2013 Fantasy Football: Don’t sleep on Tampa Bay’s Tim Wright
For the first two weeks of 2013, Tim Wright was irrelevant to the Bucs and fantasy owners alike. He received 3% and 15% of tight end snaps, but more or less he was a ghost in uniform, living the NFL life in complete obscurity. Now, at the half way mark of the season, Tim Wright is somebody. Perhaps even somebody worth owning in particularly deep formats.
The 6’4 Wright inhabited a “big target” (36-inch vertical) wide receiver role at Rutgers, where he caught 39 balls in 2012. He was a possession, first-down generating receiver with long gains surfacing few and far between. Naturally, given his 4.5-4.6 40-yard dash range and mediocre collegiate productivity, he went undrafted. Greg Schiano, who coached Wright for one year in Piscataway, decided to give the free-agent a shot to earn a roster spot as a pass-catching tight end:
[am4show have=’p3;p4;p7;p9;’ guest_error=’Front Office’ user_error=’Front Office’ ]
“This is a guy who has receiver-like skill, but isn’t going to be a burner. What he’s going to be is a possession receiver at tight end, and he does have the ability to get some separation.’’
Talk about a quick learning curve. There was a period of expected adjustment, but Wright’s transition has been wildly successful on most fronts; from never playing the TE position to becoming a mainstay in the Bucs passing attack. Over the past four weeks, Wright has taken 38%, 41%, 37% and 45% of the offensive snaps. He’s run a pass route on 76% of those snaps – 56% out of the slot – and been called upon to pass block only 5% of the time. Projected starter Tom Crabtree has taken 58 of 189 snaps since returning from an ankle injury in week six. The blocking dominant Crabtree and receiving threat Wright should be able to co-exist nicely for the duration of the season.
Wright officially broke onto the scene in week four versus Arizona, catching five of his six targets for 41 yards. Two weeks later versus Philadelphia, he opened eyes. Wright carved up the middle of the Eagles defense, hauling in seven passes (nine targets) for 91 yards including 30 YAC. Finding himself matched up with pass-rusher extraordinaire Trent Cole (not a coverage dynamo), Wright absolutely burnt him off the line for a 36-yard gain. For whatever reason Cole was pressing up on him, poor choice:
He also won between the numbers against inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks later in the game:
As you can see, while Wright serves primarily as a safety blanket underneath, he has the speed/quickness combination to separate from linebackers (and safeties) with ease. HE WAS A WIDE RECEIVER. On passes down the seam and option routes it’s a mismatch all day long. He catches the ball with hands (although he has dropped three of 20 targets), and at 6’4 220 he boxes out and is tough to get around. The question is, with “Mr. 22-targets” Vincent Jackson and a healthy Mike Williams in the picture, how many looks can Wright possibly garner? His big game against the Eagles came with Williams sidelined. Against Atlanta in week seven he caught two balls for 15 yards on just three targets.
Predictions on Wright’s rest-of-season success/traffic would fall under the category of guesswork. But from a strictly talent perspective, he’s an intriguing option. He’s basically a wideout in costume as a tight end. When he’s in the game, he’s running a pass route with the occasional run block mixed in. If opposing teams continue to match him up with less than mobile linebackers, he’s going to make big plays. Yes, Vincent Jackson directs traffic in Tampa, but his presence also opens up the middle of the field. There will be opportunities for Wright to cash in. He’s currently owned in 2% of Yahoo! leagues and 0.3% of ESPN leagues. His WR/TE eligibility in Yahoo! probably accounts for the difference in ownership. Upcoming matchups with Carolina and Seattle are anything but optimal, but a heavy dose of the air game is a safe bet when the Bucs are getting throttled. At the very least, I urge you to scout Wright on your own. Obviously Jordan Reed is getting all the accolades, but Wright could be a useful piece down the stretch – free of charge.
*Premium Stats provided by ProFootballFocus.com*
Follow Adam on twitter @AdamGaneles for NFL analytics and breakdowns