For football degenerates, the offseason is way too long. From the morning after the Super Bowl, to the month before the draft, to OTAs, training camps and the preseason, we are dying for any kind of pigskin content to fill our fix. NFL team reporters, a.k.a. beat writers, are football-loving humans just like we are, and as a result have the same impulses over the offseason. Due to the workman-like atmosphere of these daily practices in the summer heat, many of those reporters are dying to find a storyline, so whenever anything–and I mean ANYTHING–happens of note, they will be flying to their keyboard to report it.
This fact was proven when Buccaneer beat writers set the Football Twitterverse ablaze with the report that third-year tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins left the practice field during an OTA practice and tweeted out “MOVING ON !!!!” shortly thereafter. When you couple this with the rave reviews of undrafted second-year tight end Cameron Brate, it seemed a lock that Seferian-Jenkins would either be moved off the team or buried on the depth chart. While a trade hasn’t happened, Brate has gotten the bulk of the work with the first team offense and “ASJ” hasn’t gotten any buzz aside from a few positive reports of late.
Savvy dynasty owners have already submitted their buy-low offers for the high-upside enigma, but the window won’t be open for much longer. In fact, it has already started to close with the positive reports. Soon, he’ll be back in the lineup and producing bunches of points and the window will be closed, so don’t waste any time going after him.
Fantasy owners love upside. Do you know what allows for a big chunk of that upside? Athleticism. For the uninformed, ASJ has bunches of it. At a towering 6’6, 262 lbs., Seferian-Jenkins is the same size as the “great” Rob Gronkowski. The similarities don’t end there, however. As early second-round picks, both run a 4.73 40-yard dash–great speed for their size–and have above average burst.
Do you know where the metrical similarities end? ASJ actually was drafted 4 spots ahead of the Gronk and has better agility and a better catch radius (all metrics found on PlayerProfiler.com). We’re talking about a tight end who has better athleticism and a better draft slot than a player on track to become the best player at his position of all time. He isn’t Gronk just yet, of course, but it’s certainly encouraging to basically be on the same track at first glance. I have probably convinced a good number of you readers this far, but I still can hear some knocking on Tampa Bay’s best tight end.
Hey, you! Yeah, in the back! I know athleticism and draft slot isn’t everything! Let me finish! Geez. Fantasy owners in are always so quick so react to everything.
Do you really want to know how well ASJ produced in college? Alright, alright.
Spoiler Alert: the ASJ-train gains even more steam.
In college, at Arizona, Gronk accrued a 19.1% college dominator rating (share of team’s yards and TD’s). That puts him in the 58th percentile.
Conversely, while at Washington, ASJ accrued a 29.5% college dominator rating. That puts him in the 87th percentile. Gronk’s breakout age (the age he first achieved a 15% dominator rating or greater) was 18.3. That’s in the 98th percentile. While, ASJ’s breakout age was 18.9. That’s in the 94th percentile.
Are you not convinced yet??? Ok, maybe you aren’t yet assured by his elite athleticism and elite college production. You’re one who needs to see it at the NFL level before buying it (which must mean you trade all of your rookie picks). Here at DFF, we cater to all, so here we go.
In his second season, similar to his first, Seferian-Jenkins caught the injury bug, limiting him to participating in only 9 games, and a handful of them only saw him play limited snaps. In fact, his injured back plagued him all year long. In spite of that, ASJ produced a top-8 yards per target, a top-10 fantasy points per target, a top-8 target premium (adjusts for QB play), and a top-13 production premium (measures efficiency). ASJ has already showed us that he can be a top-shelf tight end, most of us just did not see it unfold due to injuries and a litany of biases.
I still can hear one little cluster of readers that still aren’t sold on Baby Gronk Jr (let’s see if that catches on). “His role isn’t set!” they yell. “There won’t be consistent targets!” they exclaim.
Those concerns, however, are just wasting their energy. One more header with “The” is on the way.
The Open Role
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers threw about 33.5 times per game in Jameis Winston’s rookie season. With ASJ, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans all finally healthy, the continued development of Winston, and the promotion of OC Dirk Koetter to head coach, Winston should throw at least 3-4 more times per game, good for about 50-60 more passes this year than last, nearly 2 games’ worth of attempts. Evans and Jackson should command about 45% of those attempts, while the talented receiving back Charles Sims should get about 13% of the passing pie. Therefore, with around 25% expected to go to the backup receivers, ASJ should safely receive anywhere from a 16-20% target share and be squarely in the low-TE1, high-TE2 spectrum right away, and with the upside to finish as this year’s Tyler Eifert (in fact, his closest comparable on PlayerProfiler.com is Eifert).
This, however, is in a perfect world where Tampa Bay realizes they actually want to win games early in the year (they do, don’t they?) and replace the undrafted, unspectacular Brate with the electric Seferian-Jenkins in the starting lineup.
Unfortunately, this is looking less likely by the day, although ASJ is slated to get more work with the 1s than he has gotten. If he does start and you’ve already acquired him, you’ve done your job as a savvy GM. If he doesn’t, then all those who haven’t pounced on the value yet will have one more shot, possibly at an even more discounted rate.
As Dynasty owners, our job is to continually find #DynastyValues, and getting ASJ on your squad is a move that makes too much sense to open the new season with a bang. The opposing owner will think they’re doing well “MOVING ON !!!!” from Seferian-Jenkins, but let them feel like that. It will help offset the regret they’re going to have later.
Thanks for reading! You can interact with me on Twitter @DFF_Rich.