This series began with the “Late Round WR Fliers in 2018“. Be sure to check out the entire series once completed. Now, we shift our focus to tight ends. The truth is, the tight end position is very tricky and full of late round potential. Once you get past the very limited “elite” options (Gronk, Ertz, Kelce) its a true free for all at the position, production wise. The TEs you draft in the earlier rounds (after the mentioned elite options) will likely have you wishing you waited much later to draft your TE by season’s end. Before we jump into our possible 2018 options at the position, let’s break down what a “late round flier” is.
A late round flier is a player you do not invest much of your draft capital in. These players are typically drafted close to or in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts. The hope is to maximize your small investment and get top-tier production for that player. There are a couple of reasons you will want to do this, especially at the tight end position. If you are not going to invest for one of the 3-4 top tier options in the early rounds then you will want to wait because the difference in production in a tight end in the mid-rounds is not much different than those you can get later. Another strategy that makes sense for TEs is streaming. This is where you pick up available TEs week-to-week based on matchups and try to maximize your production out of the position by hopefully “Frankensteining” a top TE at the end of the season using multiple options. A few of the tight ends mentioned in this article will likely be available after your fantasy drafts, so if you don’t hit on your late-round flier, you can always stream the position.
Check out some of Andy, Mike, and Jason’s favorite late round WR sleepers in the Ultimate Draft Kit.
These are the TEs that you may have expected more out of. The type that “if only they played somewhere else or at least had a different QB” they would be so much better. Although this is not always the case, we have seen examples that give credibility to this notion. Someone like Martellus Bennett who played less than desirable football with the Cowboys and Giants went on to be a top option at the position with the Bears and Patriots. Sometimes, the opposite is true. Someone like Julius Thomas was considered elite at the position in Denver but as soon as he left, so did his production. This “change-up” can be a scary thing to trust but if it works out, you could reap the benefits of a TE that just needed a different system or QB to help their overall production.
The Easily Forgotten
There can be many reasons to forget about a player. They could have been lost to injury and never talked about for the majority of the season. Maybe they had another TE steal some production away and caused your brain to short-circuit their existence. It’s possible they had a few productive weeks toward the end of the year and it just wasn’t enough to put them on your radar for the upcoming season. Whatever the reason, here are some names that you may wish you didn’t forget. (These are some guys I can see taking a big step in 2018.)
The Unsexy but Consistent
I’m not talking about looks here. This is simply the type of TE that you’re not crazy about having on your team but at the end of the day, they give you enough steady production that you just can’t let them go. These are the older tight ends that have been producing just enough for so long that you either write them off assuming they can’t possibly do it again or you completely forget they are still in the league. Crazy as it sounds, this list makes up a good chunk of the TE1s in the league so I can’t really list them as “fliers”. Guys like Kyle Rudolph, Delanie Walker, and Jimmy Graham are a few examples that you could get later in drafts but I’m not comfortable calling them fliers. My 2018 TE “fliers” that fit into this category are listed below.
The End Zoner
The perfect definition of what Jimmy Graham was in 2017. These are the TEs that may not dazzle you with big yardage plays and will not have many receiving yards at the end of the season but they still find a way into fantasy relevance thanks to touchdown totals. You hear it all of the time “volume is king” when it comes to fantasy football; however, touchdowns for TEs are the true king at the end of the day. This category is a gamble but it’s one that can pay off with just 1 reception from your tight end week to week. For the TE position, it makes sense that these big bodied players would get the end-zone targets and not much else. These guys either protect their QB, open up running lanes for their RB or just create enough of a mismatch to open things up for the WRs that can extend plays with their speed.