Lions Re-Sign Brandon Pettigrew
Detroit re-upped Brandon Pettigrew with a four-year, $16 million deal with $8 million guaranteed. The big tight end has always been overvalued by the Lions organization and that remains the case despite a new coaching staff. At age 29, the 6’5″, 265-pounder simply doesn’t possess an NFL skill set to match this contract.
Pettigrew graded out as the 55th-best tight end among 64 qualifiers last season. He provides little value in the pass game (-4.3) and graded out even worse (-9.1) in run blocking. In fact, his only categorical positive grade was in pass protection (+2.3).
In 2013 Pettigrew posted 41 receptions, 416 yards and only two touchdowns. The 10.1 yards per catch ranked him 47th among tight ends and was actually up from previous years when he posted sub-10-yard-per-catch numbers.
Pettigrew doesn’t compare to the more athletic tight ends in the league. He lacks speed off the line and despite his large size isn’t very effective in the redzone. His four drops in 2013 were actually an improvement for the lumbering pass catcher. He posted a whopping 27 drops the previous three years, good for bottom five in the category.
Pettigrew’s best fantasy football season was 2011. He was targeted 126 times in the Lions’ pass-happy offense. He caught 83 balls for 777 yards and five touchdowns, which was very solid in PPR formats despite the low yardage per reception. The last two seasons he’s only caught five touchdowns combined. With the emergence of tight end Joseph Fauria as a major redzone threat I doubt those numbers will rise much.
A new coaching staff is in town so it’s hard to predict future player roles. But it’s hard to imagine any scenario where Pettigrew’s production will increase dramatically based on his limited athletic skill set. The most likely situation is that he continues to be used as a blocker and pressure release while other more explosive athletes provide the big-play ability.
The addition of Golden Tate, coupled with Calvin Johnson should allow Mathew Stafford and company favorable matchups in the middle of the field. But Pettigrew doesn’t possess the athleticism to capitalize. He projects as a low upside TE2 in 2014, currently projected at 53 receptions, 574 yards, and four touchdowns. You’re better off selecting a number of other tight ends who can provide a similar floor along with a much higher ceiling for your fantasy football team.
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Nate Hodges is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and radio host for Tennessee Sports Radio (Saturdays at noon eastern). Listen at TNsportsradio.com. His work can also be found at TopTierFootball.com. You can follow him on Twitter – @NateNFL