Your draft is most likely right around the corner. You are rigorously studying rankings, pouring over the 2019 Ultimate Draft Kit, and mock drafting until your fingers are numb. Welcome to August where the fantasy football cobwebs are dusted away and you get to immerse yourself into the joys of creating your very own dream team.
One thing that hasn’t changed this year is the disaster that is the tight end landscape after names like Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and Geroge Kittle. The gap between these Tier 1 and Tier 2 players is so disparaging that you may be attempting to get rid of the position altogether.
Before you further lament over the 2019 tight ends and rationalize spending a 2nd round draft pick on Kelce, let me show a silver lining you can fall back on this year. You can still wait on the tight end position and get a value bang for practically no bucks whatsoever.
Here are three late-round TEs you should NOT ignore during your draft.
1. Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens – 13.06
You may remember Mark Andrews during his college career with Baker Mayfield in Oklahoma where he racked up 112 receptions, 1,765 yards, and a whopping 22 touchdowns. If the name sounds unfamiliar in the NFL, that’s probably due to his underwhelming performance as a rookie tight end for the Ravens last year with 34 receptions on 50 targets with 552 yards and three TDs.
These numbers may seem dismal especially amid the morbid tight end landscape, but Andrews may be poised to have a break out year in 2019. So far in training camp, QB Lamar Jackson and Andrews have proved to be a dangerous combo. It makes sense if you look at these two players in terms of growth in their upcoming sophomore year. What better way to help raise Jackson’s confidence in the passing game than a hyper-efficient tight end? Andrews saw only 34% of snaps yet had a 68% catch rate and 16.2 yards per touch.
I should also point out that the NFL is notoriously rough on rookie TEs, who typically need at least a year to develop in the league. Andrews’ numbers in 2018 are actually trending in the direction of turning into the next Zach Ertz or George Kittle who you can get as late as 13th round of your drafts.
[Editor’s Note: Find out why Mark Andrews and others are listed as a Ballers Writing Staff #MyGuy in 2019.]
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For reference, below is a table comparing the rookie years for Andrews, Ertz, and Kittle. It’s not difficult to see how you can draw some comparisons between these players, especially given Andrews’ incredible talent and production in college.
The 2019 Ultimate Draft Kit’s Market Share Report shows that Baltimore has the 6th highest percentage of passes going to the TE position behind Philadelphia, Kansas City, San Fransisco, Indianapolis, and Washington.
2. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – 13.11
Speaking of Washington, 2019 could see the resurgence of “Rule 86” … when Jordan Reed is healthy, you start him in fantasy, at least as a favorable streaming option. Reed still remains as the leading tight end in front of Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle, despite his lackluster stat line last year. Remember, since 2013 he has had 329 receptions on 446 targets with 3371 yards and 24 touchdowns. He played the most games last year since his 14 games in 2015, yet only scored 2 touchdowns which he managed to do injured and in only 6 games in 2017.
A majority of the problems Reed faced were due to the lengthy injury history that he has had to push through. From concussions to hamstring pulls to toe injuries, it seems Reed cannot manage to give it a full 16 games. Coach Jay Gruden has reported that he is healthy entering this season so this may finally be the year we see Reed consistently on the field.
The Redskins seem set on moving forward with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Reed can prove to be a valuable security blanket as Haskins gets his feet wet in the NFL. Aside from that, the QB has hardly anyone else to target considering they lost Jamison Crowder to the Jets and the rest of the wide receivers consist of names like Josh Doctson, Trey Quinn, and Paul Richardson.
If you are into streaming the TE position, Reed is a cheap option to snag late in the 13th round. Even if you are carrying over a stud or even targeting another value TE, stashing Reed could pay off in an offense that desperately needs him involved.
3. Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers – 13.12
If you were disappointed by Jimmy Graham‘s performance last year, trust me, you were not alone. The opportunity of the Aaron Rodgers/Graham stack was simply too enticing to pass up, leaving us heartbroken nearly every week. Looking at Graham’s bottom line in 2018 is still shocking, finishing with 55 receptions on 89 targets with 636 yards and only two touchdowns.
However, we may be suffering from historical amnesia if we are really all that surprised. Graham’s rookie year in New Orleans and his first year in Seattle had equally mediocre numbers, only to skyrocket in the following years.
Graham is entering his second year with Rodgers, continuing to build on his relationship to accrue targets. Let’s not forget that Rodgers last year had the worst TD% of his career at 4.2% and had a career-low in passing touchdowns with only 25 over 16 games and was sacked 49 times. With head coach Mike McCarthy gone and Matt LaFleur in, we should see a different Green Bay Packers offense in 2019. LaFleur’s Titans offense targeted the TE position 21% of the time.
Another point to mention is that Graham played his last seven games with a broken thumb yet was ranked 10th in air yards and 8th in yards after contact. If history repeats itself, we could see Graham and Rodgers bouncing back nicely together in 2019. With an ADP of 13.12, you can get him for practically nothing and stash him in case his numbers start to take off.
Don’t forget to grab your copy of the 2019 Ultimate Draft Kit to dominate your drafts this season! Football is right around the corner!