The tight end position went from a decent amount of depth in the draft, to slim pickings.
Gronk can’t stay healthy, Aaron Hernandez is gone from the game, and a lot of players are finding new teams this offseason.
The Patriot duo revolutionized the position for fantasy owners ever since they showed up in the league, they were jumped by the arrival of Jimmy Graham, and there could be another superstar on the horizon this year.
It’s never an easy decision in the first round, whether you have the first pick or not, but would you take a tight end in the first round?
A lot of owners at least ponder the idea, if they’re in the bottom of the first round.
If you have the last pick of the round in a snake draft, then it becomes even more of a possibility.
Now that the pool has been depleted, it might not be as crazy of a move.
The tight end position has continued to showcase players that are so dominant, that they put up the kind of stats that an elite receiver would have.
They went from safety nets to red zone threats.
You know about the Jimmy Graham’s and Tony Gonzalez’s of the world, but how do you find that next sleeper?
There’s a couple of features that you want to consider:
1. How important are they in their team’s offense?
2. What type of player are they?
3. Do they have a good quarterback?
You have to consider the type of role that the player assumes in their team’s offense: are they purely a red zone threat, a safety net, someone to stretch the field, or just an occasional passing target.
There are going to be tight ends that are utilized like receivers because of either their height or just how athletic they are.
Finally, I cannot stress how important it is that they have a decent quarterback.
If Drew Brees went down tomorrow, you best believe that Graham’s value would plummet.
It’s not easy landing a solid tight end, and this year will certainly challenge owners to consider taking Jimmy Graham in the first round because of the lack of options.
Let’s take a look at some options that you can count on this year…
The best tight end option only had 2 games last season where he accumulated over 100 yards, on top of dropping an NFL-high 14 passes. Wow. We’re not starting off good. I’m not making excuses, but also consider the fact that Sean Payton wasn’t running that offense last season. Those numbers should drastically change with his return. Anyone that can catch 85 passes for 9 touchdowns and a little less than 1,000 yards can play for my team any day. Now those first two stats are disapointing, but Graham is the only player at the position that’ll be worth considering in the first round. There’s no doubt that he’ll be gone by the second round. When you’re looking to solidify your tight end position, he’s only one of the two options that you can get this year.
The guy that caught 93 passes for 930 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2012 is coming back for one last season, so he says. Gonzalez wanted to retire, but Atlanta convinced him to return. For some reason, he was a bargain target in last year’s drafts. It was probably due to the fact that Gronk and Hernandez were still around, but that’s completely changed now. Gonzalez’s value elevates back up to his Kansas City days. He’s is a receiver-type of tight end that you should consider the position locked-up when you select him in the second or third round.
Oh yea, Gronk’s a no-brainer, just look at his stats. Hold up. Consider the fact that you’re investing one of your first three picks on an injury-prone boom or bust player that is bound to miss some time early in the season. Granted, he’s the top tight end when healthy, but he’s had more surgeries than we can keep up with. He’s extremely dominant, scoring 11 touchdowns last season, despite missing five weeks. I’m not saying dont’ draft him early, but just consider that one of those first three picks could’ve been used on a dominant running back or receiver. Your peers will take in the same considerations. Expect Gronk to go no earlier than fourth round this year.
Here he is. The next rookie tight end sensation that’ll be a top option at the position for years to come. You don’t take a tight end in the first round, especially if you already have a first round tight end on the roster, if you don’t have big plans for them. The Bengals are copying the Patriots’ style of having two dominant tight ends in their offense, but expect Eifert to take over as the primary option. He has the size, speed, and catching ability to be a receiver-like type of tight end option. His last two seasons at Notre Dame, Eifert averaged around 50 catches and 600+ yards. I expect his numbers to go up drastically in the NFL. I’m not saying that he’s going to have a Jimmy Graham type of rookie season, but I could definitely see him get close to double digit touchdowns. At this point in the draft, you can get a little sneaky and invest in one of the top fantasy rookies this year.
He’s the ultimate PPR league tight end, but he doesn’t score that many touchdowns. He only had 3 last year, just saying. What you like about Witten is that he is like a receiver in the Cowboys offense, he stays healthy, he produces 1,000-yard seasons, and can be a reliable source of fantasy points. What you don’t like is that he doesn’t get a lot of red zone targets. We all know how much of a difference those touchdowns can make in the weekly scoring battles. Witten has never produced double-digit touchdowns, so just consider that when you draft him. Eifert’s redzone upside is the reason why he jumps him in the rankings.
What a disappointing 2012 from a guy that used to be regarded as one of the top tight end options. Career-lows in every category (49 rec, 538 yards, and 7 TDs). We know that the Chargers aren’t that good, but they finally have a new coaching staff. That fact alone, gives optimism that Gates could turn things around. It’s not like they have any other offensive weapons in their system. Keenan Allen will need time to develop. Ryan Matthews can’t stay healthy to save his life, and the rest of their receivers are a joke. Gates is in the perfect situation as far as targets. He’ll slip down in drafts this year, which is why he can be consider this year’s bargain at the tight end position. I’m calling it right now that he’ll bounce back in a great way, during a year that the position is low in stock. I’m calling for 70+ catches, 9 touchdowns, and 1,000+ yards. Not bad for someone that you can get last this year.
Remember that horrible regular season that Davis had? Well they must of fixed something just in time for the playoffs. He was a completely different player for the ’9ers in the post-season, racking up a pair of 100-yard games. If that’s anything like what he’ll be able to do this season, that will be a nice buy-low option. He’s a receiver-type of tight end, he can stretch the field, but needs to get his touchdown totals up. Michael Crabtree picked things up as soon as Colin Kaepernick arrived, Anquan Boldin is going to be part of the show this year, and the 49ers have a running game. Those are all factors that could eat into Davis’ draft value, but he’s got too much upside to not consider him in the mid-late rounds.
He’s become Newton’s 2nd favorite target in Carolina, producing 5+ TDs in each of the last five seasons. Olsen is coming off of a career-high year for yardarge, but he’s also fully developed into a more well-rounded weapon. He’s more of a receiver than he is a tight end, which is perfect for this point in the draft. He lines up all around the offense, can stretch the field, but needs to get more targets in the red zone. The Panthers continue to want to run the ball, which goes against Olsen’s value. The one thing that you have going for picking him is the fact that he is Newton’s safety net when he starts to scramble. He only had one 100+ yard game last season, but he’s more of a PPR contributor.
He found a new home with the Giants, after breaking onto the fantasy scene last season, and could maintain that same type of production this season. He will be the G-men’s third new tight end in three years, but he comes with a ton of upside. He’s a receiver-type of tight end, that averaged around 5+ catches per games last season. Let’s all keep in mind that he did this in an awful offense in Oakland. Now that he’s surrounded by talent, those numbers could take a step back or maintain. The fact that he has two dominant receivers around him, opens opportunities. If they are covered, then Manning will be able to check down to him. I expect Myers to show a form of stability in New York and be a viable threat that you can get at a discount this year.
For someone with his size and speed (4.49), you would expect a lot more production out of him, but that just hasn’t happened…yet. Cook re-unites with Jeff Fisher in St. Louis and could see a tremendous amount of targets in a Rams offense that hasn’t had a solid receiving target for quite some time. They did bring in Tavon Austin, but he can only do so much. The Rams don’t have a run-game, so they’re going to have to throw the ball a lot. Cook is versatile enough to line up in multiple spots in the offense, he can stretch the field, serve as a red zone target, but needs to improve on his touchdown totals. I believe that he’s been underutilized in Tennessee for too long and this could be a breakout year for him. He has had enough time to develop, now it’s time to play like a veteran. Expect Fisher to rejuvenate Cook’s career with the Rams this season as Bradford’s new favorite target.
LATE ROUND WATCHLIST CANDIDATE
Whoa, it’s getting a little crazy here. You’re in the late rounds by now and you’re not sure what direction to go in. Miller did have a rough injury in Week 16 last year, which is why he might be a little slow out of the gates. Mike Wallace left the Steelers, they’re breaking in a bunch of running backs-by-committee, and they need someone reliable to throw the ball to. Come on people, you can’t expect Antonio Brown to turn into Lynn Swann. Even Swanny had Stallworth. Who does Brown have? Miller. He is going to be Ben’s reliable target early and often this year. Miller had career-highs in yardarge and touchdowns, but he came close to those number in 2009 as well. What’s common about those two years? Not a lot of receiver options. When you’re targeting bargains late in your draft, choose Miller with confidence.