Maybe we can blame the constant pressure Carson Palmer faced last night from Von Miller et al. Maybe we can blame the woefully underthrown ball that was intended for Brandon Myers in the red zone which could have turned into a touchdown, but instead it was picked off my Champ Bailey for the easiest interception of his career, and perhaps history.

Maybe we can blame a foreign, evil hand which cast a voodoo-like spell over Myers. Over if sorcery isn’t your thing, his usage, the scoreboard, and the gameplan may be a little more realistic if you’re looking for somewhere to heap your scorn.

Direct your ire wherever you’d like, but whatever the cause, here’s an undeniable fact: last night a tight end with a great matchup failed us horribly during the fantasy playoffs, with Myers — the sixth ranked player at his position with 90 points this year (yet somehow he’s still owned in only 35 percent of ESPN leagues) — finishing with only one catch for seven yards.

Let’s lament together, and hate together.

Prior to last night the Broncos defense ranked 23rd in the league against tight ends, giving up an average of 60.2 receiving yards per game to the position, according to Pro Football Outsiders. By our fantasy math, that’s six points on yardage alone, which is already fine production from the tight end position. Then if you were to throw in touchdown — and the Broncos have given up four scores to TEs over their last six games — you’re the proud owner of a 12-point day. For some perspective on how super awesome that would have been, Rob Gronkowski (yep, he STILL leads all TEs in overall fantasy points), was averaging 10.8 points per game prior to his injury.

Recent performances also told us that Myers should have enjoyed his evening last night. Let’s take a little adventure through the Broncos’ last six games prior to Thursday since their Week 7 bye. When we do that, what we see first is success against mediocre tight ends, followed by fun fantasy times against superior talent.

  • Week 13 vs. Dallas Clark: three receptions, 21 yards, touchdown
  • Week 12 vs. Tony Moeaki: two receptions, 40 yards
  • Week 11 vs. Antonio Gates: two receptions, 17 yards
  • Week 10 vs. Greg Olsen: nine receptions, 102 yards, 2 TDs
  • Week 9 vs. Jermaine Gresham: six receptions, 108 yards (includes a 52-yard catch)
  • Week 8 vs. Jimmy Graham: five receptions, 63 yards, touchdown

Even if we include the decent games against Gates and Clark (despite the touchdown), that’s an average of 9.3 fantasy points surrendered to tight ends over the six-game stretch, and any time a tight end exceeds or flirts with 10 points, you’ve found yourself a fine little fantasy day. Looking further at these numbers, getting torched by Graham isn’t unique, but Olsen has had eight games this year with less than 60 receiving yards, and he’s averaging 53 per game overall. Also, since Week 10 he’s had just 139 yards over three games.

Gresham’s blowout against the Broncos represents a similar outlier, as he’s logged five games with less than 40 yards, and a per game average of 49.5 throughout the season. The picture you’re seeing is pretty clear: there was a massive fantasy opportunity here last night for Myers, as he was a week removed from a 130-yard game (a career high) with a touchdown, and overall this year he now has 70 receptions and 728 receiving yards. His previous highs in both categories over three seasons? 27 receptions, and 151 yards. Yep.

None of this makes sense, especially when we also consider that although last week’s output clearly represents Myers’ outlier game this year, aside from that he’s been highly consistent, hovering right around his season per game average (56 yards). If we exclude last night, he’s dropped below 50 yards only four times, meaning at worst you could expect five fantasy points from him consistently, and he was averaging 7.5 per week. That’s pretty, pretty good.

Instead you received zero in a game when Myers saw his fewest targets of the season (two). He was widely considered a top five (or at minimum top 10) fantasy play this week, and had time not robbed me of the chance during a busy Thursday, I had intended to write a post yesterday citing many of the numbers in the preceding paragraphs while encouraging you to start Myers, and do so confidently. The headline would have been something like “Start Brandon Myers if you want to win your playoff matchup.”

Bullet = dodged.