Going Deep: Trey Burton

Eli Grabanski dives into Trey Burton's fantasy potential for the rest of the 2020 season.

Fantasy football is a game that can change on a dime. Players will break out of seemingly nowhere and can be the difference in you making and winning the championship, or missing the playoffs altogether. One player that has the potential to be a difference-maker is the Indianapolis Colts tight end Trey Burton. He missed the first three weeks of the season with a calf injury but has emerged as the primary pass-catching tight end in Indianapolis. What is Burton capable of in this offense? Let’s dive in.


Previous Success and Player Profile


Trey Burton Stats


Trey Burton started his career with the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2014 and spent his first four seasons there backing up star tight end Zach Ertz before eventually moving on to Chicago to be the starting tight end for the Chicago Bears. After two years in Chicago where Burton was largely mediocre and failed to live up to his contract, Burton was cut and reunited with Frank Reich, his former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, and joined the Indianapolis Colts.

Looking at Burton’s game, one thing that stands out is his athleticism, in particular with regards to his speed and quickness. Looking back to his performance at the 2014 NFL Draft combine, Burton ran a 4.62 forty yard dash, a 7.14-second three-cone drill, and a 4.32 twenty-yard shuttle. These are high scores for a tight end and show that he’s very quick at changing directions and pretty fast, both of which are important for getting open on routes. The athletic profile matches up with what others have said about Trey Burton’s routes. Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni used ‘several cut-ups‘ of Burton’s route-running ability as “teach tape” to show the Colts tight ends how the team wants to see their routes executed.

So we know that Burton is a quick tight end that will do a great job of getting open. But given he has only held the starting tight end role in Chicago, can he really hold the job here in Indianapolis? Let’s look at Burton’s competition at the tight end position in Indianapolis to answer this question.


The Competition


Trey Burton’s competition is Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox, who have also been utilized this season. Let’s look at how each of these players has been utilized so far this season and start by looking at the routes run by each of these players so far this season.


Colts TE Routes Run Breakdown
In week 1 with Trey Burton out, Jack Doyle led the position with 33 routes run and Mo Alie-Cox frequently ran them as well with 18.
In week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, Mo Alie Cox was the only healthy tight end on the roster and ran 16 routes.
Against the New York Jets in week 3 we saw the number of routes run shift back to favor Jack Doyle with Trey Burton still out.
But week 4, Trey Burton returned and immediately led the team in routes run with 17. He then proved it wasn’t a fluke and led the team in routes run once again in week 5.
Now take a look at targets for these guys.
Colts TE Target Breakdown


Jack Doyle led the team in week 1, Mo Alie-Cox led the team in weeks 2 & 3, and now Trey Burton has led the team each week in targets since he’s been healthy.

You look at receiving yards it’s the same story. Whichever player received the most targets each week also ultimately got the most receiving yards.


Colts TE Receiving Yards Breakdown


Since returning from his injury, Trey Burton has led the team in all of these categories. While the competition won’t just fade away, it is clear that Burton is in the driver seat. In addition, given the injuries (Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman) and lack of production from the Colts’ wide receiver position, the team could decide to utilize their tight ends even more frequently in order to move the ball downfield.


The Coaching


This is where we really get excited about Trey Burton’s fantasy potential for the rest of the season. The Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich is one of the best coaches in the business at utilizing and getting production out of his tight end room, as we touched on this past offseason in the ‘Coaching Time’ article series where he ranked in the top-five of offensive-minded coaches in tight end room targets, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and % of pass attempts going to the tight end position (going into the NFL season). In this offensive system, the primary pass-catching tight end is a player that must be rostered.




If you have been following the weekly ‘Must Stash‘ articles, you have probably have noticed that Trey Burton was frequently included as a player worth monitoring. But he’s finally moved on from being just a player worth monitoring to a player worth rostering. Trey Burton is well-positioned to be a strong tight end play the rest of the season. He’s the best pass-catching tight end on a roster that heavily utilizes the position. If Jack Doyle or Mo Alie-Cox were to miss time, Burton’s value would explode and could make him a game-changer. As long as he retains the lead role over Doyle and Alie-Cox, he should be viewed as a solid TE1 in fantasy football leagues. If you are frustrated with the tight end position in your league, take a shot on Burton because he has the makings of a player that will be a great return on investment.


(Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

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