Spotlight - TE Marcus Pollard, Detroit Lions
Posted 8/25 by Jason Wood and David Yudkin,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
Marcus Pollard has found his way onto my rosters more times than I can remember over the years. And so it's with some sadness that I recommend to you caution this year regarding his prospects. Did you realize that for seven consecutive seasons, Pollard finished among the top 20 fantasy tight ends? And that included a run from 2001-2003 where he finished 2nd, 6th and 7th.
But at 33 years old, with Dallas Clark in the wings, Indianapolis let Pollard leave via free agency. He's landed in Detroit, which is kind of like trading in your Lamborghini for a Passat. Well, not quite that bad as Detroit has plenty of weapons to make big strides this year, but that is, in fact, part of the problem.
In Indianapolis, the Colts regularly used two TE sets and Pollard was a consistent option in the red zone. Peyton Manning, the league's best passer, looked his way often and that translated into frequent TDs with just enough yardage to help you in any fantasy format.
But in Detroit, it's difficult to make a case for owning Pollard as anything more than a late round backup. Consider first the inadequacies of the QB position. I'm not sure Harrington or Garcia are up to the task. But even if you feel differently, consider the following points.
1) Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Kevin Johnson and Kevin Jones are all vying for targets in the passing game. The team spent top 10 overall draft choices on Rogers, Williams and Williams, does anyone honestly think getting Pollard the ball will be a priority?
2) Pollard has always been a great blocker, and he'll play that role in Detroit. Yes he's been a solid fantasy receiver, but Pollard's blocking is what appealed to Detroit. Steve Mariucci's successful teams have been able to run the ball, and Detroit has a workhorse in Kevin Jones to make that a reality. Expect Pollard to block A LOT more than he did in Indianapolis, as the Lions won't use 2-TE sets often.
- Seven consecutive top 20 fantasy seasons, including a 15th place finish last year
- He won't have to share time with Dallas Clark or Ken Dilger
- At 33 years old, changing teams, with Harrington/Garcia replacing Peyton Manning...you have to project some downturn in productivity
- Pollard may well be the 5th or 6th option in the passing game
- He may be asked to block a lot more with Kevin Jones ready to carry the offensive load
His age, his place in the passing hierarchy, and the need to lead block for Kevin Jones all suggest that Pollard's days of fantasy productivity are largely a thing of the past. I could see using a pick on him as your backup in 14-team leagues (and larger), but there are too many options at the position to consider him in smaller leagues.
David Yudkin's Thoughts
Marcus Pollard goes from one proven and talented offensive team in Indianapolis to perhaps an equally talented but nowhere near as proven offense in Detroit. In his prime, Pollard was an integral part of the Coltsí offensive machine. With his best years likely behind him, itís hard to envision Pollard putting up Top 5 tight end numbers again.
Pollard saw his fantasy ranking and games played drop the last few seasons (TE rankings of 2, 6, 7, and 15 with games played of 16, 15, 14, and 13 the past four years). Neither one of those is a trend you look for in terms of selecting a fantasy tight end. In that time frame, Pollard has been afflicted with a variety of minor ankle and knee injuries.
As with any player on the move, assessing a new environment is often a difficult task. Pollard fits the bill in that regard, as he has been getting very little press and the buzz on him is more lick a murmur.
In 8 years as a head coach, the tight end has never been a major component to Steve Mariucciís offense. Most people remember the great offensive numbers put up by the 49ers, but who can remember any of their tight ends? Here are the yearly totals for all tight ends while heís been a head coach:
1997 SF: 42-557-3 split 3 ways
1998 SF: 37-390-6 split 2 ways
1999 SF: 40-400-0 split 3 ways
2000 SF: 39-340-2 (all put 1 reception to Greg Clark)
2001 SF: 51-428-4 split 2 ways
2002 SF: 46-384-0 split 2 ways
2003 Det: 60-594-4 split 2 ways
2004 Det: 51-480-1 split 2 ways
The best individual season for a Mariucci tight end (in terms of total fantasy points) was Irv Smithís 1998 season with the 49ers, a meager 25-266-5 season for 56 fantasy points and a #17 fantasy ranking. Pollard averaged 92 fantasy points per season from 2001-2003. Over the past three seasons, the Lions have ranked 24th in terms of team fantasy TE scoring.
This yearís Lions team is loaded with potential with three first round picks at wide receiver (Roy Williams, Charles Rogers, and Mike Williams) in addition to newly acquired Kevin Johnson, Kevin Jones at RB, and either Joey Harrington or Jeff Garcia at quarterback. In many ways, this team looks to be similar to a 49ers offense, and as already illustrated; tight ends were not a high priority back in that era. That could limit Pollardís targets and overall effectiveness.
- Very experienced and former Top 5 tight end Competition for the starting job should be minimal.
- Many other offensive weapons could leave the middle of the field open for Pollard.
- Has previously been a red zone and goal line threat with some decent TD totals.
- To this point, Mariucciís system has been great for overall offensive numbers but not as kind in producing top shelf tight end production.
- Could easily be the forgotten man in the offensive food chain and may have to settle for table scraps.
- Age and nagging injuries could continue to erode his skills and ultimately his ability to put up big numbers.
At 33 years old, Pollardís best days are likely behind him. Heís never caught a lot of passes each year, exceeding 40 receptions only three times. However, his YPR averages have rivaled those of wide receivers (in three seasons he matched or bettered Marvin Harrisonís YPR). Heís also had three seasons with 6 or more touchdowns, which from a tight end is a relatively high number.
I donít expect Pollardís numbers to increase with a trip to the Motor City. He could be a borderline TE1 in a 12-team league for those that elect to wait as long as possible to even think about taking a TE. His current ADP is as the #20 TE off the draft board, so he should be a safe bet to beat that production wise. Heís definitely a candidate for owners that are required to start a tight end and need to grab someone to fill out their starting roster after their team is stacked every place else.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
I think Pollard still has some gas left in the tank; he's a "young" 33, as he played basketball in college, not football...That said, the Lions have a lot of talent at wideout, and think both R Williams and M Williams will take some red zone targets away from Pollard...
Marcus Pollard Projections
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