Why Tyler Higbee and Jared Goff Will Exceed Fantasy Expectations

by Joshua Kellem · Fantasy Football

Tyler Higbee is among fantasy football’s most polarizing players this season. From Weeks 13-17 in 2019, Higbee averaged  21.4 Fantasy Points Per Game, No. 1 among qualified tight ends, on on a position-leading 11.2 targets per game in that span. There were three reasons for the spike. Firstly, Gerald Everett was injured, though he returned for the final two games. Secondly, the Rams had a favorable remaining schedule against tight ends. Lastly, Sean McVay made it a point to run more 12-personnel. Belief in Higbee in 2020 ultimately comes down to a belief that Jared Goff will be a fantasy football asset. In those final five weeks, Goff averaged 20.8 Fantasy Points Per Game, No. 7 at the position. Knowing this, it’s fair to question why more fantasy gamers aren’t touting these two players harder. Let’s use PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats and metrics to build their cases for 2020.

The Shift to 12 Personnel

From a macro standpoint, Jared Goff failed in fantasy football in 2019, averaging 15.5 (No. 20 among qualified quarterbacks) Fantasy Points Per Game. That’s over five points below the 20.8 mark he averaged in the final five games of the season. The Rams passed out of 11 personnel at an astonishing 83-percent clip in 2019, the most of any team according to Sharp Football Stats. In fact, From Weeks 1-12, that number ballooned up to 86-percent, No. 1 in the league. This indicates a subtle shift that occurred Week 13 onward. From Weeks 13-17, the Rams passed out of 11 personnel at a 77-percent (No. 10) clip and 12 personnel at a 20-percent (tied for No. 8) clip. The latter figure was  nearly double the team’s season-long 12-percent (No. 9) 12-personnel usage rate.


According to Next Gen Stats, Goff’s 7.8 Air Yards per attempt ranked below the bottom half of qualified quarterbacks for the 2019 season. In the five games to finish 2019, he averaged 4.6, 9.3, 6.5, 6.6, and 8.4 Air Yards per attempt. This indicates that a mix of his games down the stretch still included aggressive Deep Balls. That said, three of these five games saw his Air Yards per attempt rank well below his bottom-half of the league season-long mark of 7.8. This indicates that his pass attempts were even closer to the line of scrimmage. In 2019, Tyler Higbee averaged 6.5 Air Yards per target per Next Gen Stats. This indicates his average depth of target landed in the sweet spot of Goff’s Air Yards per attempt over the final five games of 2019.

Check out Jared Goff’s 2020 Projection on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

Goff averaged an 84.8 (No. 23) True Passer Rating in 2019. In the final five games, his individual QB ratings were 120.7, 95.2, 84.1, 85.7, and 107.5. Though he averaged a pedestrian 62.9-percent completion percentage last year, he eclipsed 64-percent in four of those final five games, with two games over 70-percent. Simply put, Goff plays better in 12 personnel.

All things considered, the argument for Goff in 2020 revolves around trusting Sean McVay to put him in positions to win, which includes running more 12 personnel. The argument against Goff is twofold. The spiked 12 personnel usage was schedule-dependent. In addition, there is a chance the league adjusts to the team’s 12 personnel usage come Week 1. Though shipping Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley out of town suggests the former. In an offseason with emphasis on continuity for 2020, it’s hard to envision the role Higbee earned down the stretch in 2019 evaporating this year. A focus on continuity with limited practice time suggests Higbee will be the Rams’ preferred third target in the passing game.

2020 Fantasy Football Supporting Cast

Jared Goff lost Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley and their 122 combined targets in the offseason. It’s in the realm of possibilities that second-round draft picks Van Jefferson and Cam Akers completely account for those vacated targets. However, considering the inefficiency shown by Cooks and Gurley in their roles last season, it’s possible Jefferson and Akers have their positional opportunity capped out of the gate. Cooks’ Yards per Reception, Catch Rate, and Yards per Target were all down in 2019. Gurley’s Yards per Carry, Yards per Game, and Yards per Touch all were career low marks in 2019 as well. Since 12 personnel worked in 2019 for the Rams, it doesn’t make sense to minimize the formation’s usage. If anything, the Rams should use more of it in 2020.


While Jefferson and Akers should see some of Cooks and Gurley’s vacated targets, so will Tyler Higbee based on his 2019 success. Also, we must not overlook the fact that defenses started lining up in a 6-1 formation against the Rams as well, forcing them to bring in more blockers. Earlier this week, The Athletic’s  Jourdan Rodrigue said: “I do think Tyler Higbee is Jared Goff’s guy. The two have such an established connection. He’s going to him a lot in training camp right now.”


The Rams return Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, but they still have 126 (No. 13) Vacated Targets entering 2020. Beyond Woods and Kupp, Higbee is the next logical in-house option to assume a bump in targets for. That is, assuming the team’s 2019 personnel usage rates remain comparable in 2020. That said, Goff had 626 (No. 1) pass attempts in 2019. The third option in the Rams offense will be viable in fantasy and needs to be for Goff’s sake. The last five weeks of 2019 suggest the third option is Higbee. In 2019, with Brandin Cooks banged up and less effective, the Rams offense ranked No. 17 in Football Outsiders’ offensive efficiency metric. In McVay standards, that was dismal compared to the No. 2 rank the offense had in 2018.

Simply, I’m on the side of the coin that believes the Rams hit a rough patch from Weeks 1-12 and have finally figured out how to move forward offensively. Which means Higbee would be the primary third option in the passing game. It would also mean that Jared Goff is a value at his current QB16 ADP per FFPC data. At that price, we can always cut bait early and stream another signal caller. The upside is snagging a top 10 QB well below market price to possibly stack with one of his preferred options in a potentially high-scoring offense.