After a year in which TE was pretty much a wasteland, the position has become one of the most polarizing in fantasy football. It feels like now more than ever, there are the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ when it comes to the teams who can carry the edge over their weekly opponents at TE. In addition to a down year at the position, Rob Gronkowski hanging it up has many dynasty owners looking for a “good luck charm” at the position that can hopefully be turned into an every week starter. While the 2019 rookie class was full of TE talent, here are some players that dynasty owners can acquire on the cheap either via trade or later in startup drafts. Now, we’re talking about sleepers here, so don’t feel like you have to “marry” them, but good owners continue to stay active and look for outside the box solutions.
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Vance McDonald (PIT)
Let’s start this thing off with something old. Old McDonald. Alright, McDonald isn’t really “old” (he’ll only be 29 entering the 2019 season), but dynasty owners have been around the block with him and could be hesitant to buy back in. However, if you’re looking for a quick (and cheap) fix at the TE position, McDonald could be your guy.
With 168 targets unaccounted for now that Antonio Brown has been shipped off to Oakland, McDonald could be looking at a bigger piece of the pie in the Steelers’ offense. He was sneakily the TE10 in PPR last season, but many dynasty owners will probably still be looking to take the risk on a younger prospect that might have the perception of a higher ceiling. However, with the potential increase in target volume, I could see McDonald approaching the 110-115 target mark, which could provide dynasty owners with a consistent every week starter.
Mike Gesicki (MIA)
Now let’s move to something new. After being the second TE off the board in the 2018 NFL Draft, Gesicki was a non-factor in his rookie season, only totaling 22 receptions and failing to find the endzone. Dynasty owners are always looking for the “next big thing,” and are often quick to discard assets that didn’t provide an immediate impact. The TE position traditionally requires more time for prospects to adapt, and at 23 years old and entering only his second season, Gesicki is an asset whose value has taken a fairly large hit. Based on the combination of another year of experience, an improved QB situation, and the physical traits we saw from Gesicki that got him drafted 42nd overall in the NFL draft, I’m willing to bet on him as a sleeper.
Adam Shaheen (CHI)
Now for something “borrowed,” or maybe just on borrowed time. This one is much more of a flyer and by no means should dynasty owners spend much to acquire Shaheen. Regardless, after a mediocre first season from Trey Burton in Chicago, the door to playing time could still be open for the former second-round pick. Shaheen is a huge target at 6’6″ and 270 pounds who will be entering his third season in the league.
While Shaheen was a draft selection during the John Fox era, current GM Ryan Pace was still calling the shots, so I think the Bears give the former Ashland TE plenty of opportunity to prove he’s not a bust. Shaheen dealt with an ankle and foot injury last season that lead to him being placed on IR and returning late in the year. While he didn’t contribute much, I think there’s still time for Shaheen to establish himself as the starting TE for the Bears.
Ian Thomas (CAR)
And finally, something blue…process blue — because apparently, that is the blue the Panthers use. Trust me, I looked it up. Thomas is another second-year TE that might go under the radar due to the recent influx of TE talent across the league and the fact that Greg Olsen is returning for another season.
Thomas did flash at the end of 2018 with back-to-back 14+ point games and gave dynasty owners a glimpse into what could be in store for Thomas if (or when) he receives his chance to be the starting TE in Carolina. While Thomas doesn’t carry the draft capital like Gesicki or Shaheen, he does have a fairly clear path to playing time and is paired with a QB that has a decent track record of utilizing the position. Thomas is a great example of a player whose perceived value will be less because owners are more focused on the rookie class and might be more willing to move on from Thomas.
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Kyle August is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Kyle, check out his archive and follow him @kyleFFfellas.