Is Dennis Pitta Ready to Break Loose in Gary Kubiak's Offense?
In 2012, Dennis Pitta was a player showing flashes of potential at the tight end position, only to have his 2013 campaign cut short by injury. With Gary Kubiak attempting to breathe new life into the Ravens offense, can we expect Pitta to ‘wow’ us and bounce back, putting up big numbers this year?
In fantasy football, opportunity can mean the world, and Gary Kubiak’s offense may provide these opportunities. Since 2011, Kubiak’s offense has seen an increase in their pass-to-run play ratio each year, and threw the ball on a higher percentage of plays than the Ravens did last year.
In addition to an increased commitment to passing, if we compare the percentage of team’s targets going to tight ends, we will see Kubiak leaned more heavily on tight ends than the Ravens have.
|Year||Team||Total Targets||Tight End Targets||Tight End Target %|
So where do these increased targets put Pitta’s upside? To be frank, it’s not much higher than Owen Daniels’ was in Houston. That is to say, don’t expect him to finish above the eight-to-ten range in tight end fantasy scoring this year.
Pitta vs. Owen Daniels
Daniels and Pitta have been very similar players in terms of production since Pitta came into the league. Production here is being measured by numberFire’s own advanced metric, Net Expected Points (NEP). More specifically, we’re looking at the pair’s Reception NEP. Net Expected Points is a measure of how a player’s performance on a given play affects the expected points scored on a drive. If you want to read more about NEP click here.
You will see that the two have incredibly similar Reception NEP per target over the years, while Daniels has better overall Reception NEP as a result of his higher volume and NEP being cumulative.
|Year||Player||Reception NEP||Targets||Reception NEP per Target|
Fighting for Receptions
Also cutting into any potential upside Pitta might have is that there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Ravens offense right now. With Owen Daniels replacing Ed Dickson, and the arrival of Steve Smith, targets may be hard to come by in Baltimore.
Daniels should see a fair number of targets this year. He spent years with Kubiak in Houston, and he's a solid upgrade over Ed Dickson from a receiving standpoint.
|Year||Player||Reception NEP per Target|
As you can see, there hasn't been a season since Dickson entered the league where he has finished with a better per target efficiency rating than Daniels, so expect to see Daniels take a chunk out of Pitta’s workload that we didn't see from Ed Dickson.
As of writing this article, Pitta is currently going as the ninth tight end off the board per Fantasy Football Calculator. While Pitta appears to be a relatively safe bet to not crash and burn this year (barring injury), his upside compared to his current average draft position is hard to get overly excited about.