The Curious Case of Coby Fleener


Coby Fleener has become a polarizing player amongst Colts fans. Some laud his big play ability while others decry him for dropping the easy passes.

We all know about the lows of Fleeners:

Gif via Fox Sports.

Despite that big drop Sunday, Fleener still finished with four receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Even after that drop, Fleener came back two plays later to convert on third down.

There is no denying he is a talented, if inconsistent, tight end. His catch rate is currently at 56-percent, which is a bit low until you consider that he’s averaging 17 yards per reception.

That is similar to having a basketball player who’s shooting percentage is lower but you live with it because he hits more threes. Fleener is another vertical threat on a team that is featuring T.Y. Hilton (16.8 per reception) and starting to work in Donte Moncrief (16.3).

Fleener is sitting at 35 receptions for 594 yards and six touchdowns so far this season.

Fleener is on pace for nearly 800 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Hitting those two numbers in a single season is something that great Colts tight ends have only accomplished twice. Dallas Clark and John Mackey have set the bar fairly high for tight ends in a Colts’ uniform.

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The first thing that jumps off that chart is just how impressive Clark’s 2009 season was. It is equally impressive what Mackey was able to accomplish back in 1966.

For comparisons sake, 2009 was Clark’s seventh season in the NFL. Clark’s third year? 37 receptions for 488 yards and four touchdowns. Fleener has already passed two of those marks, and has four more games to get two receptions.

For those who malign Fleener, take a deeper look at his stats. His career arc is already more impressive than Clark’s, but it probably helps when you bring your college quarterback up to the pros with you.

Fleener will probably be inconsistent for most of his career, but the fact of the matter is that he is still a dangerous weapon in the Colts passing attack.

Football Outsiders has Fleener as the 15th ranked tight end in the NFL by DYAR (total value), and Dwayne Allen is eighth in the same category. The two are 16th and second, respectively in DVOA (value per play).

Pro Football Focus has Fleener with a -5.1 overall, but that largely stems from his inadequacies as a blocker. He’s +2.1 as a pass catcher this season (Allen is at +1.7, but dominates as a blocker).

Fleener and Allen offer a dangerous one-two combo on the field, and getting Allen back this week will be a huge boost to the offense. His return could also hurt Fleener’s projected totals for the season.

The rest of the schedule isn’t particularly difficult for tight ends either. Cleveland ranks 14th in defending tight ends, and if Allen is back this week that will double the focus and cause matchup problems.

Houston ranks seventh versus tight ends, but we all know that Hilton will take the top off their secondary anyway and eat everyone elses yards and catches. Dallas is 17th and won’t be able to cover all of the Colts downfield threats.

The Colts cap off the season with Tennessee which ranks 25th against tight ends, but by that point in the year the playoffs are likely to be locked up and starters sitting for much of the game.

Fleener and Allen are two more valuable weapons from the 2012 draft class that the Colts are going to have to figure out a way to re-sign after next season.