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The top rookie fantasy TE seasons of the last decade

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 9: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (#87) and New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (#81) on the sidelines during the second quarter of a preseason exhibition game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Over the past few weeks we’ve been compiling the best fantasy seasons by a rookie for each position, starting with wide receivers, followed by running backs and then quarterbacks. And now, we reveal the top-10 fantasy seasons by a rookie tight end in the past decade (i.e. the PFF era).

There has been some first-round buzz surrounding a few of the incoming tight ends in next month’s draft. But as evidenced by the numbers below, with the exception of dynasty formats, rookie tight ends are better left off your fantasy draft board. Tight end fantasy scoring was at a five-year low in 2016, and not just for rookies but for the position as a whole.

Before we get into it, here’s a quick glossary of some of the PFF terms and acronyms you’ll see below:

Season Rank: where each player ranked among all WRs in fantasy scoring during his rookie season
Draft: where each player was selected. Ex. Sterling Shepard: 2.40 = Round 2, Overall pick 40
Pts: standard fantasy scoring
PPG: fantasy scoring per-game average
PPO: points per opportunity, defined as carries + pass routes
PPS: points per snap
YPRR: yards per route run, i.e. a more useful metric than the standard yards per reception
aDOT: depth per aimed throw, or average depth of target

10(tied). Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (2012)

45 rec (64 targets), 521 yards, 3 TD

Season Rank Draft G GS Fantasy Points PPG PPO PPS YPRR aDOT
23 3.64 16 16 70 4.38 0.20 0.08 1.42 7.2

Allen won the John Mackey Award as college football’s best tight end in 2011. However, he was drafted a round later than Stanford’s Coby Fleener in the 2012 NFL Draft, and by the very same team. That duo caused a fair amount of frustration for fantasy owners during the four seasons they spent together in Indianapolis. Whereas Fleener occupied the “move” tight end spot, Allen was relegated mainly to a blocking and red-zone role, which illustrates why he posted the fewest fantasy points per snap (0.08) of the rookies on this list.

10(tied). Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (2013)

45 rec (60 targets), 499 yards, 3 TD

Season Rank Draft G GS Fantasy Points PPG PPO PPS YPRR aDOT
21 3.85 9 4 70 7.78 0.31 0.18 2.21 7.3

Reed played only nine games (four starts) as a rookie in 2013, but in that span he averaged more fantasy points per game (7.78) and more yards per route run (2.21) than everyone else on this list. Of course, that has been the biggest problem for Reed, who has never played a full 16-game slate in any of his four pro seasons. Should that streak ever come to an end, know that his career average per 16 games (86 rec, 905 yards, 7 TD) equates to 219 PPR points, which would have trailed only Travis Kelce in 2016.


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