Fantasy Football: Do Not Ignore These Late Round TEs

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A late round TE selection is a pick used at the end of your draft with the ultimate goal of finding a player with major upside at minimal cost. In 10-12 team redraft leagues, we are talking about players taken in Rounds 13+ that fill the last starting spot on your roster. If you’ve passed on the likes of Gronk and Jordan Reed, here are some great viable options. Of all the positions you could draft in the late rounds, TEs are the ones that must be taken in context. TE is a low value position in fantasy considering most leagues start just one and there’s a lack of multiple top-end options. Once you get to TE8 and on, there is a pile of mush that can be swapped out frequently.

Note: We must remind ourselves that finding late round stars in fantasy football is not an exact science. There is a bit of randomness involved alongside the puzzle pieces of injury, opportunity, and offensive schemes in football. In other words, these are simply suggestions which have the possibility of striking fantasy gold.

Check out some of Andy, Mike, and Jason’s favorite late round TE sleepers in the Ultimate Draft Kit.

Coby Fleener

Not again… Fleener has teased us for years and probably was a major letdown for those that drafted him last year.  If you are wanting to swing for the fences, he’s the type of late round TE to go for. His game film is simply atrocious although opportunity is still knocking on the door in this New Orleans offense. Fleener has yet to surpass 52 receptions in any season in his career but 2017 could be the year Remember: Delanie Walker spent 7 forgettable years in San Francisco before blossoming into a go-to option in Tennessee. He was basically free in 2013 and has since racked up 2 Pro Bowl seasons and 4 top 10 TE finishes in a row. I’ll take another shot at Fleener this year knowing I can readily cut him and replace him on the waiver wire with other TE options.

Austin Hooper

One of my favorite late round TEs to scoop up in best ball formats (such as PlayDraft) is 2nd year man Austin Hooper.  Hooper was a first-down machine as a rookie converting 84.2% of his catches into chain-movers. That mark was tops among TEs with 15+ catches. He showed increased involvement down the stretch as Jacob Tamme was phased out of the game plan and Hooper was showcased in the Super Bowl against the Patriots as an athletic red zone option. Hooper’s ascendant snap percentage should be encouraging going into this year as he gains the trust of Matt Ryan.

Getty Images Sport / Scott Cunningham

Tight-ends are notoriously slow starters and it’s easy to write off players if they made little to no impact in their first season in the league. Hooper finished 2016 buried in the final totals as TE35. However 3 of his 19 catches went for TDs, which was the same amount as Greg Olsen. We tend to lump all rookies  into the same middling category if they did not “break out” the way we wanted. However, there is a steep learning curve that sometimes is acquired by this 2nd season. Take a flier on the free Hooper.

Jason Witten

I know it’s not fun to draft old farts like this as your starting TE, but when you can bank on 90+ targets for 13 years in a row, it’s sometimes the most dependable path you can take at the TE position. Witten is also going undrafted in many formats as his value clearly lends itself towards PPR leagues. For steady options like Witten, remember that receptions don’t grow on trees in your draft. Only 10 TEs caught 60+ passes in 2016 and 4 of them were Rounds 13 or later. Witten is a floor play that won’t excite you most weeks but provides the base line you might need instead of other TD-or-bust options.

Antonio Gates

In standard leagues especially, TDs are king and TEs that score TDs are crowned weekly. Every once in awhile, teams target TEs as red zone machines sometimes despite having any other discernible skills. Gates is most likely entering his last year in the league eyeing sole possession of the TE touchdown record he currently shares with Tony Gonzalez. In standard and even best ball leagues, the guy is free and going undrafted most of the time. Chasing TDs at the TE position is only advisable in a high-octane offense that features the TE inside the 20. The Los Angeles Chargers ran among the fewest 4WR sets (0.32% of the time) in the league as their TEs remained on the field constantly. They caught the most TDs (15) in the league and you can expect much of the same in 2017.

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