Virgil Green: A Fantasy Football Tight End Sleeper Awakens

by Ben Cummins ·

With the Broncos’ release of Owen Daniels earlier this offseason, Gary Kubiak has finally been able to let go (for now).  Over the past ten seasons, Daniels played for Kubiak in Houston, Baltimore, and Denver.  In that time span, Daniels was the TE1 in market share for nine of them.  Now out of the picture, the TE1 job in Denver is wide open.

Enter Virgil Green.  Green is a freakish athlete highlighted by his 100th percentile Burst Score and 91st-percentile SPARQ-x Score. “If he’s that talented, then how come he’s never done anything in his career?” you might be asking.  Well, it’s pretty simple.  All NFL teams practice irrational veteran deference, and Green was parked behind Jacob Tamme, Julius Thomas, and Owen Daniels on the depth chart over his first five seasons, Green’s career high in targets in a season is only 15.  However, that’s all about to change.

The Broncos could’ve let Virgil Green walk in free agency before the beginning of the 2015 season but they didn’t. Instead, they signed Green to a three-year deal that averages about $2.5 million per season.  Immediately after the signing, Broncos general manager John Elway had this to say:

“Virgil has been a big part of our team the last four years and will continue to be in the future. He’s been a reliable, solid contributor since the day he was drafted. We are very excited Virgil is returning to the Broncos.”

Considering John Elway is quite possibly the greatest player/general manager of all time, would it surprise you at all if he could also predict the future?  Looks like Elway was just one year early on his “Big part of our team” thought process.

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Virgil Green Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Virgil Green breakout just makes sense.  Green was already renowned as the team’s best blocking tight end who also possesses upper percentile athleticism.  These are the ingredients from which every-down stud tight ends are formed.

Offseason Drumbeat

Back in May, Denver’s Mike Klis reported the Broncos are expecting more from TE Virgil Green this season.  Then in July,‘s Andrew Mason reported he believed Virgil Green could “shatter” his career highs in every receiving category in 2016.  Considering Green is stuck in a perceived timeshare with 2015 third round pick Jeff Heuerman and his career high in receptions in a season is 12, most analysts rightfully mocked these reports.


Jeff Heuerman Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

However, the Virgil Green mania didn’t end there.  Cecil Lammey, Football Insider for 104.3 The Fan in Denver, he has been talking up Green throughout training camp and tempering expectations for Jeff Heuerman as well.  Heuerman hope trafficking never made much sense after the underwhelming prospect missed his rookie year with a torn ACL.

On-field Evidence

With preseason Week 1 now in the books, all of these positive offseason reports are starting to make more sense.  Virgil Green got the start with the first team offense and hauled in all 3 of his targets for 26 yards, all on the very first drive of the game.  Mark Sanchez looked for Green early and often, trusting him on a 3rd and 7 and on a separate 3rd and 8.  Both plays resulted in first downs.  After the game, Cecil Lammey continues to tout Green:

Admittedly, it’s always dangerous to buy into offseason hype.  However, now that we’ve seen evidence on the field that matches up with all the consistent positive reports, Virgil Green‘s breakout season is starting to come more and more into focus.

Increased Opportunity In 2016

Using The Rotiviz Projection Machine, I took a look at the market share for Gary Kubiak’s TE1s dating all the way back to 2000.  Over the past sixteen years, Kubiak’s TE1 has averaged a 15% market share and a 65-percent catch rate.  Last year, Denver threw the ball 606 times.  If Virgil Green sees the average market share for a Kubiak TE1 and the Broncos throw the ball 606 times again, he would finish the season with 91 targets. If he were to catch 65% of those, he would finish the season with 59 receptions.  Just to give you an idea of what Green’s ceiling could potentially be, Tyler Eifert, Richard Rodgers, and Antonio Gates all finished as TE1s last season with fewer than 59 receptions.

Virgil Green has flaunted his potential at us in the past. If only, oh if only he would just get the opportunities.  That’s exactly what we’re going to see in 2016.  Virgil Green is an athletic freak who is about to blow his previous career high in targets out of the water as the starting tight end in Gary Kubiak’s tight end-friendly offense.  His current ADP of 210.9 according to doesn’t stand a chance.  Get him now while he’s free, it’s not going to last long.