NFL Week 16 Fantasy TE Breakdown: Will Eric Ebron Disappoint You Once Again?
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Eric Ebron
- Eric Ebron has been boom or bust this season, but looks to dominate a vulnerable Giants secondary this week.
- Here's a deeper dive on the Colts tight end's fantasy outlook for Week 16.
We are just two weeks away from the end of the regular season, and the NFL is still on pace for a record-breaking campaign with an average of 23.4 points per game per team.
But scoring has dropped precipitously as injuries have mounted, game tape has accumulated, weather conditions have worsened, pace of play has slowed and divisional opponents have rematched.
For example: In Weeks 10-12, NFL teams scored 24.3, 25.8 and 23.7 points per game. In Weeks 13-15, however, they managed just 21.4, 21.8 and 19.3 points, which are the three lowest-scoring weekly averages for the season. Year over year, scoring is up, but within 2018, we’ve seen a very notable downward trend.
Will scoring continue to decline in Week 16? Or will teams put up more points in the last “real” week of the NFL season?
The action continues with a 12-game main slate that kicks off on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
In this positional breakdown, I’m looking at three tight ends at the top of the individual Pro Models that Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings (CSURAM88), Adam Levitan, Sean Koerner, Chris Raybon, Kevin McClelland (SportsGeek) and I have constructed.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading DFS-focused news feed.
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Model Tight Ends
As was the case last week, Eric Ebron is popping in the FantasyLabs Pro Models — but can you actually trust him this week?
- Eric Ebron: $5,700 DraftKings; $6,100 FanDuel
Eric Ebron: Indianapolis Colts (-10) vs. New York Giants, 48 Over/Under
UPDATE (12/23): Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (ankle) is a game-time decision after sitting on Wednesday and Thursday and getting in a limited practice on Friday.
Ebron is coming of a bitterly disappointing Week 15 performance in which he managed just 1.3 FanDuel points on three targets.
He played just 52.8% of the snaps and ran just 21 routes as the Colts employed a run-heavy game script in their 23-0 home win over the Cowboys. With the Colts favored by 10 in Indianapolis, it’s very possible that Ebron could once again see little usage.
It’s indeed troubling that Ebron has been at his best on the road and as an underdog and at his stone-cold worst as a home favorite this season.
- At home (seven games): 11.0 FanDuel points, five targets, three receptions, 34.9 yards receiving, 0.86 touchdowns
- On road (seven games): 13.4 FanDuel points, 9.1 targets, 5.4 receptions, 59.7 yards receiving, 0.86 touchdowns
- As favorite (seven games): 10.4 FanDuel points, 5.6 targets, 3.6 receptions, 38.7 yards receiving, 0.71 touchdowns
- On road (seven games): 14.0 FanDuel points, 8.6 targets, 4.9 receptions, 55.9 yards receiving, 1.0 touchdowns
- As home favorite (five games): 10.3 FanDuel points, four targets, 2.4 receptions, 30.6 yards receiving, 0.8 touchdowns
If Ebron doesn’t find the end zone this weekend, he could massive disappoint, because he’s been used sparsely when the Colts are favored at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Nevertheless, Ebron is a top-four fantasy tight end with 12.2 FanDuel points per game, and he’s tied for first among all non-running backs with 13 scrimmage touchdowns (12 receiving, one rushing).
For the season, Ebron is a close second to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on the Colts with 99 targets, 59 receptions, 662 yards receiving and 883 air yards. From a salary-adjusted perspective, Ebron leads all tight ends with a +5.22 FanDuel Plus/Minus.
As has been the case for the past three weeks, tight end Jack Doyle (kidney, injured reserve) is out, and in his absence Ebron has seen a dramatic increase in his per-game usage.
- Without Doyle (eight games): 72.9% snaps played, 37 routes, 9.6 targets
- With Doyle (six games): 40.5% snaps played, 16.8 routes, 3.7 targets
Oh my. OH. MY.
Of course, usage is not always the same as production, and Ebron has amazingly been more productive with Doyle than without him.
- Without Doyle (seven games): 11.4 FanDuel points, 5.1 receptions, 0.3 rushes, 53 yards, 0.63 touchdowns
- With Doyle (six games): 16 FanDuel points, three receptions, 0.2 rushes, 38.3 yards, 1.33 touchdowns
While Ebron’s touchdown-driven production might be a little fluky, his high-leverage usage certainly is not. Ebron is first among all players (not just tight ends) with nine touchdowns on passes into the end zone.
He trails only Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins with his 16 end-zone targets. He’s second with 10 red-zone touchdowns (not counting his two-yard rushing score). And he’s top-10 with 20 red-zone targets.
On top of that, he’s being used as a downfield weapon. Among tight ends, Ebron is third with his 883 air yards, and his 9.1-yard average depth of target (aDOT) suggests that he’s more of a big-bodied slot receiver and less of a tight end.
And the numbers back that up.
Of all fantasy-viable tight ends, Ebron has run a league-high 62.2% of his routes from the slot. He’s also lined up out wide on 12.5% of his offensive snaps.
Ebron has a good matchup against the Giants. Although they are 10th against tight ends in pass defense (-10.0% DVOA), they are without All-Pro strong safety Landon Collins (shoulder, IR), who has been the team’s primary tight end defender for most of the season.
For most of the game, Ebron will match up against either strong safety/dime linebacker Michael Thomas or safety Sean Chandler. Collectively, they have allowed a catch rate of 77.3% in their coverage. If the Colts target Ebron regularly, he should be able to put up points.
One potential drawback of rostering Ebron is that the Colts have a 21-10 record to the under as home favorites with quarterback Andrew. Since 2012, under bettors have enjoyed a 32.7% return on investment when the Luck-led Colts have been favored in Indianapolis (per Bet Labs).
Even if the Colts win, they still might not put up a lot of points: Just last week, they scored only 23 against the Cowboys, despite winning convincingly as three-point favorites at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Week 16 Positional Breakdowns
Be sure to read the other Week 16 positional breakdowns.
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