While most fantasy owners avoid selecting tight ends early, there are some solid values to found in the later rounds. Travis Kelce and George Kittle will probably be off the board fairly quickly, but after those two, it’s a roll of the dice. Here are 10 sleepers at tight end who could produce big points for your fantasy team.
1. Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers
There was a time – 2010 through 2014 – when Graham’s named was listed among the upper echelon at the position. However, his four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks were disappointing and he sank even further during his first season in Green Bay – 55 receptions, 636 yards, two touchdowns – in 2018. However, Graham is an enticing red zone target and the Packers’ offense was stale in 2018. New coach Matt LaFleur should inject some life into quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense.
2. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Most owners won’t touch him. Why? The injury-plagued Eifert has appeared in just 16 games – six games in the past two seasons – since his Pro Bowl season in 2015. He posted 13 touchdown receptions during the 2015 season and has six scoring catches since then. However, Eifert is healthy – again – and poised for a strong year with injured wideout A.J. Green likely to miss a few games. The Bengals don’t have any legitimate red zone targets except for Eifert, and quarterback Andy Dalton does have chemistry with Eifert. When he’s on the field.
3. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts
His 13 touchdown catches in 2018 equalled his combined number of touchdown catches during his first four seasons in the NFL. Want more information about Ebron’s career year in 2018? Eleven of his touchdown catches occurred in the red zone and he was third among tight ends in red zone targets in 2018. He’ll be splitting time with Jack Doyle at the position and with the sudden retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck, backup Jacoby Brissett now the starting quarterback. Ebron’s numbers should hold up in 2019.
4. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Walker is back and healthy after suffering a season-ending ankle injury during Week 1 of the 2018 season. Walker is a favorite target of quarterback Marcus Mariota and he averaged 71 receptions, 831 yards and five touchdowns a season between 2013 and 2017. The Titans look like they have upgraded – a little – at wide receiver, but Mariota trusts Walker to make big catches to keep the chains moving and in the red zone.
5. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
He came out of a brief, one-year retirement – and out of the Monday Night Football analyst role – and will be the starter. Witten was solid – 63 receptions, 560 yards and five touchdowns – during the 2017 season. His numbers could go up if he can re-establish chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott.
6. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
The Broncos’ first-round pick (No. 20) in the 2019 NFL draft has a real chance to produce some very good numbers in his first season. Jeff Heuerman is expected to start, but he has battled an injuries throughout his career and may not make it through the entire season. Other than Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos don’t have a proven wideout and new quarterback Joe Flacco loves targeting his tight end.
7. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries are no longer on the roster, taking with them a combined 117 receptions, 1,590 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018. Mike Evans is still around, but beyond him, there’s a void. Howard was on his way to a breakout year during his second season before he suffered season-ending foot and ankle injuries and was placed on injured reserve in Week 11 of the 2018 season.
8. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
The Lions have high expectations for the No. 8 pick of the 2019 NFL draft. Sure, they also have veteran Jesse James as the starter, but teams don’t select a tight end so early with the plan of having him stand on the sidelines. Hockenson averaged 15.5 yards a catch at Iowa during the 2018 season, an average that would’ve ranked fifth among tight ends in the NFL. Expect some fallback from that number, but there’s little doubt that Hockenson will be a focal point in the offense in 2019.
9. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
He recovered from a torn ACL in time to play in the playoffs last season. Now he’s got two sound knees and Antonio Gates is gone, meaning Henry should see plenty of targets from quarterback Philip Rivers. Henry will be an option in one of the league’s best offenses and with Tyrell Williams now playing in Oakland, there will be more opportunities for Henry.
10. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Will he remain retired when quarterback Tom Brady starts slinging the ball around the field? Will the itch be too much for him to handle? He’s worth taking a late-round flyer.
— Geoffrey C. Arnold | @geoffreyCarnold