4 Tight Ends With Major Touchdown Upside for 2018
Handling touchdowns in fantasy football analysis requires some nuance.
On one side of things, touchdowns are vitally important. They can salvage otherwise weak performances from low-volume players, they can give a player league-winning upside, and you're not going to find many correlations stronger than that between touchdowns and fantasy points scored.
On the other hand, zeroing in too closely on touchdowns scored in the past is a fool's errand. There's very little correlation in a player's overall touchdown number year-over-year, making past touchdowns a pretty weak way to try to predict future touchdowns.
So we want to chase touchdowns in the future, but as soon as they happen (or don't), it can serve us well to take the results with a grain of salt unless they can be backed up with a deeper look.
The variable nature of touchdown scoring doesn't mean that we can't predict them, though. Previous touchdowns might not help up identify players likely to score more in the future, but there are plenty of factors that do.
A player in a high-scoring offense, for example, stands to have more scoring potential than one in a low-scoring unit. And a player seeing more touches will have more opportunities to find paydirt than one rarely touching the ball -- especially as you get closer to the goal line.
Obviously, Rob Gronkowski has big touchdown upside, and Travis Kelce does, too. Those kinds of high-volume tight ends are all going to carry a huge ceiling, but once we get to the mid- and late-round options, things become less clear.
One thing that we can be sure of, though, is that touchdowns are vitally important for fantasy success at the position. Over the last three seasons, 31% of all tight end fantasy scoring in standard-scoring leagues has come from touchdowns, with that mark sitting at a still-significant 19% in point-per-reception (PPR) formats.
Looking at the correlation between touchdowns and fantasy points scored at the position, we see an r-squared value of 0.83 in standard and 0.76 in PPR leagues in that same stretch.
Yes, the one-off tight end position can be one that you stream all season, playing the waiver wire as needed. But that doesn't mean that you don't want to try to find a gem in the draft. With touchdowns and fantasy points so closely tied together, the key to landing a tight end on the cheap that you can count on every week is finding one who is going to put up big touchdown numbers.
Here are four players who fit the bill.