Vance McDonald
Vance McDonald
29-Year-Old Tight EndTE
Pittsburgh Steelers
2019 Fantasy Outlook
McDonald is one of those players who looks like a world beater if you catch him on the right day. The problem is, there aren't that many of those right days. McDonald has just 12 touchdowns in 73 career games, but three of those scores covered 75, 75 and 65 yards. Rare plays from a tight end, indeed. McDonald didn't go nuclear with his regular shot in Pittsburgh last year, but he did fashion a career-high catch rate (69.4 percent) and set or matched career-high marks in every major counting stat. Improved health was a big factor as the tight end played more than 11 games for the first time since 2015 in San Francisco. Now that Antonio Brown and timeshare partner Jesse James are both out of town, McDonald has a shot at TE1 relevance in 2019, competing with only Xavier Grimble and fifth-round rookie Zach Gentry for snaps. Just keep in mind McDonald is entering his seventh season - if something truly special were going to happen, it likely would have happened by now. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $19.65 million contract with the 49ers in December of 2016. Traded to the Steelers in August of 2017.
Stuck in committee
TEPittsburgh Steelers
August 21, 2019
Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Wednesday that McDonald won't see a significant increase in playing time compared to a season ago, Dale Lolley of reports. "[McDonald] still won't," Fichtner said. "He's never going to play the full game. That's never going to happen."
There was hope McDonald might handle a three-down role after the Steelers lost Jesse James to Detroit this offseason, but Fichtner apparently wants to keep Pittsburgh's top tight end in a timeshare, splitting snaps with Xavier Grimble and/or Zach Gentry. The plan seems to be influenced by McDonald's injury history as well as his reputation as a subpar blocker. McDonald should still be on the field for a majority of Pittsburgh's pass plays, with potential to be targeted on a higher percentage of his routes now that the offense doesn't have Antonio Brown hogging looks. Even so, it can only be taken as bad news for fantasy managers when the man in charge of the offense makes it clear he's committed to a timeshare. While stuck in a similar situation in 2018, McDonald posted a 50-610-4 receiving line across 72 targets and 564 snaps.
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NFL Stats
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Fantasy/Red Zone Stats
See red zone opportunities inside the 20, 10 and 5-yard lines along with the percentage of time they converted the opportunity into a touchdown.
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Advanced NFL Stats
How do Vance McDonald's 2018 advanced stats compare to other tight ends?
This section compares his advanced stats with players at the same position. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that metric and it would be considered average. The longer the bar, the better it is for the player.
  • Air Yards Per Game
    The number of air yards he is averaging per game. Air yards measure how far the ball was thrown downfield for both complete and incomplete passes. Air yards are recorded as a negative value when the pass is targeted behind the line of scrimmage. All air yards data is from Sports Info Solutions and does not include throwaways as targeted passes.
  • Air Yards Per Snap
    The number of air yards he is averaging per offensive snap.
  • % Team Air Yards
    The percentage of the team's total air yards he accounts for.
  • % Team Targets
    The percentage of the team's total targets he accounts for.
  • Avg Depth of Target
    Also known as aDOT, this stat measures the average distance down field he is being targeted at.
  • Catch Rate
    The number of catches made divided by the number of times he was targeted by the quarterback.
  • Drop Rate
    The number of passes he dropped divided by the number of times he was targeted by the quarterback.
  • Avg Yds After Catch
    The number of yards he gains after the catch on his receptions.
Air Yards Per Game
Air Yards Per Snap
% Team Air Yards
% Team Targets
Avg Depth of Target
4.7 Yds
Catch Rate
Drop Rate
Avg Yds After Catch
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NFL Game Log
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Half PPR
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Snap Distribution / Depth Chart
Pittsburgh SteelersSteelers 2018 TE Snap Distribution See more data like this
V.Vance McDonald
% of Team Snaps

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How often does Vance McDonald run a route when on the field for a pass play?
This data will let you see how Vance McDonald and the other tight ends for the Steelers are being used. Some tight ends may have a lot of snaps, but they're not that useful for fantasy purposes because they're not actually running routes. This data will help you see when this is the case.
Vance McDonald
400 routes   72 targets
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% Routes Run
More Receiving →
53 routes   8 targets
Receiving Alignment Breakdown
See where Vance McDonald lined up on the field and how he performed at each spot.
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2018 Vance McDonald Split Stats
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Measurables Review View College Player Page
How do Vance McDonald's measurables compare to other tight ends?
This section compares his draft workout metrics with players at the same position. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that metric and it would be considered average.
6' 4"
267 lbs
40-Yard Dash
4.69 sec
Shuttle Time
4.53 sec
Cone Drill
7.08 sec
Vertical Jump
33.5 in
Broad Jump
119 in
Bench Press
31 reps
Hand Length
10.13 in
Arm Length
34.38 in
Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Vance McDonald
Best Ball Journal: Taking Inventory
3 days ago
The author looks at his share percentages for various players in DRAFT's best ball tournament, where he's happy to have plenty of Nick Chubb but wishes he had more of the Cleveland passing game.
Snarky 150
Snarky 150
4 days ago
4 days ago
Aaron Rodgers is disappointed he can no longer use the McCarthy excuse.
2019 Pittsburgh Steelers
29 days ago
Rick Kinigson contemplates how the Steelers will fare without superstars Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell.
2019 Football Draft Kit: Breakout Players
30 days ago
Jerry Donabedian analyzes the top breakout candidates for 2019, including Baker Mayfield's path to becoming a top-3 fantasy QB.
Dynasty Watch: Stashing College Stars on Ottoneu
37 days ago
Jerry Donabedian provides a glimpse of his strategy for NFL dynasty leagues on Ottoneu, where rosters can include NCAA players to stash for future seasons.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
Knee, ankle, back and shoulder problems dogged McDonald throughout his Pittsburgh debut campaign, limiting him to 10 regular-season games and 270 offensive snaps. Take his seasonal stats and throw them in the garbage. He was finally healthy for the playoffs, when he threw a 10-catch, 112-yard effort at the Jaguars. Pittsburgh didn't draft a tight end or make a move in free agency, so McDonald only needs to push past the ordinary Jesse James to enter our fantasy plans. It's hard to get a ton of targets in a city that also includes Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Le'Veon Bell, but Ben Roethlisberger has always looked for big targets around the goal line. And heck, McDonald found a way to score seven times in 2015-16 with the 49ers, despite drawing only 91 targets while dealing with some messy quarterback play. There's legitimate sleeper value here if he can overcome an August foot injury.
After spending the majority of the offseason preparing to serve as the No. 1 option in San Francisco, McDonald was shipped off to Pittsburgh in the final week of the preseason. He'll join incumbent starter Jesse James as the main guys at tight end there, but McDonald -- and his second-round pedigree -- averaged a cool 16.3 yards per reception with the Niners last season and should take over as the primary receiving option at the position. However, McDonald is notorious for his penchant to drop passes, which certainly inhibits his upside in any case. Also, it's possible the Steelers opt for a tight-end-by-committee approach, which would obviously cap McDonald's upside even further -- despite playing the Steelers' powerful pass attack.
While it didn't result in fantasy relevancy, McDonald received the most playing time of his three-year career in 2015, finishing the season with 326 yards on 30 receptions to go along with three touchdowns. He enters 2016 listed at No. 1 on the depth chart, but he will share snaps with Garrett Celek due to Chip Kelly's heavy usage of two-TE sets. In an offense that doesn't boast many quality options at wide receiver, McDonald could be relied upon heavily in the passing game, especially if Blaine Gabbert -- who makes his living off of short, safe passes -- wins the starting job.
The 49ers expected McDonald to take a step forward in 2015, but he could never get things going after dealing with a slew of injuries. His career 14.9 YPC shows that he can be a big play tight end, but he will need to stay on the field in order showcase his abilities. The team retained Vernon Davis and Derek Carrier and added two more tight ends in the 2015 draft, so McDonald will have to fight for a roster spot during training camp.
McDonald is currently listed as the backup to Vernon Davis on the 49ers' 2014 depth charts. While he only had eight catches in 2013, his 14.9 YPC shows that he has big-play ability. His stock would skyrocket should Davis go down with an injury.
McDonald has received positive reports so far at rookie camp as a pass catcher and could see some targets in two-tight end sets if he wins the backup TE job.
More Fantasy News
Quiet in win
TEPittsburgh Steelers
August 18, 2019
McDonald had one reception for five yards in the Steelers' 17-7 preseason win over the Chiefs on Saturday.
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Primed for breakout?
TEPittsburgh Steelers
July 24, 2019
McDonald was named by Ed Bouchette of The Athletic and Jeremy Fowler of as one of the Steelers' top breakout candidates for 2019.
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Headed for larger role
TEPittsburgh Steelers
March 14, 2019
McDonald likely will take on an expanded role in the passing game after the Steelers parted ways with wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Jesse James,'s Jeremy Fowler reports.
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Separates himself as lead TE
TEPittsburgh Steelers
January 1, 2019
McDonald caught three of his six targets for 39 yards during Sunday's 16-13 win over Cincinnati.
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Hauls in long reception
TEPittsburgh Steelers
December 23, 2018
McDonald caught one of his four targets for 49 yards in Sunday's 31-28 loss to the Saints.
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