cover32 Packers fantasy writer, Andrew Erickson, will each week break down a Packers player’s fantasy value.
What do black unicorns and Martellus Bennett have in common? They are both beasts in fantasy!
Bennett enters 2017 with his new team the Green Bay Packers and has already made the statement that going from Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers is just like going from Jennifer Lopez to Halle Berry.
As long as it is not Halle Berry from Catwoman, Bennett will have some high potential with his new quarterback.
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The Packers have had one of the most productive offenses for fantasy purposes during the Aaron Rodgers-era.
In terms of the tight end position, the most productive season ever at that position came back in 2011, when Jermichael Finley was the fifth tight end overall in standard leagues and eighth overall in point-per-reception leagues.
Finley finished with 55 receptions for 767 yards and eight touchdowns on 92 targets.
To put that in perspective based on last year Finley would have finished seventh in point-per-reception leagues right behind Zach Ertz and fifth in standard leagues right in between Jimmy Graham and Delanie Walker.
That season was by far the best season for Rodgers (45 touchdowns) so the numbers Finley put up in that same year show the type of ceiling that Bennett has with the Packers.
However, being part of such a great offense, with many other weapons can sometimes limit a player’s potential in fantasy.
Don’t expect Bennett to have a dominating target share, but expect him to find the end zone for the Packers because of the pure volume of pass attempts by Rodgers in the red zone.
Rodgers’ numbers in the red zone are beyond ridiculous. Over the past three seasons inside the 20-yard line, Rodgers has averaged 102 passing attempts with 25 passing touchdowns.
During the same span inside the ten yard or the green zone, Rodgers has averaged 47 passing attempts with 19 passing touchdowns. In both situations, Rodgers has never finished less than second overall in the league in passing attempts.
Bennett had a career high in touchdowns last year with the New England Patriots (seven) so going from one elite red zone quarterback to another will only increase his odds of matching or even exceeding his touchdown totals.
Additionally, expect to see some regression in touchdown totals from both Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. Since 2012, only one time have two wide receiver teammates had back-to-back seasons where they both scored double-digit touchdowns.
Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas accomplished this with the Denver Broncos in 2012 and 2013. Nelson has also never had two seasons with back-to-back double-digit touchdowns and Adams has only had double digit touchdowns once.
Bennett will be on the receiving end of many Rodgers’ touchdowns this upcoming year, but his value goes beyond the red zone.
Bennett has shown that he does not necessarily need to have the touchdowns to be a relevant tight end in fantasy. The best year of Bennett’s career came in 2014 with the Chicago Bears where he had 90 catches for 916 yards and only six touchdowns.
It is important to note that this came when Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte were still big pieces in the Bears’ offense.
Marshall missed three games that year, but still, Bennett ranked behind both Forte and Jeffery in terms of total targets.
So even if Bennett is the third or even fourth target in the passing game for the Packers next season in targets, he will still have a surplus of fantasy value.
Richard Rodgers in 2015 had the fourth most targets (85) on the team and was the tenth ranked tight end in fantasy.
If Richard Rodgers can be a top ten tight end with the Packers, so can MartySaurus Rex.
Bennett has averaged 93 targets over the last five seasons and that is consistent with his what his projected target total could be based on the Packers offense target share from last season:
Green Bay Packers offense target share:
Rodgers 610 passing attempts:
Nelson 152 targets, 25 percent
Adams 121 targets, 20 percent
Cobb 84 targets, 14 percent
Jared Cook 54 targets, 9 percent
Richard Rodgers 47 targets, 8 percent
Ty Montgomery 56 targets, 9 percent
Bennett will most likely take on Jared Cook’s total share as he is replacing him and he will also take a share of Richard Rodgers’ as well.
Cook only played in ten games last year so taking his target share and estimating his total for 16 games, he would have finished with 81.6 targets over the span.
Based on that information, Bennett will receive anywhere between 80-95 targets in 2017, granted he is able to play a full 16 games.
Unfortunately, playing a full 16 games is no guarantee for Bennett.
Bennett was able to play in all 16 games for the Patriots last season, but he was very banged up towards the end of the year.
In 2015, with the Bears, he also missed five games. But looking at the majority of the top players at the tight end position most of them have injury risks associated with them (Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, Jimmy Graham).
So it may be wise to invest with a later draft pick to take Bennett than any of these other guys because if you take Bennett later on and he gets hurt, it will not negatively impact your fantasy team as much.
Currently, Bennett’s Average Draft Position (ADP) has him slotted as the ninth tight end off the board and is going overall at an average of the 102nd pick.
At this value, Bennett provides a no-brainer decision to fantasy owners that are looking for a productive tight end later in their drafts.
Looks like Bennett has matched up with Academy Award Winner Halle Berry; hopefully, his performance can be as good for the 2017 fantasy football season.