Finding Value: Tuesday, July 13th, 2021


(Photo Credit: Malcolm McMillan)

Malcolm McMillan (@McLateralFF)
The Lateral Editor

Finding Value: Tuesday, July 13th, 2021 

Turns out there are no free-use photos of Adam Trautman. I would say, "Sue me," but I am trying to avoid that much irony, let alone the legal trouble. So instead you get a McLateral original. I call it, "Tom Brady."

Get it? Because it is a goat?

Tough crowd.

Obviously is not a Monday. I know I said that I would drop this column on Mondays but last Monday I was wrapping up a week-long vacation in Puerto Rico. I actually did bring a laptop so I could do some writing but it turned out all I had time to do was take pictures of goats while drinking on the beach. Zero regrets.

Do not get me wrong, I love writing, and I love fantasy football. I even love writing about fantasy football! But at no point in my week of Medalla Lights, Ron de Barillito piña coladas, and incredible food at Casitas Blanca and Miramar (travel recs by McLateral coming soon!) could I bring myself to type a single word. Instead of worrying about ADP, show sheets, and rankings, I just got to sit back and worry about how burnt my pasty Scottish self would burn and if I broke my finger on that rope swing in the rainforest. No stress? Feels like found value to me.

But nothing lasts forever and draft season is fast approaching. So let us get right into another value pick: New Orleans Saints TE Adam Trautman.

TE Adam Trautman (New Orleans Saints)

(ECR: TE26, ADP: TE24, My Current Rank: TE9)

Trautman represents a huge opportunity, but let's start with the negatives. New Orleans does not necessarily target the TE a ton (only 17.3% target share as a position group in 2020), and we still do not know who will be under center for the Saints come Week 1. These issues combined with Trautman being largely unproven coming into his sophomore season are all reasons for his depressed ADP.

Here is the thing: I am not sure that the low position group target share matters if Trautman is getting all those targets. Last year's starter Jared Cook is gone, and New Orleans seems confident enough in Trautman to not bring in a replacement. Given that they invested a third-round pick in Trautman and that Trautman is capable as a blocker and receiver, maybe that should not be a surprise. 

So if that target share is largely Trautman's to claim, then there is no reason he cannot see the approximately 15% individual target share that often translates into a fantasy football TE1. Last year Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz was TE11 if you use Weeks 1-17 PPR points, and Pittsburgh Steelers TE Eric Ebron was TE10 if you use Weeks 1-16. Both were on teams that had lower TE position group target shares than the Saints last year, so there is recent precedent for a similar level of position group target share producing a top-12 (or even top-10) TE. Both those teams also had significantly better WR corps in 2020 than the Saints will have in 2021. 

Another positive team stat? New Orleans TEs had 28.6% of the team's receiving TDs in 2020. TDs are not a particularly predictable or stable statistic, so take that with a grain of salt, but it does show a willingness to throw to the position when Sean Payton & Co. need six points.

Finally, there are a few individual stats to highlight. Disclaimer: Trautman only saw 16 targets, so this is an incredibly limited sample size. However, he caught 15 of those targets and dropped none of them. High catch rate, limited competition, and a high position group TD share... who does that remind you of?

Green Bay Packers TE Robert Tonyan. Who finished TE4 last year (Weeks 1-16). 

Am I saying that Trautman is a lock to be 2021's Robert Tonyan? No. Especially since Tonyan was such an outlier at the position compared to the rest of the TEs to begin with. What I am saying, is that it is logical to see a path for Adam Trautman to become 2021's Robert Tonyan. Why not take a chance on that at TE24? That is not even a draft pick in most redraft leagues. Massive value.

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