|Ht / Wt:||6'7" / 261 lb.|
|Born:||June 4, 1994|
|Drafted:||2015 / Rd. 5 (160)|
James is on track to be the primary "Y" tight end, Chris Burke of The Athletic reports.
Analysis: James stands 6-foot-7 at 261 pounds and has accrued plenty of experience as an inline tight end during his previous four seasons in Pittsburgh. He's likely to command a significant role with Detroit after receiving a four-year, $22.6 million contract this spring. However, Burke also notes that T.J. Hockenson's ability as a receiver adds a new element to the Lions passing offense that it didn't have before, so it's looking like the rookie could be the better bet for receiving production in 2019.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn expects James to work in tandem with No. 8 overall pick T.J. Hockenson at tight end, Carlos Monarrez of The Detroit Free Press reports.
Analysis: The NFL transition is notoriously difficult for tight ends, but Hockenson is one of the few prospects with potential to fill a three-down role immediately. Detroit certainly hopes the rookie can beat out James, who in March signed a four-year, $22.6 million contract with $10.5 million guaranteed (all in the first two seasons), per overthecap.com. Even if he does win the starting job, it's hard to see how James would warrant more than three or four targets per game in an offense that also needs to find looks for Hockenson, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones (knee), Danny Amendola, Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick.
James said he doesn't think he'll be used in Detroit the same way he was used in Pittsburgh, Michael Rothstein of ESPN reports. "I feel like I'm going to be a key part of this offense," the tight end specifically told Kyle Meinke of MLive.
Analysis: In between a forgettable rookie campaign and last year's role reduction, James logged over 850 offensive snaps for Pittsburgh in both 2015 and 2016. Even at this peak of his tenure, James was little more than a complementary piece in an offense that ran through wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell. That shouldn't be the case anymore in Detroit, as James will slot in as the clear No. 1 tight end in an offense that doesn't have a bonafide superstar. However, before getting excited about James' sleeper appeal in fantasy formats, it should be noted the Lions targeted tight ends the second-fewest times in the NFL last season, and this year's draft class is absolutely loaded at tight end.
The Lions are slated to sign James, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.
Analysis: The 2015 fifth-rounder caught 30 passes for 423 yards and two TDs for the Steelers in 2018. James will now slot in as the Lions' top pass-catching tight end, an assignment that should lead to a degree of fantasy relevance for the 6-foot-7, 261-pounder this coming season.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert suggested James may be re-signed this offseason, Chris Adamski of TribLive.com reports.
Analysis: James may want to survey the league after he played second fiddle to Vance McDonald in 2018, but it's hard to imagine many teams would view the 24-year-old as much more than a high-end No. 2 tight end. The 2015 fifth-round pick did add an element of occasional explosiveness to his game last season, piling up a career-best 423 yards despite seeing his fewest targets (39) since his rookie season. James produced 14.1 yards per catch to improve his career mark to a measly 9.9, but he didn't actually have much of an impact in the passing game after his 5-138-1 receiving line against Kansas City in Week 2. Given the poor alternatives at his position in the upcoming class of free agents, James could cash in with a surprisingly large contract if he finds one or two teams that view him as a starter. McDonald is under contract in Pittsburgh through 2021.
James was not targeted in Sunday's 16-13 win over Cincinnati.
Analysis: For the second straight game Ben Roethlisberger failed to throw a pass to James, whose playing time dwindled as the season progressed. He finished the 2018 season with 30 catches (on 39 targets) for 423 yards and two touchdowns in 16 games and is a clear second choice at tight end behind Vance McDonald. James is an unrestricted free agent worth keeping an eye on this offseason.
James caught his lone target for nine yards during Sunday's 17-10 win over New England.
Analysis: The fourth-year tight end's disappointing season continued against the Saints, and James didn't see any targets after the seven-minute mark of the first quarter. He hasn't been a factor on offense for several weeks and faces New Orleans -- who allow the third fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends (4.9) -- in Week 16.
James caught both of his targets, totaling 28 yards, during Sunday's 24-21 loss to Oakland.
Analysis: After looking like one of the teams to beat in the AFC, the Steelers look like they might slide out of the playoff hunt with three straight losses, all to teams in the AFC West. James has stayed quiet during that span. The fourth-year target started the season off hot with eight catches and 198 yards in his first two games. He's averaged just two catches for 19.6 yards per game since as Vance McDonald has made himself at home. Sunday offers an opportunity to rebound against a bottom-10 Patriots pass defense surrendering 274 receiving yards per game, it's just doubtful that James takes advantage.
James caught one of three targets for seven yards during Sunday's 33-30 loss to the Chargers.
Analysis: With Vance McDonald no longer hampered by a hip injury James returned to his back-up role against Los Angeles. He is currently on pace for 36 receptions on 46 targets, both of which would be his lowest totals since his rookie campaign in 2015. Still, he has an attractive Week 14 match-up against an Oakland defense that allows the league's worst catch percentage (78.2%) against tight ends.
James caught all four of his targets during Sunday's 24-17 loss to Denver.
Analysis: After failing to be targeted in Week 12 -- the first time all season -- James saw more looks from Ben Roethlisberger in a game since Week 6. Three of those passes came after Vance McDonald (hip) left the game in the third quarter, although he did return. Even if the hip injury prevents McDonald from playing in Week 13 James has an unfavorable matchup against the Chargers, allow opposing tight ends just 6.4 fantasy points per game this season.
James was not targeted during Sunday's 20-16 win over the Jaguars.
Analysis: James' slide hit rock bottom on Sunday for his first catchless performance of the season. After being targeted five times in each of the Steelers' first two games, the Penn State product has been targeted more than three times just once in his past eight games as starter Vance McDonald heats up. Sunday brings a Denver defense that has given up some yardage this season, but has attacked offenses with turnovers and sacks.
James caught his lone target for an eight-yard touchdown during Thursday's 52-21 win over Carolina.
Analysis: Considering Ben Roethlisberger completed 22 of 25 passes for 328 yard and five touchdowns, this was a disappointing night for James. Vance McDonald continues to out produce him and that is likely to be the case when Pittsburgh faces Jacksonville in Week 11.
James caught two of three targets for 53 yards during Sunday's 23-16 win over Baltimore.
Analysis: Despite having just two receptions James produced his highest yardage total since Week 2. He seems to be behind Vance McDonald on the depth chart but has an attractive Week 10 slate on Thursday against a Carolina defense that allows the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends.
James caught two of his three targets for 9 yards during Sunday's 33-18 win over Cleveland.
Analysis: After totaling 198 receiving yards and a score in the first two games this season James has managed a meager 85 yards over the next five with no touchdowns. Fantasy owners should look elsewhere to fill their tight end lineup spot, especially in Week 9 against a Baltimore pass defense that has allowed just two touchdowns to an opposing tight end this season, although they have come in the past two games.
James had five receptions for 26 yards during Sunday's 28-21 win over Cincinnati.
Analysis: His seven targets were the most in a game this season and is averaging 16.1 yards per catch after averaging no better than 8.7 ypc in any of his previous seasons. Following a Week 7 bye James will face a tough Cleveland defense that has held opposing tight ends to an average of three catches for 29 yards and no touchdowns in five out of six games this season.
James caught both his targets for 20 yards during Sunday's 41-17 win over the Falcons.
Analysis: James has only been targeted four times over the past three weeks after seeing 10 targets in his first two games of the season. Week 6 may result in more of the same against a Bengals defense that limited him to one catch for 13 yards the last time they met.
James caught his only target for 23 yards during Sunday's 26-14 loss to the Ravens.
Analysis: Vance McDonald has emerged as the lead tight end the past two weeks, limiting James to one target in each contest after seeing 10 in the first two games. Regardless, he has a difficult Week 5 matchup against Atlanta, who has held opposing tight ends to an average of 49 yards on five catches through four games, with just one touchdown.
James caught his lone target for seven yards in Monday's 30-27 win over the Buccaneers.
Analysis: Its been feast or famine for James in the early going this season, and fantasy owners who inserted him in their lineup had to be disappointed following his 5-138-1 stat line in Week 2. Further frustrating fantasy owners, they had to watch as Vance McDonald grabbed four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. It remains to be seen how Pittsburgh intends to use these two talented tight ends moving forward, making it difficult to start either unless one emerges.
James caught all five of his targets for 138 yards and a touchdown during Sunday's 42-37 loss to Kansas City.
Analysis: With Pittsburgh down three scores early, Ben Roethlisberger scrambled around and lofted a 26-yard pass to James for the Steelers' first score of the game. James has been getting down field thus far this season. Be aware: depth charts can be misleading. James, the No. 2 tight end for the Steelers, has 198 receiving yards to Vance McDonald's 26.
James totaled 60 yards while catching three of five targets during Sunday's 21-21 tie with the Browns.
Analysis: James got the starting nod with Vance McDonald (foot) on the sidelines, finishing third on the team in receiving yardage while tying for fourth on the team in targets. He generated a long gain of 37 yards and received one target in the red zone. James has potential to produce given the current circumstances, but his role could diminish quite a bit once McDonald and Le'Veon Bell return to the mix. It remains to be seen whether either of his two aforementioned teammates are ready for next week's game against the Chiefs.
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