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3 Tight End Sleepers (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Jim Colombo | @WideRightNBlue | Featured Writer
Aug 29, 2020

The opportunity for Dawson Knox to creep into the top-12 conversation is certainly possible.

Is Travis Kelce’s price tag too hot to handle?

Will George Kittle be gone before you can draft him?

Don’t sweat it. You’ll find plenty of tight end value toward the middle or back end of your fantasy football drafts.

All you have to do is answer the question, “Who is this year’s Mark Andrews?” or “Who is this year’s Darren Waller?”

Easier said than done, you say? Not unless you have a sensible strategy, which is exactly what I hope you’ll find with this all-new tight end sleeper system.

Here’s how it works:

1. Identify last year’s sleeper tight ends.
These are the guys who outperformed their ADP in 2019. If you had them on your team, it was because you drafted them late or plucked them off the waiver wire. Fortunately for you, they finished the season as a top-six tight end.

2. Look at their metrics, teams, and situations from last year.
What is the player’s height and weight? What did his offense look like? How did his coach operate? Was his team any good? How many targets did he get?

3. Scan this year’s crop of low-tier tight ends.
Look at the guys who are being drafted outside the top 12 at the tight end position right now. Use our FantasyPros research tools to pinpoint their ADPs and see where you can get them in drafts.

4. Find similarities between the two tight ends.
This is where the magic happens. Now that you have a feel for last year’s breakouts and this year’s lesser-known, all you have to do is bring them together. In other words, find the low-tier tight end that is most like one of last year’s top finishers. Who among the bottom crop of tight ends reminds you of an elite player at the position? It’s time to find out.

Based on the system we’ve outlined above, here are three tight end sleepers for the 2020 fantasy football season.

Check out our consensus ADP to identify values across the most popular league hosts >>

1. Dawson Knox (BUF)
Dawson Knox is a 23-year-old tight end who plays on a run-heavy offense with a mobile quarterback and at least one deep-threat wide receiver.

At 6’5″, 245 lbs., he’s already established himself as a hard-nosed tight end who can lower the boom and keep drives alive.

True, he suffered from some easy drops in 2019. However, he did make acrobatic, circus-like grabs in heavy traffic on more than one occasion.

Sound like any other tight end you know? Someone who may have finished as the TE4 in half-PPR leagues last year, perhaps?

That’s right—I am comparing Dawson Knox to Mark Andrews.

And why not? Mark Andrews is almost the exact same age (24 years old), height (6’5″) and weight (256 lbs.) as Dawson Knox. Their offenses are both built around players with similar skill sets, and both teams are expected to be highly competitive again this year.

In half-PPR leagues last year, Mark Andrews was being drafted as the 13th tight end off the board and finished the season as the TE4.

Right now, Dawson Knox is the TE28 in our ADP consensus rankings, which means he’ll probably go undrafted in most leagues. I am not saying Knox is going to be a top-five tight end, but the odds that he exceeds his current ADP are excellent, and the opportunity for him to creep into the top-12 conversation is certainly possible.

If you wait on a tight end until the last few rounds of your draft, grab Dawson Knox. Worst case scenario: Your bench runs deep, you draft him as your TE2, and then you unleash him on your league almost immediately.

You think I’m crazy but guess what—that’s the nature of predicting a fantasy football sleeper.

2. Chris Herndon (NYJ)
Chris Herndon is a 24-year-old tight end whose offense might have the worst lineup of wide receivers in the entire league.

As the undisputed No. 1 TE on this team, he could easily see the lion’s share of targets from his quarterback.

Herndon may have a history of substance abuse behind him, but his bright future is propped up by his own raw talent and faith from the New York Jets coaching staff. In short, Herndon has a lot to prove and all the power to prove it.

Hm, let’s see. Bad receivers. First-team tight end. Massive chip on his shoulder. Big expectations from his coaching staff. Is this scenario starting to ring any bells?

Yes, and they sound a lot like 2019 Darren Waller.

In half-PPR leagues last year, Darren Waller was being drafted, well, nowhere. If you were savvy enough to see through the Antonio Brown clown show, you grabbed Waller on waivers or from free agency as soon as possible.

And how did that turn out for you? Pretty great, right?

Last season, Waller collected 90 receptions on 117 targets, which was good enough for a third-place finish among tight ends in half-PPR leagues. With a similar situation and nearly the same size (Chris Herndon is 6’4″, 253 lbs. and Darren Waller is 6’6″, 255 lbs.) can Can Herndon break out in 2020? I say yes. As the TE23 in our ADP consensus rankings, he’s certainly worth a shot.

If you’re scouring your league for sleeper tight ends, look no further than Chris Herndon.

3. Dallas Goedert (PHI)
Dallas Goedert is a 25-year-old tight end who totaled 58 receptions for 607 yards and five touchdowns on an average of 52.1 snaps per game in 2019.

Despite sharing first-team reps with fellow tight end Zach Ertz, Goedert came on strong in the final six games of the 2019 regular season, hauling in 34 receptions for 350 yards and two touchdowns.

Eagles Head Coach and offensive play-caller Doug Pederson ran 12-personnel sets 60% of the time, which means his offense lined up with two tight ends and one running back for the majority of the season. As a result, both tight ends—Goedert and Ertz—were fantasy relevant.

Can you think of another tight end who, despite sharing time with another tight end in 12-personnel sets, came on strong down the stretch last season?

Yep, Tyler Higbee. In his final six games, Higbee caught 48 balls for 542 yards and two touchdowns.

Tyler Higbee (6’6″, 255 lbs.) was not drafted on fantasy football teams last year. He was a mid-season waiver wire acquisition who blew up down the stretch and finished as the TE8 in half-PPR leagues. He was, to wit, one of the biggest tight end sleepers of the 2019 season.

Right now, Dallas Goedert (6’5″, 256 lbs.) is ranked as the TE18 in our ADP consensus rankings, which means he’s being drafted in only deeper leagues. But why? He was last year’s TE10!

Don’t wait until mid-season and kill yourself trying to get Goedert off of waivers. Draft him with a late-round pick and look for him to get cooking even earlier in 2020. I’m willing to be he finishes the season as one of the biggest tight end sleepers in the league.

By definition, a sleeper is any player who wildly outperforms his ADP. Can these tight ends be sleepers? Absolutely. Will the rewards far outweigh the risks? I guarantee it.

2020 Draft Kit: View printable cheat sheets, sleepers & mistakes to avoid >>

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Jim Colombo is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @WideRightNBlue.

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