If you've been following the regression articles this offseason, you may think I have something against the Packers. After all, Aaron Rodgers led off the quarterback article, Davante Adams was the face of wide receiver regression and now Robert Tonyan is featured in the tight end headline. And it's certainly all related.
Rodgers posted a career best (and completely unsustainable) 9.1% touchdown rate and threw 60% of his touchdowns to Adams and Tonyan. The easiest place to find 2021 regression candidates is in Green Bay. And while Adams is still the No. 1 wide receiver in projections after factoring in regression, Tonyan falls all the way outside of the top 12 tight ends.
That's largely because Tonyan's touchdown efficiency was even crazier than that of Adams. He scored 11 touchdowns on 59 targets. That rate with Adams' 149 targets would have resulted in 27 touchdowns. Tonyan also produced 9.9 yards per target, which is probably due to regress a little as well.
The bottom line is, unless Tonyan's target volume increases significantly, you should expect him to lose at least five of his touchdowns off last year and his yardage and catch totals are so insignificant that the loss in touchdowns will make him a touchdown-dependent streamer.
Here are five more tight ends primed for regression in 2021:
Jimmy Graham TE
CHI Chicago • #80
Age: 34 • Experience: 12 yrs.
Just so we're clear: Don't draft Jimmy Graham. Also, don't draft Cole Kmet to score all those touchdowns. Graham is still on the Bears, so he could siphon a few of Kmet's touchdowns, and neither of them can match this scoring rate in 2021.
Jonnu Smith TE
NE New England • #81
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
It's kind of eerie how similar Smith's numbers are to Graham's, right? Almost as similar as Smith's contract to Hunter Henry's. And it all ties together because like Graham, Smith is going to regress hard without a volume increase, and Henry could be standing in the way of a volume increase. Neither Smith or Henry is more than a double-digit round dart throw, but that's more than you can say for Graham.
Noah Fant TE
DEN Denver • #87
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
On the flip side of guys like Tonyan, Graham, and Smith is Noah Fant. The second-year player scored just three touchdowns on 93 targets and saw his yards per target drop to 7.2. Some of this can be explained by Drew Lock's poor play, Fant's injuries and the Kendall Hinton game. But also, there's a fair amount of bad luck in there. In 2021 we'll either get an improved Lock or Teddy Bridgewater, either of which could help propel Fant to a top-five finish.
Evan Engram TE
NYG N.Y. Giants • #88
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
These last two are more complicated, because I still don't want to draft them as starters. But there is some reason for hope. Engram scored one touchdown on 109 targets. That's absurd. He should have scored at least four more. Also, his public battle with drops is probably not predictive for 2021 because drops generally aren't predictive. If he gets enough targets, and that's a big if with the changes the Giants made to the roster, Engram should be much better than he was last year.
Logan Thomas TE
WAS Washington • #82
Age: 30 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Thomas could see regression in multiple areas. I don't think he'll see as many targets with Alex Smith replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel added to the roster. But the switch from Smith to Fitzpatrick should help his efficiency, which was among the worst in the league last year and probably would have regressed some in any regard. Like Engram, Thomas could be a solid starter with enough volume.