Mike Clay

Offseason Low Down

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Tight End or Wide Receiver?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Greg Olsen

Snaps

Back

Wide

Slot

IL

944

12%

9%

46%

34%


He was a mainstay on fantasy rosters, but I feel like Greg Olsen’s strong 2012 campaign flew a bit under the radar. He caught an exceptional 69-of-96 targets (72 percent) for 851 yards and five touchdowns. Olsen was in the game on a whopping 98 percent of the Panthers’ offensive snaps. In fact, he played every offensive snap in 10 of the team’s 16 games.

Although he only lined up in-line on just over one-third of his snaps, Olsen was extremely productive from the position. He caught all but four of his 25 targets for 296 yards and three of his scores. A majority of his targets (54 percent to be exact) came while in the slot. It was here that he racked up 34 receptions on 52 targets (65 percent) for 376 yards and the other two touchdowns. Olsen only dropped four passes on the year, all four of which came while in the slot.

Olsen lined up to Cam Newton’s right a bit more than he did his left (57:43 split), but the target split between the two sides was even more severe. Olsen actually blocked quite a bit when lined up in the left slot, running only 22 percent of his routes from the position, compared to 40 percent from the right slot. Olsen was dominant when to Newton’s left, however, catching 22-of-28 targets (79 percent) for 283 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

With Steve Smith past his prime and Brandon LaFell as his only other real competition for targets, Olsen will continue be featured in the Panthers’ passing attack.

Aaron Hernandez

Snaps

Back

Wide

Slot

IL

686

5%

19%

41%

35%


Despite spending eight games as the team’s No. 1 tight end (necessitated by Rob Gronkowski’s injuries), Hernandez still finishes as the tight end playing the fifth-lowest number of his snaps in-line. Instead he worked the slot 41 percent of the time, was out wide 19 percent, and worked from the backfield on another five percent. His slot and in-line snaps were up slightly from 2011, both at the expense of lining up out wide, which was down 10 percentage points from 2011.

Although Hernandez only lined up out wide 127 times during the 2012 season, he was targeted 30 times. He caught an impressive 22 of those balls for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Hernandez actually scored one of his five touchdowns after lining up in the backfield. He saw only six targets when lined up next to Tom Brady, hauling in five for 32 yards.

Hernandez wasn’t quite as impressive in the slot. He caught only 29-of-49 targets (59 percent) despite a low 7.8 aDOT. Although a majority of his targets came while in the slot, he scored only once from the position. Hernandez’s catch rate was also low when in-line. He hauled in only 10-of-17 targets (59 percent). Some of the blame can be put on a fairly-high 8.9 aDOT, not to mention that the sample size here is awfully low.

Having only appeared in 12 games, Hernandez’s overall production was down in 2012. On a per-game basis, however, he continues to work as one of Brady’s top receiving options in arguably the league’s best offense. With New England potentially looking at an overhaul at the wide-receiver position, Hernandez will be in for a massive share of the targets in 2013. An 80-900-7 line over 16 games is a fairly safe bet.

Other Notables

 

    • Entering the 2012 season, there was some debate about how the Colts would use their rookie tight ends. Coby Fleener was in-line on 89 percent of his snaps. Dwayne Allen was in-line 76 percent of the time, spending another 12 percent of his snaps in the backfield.

 

    • The fact that Aaron Hernandez played quite a bit in the slot did not stop the Patriots from using Rob Gronkowski there, as well. “Gronk” was in the slot on 45 percent of his snaps, spending another 51 percent in-line.

 

    • If Tony Gonzalez retires, the Falcons need more than just a blocking tight end to fill his shoes. Gonzalez lined up out wide on eight percent of his snaps, spending another 44 percent in the slot.

 

    • Jermichael Finley’s “position” is one that’s often up for debate. He was all over the field in 2012, spending 53 percent of his snaps in-line. He was in the slot one-quarter of the time, out wide on 15 percent of his snaps, and in the backfield on the other six percent.

 

    • Here’s an interesting one. Vikings’ two-headed monster of Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson had very similar splits. Rudolph was in the backfield eight percent, out wide three percent, in the slot 25 percent, and in-line 65 percent. Carlson’s marks: seven percent, three percent, 19 percent, 65 percent.


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Mike Clay is a football writer for Rotoworld.com and the Founder/Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He can be found on Twitter @MikeClayNFL.
Email :Mike Clay



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