Fantasy Football

2017 Fantasy Football Tight End Sleepers: Late Round Trends


Four tight ends, drafted in the 11th round or later last year, finished as a TE1. They were Jimmy Graham, who finished fourth, Cameron Brate, who finished sixth, Martellus Bennett, who finished seventh, and Hunter Henry, who finished 11th. Of those four, both Brate and Henry went frequently undrafted in Fantasy leagues. Both Graham and Bennett proved to be excellent value picks while Brate and Henry were tight end sleepers. Same thing goes for 2015. Six of the top 11 tight ends were drafted in the 11th round or later. Of those six, Gary Barnidge and Jordan Reed finished as the number two and three tight ends, respectively. The trend continues as far back as you can go, five years for me. There were five such tight ends in 2014, three in 2013, and six in 2012.

The point of this is that there is value in the later rounds of fantasy drafts for the tight end position. You just need to know where to look. This article is that place to start! For more information on the tight end position and draft strategy read my tight end positional preview. Read this article to find out the scoring distributions of tight ends in recent years, draft strategy and whether you can wait on drafting the position, potential steals and other pressing questions.

Below you will find my tight end sleepers and values. Value picks are tight ends being drafted in the 11th round or later that have the potential to be great assets, but don’t necessarily fit the sleeper definition because of past production or public notoriety. Sleeper picks are those tight ends that are not expected to produce as shown by their ADPs, most of which are going undrafted, but could surprise people.

2017 Fantasy Football Tight End Sleepers

Value picks

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

Doyle is primed to be the main tight end in Indianapolis with the departure of Dwayne Allen. Last season Doyle posted 59 receptions for just under 600 yards and five touchdowns. He did this as the back-up tight end on his team. In fact, in the two games that Allen missed, Doyle had 13 targets, 114 yards, and a touchdown. Andrew Luck relies heavily on his tight ends, particularly in the red zone. In 2016, Luck threw about 40 percent of his touchdown passes to tight ends. This also resulted in Doyle finishing with the second most receiving yards on the Colts, behind TY Hilton. He also had the second most targets on the team with 75.

If we skip over Andrew Luck’s injury plagued 2015 season and look at his 2014 season, the trend seems to continue. In 2014, the two leaders in receiving touchdowns for the Colts were tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, both at eight touchdowns each. Tight ends accounted for 18 of the 42 receiving touchdowns, more than 40 percent. They also accounted for over 25 percent of the target share, with the teams’ number one tight end, Coby Fleener, garnering 92 targets. Look for Doyle to be a solid Fantasy producer as the lead guy in Indianapolis and return excellent value at his current 12th round ADP.

Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions

Ebron improved every year since being drafted tenth overall by the Lions in 2014. There is no doubting Ebron’s talent and skill as a tight end and football player. He has shown that by improving each year, and it seems as if only his nagging ankle injuries are holding him back. He missed two games in 2015 and three games in 2016. Still in 2015, he saw 70 targets for over 500 yards and five touchdowns. He did even better in 2016, while missing more games. He saw 85 targets for 711 yards. His touchdown output did significantly decrease, as he only had one receiving touchdown in 2016. He has been the first to admit that his ankle injuries held him back last year, and that he is ready to go this year.

Another boost to Ebron’s value is the departure of Anquan Boldin. Boldin crowded the middle of the field with Ebron and accounted for 95 targets, 584 yards, and eight touchdowns. With Boldin gone, Ebron should soak up the majority of the middle of the field targets and red zone targets left behind by Boldin. With Ebron healthy, and Boldin gone, expect to see Ebron’s targets and yardage go up yet again, and a positive touchdown regression. Ebron is in line for a breakout year and over 900 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns aren’t unrealistic stats. I mean the man adopted a Pilates workout regimen in the offseason, that’s got to mean something…Right? Feel comfortable snagging Ebron at his current 13th round ADP.


Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints

Many people, including myself, had high expectations for Fleener in his first year playing for the Saints. He was very successful in Indianapolis, as mentioned above, and New Orleans is notorious for producing fantasy relevant tight ends. All the stars were aligned for Fleener who produced a mediocre 631 yards and three receiving touchdowns. It wasn’t the opportunity or the situation that limited Fleener. I mean he saw 81 targets from Drew Brees. Let that sink in… Instead, it was all on Fleener, he had trouble learning and acclimating to the Saints’ offense and the coaching staff clearly noticed.

Now with a year under his belt, Fleener could prove to be the player people had hoped he’d be last year. Brandin Cooks is now in New England, leaving behind 117 targets. Fleener should see an uptick from his 81 targets from last year and Drew Brees loves throwing to his tight ends. It was only two seasons ago when Ben Watson, freaking Ben Watson, garnered 110 targets, second most on the team. And before that there was the Jimmy Graham era where he led the team in targets, each year, from 2011 to 2015. The man was getting about 140 targets per year. Coby Fleener is in a great situation with a great quarterback who loves throwing to his tight ends.

Fleener makes for a great sleeper who you can get cheap. He is being drafted later than the 14th round. Let your opponents shy away from Fleener after a down year, and feel confident selecting him as a late round tight end.

Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons had a historic offensive season last year. No one is expecting another record breaking season from the Falcons or Matt Ryan, but that offense will still be one of the best in the NFL. New offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, has vowed to keep the offensive system Kyle Shanahan implemented the same or very similar. This is a high flying offense with an elite aerial attack with weapons including; Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, and pass catching running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Austin Hooper adds to this arsenal and should see plenty of opportunity as the number one tight end. He is coming off a season in which he had 27 targets for 271 yards and three touchdowns, while only starting three games. Now the number one tight end in Atlanta, Hooper has sleeper appeal as an upside weapon for a Falcon’s passing game. Currently going undrafted in Fantasy Football leagues, Hooper is a legitimate sleeper.

Dwayne Allen, New England Patriots

Moving to New England from Indianapolis might have been the best thing for Allen. New England has a trend of producing two Fantasy Football relevant tight ends. In 2011 and 2012, both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez finished in the top five for fantasy points among tight ends. Last year, both Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski finished in the top 12 for fantasy points per game among tight ends. Dwayne Allen is coming off a top 20 finish in a season in which he missed two games. What is more telling is that he is coming from a team that also uses two tight ends, both Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle. Not to mention, Gronk’s propensity to miss games. Allen should fit right in at New England and have a chance to put up respectable numbers, making for a great sleeper candidate.

Honorable Mention: (Jesse James– PIT, Jared Cook– OAK, Charles Clay– BUF, Evan Engram- NYG, Gary Barnidge- FA)

2017 Fantasy Football Position Previews
QuarterbacksRunning BacksWide ReceiversTight Ends

For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.

About Alex Hamrick

Alex is an avid fantasy football enthusiast and writer for Fantasy Six Pack. With a background in quantitative methods and analysis, Alex enjoys using statistics and data analytics to develop detailed fantasy football analysis. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @AlexBHamrick

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