Why Jordan Reed Is an Obvious Value Tight End in Fantasy Football This Year
He's coming off knee surgery. He's missed 12 games in his first two seasons. He's playing on a team with a quarterback in bad standing with the head coach.
The two top receivers on his team combined for 200 targets last year, and the top three saw 273. The tight end behind him on the depth chart outperformed him last year and should be in the mix for snaps this year as a result.
He didn't score a single touchdown despite hauling in 50 passes and seeing 10 red zone targets in 11 games last season.
He's 6'3" and 237 pounds, yet he's not very athletic.
His name is Jordan Reed, and he's a great fantasy football option this season.
I won't lie. There aren't many redeeming qualities about his athleticism, according to his MockDraftable.com profile. And according to PlayerProfiler.com, his closest player comparable is Charles Clay, who is a fine player but nothing of an athletic anomaly.
Still, Reed has a pretty significant chance of outperforming his current average draft position (ADP), which is 163rd overall in best-ball formats. He's also going undrafted in FantasyFootballCalculator.com mock drafts.
"Free" is a pretty modest asking price for who our algorithms project to finish the season as the 14th-best fantasy football tight end. They project Reed to post a 67-reception, 575-yard, 4-touchdown season, all of which would be career highs. Of course, his missed time has played a big part in that.
That's a pretty tall order for an unproven -- in terms of doing it for 16 games -- talent. But here's why it's not crazy.
Why Reed Can Perform
Before even getting into his receiving ability, it's good to note that the coaching staff is impressed with his blocking improvements entering the year, and that can mean that he'll be able to fend off Niles Paul for snaps.
As alluded to earlier, Paul outperformed Reed analytically last season, and it wasn't particularly close. On 39 receptions, Paul secured a Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) score of 34.10. Reed's Reception NEP on 50 receptions was 23.35. On a per-target basis, Paul trumped Reed by a big margin: 0.66 to 0.36. Reed's lack of touchdowns hurt his overall impact, though it should be noted that Paul scored only once last season.
Among 27 tight ends with at least 50 targets, Reed's Reception NEP per target ranked 26th. Yeesh.
But turn back the calendar just one year, and it was a different conversation altogether. Reed's Reception NEP per target in 2013 was 0.95, and he maintained that on 59 targets. That was tops at the position among 30 tight ends with at least 50 targets. And remember -- he scored only three touchdowns, so he was making plays that weren't just touchdowns.
One concern is that Reed has played better without Robert Griffin III as his quarterback, but his three career touchdowns have come from RGIII. And, really, the more important split is his opponent.
According to RotoViz's Game Splits App, Reed's best work as come against pass defenses that ranked outside the top 12. 18 of his 20 games have come against defenses ranked 13th to 32nd against the pass, too, so it's a pretty big sample. That's good news for him. In those 18 games, he's averaged 8.92 fantasy points per game in half-PPR scoring, which would be roughly 143 points during a full season. That'd be about TE6 or TE7 numbers during a full season.
Here's Reed's schedule, including his opponents' 2014 ranks in our schedule-adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play metric and fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
|Team||Adj. Def PNEP/Play||FP vs TE||Team||Adj. Def PNEP/Play||FP vs TE|
|NY Giants||22||24||NY Giants||22||24|
Half of those 16 games come against teams that ranked 14th or worse against the tight end, and 12 of them come against teams that ranked 19th or worse in our pass defense metrics. That's pretty enticing for a player who could be in line for a starter's share and who has played efficient football in the past.
No More Convincing
If you aren't sold on Reed, then I understand. There are quarterback concerns, and there are risks that he won't even lay claim to the majority of tight end snaps or targets. I get that.
But the important thing to remember is that he's not going to cost you anything in your draft, and if he were to stay healthy, the matchups are right for him to be a productive tight end. He's a free upside play with a pretty enviable schedule -- particularly in the middle of the season. What's not to like?