Bounce-Back TEs (2019 Fantasy Football)
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Every year, some football players pegged for a good season fall short of expectations. It’s an inevitability in fantasy football that some players on your team will underachieve. All hope is not lost, though. Some of those players rebound the following season to provide quality production for drafters who take a chance on them. The tight end position has been one of the most volatile in fantasy, but at least five are primed to have a much better season than they did in 2018. Let’s take a look at some bounce-back TE options to consider drafting in 2019.
Jordan Reed (WAS)
2018 finish: TE16
Reed has played just 65 of a possible 96 games in his six-year NFL career and has never played a full 16-game season due to a growing list of injuries. That’s obviously a reason for concern, but there is hope that Reed can play a majority of the games in 2019. His 13 games played in 2018 was his most in four years, so he is trending in the right direction. Tight end is a wasteland, evidenced by Reed’s TE16 finish despite just a 54/558/2 stat line, so he won’t need to hit 1,000 yards or 10 TDs to be valuable.
Washington lost Jamison Crowder and Maurice Harris, freeing up 9.8 targets per game for Reed, so his target share is bound to increase. A longtime Washington vet and a safety-valve target, Reed should exceed last year’s totals catching passes from either Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, or rookie Dwayne Haskins. The run game will feature Adrian Peterson, but Derrius Guice may be in line to miss even more time after tweaking his hamstring in the offseason while recovering from last year’s torn ACL. That means more passing downs for Washington and a bounce-back season for Reed.
Jimmy Graham (GB)
2018 finish: TE14
Graham has been an elite TE since entering the NFL in 2010. From 2010-2017, he averaged 70/850/9 per season, operating as one of fantasy football’s top options at his position. Graham totaled just 55/636/2 in his first season with Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers tossed only 25 TDs in a down year while playing through some major injuries. Rodgers should be back to his old self in 2019. That means positive TD regression and some increased scoring for the big-bodied Graham, who has thrived in the red zone throughout his career. Talented rookie Jace Sternberger should give Graham the motivation he needs to put together another big season and jump back into the TE1 ranks.
O.J. Howard (TB)
2018 finish: TE13
Howard, like Reed, has dealt with injuries in his brief NFL career, appearing in just 22 of 32 games over the last two seasons. Also like Reed, Howard has been one of the best TEs in football when on the field. He’s totaled a 60/997/11 stat line in those 22 games, averaging 41.9 yards per game and scoring every other contest. His per-game average works out to 8.9 fantasy points, or 142.4 points over a full 16-game season. Those numbers would have been good for an overall TE6 finish in 2018.
Howard missed six games last season due to an MCL sprain, but he is expected to be fully healthy heading into this season. The absence of DeSean Jackson will free up some targets for Howard, and gunslinger Jameis Winston’s return as the unquestioned starter will only bode well for the Alabama product’s prospects — especially playing in a Bruce Arians offense. Expect a bounce-back performance in 2019 for one of the most gifted TEs in football.
Hunter Henry (LAC)
2018 finish: N/A
Henry’s not exactly a bounce-back candidate since he didn’t play at all last season. But hey, it’s just semantics. The Chargers TE tore his ACL on the first day of OTAs last year and missed the entire season. One of the most promising tight ends of the last three years, Henry racked up an 81/1,057/12 line in his two years on the field, including a TE1 finish as a rookie in 2016 behind eight TDs. He’ll still have a talented group of pass-catchers to compete with for targets in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Melvin Gordon, but Henry is more than capable of producing TE1 numbers in a Chargers offense sure to score a lot of points. Don’t let the injury scare you off, as he’s had over a year to recover and should be close to 100 percent by opening kickoff.
Matt LaCosse (NE)
2018 finish: TE38
He’s certainly not the sexiest pick in this draft. Far from it, in fact. It’s hard not to love a starting TE catching passes from Tom Brady, though. Although the volume hasn’t been there for LaCosse (career 27/272/1 stat line), he displayed some talent and athleticism in five starts with Denver last season and impressed Bill Belichick enough to land a roster spot. New England’s TE depth is very limited behind LaCosse, and longtime vet and former Patriot Ben Watson will miss four games due to a suspension. The opportunity is there for LaCosse to take on a big role for New England, especially with the mix-and-match squad of receivers currently available to Brady. He can be had at the end of fantasy drafts, but his ceiling is much higher than his ADP suggests.