Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray throw the ball roughly the same amount per game (34 passes for Hurts, 35 for Murray), but Murray averages more than 55 extra yards per game thanks to the league’s highest completion rate (75.3 percent). Murray turned Maxx Williams into a viable fantasy threat, albeit briefly, when he coaxed the veteran to career highs in yards per game, catch rate, and yards per target. Think of what he can do with a former All-Pro like Ertz in the mix.
The question now is whether we’ll see more TE targets in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
Kingsbury’s vertical attack works best with a dagger route crossing closer to the line of scrimmage to feast on the space created by guys like DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore. That hasn’t been a factor in his first two years with the team. His tight ends had just 80 catches between 2019 and 2020. Of course, none of those tight ends was Zach Ertz.
Goedert’s breakthrough season has been on hold thanks to Ertz’s presence in the lineup. Now he’s the Eagles’ unquestioned TE1, and the bulk of his veteran mentor’s 5.2 targets per game will fall to him. Jalen Hurts has thrown 25.5 percent of his passes to tight ends this season. Goedert will remain a trusted middle ground between deep balls to Devonta Smith and Quez Watkins and checkdowns to Miles Sanders behind the line of scrimmage.
Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell remain wildly underused on the ground, but each has the potential to play a valuable role in the passing game. With only Goedert and undrafted rookie Jack Stoll on the roster, some of those short-range targets once held by Ertz will likely trickle down to them.
Philadelphia ran 22 percent of their plays from two-tight end 12 personnel sets — a roughly league average amount. That number will drop, freeing up more three-wideout formations and giving Watkins an opportunity to up his 63 percent snap share.
DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green
For the second time this year, Hopkins will have his workload further reduced by a steady veteran and former perennial Pro Bowler. First it was Green, who isn’t quite back to his glory days self but is still pretty dang good. Now it’s Ertz.
This is great news for Arizona as a team, as the offensive strategy of “just chuck it up to Nuk and hope for the best,” had gotten stale toward the end of the 2020 season. It’s bad news for anyone heavily invested in the Cardinals’ receiving corps, as they have an above-average pass catching tight end for the first time in the Murray-Kingsbury era — though the overall dent Ertz makes in their target share may be minimal.
Chase Edmonds and James Conner
Edmonds and Conner lost a valuable blocking tight end when Williams was lost for the season due to injury. Ertz is still solid when it comes to sealing off edges, but he’s no longer the force he was earlier in his career and had ceded his role as the Eagles’ top blocking tight end to Goedert over the last two years.
That’ll make it tougher for the tailback platoon to find room. It could also cut into their target share when Murray is in trouble and needs a safety valve dump-off.
Darrell Daniels and Demetrius Harris
These two have one target between them in 2021. Daniels is a solid blocking TE2 and Harris is an athletic field stretcher, but let’s be honest. Neither one of these guys were on your fantasy radar in the first place.