Fantasy Football: What Should We Do With Coby Fleener?

Fleener was expected to have a big year in New Orleans, but he's gotten off to a painfully slow start. Is it time to cut bait?

The New Orleans Saints’ acquisition of Coby Fleener this offseason had the fantasy community buzzing.

This preseason hype led to average draft position as TE6, per data from Fantasy Pros. Unfortunately for those who drafted him, Fleener has only accumulated 3.5 fantasy points through two games, which is tied for 41st amongst tight ends.

The slow start has begged the question -- Can Coby Fleener be a useable weekly fantasy option?

Fleener Being Fleener

Throughout his career, Fleener has been a boom-or-bust play in fantasy. Through 62 games, Fleener has scored five or more fantasy points 24 times in standard formats, and he has scored two or less fantasy points in 21 games.

In 2014, his best season with the Indianapolis Colts, Fleener averaged 7.8 fantasy points per game on 92 targets.

Although Fleener is currently on pace for 96 targets, those career-best stats came in a full season with his college quarterback (Andrew Luck) throwing him the ball and his college assistant coach (Pep Hamilton) calling the plays. Also, Dwayne Allen missed two games that season, and Fleener beasted as the lone tight end, scoring 17.6 and 24.7 points sans Allen.

He's definitely the top tight end in New Orleans, but can he come close to those 2014 numbers in an offense that's known for sharing the wealth?

Fitting in With New Orleans

In past years, New Orleans has been a safe team to lean on as far as tight end usage. Even last year, after the departure of Jimmy Graham, the Saints ranked seventh in the league in fantasy points from tight ends, with journeyman Benjamin Watson leading the charge.

The Saints reliance on the passing game has yielded at least 600 pass attempts in each of the past six seasons, which means there are usually plenty of opportunities for several pass-game weapons. Drew Brees’ ability to spread the rock has become a staple of this offense, but the additions of some talented wideouts -- namely Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas and Willie Snead -- has led to Brees targeting his receivers more and more in recent years.

WR TargetsWR Market ShareTE TargetsTE Market ShareRB TargetsRB Market ShareTotal

Prior to this season, Brees' tight end usage had been very consistent, with running backs being the position that was losing targets to receivers. However, through two games in 2016, Brees is looking the way of his tight ends significantly less often, although the sample size here is very small.

Moving Forward

While playing with Luck in his college offense was probably a boon for him in Indy, it may be hurting Fleener in New Orleans as there have been reports earlier this month that he was struggling to learn the playbook. It's possible that is the reason for his slow start, but it's also possible that the Saints' offense could also be transitioning to a more wideout-heavy approach now that they have some extremely talented receivers.

At best, it's a very uncertain situation, which isn't what owners bargained for when they selected Fleener in the first half of their draft.

Right now, Fleener is very tough to trust as a weekly option until he starts producing. He's probably best suited to be a streaming option, and he has a juicy matchup this week against the Atlanta Falcons. Not only do the Saints have a 28.25 implied total, but the Falcons are allowing the second-most points to tight ends this season.

But Fleener had two nice matchups to start the year in the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders, so nothing is guaranteed. If Fleener can't capitalize here, it's probably time to send him to the waiver wire.