With the season just days away, some leagues are still waiting to draft and others might already be in need of a waiver wonder. The tight end position doesn’t have a ton of sleepers this season and the guys listed below have substantial upside.
Kyle Rudolph, Min
A broken left foot limited Rudolph to just eight games last year in which he had 30 grabs with 313 yards and three touchdowns. His six-foot-six frame is ideal for the red zone and you can expect quarterback Matt Cassel to look his way often.
Rudolph looked good this preseason in now offensive coordinator, Norv Turner’s, newly installed system. For a guy being taken very late in most drafts, fantasy owners can expect career-highs from the 24-year-old tight end out of Notre Dame.
Zack Ertz, Phi
Heading into his second NFL season, Ertz figures to get more looks in the passing game in what is a high-powered offense in Philadelphia. Ertz caught 36 balls for 469 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie last season splitting reps with veteran Brent Celek.
Head coach Chip Kelly drafted the former Stanford Cardinal in the second round in 2013 to become the big-play tight end in his fast-paced attack. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes one of quarterback Nick Foles’ favorite targets, especially in the red zone.
Ladarius Green, SD
Antonio Gates is the still the go-to tight end in San Diego, but Green’s stock has been on the rise as of late. The 24-year-old proved more than capable in several games last season and the Chargers plan on getting him on the field more often in 2014. Green is six-foot-six and can also split out wide and Gates’ injury issues are always a concern. Fantasy owners should draft Green as a backup with lots of upside.
Tyler Eifert, Cin
The Bengals’ passing attack led by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green is in desperate need of a playmaker over the middle. Jermaine Gresham hasn’t been the answer and Eifert put up 39 receptions with 445 yards and a pair of scores as a rookie in 2013. Both players are former first-round picks and Eifert has the pass-catching ability to earn the majority of targets this season.
Eric Ebron, Det
The Lions’ first-round pick, No. 10 overall, is currently listed as third on the depth chart. Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect very much in the first half of the season, but Ebron will be a factor in the passing game at some point in the future.
Tim Wright, NE
The Patriots always seem to be up to something with sneaky trades that make you question their thought process. Trading Logan Mankins to get Wright and a draft pick seems lopsided, but don’t be surprised if he makes head coach Bill Belichick look like a genius once again. The Pats will use both Rob Gronkowski and Wright in two, tight end sets and the second-year pro impressed as a rookie in 2013 with 54 catches, 571 yards and five touchdowns.
Honorable Mentions for Deep Leagues
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins
- Mychal Rivera
- Scott Chandler
Kyle Rudolph photo credit: Rick Burtzel