Dynasty Sleeper TEs (Fantasy Football)
In the first three installments of this sleeper series, all attention has been placed on quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. This time around, all focus will be devoted to the tight end position.
Jack Doyle (IND)
Prior to his 2016 campaign, Jack Doyle had never eclipsed 18 receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns in a single NFL season. At the expense of an inefficient and ailing Dwayne Allen, Doyle managed to emerge under the direction of Andrew Luck last year with 59 receptions for 584 yards and five scores. This prompted the Western Kentucky product to finish as the TE13 overall in PPR scoring.
Now entering his fifth professional season, Doyle is entrenched as the starting tight end in Indianapolis with Allen now a member of the New England Patriots. Offseason speculation and buzz will continue to populate around Erik Swoope, but he does not pose a significant threat to Doyle’s 2017 workload.
After all, the latter was re-signed to a three-year, $19 million contract in March, which speaks volumes to how the organization views him. Don’t sleep on Doyle’s upside as a TE1 moving forward, as his role and situation are among the most appealing at the tight end positon in all of fantasy.
Coby Fleener (NO)
It’s no secret that Coby Fleener was a colossal disappointment based on ADP in his first campaign with the New Orleans Saints last season. The issue is, the tight end was expected to deliver on unreasonable comparisons to Jimmy Graham simply because he was joining forces with Drew Brees.
In reality, Fleener’s 50 receptions for 631 yards and three touchdowns were on par with his career statistics. In fact, the 28-year-old has now posted a minimum of 50 catches in four consecutive NFL seasons.
While others write off Fleener for his second tour in New Orleans in 2017, be sure to capitalize on his sleeper appeal at a discounted price. A TE15 finish in PPR formats in 2016 indicates that he cannot be relied on as an elite asset, but Fleener is firmly in the streaming conversation due to his presence in one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses. A bump in target share could also do wonders for the Stanford product’s value, as Brandin Cooks and his corresponding 117 targets from last season are now available for redistribution.
Dennis Pitta (BAL)
In addition to collecting a career-high 729 yards receiving, Dennis Pitta managed to lead all tight ends with 86 receptions in 2016. This enabled him to finish as the TE8 in PPR leagues, but he posted a pedestrian 8.5 yards per catch in the process.
The 31-year-old tight end will enter his eighth NFL season in 2017 in hopes to participate in a full sixteen-game schedule for just the fourth time in his career. Since 2013, Pitta has missed 41 regular season contests due to injury.
The BYU product’s lack of durability is inherently calculated into his asking price, which makes Pitta a perennial sleeper in dynasty formats. Expect a similar trend this upcoming season, as Pitta figures to remain a core piece of Baltimore’s aerial attack in which he earned 119 targets in last year.
Julius Thomas (MIA)
After two stellar campaigns with the Denver Broncos in 2013 and 2014 in which he recorded 12 receiving touchdowns in consecutive seasons, Julius Thomas has become an afterthought in the NFL and fantasy. Fortunately, the 28-year-old now has the opportunity to rebound with the Miami Dolphins in 2017 under the guidance of Adam Gase.
Remember, Thomas previously found success with Gase from 2013-2014 when the coach served as Denver’s offensive coordinator. In both of those campaigns, Thomas averaged over 11.4 yards per catch.
The tight end could have a difficult time replicating that level of production in Miami with Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills in the picture. At the same time, Thomas is a rebound candidate and belongs in the sleeper conversation for 2017 after missing 11 regular season games with the Jacksonville Jaguars over the past two seasons combined.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (HOU)
It often requires an ample amount of time for a tight end to acclimate to the NFL level. This was exactly the case for C.J. Fiedorowicz, as he was able to emerge in his third professional season in 2016 to the tune of 54 receptions for 559 yards and four touchdowns.
Well ahead of Ryan Griffin on Houston’s depth chart, Fiedorowicz will enter 2017 as a breakout candidate at the tight end position. It is worth monitoring the 25-year-old’s progress in dynasty circles, as he will be eligible for free agency in 2018.
Assuming Fiedorowicz can build off of his 2016 campaign and establish a rapport with Deshaun Watson, it is possible that he can flirt with TE1 numbers after a TE17 overall finish in PPR last year. Don’t sleep on Fiedorowicz moving forward, especially if the former third-round pick can earn more volume than the 89 targets he accrued last season with less than inspiring quarterback support.