Ricky Seals-Jones: Late-Round Difference Maker (Fantasy Football)
A typical draft strategy for tight ends over the past few seasons is to target one of the big three in Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz, or punt the position and grab one of the last tight ends off the board. Like a busty supermodel, the tight end position is top heavy, and owners who miss out on a stud are better off waiting for a late-round player with upside as there is little to discern between the middle of the pack.
Trey Burton, George Kittle, O.J. Howard, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are four tight ends often listed on late-round value articles this offseason. While each one has upside, especially Burton assuming the Kelce role for Matt Nagy in Chicago, the tight end that I am targeting most in drafts is second-year player Rick Seals-Jones in Arizona.
A 6’5″, 225-pound former wide receiver at Texas A&M who converted to tight end, Seals-Jones finished last season as the 20th ranked TE in fantasy points per game in limited action as a rookie, with subpar quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton throwing him the ball. Seals-Jones garnered at least five targets in half of his games played, highlighted by a two-game span with seven catches for 126 yards and three touchdowns against Houston and Jacksonville Weeks 11 & 12.
The addition of Sam Bradford, one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL over his two seasons in Minnesota, makes a player like Seals-Jones even more attractive this year. Bradford loves throwing to tight ends, with TE’s accounting for 21% of his targets and receptions in his career. Kyle Rudolph averaged eight targets per game (five with other QBs) when playing with Bradford and Zach Ertz experienced a similar boost while playing with Sammy Shoulder Pads.
Another factor to consider is the apparent faith that general manager Steve Keim and the Arizona front office displayed this offseason by not drafting or acquiring via free agency a tight end to compete with Seals-Jones. Although veteran Jermaine Gresham is still on the roster, he is more suited as a blocking tight end and enters 2018 on the heels of an Achilles rupture. The four remaining tight ends are journeymen or late-round rookies like Andrew Vollert and Alec Bloom.
As the No. 21 ranked tight end on our FantasyPros ECR rankings, and with an ADP of 259, Ricky Seals-Jones will likely go undrafted in most leagues this summer. However, if you are in a league with deep benches and can roster two tight ends in the hope of one breaking out, using a final round pick on Seals-Jones might turn out to be a difference-making selection for your fantasy team in 2018.