Surveying the landscape of the tight end position in fantasy football can be quite discouraging. It is often the position people wait on until the last few rounds. Unless you are one of the few to land Rob Gronkowski at a decent value, the rest of the lines are blurred. The tight end is one of the most undervalued positions in fantasy football and for good reason; it’s a difficult position to fill. People often waste precious draft capital on players who end up being replacement level. It’s important to note the context of the players to be discussed today. These aren’t guys you are rushing to go out and draft. Rather, these are players that you can draft in a pinch when the position has passed you by. Check after each game to monitor their progress for the waiver wire.
Five Fantasy Football Tight End Sleepers
Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
People will try to tell you that Jared Cook poses a threat to Rodgers’ production, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Cook is already hurt and won’t have an opportunity to establish rapport with Aaron Rodgers. Very quietly, Rodgers was actually 12th in the NFL in receptions and fifth for the position in touchdowns. He’s also relatively young at only 24 years old and is a great athlete. It doesn’t hurt to have an elite quarterback delivering passes, either. With the return of Jordy Nelson, Rodgers should see the middle of the field open even more as he continues to progress during his fourth season in the NFL. Rodgers should be at the top of your late tight end targets list in all leagues.
Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After a majestic 2013 season that saw Cameron haul in 80 passes for just over 900 yards with seven touchdowns, it’s been a career marred by concussions. He did, however, play all 16 games last season. The Dolphins have also switched head coaches and will now be led by Adam Gase. This is great news for Cameron. Cameron will benefit from a tight end friendly offense that has seen Julius Thomas and Zach Miller turn into productive tight ends. His current average draft position (ADP) is 21, which makes him a fantastic value and late round target. The only competition that Cameron will have for targets is Dion Sims, who hasn’t shown himself to be a threat.
Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders
Surprisingly, Mr. Walford hasn’t received much love this off-season. His current ADP on Fantasy Pros is 18.3, which is too low when you consider Jared Cook is being drafted before him. People will argue that Mychal Rivera poses a threat to Walford, but that just simply isn’t the case. Walford only received eight targets in the team’s first six games. Conversely, Rivera racked up 17 in that time. However, the rest of the way, Walford racked up 43 targets compared to Rivera’s 29. Walford possesses good size for the position and recorded the fourth-fastest time for a tight end in the 2015 draft (he was also a top performer in the vertical jump and the broad jump). He’s also a willing blocker who should find himself on the field for almost every down.
Vance McDonald, San Francisco
With the departure of Vernon Davis, McDonald figures to get a fair crack at the starting tight end position. McDonald had a few nice games down the stretch, including one six-catch performance with a touchdown and 71 yards. In another game, he had five catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Sporting an above average athletic profile and entering his fourth year in the league, McDonald could potentially thrive in a Chip Kelly offense that successfully featured Zach Ertz the last few years. While McDonald shouldn’t be drafted, he certainly warrants keeping tabs on throughout the season and could make for a nice stream option. His success will be directly tied to the overall game flow in San Francisco. Pay attention to how many snaps the team is running on a per game basis as an indicator of future value.
Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
Now that he’s entrenched as the starter of the Bears, expect Miller to build on his solid outing last season. Martellus Bennett is gone and Miller will have very little competition for targets. Miller had some really nice performances down the stretch of last season. He hauled in 18 catches in Weeks 14-16 before missing the final game of the season. Dowell Loggains has been promoted to offensive coordinator in Chicago, so don’t expect the scheme to change much.
Jace Amaro, New York Jets
It’s kind of a make or break season, so to speak, for Amaro. He injured his shoulder in training camp last year and was put on injured reserve as a result. The Jets didn’t have a lot of luck replacing him. As a former second-round draft choice, he’s likely to get a good chance to show what he’s capable of. Coming from a high-volume passing offense in college, Amaro is a capable receiver even if he’s limited athletically. Amaro’s biggest challenge will be run blocking, which if he fails, could take him off the field in too many situations. When assessing Amaro’s value, it’s imperative to see how many snaps per game he is getting. How much he is playing will be directly tied to his fantasy value.
Virgil Green, Denver Broncos
Virgil Green has been around for a long time now and finally has a clear path to targets on a team that opted to not re-sign Owen Daniels or Vernon Davis. There are a lot of questions that surround the quarterback position in Denver, but the team tends to run a very quarterback friendly offense that relies heavily on the running game. However, the quarterback bootleg is another staple of this offense. The tight end blocks his defender and then releases for an easy pass in the flat. This will give Green a chance to showcase his outstanding athleticism and potentially earn more targets as the season progresses. Again, keep an eye on Green’s snap count, as the Broncos just drafted Jeff Heuerman. He poses a threat to seize the starting role from Green in training camp. If that ends up being the case, go ahead and apply the same analysis to him instead.