6 Top Late-Round Tight Ends to Target (2019 Fantasy Football)
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There is some serious fantasy football draft capital being spent on tight ends entering the 2019 NFL season. The consensus is that there is a significant drop off around TE6 in most expert rankings. Obviously, we can’t all have a top-three or even top-six tight end. So, for those waiting at the position in order to stockpile running backs and wide receivers, who are the late-round tight ends to target? We’ve asked our writers to provide their top late-round tight ends (currently TE11 or lower based on consensus ADP).
Who is your favorite late-round TE?
Delanie Walker (TEN): ADP TE12
In his three healthy seasons catching passes from Marcus Mariota, Delanie Walker has posted lines of 94/1,088/6, 65/800/7, and 74/807/3. The worst of those three lines would have been good enough to be the TE6 in half-PPR formats in 2018. There’s obvious risk drafting a 35-year-old tight end coming off a major injury, but Walker didn’t even have an injury designation going into camp. And can you call a pick risky if the player isn’t even close to sniffing the top 100 picks? Let’s stop pretending as if Mariota suddenly has an arsenal of weapons he can rely on. To date, Corey Davis has been as reliable as a fork in soup. A.J. Brown is a talented but raw receiver, and rookie wideouts rarely produce at a high level. Adam Humphries is essentially a glorified Kendell Wright. That leaves Walker as the lone known trustworthy target that Mariota has. He’s worth a flyer.
– Elisha Twerski (@ElishaTwerski)
This is one of the easiest responses I’ve had to these collaboration articles. I absolutely love Delanie Walker this season, and he’s actually in the top 10 for me. Despite missing 15 games last season, we’re talking about a guy who finished top-five at the position in the three previous years. In fact, he actually ranked second among all tight ends in receptions in that span, as he’s truly one of the most undervalued players in fantasy this season. The reports all say that he’s fully healthy, and given the struggles of the offense, in general, he should be able to maintain his rapport with Marcus Mariota. Grab this guy late or get him as your backup because he’s one of the best bargains out there!
– Joel Bartilotta (@Bartilottajoel)
Jimmy Graham (GB): ADP TE18
Packers tight end Jimmy Graham is entering his second year with the team hoping for better results than year one. Graham finished the 2018 season with 55 catches for 636 yards and two touchdowns. It was far from Graham’s best season, but there is reason to believe that 2019 could be a bounce-back year. First off, even with those numbers, Graham finished as the 12th-ranked tight end in PPR thanks to being the sixth-most targeted player at his position. When it comes to tight ends, it’s all about volume. If you get targeted, you’re going to score fantasy points. Secondly, Graham played through most of 2018 with a broken thumb and the Mike McCarthy-led offense didn’t help either. For years, the tight end position has been overlooked in McCarthy offenses. That should change under new HC Matt Lafleur. Throughout training camp everyone from Lafleur to Aaron Rodgers has expressed how important it will be to get Graham more involved in the offense. When asked about his Pro Bowl tight end, Rodgers called him a “Hall of Fame talent” as well as someone who needs to see more opportunities. With guys like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb gone, Rodgers will need a new weapon over the middle, and I think that’s going to be Jimmy Graham. If you miss out on the top tight ends and don’t feel comfortable with the mid-round guys, Graham is basically free in drafts (166th overall, TE18) and could easily outperform his current ADP.
– Eli Berkovits (@PTTF_Eli)
Jack Doyle (IND): ADP TE25
Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron were both active in six games last season. In those games, Doyle out-snapped Ebron 331 to 165. Doyle had 26 receptions on 33 targets for 245 yards. Ebron had 18 receptions on 22 targets for 228 yards. Ebron scored seven touchdowns on those 18 receptions (which is an absurd TD %) and Doyle scored two touchdowns on those 26 receptions. In these six games, Ebron had six red-zone targets and Jack Doyle had seven, so it wasn’t just higher red zone usage that lead to Ebron’s touchdowns. Unless something changed from last season, this coaching staff clearly viewed Jack Doyle as the 1a tight end when healthy. He is free to be taken at the end of your draft and is an ideal tight end target for me if I wait until the end of my draft and take two tight ends.
– Steven Roy (@rockhead_roy)
Mark Andrews (BAL): ADP TE15
Mark Andrews finished 2018 with 34 receptions on 50 targets for 552 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 11.0 yards on 50 targets (second in yards per target only to O.J. Howard) and was the only Baltimore pass catcher to thrive after Lamar Jackson took over last season. Andrews showed off his athleticism with a 68-yard touchdown grab in Week 16, and he also led the team in targets during its wild-card loss to the Chargers. Since he’s more of an oversized reciever, Andrews ran most of his routes last year from the slot. This freed him from blocking assigments and allowed him to get a clean release off the line. Andrews has been one of the team’s best pass-catchers this preseason and seems to have developed a rapport with Jackson. With an impressive rookie season under his belt and good chemistry with Jackson, this puts Andrews high up as one of the better bargains at tight end this year.
– Brad Camara (@beerad30)
T.J. Hockenson (DET): ADP TE17
The John Mackey Award is awarded to the top tight end in college football, and T.J. Hockenson won that award in 2018, despite being on an Iowa team that had another tight end drafted in the first round, Noah Fant. The reason Hockenson was able to hold off Fant for that starting job and secure a higher draft position is Hockenson was the more complete player. Fantasy owners will care about Hockenson’s 4.7 second 40-yard dash time, his 37-inch vertical jump, the 760 yards receiving, and the six receiving touchdowns he posted at Iowa last year. Those are attributes and statistics that made him the eighth pick in the NFL Draft and also a candidate to break out in fantasy football as a rookie. Good blocking is what allows rookie tight ends to see the field early, and Hockenson can also block. If a tight end has no idea how to block, it limits the packages an NFL team can use him. While every team wants the next physical phenom at tight end, it does no good for the NFL team if it comes at the expense of not being able to run the ball or switch pass protection to pick up the blitz. Hockenson’s athleticism and ability to stretch the field is what will make him an upside fantasy play this year, but the reason fantasy owners have the chance to realize that production this year is that Hockenson will be on the field a lot this year because he can also block. He should also be targeted a lot, because the Lions do not have much at wide receiver this year. Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Danny Amendola are their best receivers this year, but those three players combined for just 2,146 yards and 11 touchdowns last year with Golladay having almost half of the production in both yards and touchdowns. The Lions drafted Hockenson because he can help them be a tougher team at the line of scrimmage, and he can also give QB Matthew Stafford a weapon in the middle of the field and in the red zone. Some fantasy owners will be concerned about veteran TE Jessie James. James was a fifth-round pick by Pittsburgh that earned himself a nice payday this offseason with his solid play there, but Hockenson was the eighth pick in the NFL Draft for a team that won only six games and had a ton of needs. Teams do not draft tight ends eighth in the NFL Draft to learn from the bench. Hockenson should have a nice role early in the year, and he should become a bigger part of the offense as the season progresses. I love his upside this year playing with a veteran quarterback that should give him a chance to crack the top 10 in his rookie season.
– Derek Lofland (@DerekLofland)
Noah Fant (DEN): ADP TE21
My favorite late-round tight end is Noah Fant.”Don’t draft a rookie tight end!” I know this has been the mantra of all fantasy analysts, but at such a shallow position in, you have to take some chances if you don’t get one of the guys drafted earlier. Denver’s current wide receiver group is a question mark with Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, and DaeSean Hamilton. Sanders is coming off a torn Achilles and young wide receivers Sutton and Hamilton have not yet proven themselves as legit threats in the NFL. Another factor working in Fant’s favor is having Joe Flacco as his quarterback. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on Flacco as a quarterback, but he loves to target his tight end. In his past three seasons with the Ravens, Flacco targeted a tight end on 23% of his passes — the fifth-highest rate in the league during that span. Fant will be by far the most talented tight end that Flacco has had, so there is a good chance that he leads the Broncos’ pass-catching group in targets. I expect the 20th-overall player taken this past draft to see the field early and often.
– Kevin O’Connor (@22koconnor)