It’s not easy to come up with five fantasy “sleepers” at the Tight End position when, realistically, there might not be five tight ends at the end of the year you’d even call “good.” But there is still value to be had in DFS leagues if you can get the matchups right, so here are five under-the-radar players you might want to consider leading up to week 1.
5. Ladarius Green – San Diego Chargers
Green is something of a classic sleeper. He was hyped to the point of being drafted in most standard football leagues last year, but responded with only 19 catches for 226 yards. And if there is anything the fantasy football community doesn’t like, it’s being proven wrong. Suffice it to say the hype is gone. Antonio Gates found the fountain of youth last year, but as good as he is, he is injury prone. And if Gates goes down at any point in the year, Green is one of the few backups at this position talented enough to provide instant value as a replacement.
4. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are plenty of reasons why Sefarian-Jenkins won’t be hyped up this preseason, starting with the fact that he didn’t deliver as many expected last year. Throw in an inexperienced QB and two elite (or at least borderline-elite) WRs on the outside demanding targets, and it’s easy to see why he is not garnering the attention he did at the end of the preseason last year. But he is still a 6’ 5’’ target in the red zone and the middle of the field, getting defensive attention stretched thin on the outsides by those two elite receivers. And the QB may be inexperienced, but even the most cynical has to hope that the #1 pick in the draft is an upgrade over what the Bucs had last year. And with a defense and running game set up to put them in plenty of shootouts, the targets and receptions could be there to make him a reliable week-to-week play with upside when he manages to score.
3. Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers
Miller is not going to get a lot of attention from fantasy analysts this season because he’s Heath Miller. He’s been around. He’s boring. He will get thrown into those tight end rankings somewhere around 12, give or take, because it’s hard to be more specific than that. But especially early in the season, as the Steelers start off the season without Le’Veon Bell, Big Ben is going to be throwing the rock a TON. And as good as Brown and Bryant are and can be, Miller is a reliable chain-mover, and his QB trusts him. And their Week 1 opponent, the Patriots, have been known to give up (perhaps willingly) big games to tight ends in the middle of the field as they work to contain more big-play threats.
2. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
He’s an injury risk. Injury concerns will push him down your draft board. But you cannot live your life predicting injuries in the middle of a game. What this means is that for daily fantasy purposes, when he’s healthy, he’s healthy. And when he’s healthy, he is really, really good. He has ten catch, 100-yard upside on any given week, more than you can say for basically every other option at the position. And yes, bad QB play could hurt him, as it could any pass-catcher, but RGIII has demonstrated an ability to lead an NFL offense in the past. And, if they can string together a few first downs, you know RGIII would grow to appreciate a reliable outlet receiver in the middle of the field for when he finds himself in trouble. So, capitalize on all this at the beginning of the year, before Reed gets hurt. And if you’re a Redskins fan, well, sorry. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you on this one – I want Reed healthy too, filling out my fantasy roster.
1. Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels is boring, and Peyton Manning is old. Both true. But Peyton can still read a defense and throw the ball, and boring Owen Daniels managed almost fifty catches last season despite being on a mediocre passing team (at best), and without even being the solo tight end for the entire season. Both Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak, the new offensive coordinator in Denver (and longtime coach in Houston with Daniels), have historically shown a propensity for throwing to their tight ends. Kubiak has used them as yardage monsters in the middle of the field, and Peyton as red zone targets, an area of the field where he loves to exploit holes in the middle of a defense. Between those two philosophies, there should be plenty of chances for fantasy points for Daniels, the only established tight end option on their roster.