We all know that the fantasy tight end position is a barren wasteland in which nothing grows. Either you spend a high draft pick on Travis Kelce or George Kittle—or maybe Zack Ertz, though I could see a world where he doesn’t finish a top tight end this year—or you’re ignoring the position until the end of your draft. Personally, I’m the wait until the end of the draft for a tight end guy, I find you can still get a pretty good weapon in the later rounds and use your earlier picks for true difference makers.
So with my wait strategy ringing in your ears, here are five tight ends that are worth waiting for. These are guys who I see outplaying their current ADP and giving back more than you’re investing in them. (ADP and rankings—non-PPR—via fantasyfootballcalculator.com.)
Current ADP: 7.07 | Current rank: TE8
Obviously the 7th round is a little earlier than I was talking about in my preamble, but I have a hard time looking past the volume that could be coming Vance McDonald’s way. Right off the bat you have Antonio Brown’s 168 targets from last year that are up for grabs, just lying around in Pittsburgh waiting for someone to love them. Add to that Jesse James leaving in free agency (and the 39 targets he left behind) and the Steelers still figuring out exactly who will be the number two receiver behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, there’s a golden opportunity here for McDonald to step into a whole lot of work.
Current ADP: 13.08 | Current rank: TE15
You take Mark Andrews here and never look back. The guy started only three games last year yet still managed to finish TE16, totaling 73.2 total points. (I don’t know if that stat is more impressive for Andrews or depressing for fantasy tight ends everywhere. I lean towards the latter.) Further more, he was the Ravens’ most productive receiver when Lamar Jackson took over, catching 13 balls for a team leading 308 yards. That’s a staggering 23.7 yards per reception for those without a calculator readily available. Andrews has received nothing but praising so far in camp and I’d fully expect him to be a vital part of this new look Ravens’ offense.
Current ADP: 13.09 | Current rank: TE16
Clark had this to say on Tuesday’s RB1 Podcast: “You know why we know who Owen Daniels is? It’s because he used to play in a Gary Kubiak offense”. Welp, Gary Kubiak is now the assistant head coach (I believe that’s his title?) for the Vikings and you can bet that he’s going to highlight the tight end position like he always does. Rudolph has finished in the top 10 of fantasy tight ends each of the last three seasons and I don’t see that stopping this year. Yes Irv Smith Jr was drafted but it seems the Vikings are committed to Rudolph, or at the very least, committed to running two tight end sets with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs on the outside and Dalvin Cook in the backfield. Did I just perfectly call the Vikings’ base offense?
Darren Waller & Noah Fant
Current ADP: N/A | Current rank: N/A
Now we get to the true, TRUE sleepers. Both Waller and Fant aren’t in Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP rankings which means you can get these guys for absolutely free. For Waller, the name of the game is workload. He’s playing in a Jon Gruden offense that targeted Jared Cook 101 times last year. I’m not saying you can lock Waller in for triple digit targets this season—there may or may not be a certain Antonio Brown possibly maybe suting up for the sliver and black this season—but clearly the Raiders like their tight ends and Waller is the number one guy on the depth chart. If I can get a starting tight end for free, I’m doing just that.
Fant meanwhile has to break the dreaded rookie tight end curse. It’s rare that we see a rookie tight end come into the league and make a serious impact both in real football and especially in fake football. What works in Fant’s favor is that a) he’s a 6-foot-4, 250 pound receiver who runs a 4.5 forty and b) I have it on good authority that Joe Flacco loves to throw to his tight ends. It remains to be seen if the pieces will align but what’s the risk in picking him up off the waiver wire just to check? Literally zero.