With the rest of the Rams falling apart around him, Higbee had one of his best years as a pro. His 20.9% target share was a career-high. Unfortunately, he still failed to finish the year as a top-12 tight end largely because he scored three receiving touchdowns despite being targeted 16 times in the red zone. We should expect some regression on the touchdown rate, but we should also expect the target rate to drop with Cooper Kupp healthy. Then again, Higbee actually averaged more targets per game the first eight weeks of the season when Kupp was healthy. We're drafting Higbee as a high-end No. 2 tight end in the double-digit rounds, but he'll deliver a big profit at that cost if his target share doesn't shrink and his touchdown rate regresses.
A measly 3 TDs kept Higbee from having a strong fantasy season last year. But he ranked top-9 among TEs in targets, catches, and yards.
With the Rams failing to significantly upgrade their pass-catching corps this offseason, Higbee could be in for a bunch of targets again in 2023.
He’s not exciting, but Higbee looks like a nice value pick in fantasy drafts.
What We Learned Last YearHigbee set career highs last year with 108 targets and 72 catches. His 620 yards were his second most among seven NFL seasons.Here’s where those marks ranked among all TEs last year:fourth in targetsfifth in catchesninth in yardsHigbee scored just 3 TDs – tied for 19th at his position.He finished sixth among TEs in total PPR points and 14th in non-PPR points. He ranked 15th in PPR points per game and 23rd in non-PPR points per game.Higbee finished as a top-12 PPR TE in seven weeks. He ranked outside the top 20 eight times.He played the first eight games of the season with a healthy QB Matt Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp. He played most the final nine games without Stafford and Kupp. Here’s how his numbers compared:
What to Expect in 2023The Rams traded WR Allen Robinson, who saw 52 targets in 10 games last year, to the Steelers. Additions to the pass-catching corps:Fifth-round WR Puka NacuaWR Demarcus Robinsonfifth-round TE Davis AllenTE Hunter LongWRs Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, and Ben Skowronek, and TE Brycen Hopkins return.Higbee’s starting job should be safe, and he has a chance to again claim a big target share.QB Matt Stafford is healthy and returns as the Rams’ starter.Higbee should be in for positive TD regression. He scored on just 4.2% of his catches last year. League-wide average TD rate for TEs is around 8.4%. Higbee’s average entering last year was 7.3%.Higbee’s 6.2 expected TDs last year ranked fifth among TEs.Higbee turned 30 in January. Our aging-curve research shows that TEs, on average, produce at 76% of their peak at age 30. That’s down from 86% at age 29.Higbee’s Pro Football Focus receiving grade sunk from 2021 to 2022. Last year’s mark ranked 21st song 32 qualifying TEs.But his yards per route run climbed from 1.19 in 2021 to 1.43 last year. That latter mark ranked 13th among 32 qualifying TEs.
It was a rough 2022 season for the Rams, but that didn't stop Higbee from posting a career-best sixth-place fantasy finish. Granted, there was some survivorship bias (he finished 14th on a per-game basis after he was 13th in 2021), but the tight end cleared 100 targets for the first time and ranked fifth among tight ends in receptions. On the negative side, Higbee led the position in drops (eight) and was held to three TDs (he's yet to clear five in a season). The 30-year-old may continue to see a healthy target share in an offense lacking standouts behind Cooper Kupp. He has settled in as a fringe TE1, at best, in recent seasons, and it's fair to expect that to continue.