When the Buffalo Bills signed tight end Charles Clay, he was immediately expected to perform like one of the top tight ends in football. Whether that assumption was fair or not, the expectations that came with his sizable contract caused many to pan the Bills’ decision to pay him that much in the first place. While Clay’s contributions to the team have gone beyond his own receiving numbers, as he has proven to be an excellent blocker, he has been a solid target in the passing game.
Clay led the Bills last season in targets and receptions, with 87 and 57, respectively. He also tied the since-departed Justin Hunter for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with 4. Those totals represent little change from his career average line of 59/611/4, so Clay isn’t exactly under-performing, he’s just doing what he’s always done. Is Charles Clay the only Buffalo tight end to own in fantasy football? For now, yes...but that might change.
Yahoo! projects that only Clay will score points this season from the tight end position in Buffalo, which is not exactly an intelligent projection given offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s affinity for two-tight end sets. Clay is projected to catch 55 passes for 544 yards and 5 touchdowns, good for 110.7 fantasy points. This would slot him 20th among all tight ends, right between C.J. Fiedorowicz of the Houston Texans and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys. Where is Clay going in fantasy drafts? Nowhere. That’s right, he is only owned in 8% of Yahoo! leagues, and he’s not among the top-50 at the position when it comes to being drafted. His auction value, according to Yahoo!, is zero dollars, and he has yet to be drafted in an auction league. Players like Austin Hooper (projected to score 98.4 points) of the Atlanta Falcons are going at the end of drafts, while teamless Gary Barnidge is being drafted in the 11th round (albeit in only 3% of Yahoo! leagues). Even Martellus Bennett, who is currently being drafted in the 8th round on average, is a bit of a question-mark. Bennett is projected to score 154.5 points in his new home with the Green Bay Packers. Over the course of 16 games, that comes out to a difference of 2.7 points per game separating Bennett from Clay. Why draft Bennett in the 8th round, which is where players like Adrian Peterson, Ty Montgomery, Larry Fitzgerald, and Cam Newton are going, for only 2.7 points per game more than a guy you could grab off the waiver wire?
Looking at the rest of Buffalo’s tight end depth chart, it appears that Nick O’Leary will see the lion’s share of the time as TE2, but Logan Thomas is coming on strong at camp. Thomas is a huge target at 6’6” and 250 pounds, and he’s been high-pointing passes in the red zone quite often over the last few camp practices. His speed and athleticism gives him the potential to be more than just a touchdown-dependent option, as well. His is a name to keep in the back pocket when scouring the waiver wire.
We’ll add to these projections after watching some preseason games, and we’ll also make some projections of our own when the regular season draws closer.
This is the fourth installment of our fantasy football preview. Links to our discussion of Buffalo’s running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks are linked just in case you missed them.