By John Healy
Tight end is one of the more top-heavy positions in fantasy football. There are only a handful of elite tight ends who are worth taking a high pick on in the draft.
If you’re unable to grab the likes of a Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz or George Kittle, you will be scouring for value pick tight ends in the mid to late rounds of the draft.
Here are some potential sleepers for the 2019 season:
Chris Herndon, New York Jets
Herndon appears to be the trendy sleeper pick among tight ends this year and for good reason. In his rookie season, Herndon was targeted 56 times for 39 receptions, 502 yards and four touchdowns, proving to be a rare bright spot on a shaky Jets offense. Thirty of those 56 targets came in the final six games as Sam Darnold and him proved to have some chemistry together. Darnold is expected to progress in his second year and with new weapons such as Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell, the chemistry with Herndon could result in the tight end becoming a security blanket for Darnold.
There is also new head coach Adam Gase, an offensive-minded coach who has already issued praise for Herndon, calling him a “unicorn.” It is possible Herndon could be a top-10 tight end available in the last few rounds of drafts.
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
There is still a lot Lamar Jackson needs to prove with his arm in the NFL, but when he did throw the ball, Mark Andrews was often the one receiving it. Andrews caught 34 balls on 50 targets for 552 yards and three touchdowns his rookie season. Of those 552 yards, 308 came from the seven games Jackson started at quarterback. He averaged 11 yards per target, which is the second-highest mark of any rookie tight end since 2007, besting Kelce and Rob Gronkowski and only trailing OJ Howard. Ravens tight end coach Greg Roman hinted that Andrews (and fellow tight end Hayden Hurst) will have bigger roles in 2019.
“You’ll see a lot more of them this year and not just in traditional lineups,” he said after the season. “I’m excited about expanding with them this year.”
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
The Broncos drafted Fant with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Iowa product was taken after his fellow tight end and teammate, T.J. Hockenson, but Fant has gone a little more under the radar. His combination of size and speed makes him more of a threat as a playmaker, which should bode well in Denver where QB Joe Flacco often relies on the big play and offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello likes to incorporate tight ends into the passing game. While Flacco may not be what he once was, he still targets tight ends 23 percent of the time, which is the fifth-most in the league over the last three years.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have Zach Ertz, who is a top-three fantasy tight end in the league, but Goedert may be worth considering as a late-round pick. The Eagles drafted Goedert in the second round of 2018 and he showed promise as a rookie, hauling in 33 of 44 targets for 332 yards and four touchdowns. Not too shabby for a TE2. Yet with Ertz and plenty of other weapons on a loaded Eagles offense, can we really expect much more from Goedert this year? Head coach Doug Pederson did hint at the NFL owners’ meeting that there would be big things to come this year with his two-tight end packages.
“I’ll just tell you this: there’s things that we’re going to do, we’re going to implement this spring in our 12 personnel to hopefully give us an advantage in the fall,” he said.
That certainly sounds promising, but at the very least, Goedert is valuable insurance if Ertz were to ever get injured this season.
ADP: mostly undrafted