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Tight End Sleepers: Jelani Woods, Noah Fant, Chigoziem Okonkwo (2024 Fantasy Football)

The words “dynasty” “veteran” and “sleepers” used consecutively feels a bit like an oxymoron. In dynasty fantasy football circles, sleepers are typically the young bucks who need nurturing before growing into their antlers, while veterans who’ve had their shot are afterthoughts. Well, I’m here to say that veterans can be fantasy football sleepers, too.

Ideally, a dynasty veteran sleeper can make an immediate impact for a contender and hold value for at least a few years. Keep in mind that some of these sleepers are on the younger side of the veteran spectrum, while some have a shorter NFL future but can still return plenty of value in the next few seasons.

With that in mind, let’s look at some tight ends who are set up to make an impact this season and return positive value down the line. Here are a few of our top dynasty tight end sleepers to consider in fantasy football drafts and trades.

Tight End Sleepers

Chigoziem Okonkwo (TE – TEN) | Dynasty ADP: 177 Overall, TE22

A post-hype sleeper who fell short of an anticipated breakout last season, Chigoziem Okonkwo enters his third season looking to leap forward in a revamped Titans offense. Okonkwo, a fourth-round selection in 2022, finished as the TE21 overall in PPR scoring and just 26th in points per game but quietly had a strong run to finish the season. In Weeks 12-18, he was the TE10, while averaging nearly five targets and 46 yards per game in those seven contests, which included his only touchdown of the season. While his 528 receiving yards on the season were 18th among tight ends, his lack of touchdowns put a major dent in his fantasy contributions. Even so, Okonkwo saw the third-most deep targets among tight ends and was first in average cushion, proving he’s capable of winning downfield.

It’s easy to forget the Okonkwo hype train was built on him being the most efficient tight end per route in the NFL in his rookie season. He finished that year with the most fantasy points per route run with (0.7), the most yards per reception (14.1) and the most yards per route run (3.26). There’s no doubt the train derailed the first half of last season, but the Titans’ offense spent much of the season off the rails. The club added Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd, giving Okonkwo more competition for targets in a suddenly crowded offense. That might be enough to keep fantasy managers away, but the hiring of Brian Callahan should result in an uptick in pass attempts. A more creative and advanced play-caller will benefit Okonkwo more than anybody in the Titans offense. At 24 years old, Okonkwo is a worthwhile dynasty investment who’s being drafted as the TE22.

Noah Fant (TE – SEA) | Dynasty ADP: 200 Overall, TE25

During his time in Seattle, Noah Fant has always been part of a tight end committee with Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson, but that’s about to change this season. Dissly and Parkinson have both departed Seattle, leaving the room in Fant’s hands after he inked a new two-year deal. Even though he shared the position, Fant still posted over 400 yards in each of the last two seasons after finishing with 560+ in each of his three seasons in Denver.

It’s easy to forget Fant was a first-round pick who was in the 97th percentile of prospects in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and vertical jump. Fant is now in his best position to succeed. Even during his tenure with the Broncos, the team faced instability within the coaching staff and at quarterback. The pass-catching group is crowded in Seattle with three quality receivers, but Fant posted the third-highest yards per target (9.6) and yards per reception (12.9) among all tight ends last season. He had the second-highest contested catch rate at 75% but also posted the second-best target separation of 2.35. His three red zone targets held him back immensely, but that should skyrocket this season. With offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb bringing his high-flying offense to the NFL, there should be plenty to go around and Fant is expected to be on the field a lot more often. Historically, tight ends peak between ages 25-27. At age 26, Fant falls perfectly within that window.

Jelani Woods (TE – IND) | Dynasty ADP: 230 Overall, TE30

Entering his third NFL season, Jelani Woods missed the entirety of his second season with a hamstring injury. Before the injury, Woods tested out as perhaps the most athletic tight end prospect of all time at the combine, leading to a perfect 10.0 relative athletic score (RAS). He is a huge presence at 6-foot-7 and 253 pounds, but he can also run, evidenced by his 4.61 40-yard dash.

In his rookie season, Woods posted 312 yards and three touchdowns but notched the eighth-best yards per reception among tight ends with 12.5. With his size and athleticism, plus his three touchdowns as a rookie, the marks of a legitimate weapon in the red zone are present. Combine that with his 10-yard average depth of target (aDOT) as a rookie, fourth-best among tight ends, and Woods appears to be a player who can create many big plays. With Michael Pittman, Adonai Mitchell and Josh Downs in the fold, plus other tight ends like Kylen Granson and Mo Alie-Cox, Woods will need to prove himself and be efficient to make an impact. He’s got all the prerequisites to do so. He just needs to stay healthy and prove it.

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