Is Coby Fleener Set to Explode in 2014?

Matthew Stein explains why Coby Fleener may be in line for a breakout 2014.

| 3 years ago

Is Coby Fleener Set to Explode in 2014?

Coby FleenerWhen tight end Coby Fleener was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, he was expected to instantly become one of the top fantasy football tight ends in the league. It was easy to have high expectations considering the amount of natural talent Fleener possessed and the familiarity with quarterback Andrew Luck.

Unfortunately, Fleener has been a pretty consistent disappointment for fantasy owners. Over two seasons, he has only recorded 78 receptions, 889 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. For comparison, Jimmy Graham had 86 receptions, 1,215 yards, and 16 touchdowns last year alone.

The big question now surrounding Fleener is exactly what to expect from the third-year tight end for the 2014 season. Is it possible that a breakout campaign is on the way?

Below we’ll take a look at two reasons why we feel that Fleener is set to absolutely explode in 2014.


Semi-Breakout in the Playoffs

It’d be nice if the above headline read “Total Breakout in the Playoffs,” but that simply isn’t the case. However, a semi-breakout is still something for Fleener to build upon for the 2014 season.

In the Colts’ two playoff games, Fleener received a total of 17 targets. He turned those 17 targets into an impressive 11 receptions, 120 yards, and two touchdowns. Those were his second best statistics in any back-to-back games during the entire 2013 season.

What this ultimately shows is that Luck became more comfortable with his former teammate in the most important games of the season. It may not have been huge production, but it was definitely an improvement over the rest of the season.

Whenever a player puts up some of his best numbers to close a season it usually means a breakout campaign is coming in the following year.


Hands of Glue

The real reason that Fleener is set to explode in 2014 is because of his hands.

Fleener had a drop rate of only 1.89 last year. No tight end in the league who played at least 50 of their team snaps were even close to that number. In fact, the second-best drop rate came from Martellus Bennett with a 4.41 drop rate.

What drop rate ultimately records is the percentage of drops a receiver has from all his catchable balls. For example, Fleener had 84 targets last year, but only 53 of those targets were considered catchable. Of those 53 catchable balls, Fleener caught 52 of them. That’s simply an incredible number.

Quarterbacks’ main concern when throwing to a receiver or tight end is whether or not they have confidence in their hands. By only dropping one catchable pass all year Fleener has proved to his quarterback that he’ll consistently catch the ball.

As long as Fleener can continue to keep his drop rate so low he should have no trouble seeing an increase in targets for the 2014 season. And with that increase of targets, Fleener could become the one of the focal points of the offense in Indianapolis.


2014 Stat Projections: 111 targets, 84 receptions, 1,009 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns

  • bubqr

    Timing is funny, within 12 hours 2 articles about Fleener.

    PFF says “Fleener is set to explode” while FO says: “Fleener isn’t a bad player — he’s a bit player. He’s been an unreliable target. He’s not a special blocker. Not exactly the return you’re hoping for from a second-round pick. More like the kind of player who can help an offense as a lower-tier option.”

    I tend to be 100% onboard with FO, who had the common sense to look at his production in context. Why would Fleener “explodes” now that Dwayne Allen (who outplayed him at TE), Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne are (back) in the picture? He had the opportunity to do so late last year, and did not really seize it, so this 1000 yards prediction looks incredibly foolish.

    • KittyTheBear

      I disagree about Fleener too, but this is a bit harsh. Allen and Wayne are coming off serious injuries and Nicks is as mercurial as ever. I’d also wager that Luck attempts more passes this season and is more productive with those attempts. Even though 1000 yards seems a bit rich, I think Fleener has a good shot to improve his production this season

  • chillermonster

    My money is on Allen to have the best season of all Indy TE’s.