Now that the NFL has changed to a passing league, the tight end position has become more of a prized offensive weapon. Luckily for the Lions they have two very capable guys at the position. Last season the Lions tight ends got in the end zone 11 times, giving quarterback Matthew Stafford two very good targets in the red zone. This season should be no different for the Lions and the tight ends will be a crucial weapon for the 4th year quarterback.
The main target at tight end last season was Brandon Pettigrew and this year should be much of the same. Pettigrew had an outstanding season in 2011 racking up 777 yards and five touchdowns. Now the most important stat here is the touchdowns. Though five touchdowns is not the most eye popping number, it is more significant when you realize they were all in the red zone. This makes Pettigrew a main target when the Lions get in close. Another fun stat is all five of his scores came at home, though this doesn’t mean much, it may be a useful strategy during the season. In 2012 Pettigrew is poised for another big season. He has got increasingly better in each season since 2009, his rookie year. Not only have his yards increased but his touchdowns as well. This means he should be a top ten fantasy tight end in the upcoming year. Pettigrew should be a late round pick in most standard leagues but in PPR he is intriguing. He averaged around five catches a game in 2011 and that number will likely go up. Pettigrew is a solid pick when it comes to second tier tight ends in your draft.
The other tight end for the Lions that made a big impact last season was Tony Scheffler. Though Scheffler caught only 26 balls last season, six of them were for touchdowns. Near the goal line is where the Lions use most of their two tight end sets and Scheffler is definitely a used weapon. He shouldn’t be chosen in any ten team standard leagues or even PPR, but he could be a viable option for deep 12 to 16 team leagues. This season his numbers should stay close to the same and he may not score as many touchdowns, but he has the ability to have a great upside. And his touchdown dances aren’t bad either.
The Lions tight ends are key targets in the red zone and it is no secret Matthew Stafford likes to use them. There is no doubt in my mind that Pettigrew will be a top ten tight end in all leagues and that Scheffler is a great option for bye weeks or deep leagues. With the league being pass heavy and new emphasis on tight end play, the Lions should have a great pair of guys for your fantasy team.
2011 Actual: 83 Receptions, 777 Yards, 5 Touchdowns
2012 Projected: 91 Receptions, 892 yards, 8 Touchdowns
2011 Actual: 26 Receptions, 347 Yards, 6 Touchdowns
2012 Projected: 21 Receptions, 298 Yards, 3 Touchdowns