Tight end is a position that won many fantasy leagues last year with Jimmy Graham of New Orleans and Rob Gronkowski of New England having seasons that will place them in the first and second rounds in many 2012 fantasy football drafts.
Graham and “Gronk” are two guys I don’t recommend taking unless they slip in the draft. Sure, it would be nice to have a tight end that plays as an extra receiver but taking one of them that early will most likely hurt you in other parts of your lineup. That is why I recommend you taking one of these guys listed below that will be available towards the latter part of your drafts:
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans – Cook is a 6-foot-5, 245-pounder who runs a sub-4.5 40-yard dash. The combination of speed and size is there, the only question with him is can he put it together each week? My answer to that can be found in the numbers he racked up at the end of last season.
Cook grabbed 21 catches for 335 yards in the last three weeks of 2011 and averaged 15.5 yards per catch throughout last season. Numbers like that will get you more targets and last year he had just 82, which was 19th among tight ends. This fourth-year tight end will most likely have Jake Locker behind center and its common knowledge that young quarterbacks favor their tight ends. In this case, those who draft Cook could reap the rewards of a breakout season from him. Keep in mind: Cook is also in the last year of his rookie contract. All signs point to Jared Cook being a top tight end sleeper in fantasy football.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants – Bennett is another guy with great size and great skills for a productive fantasy tight end. Bennett was stuck behind Witten in Dallas but has finally found a home that will allow him to show off his skills.
Travis Beckum would have been the guy at tight end to start the season but an ACL injury allowed Bennett to fill that void. Eli Manning will give Bennett a chance to become the tight end they have been looking for since the departure of Jeremy Shockey. Eli Manning likes throwing to the position and you know teams will need to send help the New York wideouts’ way. That strength on the outside will only help Bennett have the year Dallas thought he would one day have for them.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles – This probably wasn’t the first time you saw Celek on a sleeper list for tight ends but it could be the last time.
Celek struggled in 2010 after he had a stellar 2009 campaign. Michael Vick realized late last year that his tight end possesses the special skills a productive tight end will need. Vick made him a large part of the offense the last three weeks of the season in which he racked up 294 receiving yards and a touchdown each week. Don’t expect a touchdown each week from Celek but he is definitely worth a late-round pick in your draft as a sleeper for 2012.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans – We at The Couch have high expectations for Daniels this year and for good reasons. If he is able to stay healthy, and that is a question with Daniels, he will have a good chance at being the top 10 TE he was in 2008. He’s in an offense that has ranked among the best the last three seasons, yielding one of the best wide receivers in the league and a running back that just keeps getting better. Matt Schaub’s trust in his sure-handed tight end has been well documented. In 11 games last year Daniels was targeted 68 times while recording 471 yards.
He should be available as a second tight end in most leagues so keep your eye on him in the later rounds. If he is able to stay healthy he’ll have a 2008-esque year and your tight end depth will be better than most.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts – One of the most exciting names to make this list of tight end sleepers – the problem is, Fleener will be on a lot of sleeper lists. Fleener is a wide receiver stuck in a tight ends body and has major down the field potential. He had 17 touchdown receptions in his final two years at Stanford and averaged nearly 18 yards per catch. The only thing that will get in the way of Luck and Fleener is their o-line. If Luck can adjust to the speed of the NFL quickly, getting the ball to Fleener will happen early and often for Indianapolis.