kansas City’s defense allowed the MOST fantasy points to opposing TEs. In addition, the Colts (aka TE heaven) and their defense allowed the MOST TE receptions and yards in the league.
22. We saw a major resurgence in top-end TE scoring. In terms of PPR scoring for TEs, there were 3 TEs who registered top-15 all-time seasons: Travis Kelce (4th best ever), Zach Ertz (6th), and George Kittle (14th). In fact, we hadn’t seen a TE enter into a top-30 scoring season the last 2 years.
23. Chris Herndon had a solid rookie campaign with 39 catches, 502 yards, and 4 TDs. That total was good enough for the 30th best rookie TE scoring season EVER.
24. Ravens rookie Mark Andrews had the 2 highest yards per target games (74 & 41.5) for a TE this season. In Week 12 against the Raiders, he had 1 target that went for 74 yards before getting tackled at the 7-yard line. In Week 16 against the Chargers, he had 2 targets for 83 yards including a monster 68-yard TD.
25. Austin Hooper saw a low-key breakout finishing as the TE6 on the season. He was Matt Ryan‘s trustworthy safety-valve with the 4th-best catch rate (80.7%) for a TE in league history with a minimum of 45 targets. His 71 receptions were 4th best in 2018 but he ranked 23rd best in yards per catch at only 9.3.