With the NFL Draft and free agency having come and gone, we’ll break down all sorts of fantasy-relevant questions entering the 2018 season. Up next is a look at Washington’s exceptionally talented yet perennially injured stud tight end.
Reed’s Been Elite When Healthy
It’s hard to understate how dominant Jordan Reed has been since entering the league in 2013:
- Among all wide receivers/tight ends over the past 25 years (minimum 300 targets), Reed’s 76% catch rate is the highest mark.
- Among all tight ends since 2006, only Rob Gronkowski has averaged more yards per route run (Pro Football Focus).
- Per our NFL Trends Tool, Reed has posted top-five marks in DraftKings and FanDuel points per game, Plus/Minus, and Upside Rating among all tight ends since 2014.
Of course, Reed has overtaken recently overtaken Gronkowski’s role as the tight end position’s poster child for the “injury-prone” label. Reed has missed a combined 28 games since 2013 and has only played more than 12 games in a season once.
Reed’s injury issues have been plentiful:
- Five concussions
- Strained quad/knee/hamstring/thumb
- Separated shoulder
- Two pedal toe fractures
Despite Reed’s laundry list of injuries, Washington made him the league’s third-highest paid tight end in 2016. He remains the focal point of the team’s passing offense when healthy — something he at least appears to be trending towards after undergoing offseason toe surgery. At organized team activities, head coach Jay Gruden was optimistic that Reed would be ready for training camp.
Alex Smith is Tight-End Friendly
Washington doesn’t figure to overhaul their scheme with Alex Smith under center, as Gruden and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh remain employed by the team. While a quarterback switch can sometimes prove detrimental for a receiver (Dez, ‘sup?), Smith has regularly been at his best when working with similarly talented tight ends throughout his career:
Jordan Reed is currently the TE10 in PPR ADP
Alex Smith has been at his best targeting big/athletic tight ends throughout his career pic.twitter.com/gTKCHeCr0H
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) June 1, 2018
There isn’t much reason to believe Smith won’t feed Reed his usual dosage of 6.9 targets per game, especially when considering that Travis Kelce averaged 6.7 during his career with Smith. Washington wide receivers Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and Paul Richardson weigh a combined 562 pounds, and each of them is yet to develop into a red-zone threat that can offer Smith a better passing window than Reed, who remains the most gifted member of what could be an improved overall passing attack.
Per our NFL Correlations Dashboard, quarterbacks have shared a relatively strong .4 positive correlation with their tight ends since 2014, but Kansas City and Washington have posted even better marks at .53 and .52, respectively. Consider using our Lineup Builder to stack Reed with Smith in tournaments.
Injury Risk vs. League-Winning Upside
Reed was 2017’s PPR TE4 and 2016’s TE2 in ADP with Kirk Cousins entrenched as the starter on mediocre Washington offenses. But heading into 2018, Reed is currently the TE10 and isn’t being selected before the sixth round in 12-team drafts.
It’s tough to say Reed is any more injury-prone this season than he has been in the past, and Washington’s win total of 6.5 as of this writing isn’t far removed from the team’s average win total of 7.0 from 2015 to 2017.
Reed has ranked among the league’s top five tight ends in fantasy points per snap during every season of his career. He’s equally adept at threatening the defense up the seam as he is at capitalizing on mismatches in the red zone.
Washington boasts a quarterback in Smith that has historically thrived at feeding athletic tight ends, and Reed is known for having wide receiver-esque ability.
Even 12 games from Reed in 2018 could be enough to help swing the balance of fantasy leagues, and he’ll have tournament-winning upside every time he suits up.
You can use our tools to research more player- or team-specific questions for yourself, and be sure to check out The Action Network for more in-depth NFL analysis.
Pictured above: Jordan Reed
Photo credit: James Lang – USA TODAY Sports