As was the case at the end of the 2019 season we here at The Elite Fantasy view Tyler Higbee as a league winner. Higbee was a top two tight end during the last five weeks of the season, catching 43 of 55 targets for 522 yards and 2 touchdowns. Higbee averaged a healthy 12.1 yards per reception during that span. Now prior to this offensive explosion Higbee had put up a mediocre 26 catches for 212 yards and 1 touchdown, averaging 8.2 yards a reception. Those numbers were nothing to get excited about, so what changed in this offense to make Higbee such a monster? Prior to the final five game breakout Higbee was not used on the field as he lost snaps to fellow tight end Gerald Everett. The Rams offense also predominantly were playing in 3 wide receiver sets or 11 personnel. Higbee found himself on the field an average of 54% of the team’s offensive plays, where Everett was on the field during that same span for an average of 64.3% of the team’s offensive snaps. The team then made a change to the scheme switching to more two tight end sets which got Higbee on the field more. In addition to the switch in offensive scheme, Gerald Everett went down with injury missing weeks 13-15 which unlocked or should we say unleashed Higbee, as you can see below.
Higbee during weeks 13-17 saw a massive uptick in offensive snaps, as he was on the field for an average of 91.6% of the team’s snaps. That is an insane 37.6% increase in opportunity for the young tight end. With the Everett injury the team had to go back to a more traditional 11 personnel, only running 12 personnel on 21% of Higbee’s targets. This created opportunity for Higbee to be used in the short to intermediate game when the defenders were covering Kupp, Woods, and company. It is clear in the highlights above Higbee was very effective in the conventional screen game playing off the trio of wide outs. Higbee was able to take advantage of his good run after the catch ability when he was aligned tight to the formation then catching the quick screen pass from Goff as shown above numerous times in the highlights. Also clear in the highlights above was Higbee shredding opposing defenses on corner routes when going deeper down field. Higbee showed great footwork on the sideline as well as showing a good catch radius when catching some of Goff’s off target throws. Higbee was fast in and out of breaks and consistently out ran defenders. Higbee was also utilized when the team ran empty sets; in fact 20 of his 56 targets were seen off of this empty set formation.
We expect more of the same out of the young tight end who the team views as a game changer. That fact that defensive coordinators have openly come out and said that Higbee scares them because they don’t know how to defend him speaks volumes. McVay has said on a couple of occasions that he would like to get Everett more involved in the offense in 2020. This likely is what is keeping Higbee’s ADP where it is, which is fine with us, as we will wait on tight end and then scarf Higbee up when the time is right. There is no doubt Everett is talented but you have to remember two important things; one he is entering the last year on his rookie deal, and two the team just went out and drafted Brycen Hopkins, which could mean a trade or a definite 2021 departure for Everett. If this still doesn’t convince you just watch the tape on both players and you will see Higbee looking more explosive and talented then Everett. This type of talent doesn’t get ignored, and when Higbee was coming out he was comped to Travis Kelce, and last season he showed us why. Higbee’s talent, opportunity, and ADP are all reasons why Higbee will be a league winner in 2020.