So far here at Fake Teams we have covered the QB, RB, and WR position. This week is for the Tight Ends, as my personal top 30 were posted on Monday, and can be found here. As with the previous weeks, now some of the staff members here will be offering up a few sleepers for you to target in your leagues, or keep tabs on if they are showing promise in the first couple of weeks. Now let’s dive into these five sleepers at the TE position.
Pitta is the tight end that I am targeting in the later rounds if I miss out on the top 4 studs. In the Gary Kubiak system, the tight ends are heavily used, especially in the red zone. As one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets, look for Pitta to receive a heavy workload as the top tight end and no real competition from the broken down Owen Daniels or the rookie Crockett Gillmore.
Another tight end that I will be targeting in the later rounds is Rudolph, who will now be in a Norv Turner system that has been very friendly to tight ends like Jordan Cameron, Antonio Gates, and even as far back as Jay Novacek. The Vikings were wise to get him locked in to a long term deal before what should be a major breakout for him this season.
Eifert was hyped up to the max last season as the next big thing at the position, but couldn’t live up to the lofty expectations. There were a few reasons for his subpar season, one of them being the fact that he was a rookie. Rarely will you find a rookie who can immediately be plugged in as a starter at the Tight End position, as even Jimmy Graham wasn’t who he was till year two. Eifert had to learn how to be a better run blocker, as that was a weakness of his coming out of college. Now that he has a full year of working with the coaches, I expect him to bypass Jermaine Gresham as the main TE in the offense.
Speaking of Gresham, he presents the only problem in Eifert’s way to a breakout season. Gresham had 46 receptions last year, while Eifert only had 39. That is a total of 85 receptions, so if the distribution of those catches, along with a few of Marvin Jones’s for a few weeks, Eifert has the opportunity to get somewhere in the range of 55-60 receptions on the year, with the upside for more. The talent will always be there, but if he can get the volume of targets necessary for a breakout performance, it will be something special to watch.
For deeper leagues, I would look to roster the rookie tight end in Houston. With Bill O'Brien - a former New England Patriot offensive coordinator - as the head coach, Fiedorowicz will be slotted to fill the "Gronk" role. He has proven in the preseason to be one of the top targets in the short to intermediate passing game. With a quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick that does not throw the deep ball well, Fiedorowicz should see plenty of targets in the middle of the field.
A 2013 third-round pick, Kelce is going undrafted in standard leagues despite the potential to put up top 10 numbers at the tight end position. Brandon Gdula of numberFire explained Kelce’s case from a talent standpoint (http://www.numberfire.com/nfl/news/2753/travis-kelce-is-the-late-round-tight-end-you-need-in-fantasy-football-this-year), using combine stats and measurables to show how similar Kelce is to Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Eifert. Other than Jamaal Charles, no pass-catcher on the Chiefs is more of a threat than Kelce, who isn’t just a check-down option for Alex Smith. He also starts the season off against the Broncos and Titans, which were below-average pass defenses last season, so he can be expected to contribute immediately.
That does it for the sleepers at the Tight End positon. Come back tomorrow morning as we will be posting the busts at the position, and then later in the week the consensus TE rankings, with commentary, will be posted for you to use in drafts this weekend.