Tight end tends to be a position that yields great rewards at the top of it’s rankings, but when it comes to sleepers they’re a hard crop to forecast.
Often times, the ware and tare of the position keeps the elite tight end’s off the field for a segment of the season and you’re left with a guy like Marcedes Lewis or Fred Davis–hoping that the couple weeks you have him, are the weeks he just so happens to grab a score.
Although it would be ideal to have a third primary receiver like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, the unfortunate reality for everyone is that there are only two guys like that available. Graham has only missed two starts in the last three years but the hits he’ll take could definitely catch up to him. If you aren’t in a position to draft one of them, Vernon Davis and Jason Witten are the most likely players off the board. This leaves you with, in most cases, either six or eight tight end vacancies to fill.
If you aren’t able to stash an elite tight end in the first few rounds of the draft you will most likely have to draft a third tier tight end in the 6th or 7th round. The following tight ends will be available late in your draft, and although they aren’t in the top 10 of any tight end rankings I have seen, they could put up top 10 numbers during the 2013 NFL fantasy football season.
Brandon Myers, NYG
Despite an injured shoulder last season, Myers had a breakthrough year in Oakland receiving passes from quarterback Carson Palmer who established him as the go-to-guy in the black and silver passing attack. Despite that offense being anemic and lost at times, Myers still allowed himself to catch 79 passes for 806 yards. To put things in a bit of perspective, Myers had a better year as a receiver than Cardinals’ wideout Larry Fitzgerald and Packers’ receiver James Jones. Pair that with the fact that Eli Manning loves to throw the direction of his tight end’s and Myers could be a hidden gem in a myriad of late-round options.
Jared Cook, StL
Cook has burned me before but I feel that if he were to ever turn things around St. Louis would be the place where he makes that happen. Sam Bradford has struggled in similar fashion as he has been asked to take on a giant with a slingshot and pebbles the last few years playing in the strongest division in football. Cook will be playing alongside young speedsters Tavon Austin and Brian Quick which should give Bradford and Cook opportunities neither have been able to have before. Of the players I’ve named, Cook is the most popular sleeper among them, but be sure not to take him too early.
Martellus Bennett, Chi
Bennett enjoyed a breakout campaign for the New York Giants last season after years of playing under the shadow of Witten in Dallas. Bennett had 55 receptions for five scores and 626 yards in 2012 and may very well be set to repeat or increase those numbers in Chicago’s passing attack. With Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte being the focal point of an opposing defense’s game plan, Bennett joins an offense that recently added West Coast guru Marc Trestman. This offensive style will lean on Cutler’s arm and with Marshall being one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL, Bennett should be able to take advantage of defenses that are more focused on slowing down Marshall.
Tyler Eifert, Cin
Eifert has great size (6-foot-6, 251 lbs.), athleticism, agility and speed (4.68 40-time) for a tight end. This has allowed the Bengals coaches to line him up at receiver in training camp–similar to that of Marques Colston when he was drafted by New Orleans. This shows you the potential his coaches see in him and with A.J. Green playing alongside him, Eifert could benefit greatly. What makes Eifert hard to draft is the fact that Jermaine Gresham is still the starting tight end in Cincinnati. As nice as it would be to expect Eifert to be used as a wideout in games, I wouldn’t expect him to be used in those sets very often to start the season. He fits the term deep sleeper to a tee given his situation, but Eifert could be more boom than bust if Gresham goes down or Eifert just proves to the coaches that he’s just better. He’s a great second tight end to draft and if you draft Gresham, be sure to finish your draft with Eifert.
- Rob Housler, Ari – Palmer may help Housler put up some decent numbers
- Dustin Keller, Mia – Check down and end zone target for Miami
- Tony Moeaki, KC – Deep sleeper in 16 and 20-man leagues