Is Jordan Reed Overpriced in Fantasy Football This Season?
Don't get me wrong: they are not going crackers with how much they want him on their teams. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Reed is not being selected until the end of the 8th round, but he is still the 10th tight end being drafted.
This would seem to be heady wine for a player who played only six games last season, whilst never looking his best in any of them.
There are certainly safer options still around at his draft spot, and there are a few youngsters who may be ready to break out in 2018. So why are people taking Reed over players such Jack Doyle or George Kittle, and is Reed worth the risk?
On the Field
It's already been mentioned that Reed's 2017 season never really got going.
Despite setting a career high with 77.1% catch rate, his numbers in the six games he played were pedestrian at best. He managed 27 receptions for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns, at a measly 7.8 yards per reception.
Using our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which you can read more about in our glossary, we can see just how inefficient Reed was on a per-play basis. Of the 46 tight ends to see at least 30 targets, Reed was 24th in Target NEP per target and 38th in Reception NEP per target. Even when he did haul in catches, he didn't necessarily produce: he ranked 42nd in Reception NEP per catch.
In 2015 and 2016, however, Reed was a high echelon performer at the tight end position, as his numbers will attest to.
|Standard Fantasy Points||265.8||3rd|
|PPR Fantasy Points||418.8||3rd|
In 2015, the best of the two seasons, Reed finished with 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. By numberFire metrics, he was outstanding. His 0.54 Target NEP per target was second-best among tight ends (minimum of 75 targets), while only three players had a higher Reception NEP per target than Reed's 0.73. He finished the season as the TE3 in PPR scoring, but in points per game, he was the best of the bunch.
The same was true in 2016, where his 14 points per game paced the position, but he finished at TE9.
The quarterback with whom Reed enjoyed his success with, namely Kirk Cousins, has gone from Washington now. Cousins averaged 8.99 adjusted yards per attempt when looking for Reed between 2015 and 2016, Cousins' second-highest total among players he targeted at least 100 times (he averaged 10.66 when targeting DeSean Jackson).
In his place, Washington has brought in Alex Smith. If there is one thing we saw during Smith's tenure as the Kansas City Chiefs signal caller, it is that Smith is not afraid to target his tight end. Chiefs tight ends saw the fifth-most targets (663) in the NFL in Smith's five seasons with the team, and they reeled in the fourth-most catches (450).
One tight end in particular, Travis Kelce, reaped the majority of the reward.
After a lost 2013 season, Kelce has seen the second-most targets of any tight end (429) and the most receptions (307).
These four seasons have seen Kelce finish as the TE6 and TE8 before back-to-back TE1 seasons in 2016 and 2017. His target share also increased every season from 16.05% in 2014 to a high of 21.03% last season. Reed's career high market share was 19.59% back in 2015.
A healthy Reed would provide some clarity to the slightly jumbled appearance that the Washington offense currently has. While Jamison Crowder is almost secured of his place in the slot, and Chris Thompson (if healthy) will assume passing-down work at the running back spot, there are question marks over the other wide receivers on the roster.
Washington is paying Paul Richardson a top-25 wide receiver salary, but he has a career high of just 703 receiving yards. He was seventh among all wide receivers with at least 75 targets in Reception NEP per target in 2017, however.
Then there is former first-round pick Josh Doctson. Doctson has caught 44% of the 84 targets sent his way in his two NFL seasons, on his way to a 2.1 reception per game average.
There are steady performers in this group, and there is potential, but big-game upside? It's possibly lacking, and that is something a fully healthy Reed can offer.
The most immediate risk that we have very rarely seen a fully healthy Reed in the NFL. Reed has played in 52 of 80 regular season games since he was drafted and never in more than 14 in a single season.
He has a worrying history of hamstring issues, missing 13 games with such complaints. Even more worryingly, however, is his concussion history. Reed has three documented concussions since entering the NFL, with at least three more during his college days.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that Reed is always likely to miss time. It is just as impossible to ignore the fact that, should Reed suffer another concussion, an NFL doctor is not going to allow him to go on the field quickly.
As he has shown us in his career, Reed is capable of producing like a top-tier NFL tight end.
There have only been 11 instances of a tight end amassing at least 950 receiving yards and scoring at least 10 touchdowns since the 2000 season, and Reed's 2015 campaign is one of them.
However, you are not drafting the 2015 version of Reed when you sit down to compile your roster this fall. He's played in 18 of 32 games since that season, and while he was relatively productive in 12 of them, his fantasy owners got burned after taking him off the board as the TE3, according to My Fantasy League, last season
There is little doubt in my mind that Reed can be a difference-maker at fantasy's most volatile spot when he is healthy. But the full story surrounding Reed is not convincing enough to make him an eighth-round pick.