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2021 Fantasy Football: 3 Late-Round Tight Ends to Target

Who are some of the late-round tight ends that could exceed expectations in 2021?

Los Angeles Chargers Mandatory Minicamp Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

The tight end position is always one of the toughest positions to gauge in fantasy football every season, and the 2021 season isn’t any different. At the top, you have the usual names of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller who are all going early in drafts. You also have newcomers in Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson, who are causing a stir due to their meteoric rises as potential young studs. If you aren’t able to get one of the marquee names at the position, it’s a popular strategy in fantasy football to wait until the later rounds to select a tight end. To help everyone who may be unsure of who to take in the latter part of drafts at the tight end position, I highlight a few guys that I’m a fan of at their current ADP.

ADP is courtesy of FantasyPros’ ADP Consensus.

NFL: DEC 13 Saints at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Adam Trautman (ADP: 182 Overall, TE19)

When the (New Orleans) Saints go marching in..... to Week 1, they’ll be sans Michael Thomas at the wide receiver position. Thomas, who dealt with a nagging ankle injury that limited him to seven games in 2020, underwent surgery on the same ankle — to the displeasure of Sean Payton — in June. The All-Pro wideout is expected to miss the start of the season, leaving the Saints extremely thin at wide receiver. Both Tre’Quan Smith and Marquez Calloway are expected to see expanded roles while Alvin Kamara shoulders a heavy workload in the backfield. But aside from those three guys, there could be room for the second-year tight end, Adam Trautman, to earn some looks in the passing game. Jared Cook is no longer a member of the Saints, allowing Trautman to slide into the starting lineup. In his rookie season, Trautman caught only 15 passes for 171 yards and one touchdown as a backup behind Cook. The best-case scenario for all of the pass-catchers in New Orleans is that Jameis Winston sees the field more often than Taysom Hill. If Winston ends up starting in more games than Hill, Trautman definitely has a chance to outperform his current ADP.

Jared Cook (ADP: 172 Overall, TE20)

After listing Trautman, the guy who started in front of him on the Saints in 2020 is next on my list of late-round tight ends to target. Cook has long been an aerial weapon for any offense that he’s been a part of. While Cook doesn't have the best hands at the tight end position, he is more athletic than most, making him a mismatch for opposing defenses. In his final season in New Orleans, Cook had an aDOT of 11.5 yards, which was second-most among tight ends. He also produced an air-yard target share of 22.7% in 2020, good enough for the fifth-highest mark at his position. The 34-year-old tight end is now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers in an offense that wants to push the ball down the field often with Justin Herbert. Catching passes from a young Herbert is going to be different than playing in an offense with an aging Drew Brees. Keenan Allen is set to lead the Chargers in targets again, Mike Williams could break out if he remains healthy, and Austin Ekeler should have a healthy share of looks through the air out of the backfield. When speaking about Cook, he could be in line to be one of Herbert’s go-to targets in the red zone. As long as we get the version of Herbert we saw in 2020, there's no reason why Cook can’t compile numbers that permit him to finish as a top 15 tight end in fantasy football in 2021.

Seattle Seahawks v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Gerald Everett (ADP: 206 Overall, TE22)

Earlier in the offseason, the Seattle Seahawks knew they needed to make a change to their coaching staff, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Considering that Shane Waldron has worked under Sean McVay and has spoken to him before (though, I can’t confirm this), the Seahawks saw no choice but to hire him as their next offensive coordinator. Waldron was the former tight ends coach of the Rams in 2017, and he was later promoted to the pass-game coordinator position for Los Angeles in 2018. When Waldron began his time as a tight ends coach of the Rams, Gerald Everett was a rookie that McVay was extremely excited about. Sadly, after four seasons in Los Angeles, Everett never got a real opportunity to shine as he split playing time with Tyler Higbee. However, Everett is now the de facto third wide receiver in Seattle behind D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. To put the cherry on top, Everett is now able to call Russell Wilson his quarterback instead of Jared Goff. Pete Carroll has made it known that the Seahawks want to get back to pounding the rock more with Chris Carson and their assortment of running backs as they once did when they were winning a Super Bowl in 2014 with Marshawn Lynch. The only difference is that Seattle doesn’t have a defense that has the facilities to be a top-notch unit in 2021, leading to more opportunities through the air. While Will Dissly could steal some snaps at tight end in certain moments, Everett is worth taking a flier on if you’re looking for a high-upside guy in the later rounds.