Fantasy Sports Fix: Football Draft Special Part 3 — Tight ends | CraigDailyPress.com
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Fantasy Sports Fix: Football Draft Special Part 3 — Tight ends

Chris Gingrich/For the Daily Press

Welcome to the third installment of my fantasy football draft special. In this one, I will be focusing on the tight end position.

When it comes to tight ends, it seems like it’s just Rob Gronkowski in his own stratosphere, and then there’s everyone else. It goes deeper than that though, and there are some other players worth checking out.

Undervalued

Antonio Gates, San Diego ChargersAntonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Quarterback Phillip Rivers and Gates have connected on a total of 77 touchdowns in their careers, the most of any quarterback-tight end combination in NFL history. Not only that, but Gates continues to produce at a solid level as he ages, but his overall average draft position doesn’t really reflect that, so have at this tight end bargain.

Julius Thomas, Jacksonville JaguarsJulius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars

Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars

You can blame Thomas’ uninspiring 2015 campaign on a hand injury that he suffered in the pre-season that lingered all year. Early reports out of Jaguars camp is that Thomas looks unstoppable and is really building a good rapport with quarterback Blake Bortles.

Martellus Bennett, New England PatriotsMartellus Bennett, New England Patriots

Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots

I see Bennett as having a decent season alongside Gronkowski in New England’s two tight end sets. I think his floor is very high for a tight end this year and the minimum he will get you is 55 receptions along with 600 yards and maybe five touchdowns. He’s not even being drafted in most drafts so far this year.

Breakouts

Coby Fleener, New Orleans SaintsCoby Fleener, New Orleans Saints

Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints

Fleener heads to the Saints, where the offense can make stars out of the tight end position. I think Fleener could actually surpass what he did in Indianapolis in his 2014 season where he had 774 yards and eight touchdowns. People are betting on a breakout season for him so he is going somewhat early as the sixth tight end off the board.

Eric Ebron, Detroit LionsEric Ebron, Detroit Lions

Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions

He made big strides in 2015 and doubled his receiving yards and added four more touchdowns than the previous year. With Calvin Johnson out of the picture, Ebron figures much more prominently into the Lions offense this year and 800 yards and seven or eight touchdowns seems like a realistic projection.

Clive Walford, Oakland RaidersClive Walford, Oakland Raiders

Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders

He could easily improve on his 28 receptions from last year as Oakland’s offense is looking very good right now. He’s big, he’s talented, and he could be one of Derek Carr’s favorite targets this season due to his innate ability to create space between him and his defender. He’s currently being taken in the 15th round of most drafts, but his upside hints that he could be a top 10 tight end.

Sleepers

Zach Miller, Chicago BearsZach Miller, Chicago Bears

Zach Miller, Chicago Bears

He managed to net 439 receiving yards with only 34 catches last year. Imagine what he could do with 50 or 60 receptions from Jay Cutler this year. He also converted five of those receptions into touchdowns last year, which is a pretty decent rate.

Jared Cook, Green Bay PackersJared Cook, Green Bay Packers

Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers loves to target the tight end in the red zone. In all likelihood, Cook will beat out Richard Rodgers for the starting gig, so you can expect Cook to beat his career highs in receiving yards, receptions and maybe even touchdowns.

Jordan Cameron, Miami DolphinsJordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins

Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins

Cameron will be playing under head coach Adam Gase this year. Gase has been known to put the tight end position to work as evidenced by other tight ends at stops in Denver and Chicago. Cameron should be a good fit for Gase’s offense and will see a good amount of targets this year while improving on his overall stats.

Avoid

Jimmy Graham, Seattle SeahawksJimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

Don’t believe any of the comeback stories you might hear about him. His patellar tendon injury is one of the worst injuries to come back from, and he has a very small chance to return to the player he was before. Don’t even waste a late round pick on him this year, he just won’t deliver.

Gary Barnidge, Cleveland BrownsGary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns

Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns

Although he set career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2015, I would avoid him this year. The quarterback situation in Cleveland is somewhat murky right now, and nobody knows exactly what to expect from this offense. He’s going as the ninth tight end off the board in most drafts right now, but I just wouldn’t trust him to repeat last year’s numbers at all.


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