It wasn’t that long ago that Eric Ebron had fantasy football value. It’s hard to remember the before times, back when we could leave our houses, and back when things were ostensibly… good? I’m not sure there. It was 2018 when Eric Ebron turned in 750 yards and 13 touchdowns on 110 targets. Now, he’s taking his, uh, talents to the Steel City. What does Eric Ebron leaving Indianapolis for Pittsburgh mean for the Steelers, and for 2020 fantasy football?
Eric Ebron’s 2018 Season and Contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers
Eric Ebron and the Steelers agreed to a two-year pact worth $12 million. As of this article, the contract details are not public. It’s likely a $4 to $6 million dollar signing bonus, making his annual salary in the range of $3 million to $4 million. Ebron is coming off of a lost season for fantasy football purposes, where he played just eleven games and received only 52 targets. He finished the year with 375 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 31 receptions. Not exactly inspiring numbers, and he was useless in most fantasy football leagues
Eric Ebron on the Pittsburgh Steelers
This is really going to muck up matters for the Steelers. They threw just 76 targets to TEs last year and passed to the position at the seventh-lowest in the NFL (15.7%). They ranked ninth in raw TE targets in 2018 but were still bottom-ten in TE target rate in both 2018 and 2017. There just aren’t a lot of targets in the offense, as constructed, for the tight end. The number of targets scales up with the number of pass attempts. Call me crazy, but I’m not bullish on a lot of passes from a 38-year-old Ben Roethlisberger coming off of elbow surgery who currently looks like he should be storming Mordor, not chucking footballs. Prior to his 675 pass attempt 2018, Big Ben averaged 519 pass attempts every 16 games.
There’s also the Vance McDonald problem. Between Vance and Ebron, the Steelers really gummed up their TE room with highly-touted super-athletic tight ends who cannot catch a dang football to save their lives. I don’t see either of them being able to split up the tight end targets in any sort of way that makes either of them meaningful for 2020. Then again, I’ve never really been a Vance McDonald fan.
Eric Ebron Leaves the Indianapolis Colts
To be honest, this probably won’t matter much for the Colts. Indy diehards like Football Absurdity’s own Mike Valverde have spent years cursing Ebron and his unconscionable drop rate. They could move those targets into Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox for 2020. More likely, they spread the love around to Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal. It’s a whole new ballgame in Indy with Philip Rivers, but he spent his whole career connecting with Antonio Gates (and then Hunter Henry), so it could still feature the TEs? I’ll take a flier on Jack Doyle if I miss out on literally every other TE I want in that range.
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(Header Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmanuel_Sanders#/media/File:Emmanuel_Sanders_2018.jpg, cropped under CC BY-SA 4.0)