Don’t Pay the Premium for Mark Andrews in Fantasy Football
There is a general consensus among the football fraternity that there exists a "Big Two" at the tight ends position George Kittle and Travis Kelce, who both played in the Super Bowl last season and have enjoyed themselves atop the pyramid since Rob Gronkowski's down 2018 season.
But Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews seems to be on a mission to make the Big Two a Big Three. Andrews' form in 2019 suggests that he is capable of doing this and would make him something of a force in fantasy circles in 2020.
But I have a few concerns about Andrews that make me think that his current ADP is just a little too rich.
Andrews was, as I say, excellent in 2019.
Andrews was a big-play machine for both the Ravens and his fantasy owners. Last year, he posted 64 receptions on 98 targets for 852 yards and 10 scores. He finished as the overall TE5 and posted top-12 weekly numbers in 10 of the 15 game weeks he played. He had 16 receptions that gained more than 20 yards, accounting for 25% of his 64 receptions, along with his touchdown rate of 10.2%.
Andrews was also a picture of efficiency, according to numberFire metrics. His Target Net Expected Points (NEP) per Target mark of 0.53 ranked third among the 27 tight ends who commanded at least 50 targets last season. He was equally efficient when the ball was corralled, as a Receiving NEP per Target of 0.91 (No.2 of 27) can attest to.
The Ravens are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl this season, and Andrews is clearly seen as a key cog in their offense. These are the reasons why he is currently going off the boards in the early 5th round of best ball drafts over at Fanball.
Reasons for Concern
But as I've already hinted at, there are a few matters that make me balk at this ADP.
For starters, Andrews is not an every-down player for the Ravens -- at least he hasn't been thus far. In 2019, he played only 43.2% of the Ravens offensive snaps according to PlayerProfiler. Indeed, he never played more than 58% of the snaps in any one game. Fantasy points are very difficult -- nay, impossible -- to score if you are sitting on the bench.
You could argue that this is not a killer to Andrews's appeal, given that when he IS on the field, his quarterback does tend to look his way. Andrews' hog rate in 2019 -- his targets per snap -- was 23.4%. This was the highest mark among all tight ends. Lamar Jackson certainly benefitted from sending targets the way of his tight end, too, as he averaged 10.64 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting Andrews. This is the highest mark when targeting any receiver in Jackson's career.
These numbers would likely put to bed any concerns of a seemingly low number of targets, at least in comparison with the likes of Kelce or Zach Ertz. Andrews only saw the fifth-highest number of targets among all tight ends, all the while playing on a definite run-first offense. The Ravens' pass-to-run ratio in 2019 was 0.79, easily the lowest rate in the entire NFL. But Andrews has shown us that he can be efficient with his targets and should be able to produce even without seeing well above 100 in 2020.
But while Andrews may be able to sustain efficiency catching passes, I worry that he may not find it so easy to keep scoring touchdowns at the rate he did last season. People are expecting Lamar Jackson's passing touchdown rate to drop in 2020 after throwing his scores at a historic 9.0% clip last year. When this happens, one of the big losers could be Andrews.
Andrews is one of 33 tight ends to boast a touchdown rate of 10% or greater since the start of the 2000 season (minimum of 50 targets). Of the 31 players for whom we have next season data for, only five boasted a 10% touchdown again the next season, while only three saw their touchdown rate increase. The average drop in touchdown rate among these players was 6.6%.
Now, touchdowns are not everything for a tight end in fantasy football. Kelce has only scored more than five twice in his career. But Kelce has seen 117 targets or more in each of his four seasons, so he is able to prop up his fantasy value that way. If everything goes right for the Ravens' offense in 2020, I find it difficult to believe that Andrews will see anything like this high a workload.
I have to stress I am a big fan of Mark Andrews. I do believe that he has as good a chance as any to finish behind only Kittle and Kelce in fantasy tight end scoring in 2020, and numberFire's model projects him to do so.
But the question marks I have against him make me worry about spending a fifth-round pick on him. I believe the opportunity cost involved with taking him at this ADP is just too high.
According to current Fanball ADP, wide receivers like Keenan Allen and the Seahawks pair of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are going after Andrews. I would feel especially safer taking Allen with his safe floor over Andrews and would prefer to wait on tight end a few more rounds before taking the plunge on the likes of Hunter Henry or even Andrews' former teammate Hayden Hurst.
Unless Andrews drops, which I find very unlikely at present, I fear none of my fantasy teams shall benefit from his presence in 2020.