Home | Sleepers | Late Round Tight End Sleeper Hiding on Ravens Roster?

Late Round Tight End Sleeper Hiding on Ravens Roster?

Team Stake

Deep Tight End Sleeper

For a while, it seemed that the Baltimore Ravens were going to adopt a strategy at the tight end spot akin to what the New England Patriots have done at running back this offseason. Namely, get them all! After not addressing the offensive skill positions during the NFL draft, the Ravens looked set and comfortable to head into 2017 with no fewer than FIVE tight ends, all of whom could have been seen as viable options in their passing game.

But then Dennis Pitta hurt his hip for the third time in four years, and it all changed. The Ravens waived goodbye to Pitta on the 7th of June with an injury settlement, and then there were four. But just what, if any, value can these four players have in fantasy football heading into the 2017 season?

To start with, there does now exist an opportunity for a tight end sleeper to fall into a situation that would make him potentially desirable. The Ravens attempted a ludicrous 679 passes in 2016, thanks in no small part to a less than stellar running game and an offensive coordinator in Marty Mohrenweig who occasionally forgets that RBs don’t just have to catch passes. 21 percent of these pass attempts were sent in the direction of a Ravens TE, the 14th most in the NFL. Joe Flacco, who attempted 672 of the passes, connected with the TE on 64 percent of his throws, good for 2nd in the NFL. However, with an average yard per attempt of just six yards, the Ravens trailed 27 other teams in this metric. So there is an atmosphere conducive to tight end success. Pitta, bless his heart, may not have had the required athleticism to turn his volume into serious fantasy gains.

The Ravens attempted a ludicrous 679 passes in 2016, thanks in no small part to a less than stellar running game and an offensive coordinator in Marty Mohrenweig who occasionally forgets that RBs don’t just have to catch passes. 21 percent of these pass attempts were sent in the direction of a Ravens TE, the 14th most in the NFL. Joe Flacco, who attempted 672 of the passes, connected with the TE on 64 percent of his throws, good for 2nd in the NFL. However, with an average yard per attempt of just six yards, the Ravens trailed 27 other teams in this metric. So there is an atmosphere conducive to tight end success. Pitta, bless his heart, may not have had the required athleticism to turn his volume into serious fantasy gains.

Fantasy Football T-Shirts
So what of the remaining tight end options on the roster? Well, Maxx Williams was a second-round pick out of Minnesota back in 2015. Coming into the NFL, he drew favorable comparisons with Rob Gronkowski and Hunter Henry, to name just two recent fantasy performers. He has been severely hampered by injury, however, and is recovering from knee surgery that no football player has ever had before, according to Jeff Zrebiec. He has just 32 career receptions, and while he makes for a solid dynasty stash given his still young age (he turned 23 in April), it may be too much to expect him to slide into Pitta’s stead instantly.

Crockett Gilmore, who finished at tight end 26 in 2015 while averaging the 13th best fantasy points per game (he only played ten games), has made some noise at the TE spot, both in reality and fantasy. He managed to do his damage two seasons ago on just seven percent of the total team targets, as he finished with 33 receptions for 412 yards, with four touchdowns. He didn’t play after Week 7 of 2016, after suffering a broken back, two torn hamstrings and undergoing shoulder surgery. When I said the Ravens were looking to replace Dennis Pitta, I wasn’t referring to his injury history.

Another 2015 draft pick, Nick Boyle offers more as a blocker than a pass catcher. He caught just six balls in 2016 in six games, following a ten-match suspension to open the campaign. This was his second such ban for using banned substances, and as such, it would be foolish to rely on him to keep his nose clean. Meanwhile, Darren Waller, a converted WR, has also had his share of substance issues, and despite stepping into Williams spot after he was lost for the year, he managed just ten catches. So it would seem that there is no value in ANY of the Ravens tight end options.

Or is there?

To be a Ravens tight end seems to require returning from injury or dealing with suspensions. The 36-year-old Ben Watson falls under the former, as he suffered a torn Achilles last August. The injury robbed him of his entire first season as a Raven. The injury itself may be seen as a red flag, given his age, but the fact is that Watson has been remarkably durable during his long NFL career. From his second season in the league in 2005 up until last year, he had played in at least 13 games in ten of 11 seasons. He was also effective in 2015 as a 35-year-old when he caught 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns for the Saints. He is quite simply the best option for the Ravens, assuming he is still “hungry to play” And the best thing about him at present? He’s virtually free in best ball. In the last week alone, his ADP has fallen from around 160 (approximately 14th round) all the way down to 230, or the last two rounds. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, in recent mock drafts, he isn’t even being taken in 15 round 12 team leagues.

I’m not here to tell you that Watson is the answer to all your fantasy tight end woes, but given the price and the opportunity, if he is still there as you come close to finishing up your draft, how can not take a chance on him given his opportunity?

 

Thanks for Reading: Please Share

About the author

Neil Dutton

Neil's been playing fantasy football for ten years, including a victory in 2014 in a league arranged by NFL.com Fantasy expert Adam Rank. Huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, and follows the fortunes of the England cricket team, usually with his head in his hands for both. Neil lives with his fiancé Kate and their daughter Zoe. He is an atrocious Words with Friends player.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Fantasy Pros Approved
Follow Us: Twitter: @GridironExperts Facebook Google Plus RSS Feed Soundcloud

Fantasy Blog Network

Get This <a href="https://fantasyknuckleheads.com" title="Fantasy Football Rankings"><b>Fantasy Football for all you knuckleheads</b></a>