Fantasy Sleepers

5 Biggest Tight End Surprises Now and Moving Forward

C.J. Fiedorowicz

5 Tight Ends on the Rise

[the_ad id=”63198″]In my experience, the Fantasy Tight End is the most overlooked position when people talk about their waiver wire or trade strategy. A strong tight end is one of the most integral pieces to a quality roster and can often mean the difference between a win or loss for the week. Admittedly, the Tight Ends group in 2016 has been a shallow group and the waiver wire can be a jumbled mess this deep into the season.

For this article, I’ve decided to spread the love for a few guys who have been performing well in the first half of the season and can continue to be a strong addition to your roster for the rest of the season.

To do this I’ll be utilizing ADP data and Gridiron Experts Opportunity Index to find five Tight End surprises that can help you polish off that playoff roster moving forward. For those of you who are unfamiliar with our Opportunity Index created by the mad scientist, George Fitopoulos, don’t worry because I’ll break it down for you. The general concept of OI is a weighted metric comparing the quantity and quality of a player’s opportunity to make plays, compared to the league average over the past 4 years. The really neat thing I like about OI is the emphasis on the quality of the opportunity (receiving target/rush attempt/pass attempt) Player X had on a particular play. The closer to the opponent’s end zone, the higher quality that opportunity was.

Let’s dive right in:

Zach Miller

Owned in 67.8% of all ESPN Leagues 

Zach MillerMiller is a guy whom I’ve been advocating for since the end of last season. He combines a big body and soft hands with a pass-catchers favorite thing: a quarterback with a gunslinger mentality. The Bears’ starting tight end began the 2016 season with an ADP of 18th tight end taken which was good for 168th overall according to fantasypros.com.

The Opportunity Index has Miller weighing in with a 132.1% OI Rating (100% is the benchmark). I would like to see his Red Zone market share increase a little bit more. Nonetheless, I am all in on Miller for the ROS due to his volume and quality matchups. He’s facing the Buccaneers, 49ers, and Lions to name a few down the stretch.

Cameron Brate

Owned in 37.8% of all ESPN Leagues 

The former Ivy Leaguer started the season behind Austin Seferian-Jenkins on the depth chart and had an ADP of the 34th tight end off the board. Thanks to a multitude of shenanigans from ASJ, Brate was given an opportunity as the clear-cut starter. He has taken full advantage of his role so far and has posted an OI of 128.5%. Admittedly, this isn’t the highest rating on the list, but what excites me the most about Brate is his playoff schedule consisting of New Orleans, Dallas, and NO again for weeks 14-16. If you don’t own one of the top 5 tight ends, I’d be seriously contemplating acquiring Brate for your team’s playoff push.

Kyle Rudolph

Owned in 80.9% of all ESPN Leagues 

[the_ad id=”66786″]There has been a lot of turmoil this season for the Vikings. First Teddy Bridgewater goes down, then Adrian Peterson was soon to follow. Now, Minnesota has lost their last three games following their bye week, which they went into undefeated. The one constant that has remained steadfast for the Vikings is Rudolph. He has caught a touchdown or had more than 50 receiving yards in six of eight games this season and has posted a 129.2% OI Rating. Even though the team has a few tough matchups coming up, I still love him as an option going forward. The Vikings have obviously committed to getting Rudolph involved in the game plan as he averages over six targets a game.

Jimmy Graham

Owned in 94.9% of all ESPN Leagues 

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Graham has been one of the best tight ends in the league this season.  However, many owners wrote him off after a disappointing 2015 season. He had an ADP of 12th overall TE this season being selected behind guys like Coby Fleener and Gary Barnidge. According to ESPN.com, he is ranked second in standard-scoring leagues behind Greg Olsen. On top of that, he is also sporting a 139.3% OI Rating thanks in large part of his 21.1% red zone target share. If the tight end is a weak spot on your team, Graham may be a guy you want to target in a last minute trade before the deadline.

C.J. Fiedorowicz

Owned in 23.4% of all ESPN Leagues 

C.J. Fiedorowicz, has the hardest name to pronounce in fantasy since the glory days of T.J. Houshmandzadeh. I think his name was also part of the reason why he came into the season with an ADP of 58th TE off the board, no one knew who he was. The first few games of the season were right in line with his ADP but as of late, he has been a nice surprise for the Texans this season, especially in the last five games. C.J. has hauled in at least four catches in each and scored in three of those five games. This production has resulted in an Opportunity Index rating of 113.7%.

I don’t think he’ll ever put up Rob Gronkowski-like numbers, but I don’t see any reason why his current pace can’t continue especially since Brock Osweiler loves targeting him near the goal line. So, if you’re needing stability at the tight end position, I would look to Fiedorowicz for the rest of the year.

 C.J. Fiedorowicz
WeekOppRecYdsAvgTD
1CHI1660
2KC1110
3@NE0000
4TEN448121
5@MIN46115.30
6IND68514.21
7@DEN53570
8DET5438.61

Thanks for reading!

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