It will come as little surprise that of all the positions a Fantasy Football owner would stress about in the middle rounds, Tight End, would be high on that list.
We’ve all been there: rounds one through (maybe) four or five you’re jockeying for running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks. You’re targeting the biggest names that are guaranteed to get you the biggest return on that pick. But then come rounds six through eight. Things start getting interesting because you know that dreaded decision has to be made but you don’t want to be the first to make it.
This year it gets even tougher because among the ranks of the veterans its Jimmy Graham and everybody else.
Don’t believe me? I don’t think its a secret that I’m one of the biggest Falcons fans on the planet. I’ve had the privilege of meeting (even bowling with) Tony Gonzalez, the consensus number three tight end in all of football and he’s as great a tight end/person you could ever meet. He’s scored 431 fantasy points in 2011 and 2012 Yahoo! fantasy football leagues. That kind of production is great. But Jimmy Graham, who has scored 519 points in that same time period, is 20% better than him. That is an incredible margin first to third (for those who want to know, Jason Witten with 426 fantasy points the last two years, has been outscored by Graham by 21%).
*Disclaimer: With Aaron Hernandez facing his issues and Rob Gronkowski injured I didn’t include them in the analysis.
So where does that leave you with rookies? As I stated earlier, if you don’t get Jimmy Graham or a top-5 tight end, there are options. Especially with this rookie class. here are some I would consider. While the names might not surprise you, I know the last few will.
- Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: It has to be nice for Marvin Lewis and the Bengals brass to see so many of their young players on these types of lists. Eifert is the top rookie tight end in this class. Jermaine Gresham will be lining up opposite him, Eifert is going to benefit from being the no-doubt-about-it number three option in this passing game and that bodes well for him as a rookie on your fantasy football roster.
- Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots: Bill Belichick seems to have done it again. For the second time I’m writing about a rookie catching passes in a Tom Brady led offense out of necessity. And, for the second time, a rookie will be taking on a prominent role and doing so because he has the talent that no one else except Belichick saw. It must be maddening if you’re a fan of a team in the AFC East to consistently watch belichick pluck these guys out of near obscurity and win 11 games annually. Sudfeld, undrafted out of Nevada, is set to become the primary tight end in the Patriots offense. I think history shows what that means for you as a fantasy team owner. If available, scoop him up as fast as possible as his average draft position is rising by the hour.
- Zack Ertz, TE, Eagles: I love the fact that he seperates like a wide receiver, catches everything thrown his way, and shouldn’t have a problem being the guy at that position in Philadelphia for a long, long time. What I don’t like, is the mystery surrounding his depth on the Eagles, the mystery around who is going to feature prominently in Kelly’s offense, and the mystery of whether or not Brent Celek will continue to be featured or does Ertz being drafted mean they’re phasing him out. In any case, the tight end position has options outside of Ertz, but if you’re still looking late in the draft I could see him being productive on a week-to-week basis to the point he could end up a top-15 to 17 tight end.
- Demetrius Harris, Travis Kelce, and Kevin Brock, TE, Chiefs: Keep a watchful eye on the situation in Kansas City with Tony Moeaki’s injury. There are three, very capable rookie tight ends ready to step into an Andy Reid offense that features the position heavily. Their names are Demetrius Harris, Travis Kelce, and Kevin Brock. Each, if Moeaki can’t go, would be primary targets. If that doesn’t sound convincing enough, remember who is throwing the ball for the Chiefs now.