Tyler Eifert owns most receiving TDs in league
A few weeks ago, colleague Sam Monson explained why Bengals TE Tyler Eifert is a matchup nightmare for NFL defenses. That remained true Thursday night against the Browns, when Eifert scored touchdowns against both of the Browns’ only healthy starting defensive backs. After yet another strong performance from Eifert, he remains the second-best tight end of 2015, just behind Rob Gronkowski.
Eifert is so high in our rankings in part because of his big plays in the passing game. Only he and Gronkowski have been targeted more than five times on go routes (11 times each). Eifert leads all tight ends in catches and touchdowns, with seven and four, on such routes. In the fourth quarter of the Thursday Night Football game, Eifert caught a slant and go route for a touchdown—that was the first slant and go route caught by an NFL tight end this regular season.
All of these big plays have turned him into touchdown machine. Only eleven tight ends have scored three or more touchdowns this season—that’s how many Eifert had against the Browns, alone. He has nine touchdowns on the year, the most receiving touchdowns of any player in the league. Only four tight ends had nine or more touchdowns all of last season. His receiving grade of 92.8 is third-best among all tight ends in 2015.
What really differentiates Eifert from most tight ends is the fact that he can also run block. Some of the best receiving tight ends in the game (like Greg Olsen, Gary Barnidge, Jimmy Graham, and Travis Kelce) are liabilities in the run game. Eifert, on the other hand has a run block grade of 83.1, which leads all tight ends. While he occasionally gets stood up at the line of scrimmage, he has done a good job of blocking linebackers and safeties to the inside, while the runs go outside. When the Bengals have run to the same side that Eifert is on, and aren’t running down the middle, Cincinnati averages 4.8 yards per carry.
There are a lot of receivers fighting for the second-best tight end in the league spot being Gronkowski, but at the moment, Eifert has a strong hold at the position, thanks to his ability to make big plays and run block. The emergence of Eifert was a big part of the Bengals’ victory against the Browns, and part of why Cincinnati remains undefeated.