Everyone likes a shiny new toy.
Rookie tight end Eric Ebron is the shiny new toy in Detroit, and the Lions were happy to get him, as they’ve been eyeing him up for a while leading up to the draft. Being a pass-catcher in Detroit is very, very fun, as not many teams throw the ball more than them. However, rookie tight ends rarely produce in fantasy football, so should Ebron be on fantasy radars in year one?
The Lions are super, super high on their new tight end. Like I said, they brought him in for multiple workouts before the draft, and now that he’s on their side, they have talked about using him in a similar way the Saints use Jimmy Graham, or the Browns use Jordan Cameron— in the slot. Last year, the only tight end to operate out of the slot more than Cameron (60.3%) was Tony Gonzalez (via PFF). And new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi spent time with Graham in New Orleans, and considering Ebron was in the slot over 70 percent of the time at UNC last year, it’s a great fit. He’s an athletic, elite route-running tight end that could cause matchup problems. Also, Matthew Stafford targets tight ends about 25 percent of the time in his career, above the league average.
To put it nicely, when it comes to blocking, Ebron lacks… confidence? Okay, okay. He’s downright terrible, which could impact his immediate playing time, especially with Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria already on the roster. And, as I eluded to, rookie tight ends hardly ever make an impact in fantasy, as over the last 11 seasons, only three rookie tight ends have finished inside the top-12 among the position (Gronkowski, Hernandez, Carlson). That, via Larry Hartstein of CBS Sports. Also, Ebron is going to have to compete for targets with the likes of Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and two 50-catch running backs.
I think Ebron is going to be one of the more overdrafted players in fantasy this year. People will see the Lions pass-heavy offense and assume immediate production, but history suggests otherwise. However, I do think he’ll be a very good tight end in this league, but with two other tight ends on the roster and is inconsistency blocking, his rookie year may be more of a learning experience than a fantasy breakout.
Bye Week: 9
Projected Round: 10th-11th
Auction Value: $15 (via FFToolbox)