You can pay up for one of the elite tight ends in 2019, but it's going to cost you. Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle are going within the first 30 picks in pretty much all drafts, while O.J. Howard, Evan Engram and Hunter Henry usually follow in the next 40 or so. They've all got he potential to produce like a top-15 WR, but you're going to end up paying a lot for them.
So, maybe you want to wait. Until Round 10, maybe. Or possibly even later. There are a number of intriguing young tight ends — and a couple of old ones with something left in the tank — who will cost you nothing but the cost of a third backup running back. You want to target sleepers in the late rounds. These guys may not have league-winning, No. 1 WR potential, but they can all help separate you from the pack if they hit.
Here's who you'll be hearing from:
- Jamey Eisenberg, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Dave Richard, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Heath Cummings, CBS Fantasy Senior Writer
- Ben Gretch, CBS Fantasy Editor
- Chris Towers, CBS Fantasy Senior Editor
Mark Andrews TE
BAL Baltimore • #89
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Andrews is one of my favorite sleepers, and I expect Lamar Jackson to lean on Andrews quite a bit this season. They seemed to develop a quality rapport toward the end of last season, and Andrews scored 25 PPR points in his final two games of the regular season. He also led the team in targets in Baltimore's wild-card loss to the Chargers with seven. He has No. 1 tight end potential — I have him ranked in the top 10 — and his Average Draft Position is fantastic right now at 133.3.
Reed had a rough year in 2018 as he fought through toe and foot problems, and he eventually landed on injured reserve for the final three games of the season. Injuries have plagued Reed his entire career, and he's never played 16 games in a season. But when healthy, which he is now, he's a star, and we saw that in 2015 when he had 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns on 114 targets. He has that kind of upside, and Washington is desperate for playmakers in the passing game with a receiving corps led by Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson and Trey Quinn. I'm hopeful Reed can stay healthy, and he's excellent tight end to target with a late-round pick.
TEN Tennessee • #82
Age: 35 • Experience: 15 yrs.
Since when is a 13-year veteran a sleeper?! When he has an ADP of Round 11 and deserves to be taken sooner. Everyone is choosing to remember Walker for breaking his ankle and missing nearly all of 2018. No one's remembering that he's been a top eight Fantasy tight end regardless of format over each of the past four seasons (mostly all with Marcus Mariota). Have the Titans figured out their passing game yet? No? Good. Walker is a cinch to get a bunch of targets and notch another 800-yard season, something he did four straight years before getting hurt. Round 9 isn't too soon.
I'll bet you a pizza slice the Lions brass saw Hockenson's film and got visions of Rob Gronkowski in their heads. He's just as big, just as fast and definitely just as much of a mismatch. No one really believes in rookie tight ends becoming big Fantasy helpers, but Hockenson's been a first-teamer for the Lions throughout camp. He should open up the middle of the field and become a big red-zone target for Matthew Stafford right away. Investing in that huge upside will cost you a pick well into the double-digit rounds, which is dirt cheap and won't hurt you. Draft any tight end you want first, then stash Hockenson and hope he turns into Evan Engram.
Once you get past the top seven or eight tight ends on draft day, you can forget about any semblance of feeling good about your pick. You're either taking an old tight end who looked awful last year, a young tight end who has never done anything or a boring tight end who you'll instantly regret. Or you could just take Jordan Reed. Yes, I Reed is injury-prone. I don't care in the double-digit rounds. Reed, in a down year, scored double-digit PPR Fantasy points in more than half of the games he started and finished. He was one of the best tight ends in Fantasy on a per game basis in 2015 and 2016. The camp reports have been universally positive and Reed is 100% healthy in early August. As long as that's true I expect him to be a top-10 tight end, I can stream after that if he gets hurt.
It's not often that rookie tight ends matter in Fantasy Football, but if I was going to bet on one I'd want one with T.J. Hockenson's pedigree. He averaged better than 15 yards per reception as a sophomore at Iowa and was a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft. The Lions have been raving about Hockenson at camp, but his ADP still lags in the double-digit rounds. If you miss out of Jordan Reed late, Hockenson is an upside consolation prize.
LV Las Vegas • #83
Age: 27 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Waller has been receiving rave reviews at Raiders camp and has the physical profile to play a similar role to Jared Cook's in this offense last year. In fact, Waller ran a 4.46 at 6-6, 255, which actually makes him a bit bigger and a bit faster than Cook. With Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams now in Oakland, the Raiders will have fewer targets to go around, but Waller appears to have the primary receiving role at the TE position pretty secure, so he's certainly worth his late-round ADP.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #89
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Herndon's suspension has pushed him down draft boards enough that he's now a value. The former fourth-round pick assimilated well in his rookie season in 2018. Herndon caught just under 70% of his 56 targets for a phenomenal 9.0 yards per target. His average depth of target (aDOT) of 11.0 was essentially right in line with the league average depth for a WR, much further downfield than a league-average TE target (7.6 aDOT). Those higher-value targets speak to his upside, and there's still a possibility his suspension gets reduced.
PHI Philadelphia • #88
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
I'm not a fan of drafting Goedert to start him in Week 1, and I'm not a fan of drafting him as a handcuff for Zach Ertz. But I am a fan of Goedert, and I'm a fan of finding a way for him to fit on my team in the later rounds. He racked up 2,400 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final two seasons in college and has the size and athleticism to make an impact. The Eagles run plenty of two tight end sets, and while the changing of the guard at tight end is probably more of a 2020 or 2021 event, I could see him creeping up into the 75-80 target range, making him a viable streamer — and a star if Ertz misses any time.
Mike Gesicki TE
MIA Miami • #88
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
There's been no buzz about Gesicki in Fantasy circles, but there have been plenty of promising reports out of Dolphins camp. He is pretty close to the platonic ideal of what a tight end should be physically. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, Gesicki's ability to stretch the field up the seams could lead to plenty of big plays, and if you're playing in a 16-team-or-deeper league, you can do a lot worse for a final-round dart throw than betting on an athlete of this caliber.
So which Fantasy Football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which RB2 can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Andrew Luck's huge season, and find out.