Darren Fells: An underrated tight end for the Houston Texans

Darren Fells #87 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Darren Fells #87 of the Houston Texans (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

With over an 80-percent catch rate between the last two seasons, Darren Fells of the Houston Texans belongs on your radar.

At a monstrous 6’7″ and 270 pounds, Darren Fells of the Houston Texans is quite literally a head above his competition as tight end, a position that has evolved over the years.

Historically, tight end had a main focus on blocking — and while that still remains a vital function of the tight end — an emphasis on route running and pass catching has become an integral part of the role.

The height of Darren Fells alone makes him an easily recognizable target for his superstar quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Fells’ stellar catch radius allows him to grab the ball far outside the reach of most defenders, a dangerous combination to have in a sturdy red zone target.

Although Fells’ career catch rate is just over 70 percent, if you look at his most recent seasons, he’s posted a 81.25-percent catch rate between the 2018 and 2019 seasons playing for the Cleveland Browns and Texans, respectively.

Over the same two-season span, Mark Andrews of the Ravens posted a 66.2-percent catch rate, while George Kittle of the 49ers has a rate of 72.05 percent. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz posted a 69.8-percent catch rate, and Greg Olsen (formerly of the Carolina Panthers) posted a catch rate of 67.25 percent.

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It’s also worth saying that Darren Fells saw the lowest number of targets by far out of all the tight ends listed. Another point to note is that on those limited targets (60 over two seasons), 10 of those receptions were for touchdowns, as that is nearly 15 percent of his targets (over a fifth of receptions).

Over those same two seasons (’18 and ’19), the number of touchdowns scored by the aforementioned elite tight ends shows Fells is securely among the top scorers at the position, with Ertz leading the way with 14 touchdowns. Next is Andrews with 13 touchdowns, and he’s followed by Kittle with 10 touchdowns and Olsen with six touchdowns.

Looking at his performance over the past two seasons — and with the departure of four-time pro-bowler DeAndre Hopkins — the case for Darren Fells to become a larger part of the Houston offense is more than reasonable. In fact, Jair Lopez of the Toro Times sees an opportunity for both Fells and teammate Jordan Akins to grab a bigger piece of the offensive action.

Take into consideration Fells’ massive catch radius, his elite catch rate over the past two seasons and coming off a season with multiple two-score games.

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It is only fair to say that as far as tight ends go, Darren Fells is often overlooked as one of the best in the league, but don’t be surprised for his success when the 2020 season occurs.