We find ourselves in the midst of a dry season of fantasy football before the draft and before mock drafts really start to heat up. In this desert land, it might be comforting or even amusing to see players we envision to be a spring of fantasy life as our tongues stick to the roofs of our mouth in apparent boredom and musings. It’s in the state of seeming insanity that we begin to dream of a fantasy oasis no-one has dared to dream before.
The TE position is that fleeting mirage as players circle in and out relevancy as their production, targets, and activity often changes from week-to-week. It’s guys like Jack Doyle that have us screaming that we’ve found the fountain of living water one week before we find out he’s turned into a gangrene cesspool of grimy muck the next. I decided to check out the lay of the land myself and see what type of journey we have in front of us with Mr. Doyle.
See where Andy, Mike, and Jason have Jack Doyle and other TEs ranked for 2017.
Who is Jack Doyle?
Before this year, fantasy owners probably had little interest in knowing the man, the myth, and the unlegendary one who is Jack Glenn Doyle. The local Indianapolis high school product and former Western Kentucky Hilltopper went undrafted in 2013 as the rest of us barely knew this guy was a football player. After scouring the internet looking for Jack Doyle combine info (yes my google search engine probably thought that search was odd too), it was clear teams thought he simply lacked the athletic measurables apart from being a big body to stand out. His Player Profiler measurables are simply putrid as his best comparable is journeyman TE Jim Dray. Yuck.
What’s most astounding is when we compare Doyle’s 2016 stats to his previous 3 years combined in the league and find these eye-poppers. In 2016, Doyle’s 78.7 catch percentage placed first among tight ends with at least 50 targets and ninth overall in the league. He was second on the team with 59 receptions, the most for a Colts TE in the last 6 years. He saw an almost 40% snap percentage boost which clearly aided his numbers. He finished as the TE12 in standard and PPR. He also joined Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert as the only TEs to repeat as the top weekly TE in PPR formats.
What’s On Tape
Apart from the end of the year fantasy finish and career high statistics, let’s check out the film to see if Doyle has some attributes that show up to reveal his spike in production and whether he’s worth a look as a TE1 in 2017.
-In terms of physical skills, Doyle is a basic 5-7 yards and turn TE. He uses his 6’5 frame to box out defenders in the middle of the field. His after the catch ability is average but not terrible for a TE. According to Pro Football Focus, Jack Doyle is ranked as the 15th best tight end in football this season (among 63 qualifiers) as well as the 14th best receiving tight end and the 15th best run blocking tight end.
-As a route runner, I noticed that his route tree is somewhat limited. We’re not looking for him to morph into a Jordan Reed type weapon but rather perhaps a Jason Witten-lite. Dependability is a QB’s dream for their TEs and that’s what Doyle showcased.
-He started out Week 1 with a bang hauling into 2 TDs against the Lions. However, before you get as excited as every other fantasy owner did running to the waiver wire, realize that both TDs were the result of Andrew Luck receiving ample time to hit Doyle in zone coverage while Lions LBs were caught out of position. This week was an outlier in terms of Doyle seeing high reward targets despite seeing significantly less of a snap percentage and target share than teammate Dwayne Allen.
-Next week at Denver, Doyle started out the game with a drop and an offensive holding penalty while taking down Von Miller. Doyle was flagged for the 3rd most offensive holding penalties among TEs, trailing only Jermaine Gresham and Martellus Bennett. He did show some good footwork maneuvering around safety T.J. Ward en route to a 22-yard gain in the 4th quarter to see a drive moving.
-In the first 5 weeks of the season, Allen saw 88% of the snaps which caused Doyle’s production to bottom out in Weeks 4 and 5. He had 3 catches for 14 yards while seeing less than 6% of the team targets.
-Doyle was clearly a major part of the game plan in Week 7 against Tennessee as he received 10 targets including a whopping 5 red zone targets! That tied Cameron Brate (Week 3), Jared Cook (Week 11), Jimmy Graham (Week 13) and Kyle Rudolph (Weeks 14 and 16) for most in a single week for the TE position. Andrew Luck looked little elsewhere as T.Y. Hilton and Frank Gore each received one red zone target each. Doyle caught 5 passes for 78 yards and a TD; however, he could’ve had more. In the 2nd quarter, Luck went his way 3 straight times including a post route which went right through his hands in the end zone.
-Doyle saw 75.6% of the snaps on the year which was a drastic increase from previous years. This is obviously due to Coby Fleener‘s departure. After the Week 10 bye, Doyle’s usage dropped dramatically as he failed to produce more than 7 standard fantasy points in any game. Once Donte Moncrief returned, I noticed that the Colts Doyle was routinely phased out seeing only 3 red zone targets over the final 7 weeks. This is where the majority of his value comes seeing high percentage and high reward targets. If those aren’t there, he’s definitely became waiver wire material in redraft leagues.
-In Week 17, Doyle had little going throughout as a potential 1st down dropped after Doyle heard the footsteps of Jags strong safety Jonathan Cyprien behind him. It wasn’t until the final drive of the game that he caught his first pass as Andrew Luck was leading the 2-minute offense. He threaded the needle finding Doyle from 1-yard out with 14 seconds remaining between 2 defenders. Chalk this one up to Luck more than Doyle simply bowling over a cornerback to jockey for position in the end zone.
-He has been the standard of durability as Doyle hasn’t missed a game in four years. His versatility as an H-back and picking up blitzes shows that he’s gain the trust of Luck as well Colts OC Rob Chudzinski. He also was lined up on the outside moving in motion towards the slot in numerous occasions. In other words, with the Colts running 2TE sets as frequently as they do, Doyle will be on the field as the best blocking TE on the roster.
The biggest drag on Doyle’s production in 2017 will be fellow teammate Erik Swoope, who recently signed his off-season tender. He has some Antonio Gates to his game as Swoope was a former University of Miami basketball player and profiles better stretching defenses down-the-field. They will likely cancel each other out of the TE1 conversation as the TDs and yards varies from week-to-week. However, Doyle clearly profiles better in terms of overall target share.
Doyle is currently going undrafted according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com and should be valued only as a late round TE flier. In dynasty leagues, you could certainly do worse on rostering a backup TE as it seems Doyle will be Luck’s safety valve for the foreseeable future. His catch rate will be tough to repeat although 60+ catches seems in range with Allen shipped out of town to the Patriots. Ultimately, Doyle did not show any significant attributes on film and will only go as far in fantasy as Andrew Luck will take him.