Through four weeks of the season, Tyler Higbee ranks as the TE6 by total points. If you ask his fantasy football managers how he’s been, they’ll probably wax poetic about Higbee’s three-touchdown game and then sort of peter off as they realize what they’re trying to hype up. Through 25% of the season, are we hanging onto Tyler Higbee?
We tend to forget when we get a player’s back-of-card statistics for the season that fantasy football is a week-to-week game. Tyler Higbee was TE1 in week three, and by a huge margin. It makes sense, he had three dang touchdowns. Outside of that week, he’s ranked as TE29, TE20, and TE21. Even if you factor in his TE1 finish, Higbee’s average weekly finish is TE23.
That’s not enough to get it done for your fantasy football squads, and there isn’t anything in his top-line stats that gives me any warm feelings about Tyler Higbee. First, his overall stats, minus the touchdowns pace out to: 52 catches and 620 yards, on 60 targets. Right now, he ranks 24th in tight end targets, 16th in tight end receptions, and 13th in tight end yards. That last number encourages fantasy football managers, but I am more concerned with the first one: 24th in targets. The Kuppocalypse many predicted, which would spur on Tyler Higbee’s growth, never came. Kupp currently sits with 28 targets for 23 catches, 297 yards, and two touchdowns. He is top-20 among wide receivers in all of these stats.
Jared Goff targets Tyler Higbee on just 6.7% of his snaps, which ranks #32 among NFL tight ends. Higbee stays on the field, playing about 80% of snaps, but he’s running just 17 routes per game. By contrast, Robert Tonyan runs 21 routes per game, and Dan Arnold runs 26 routes a contest. The elite guys top 30 routes per game, at a minimum. Right now, Higbee ranks 28th in routes run per game. That just won’t cut it.
But do you know what will cut it? The Rams throwing the ball to Tyler Higbee more. Right now, Jared Goff throws the ball about 30 times per game, the lowest of his career and in line with guys like Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins. Should Jared Goff open up the passing game (and with their running game looking a mess, that’s likely), that means more for Higbee. Higbee’s flashed elite numbers on a per-target basis, but the targets aren’t there, yet. Higbee ranks as top-five among tight ends in: yards per target, yards per route run, catchable target rate, catch rate, and fantasy points per route run. The Goff2Higbee connection has a 157.0 passing rating when Goff targets Higbee. He’s also playing in the slot at a significantly higher rate than in 2019 (20.1% versus 6.4%), meaning he’s getting more quality matchups.
At this point, I’m looking to see what I can do to get Tyler Higbee onto my fantasy football squads as a stash. The Higbee owner is likely getting itchy at these target totals and think that the three-touchdown game is a fluke. It’s not, it’s the Rams trying (and failing) to rely on the run game in lieu of letting the pass game cook, as it has for several years under Sean McVay. Hang onto your Tyler Higbees, and go get more Higbee on the cheap. Brighter days are ahead, as long as the Rams turn into the Rams of old.
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