Five Late Round Tight Ends That Could Pay Off[the_ad id=”58837″]Tight ends in fantasy football are an interesting conundrum. If they have a great week, it can put your team over the top against your opponent. However, if they’re a dud for that week, it is still possible to win your matchup depending on how well your other positions performed, but it’s not easy. Getting production from the Tight End position in fantasy football should not be overlooked. Consistency is what you want, and finding late round Tight End gems that can produce solid numbers every week should be the goal.
The tight end position is somewhat deeper than it has been in the past. It’s possible to get great value without having to spend a hefty draft price on one. If you prioritize your draft needs accordingly early in the draft, here are some five late round tight ends that could pay off.
Thomas is going into his second year with the Jaguars and is coming off of a disappointing 2015 campaign. He caught 46 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns, while also only playing in 12 games due to injury. There have been reports, though, that Thomas and quarterback Blake Bortles have worked together throughout the offseason. This can only help Thomas, as it will lead to better chemistry with Bortles.
The thing that makes Thomas, as well as the following players, such a value is his average draft position. In a 10-team standard league, Thomas’ ADP is right around the 10th round, per fantasy football calculator. In ESPN’s ADP database, Thomas is going even lower, in the 13th round. Thomas is a good player, as was evident in his years with the Broncos, but his biggest hurdle is his health. In his five-year career, he has never played a full season. That being said, Thomas has a chance to be a key part in a Jaguars’ offense that led the league in passing last year. The reward of drafting Thomas at his current ADP far outweighs the risk.
Cleveland Browns[the_ad id=”63198″]Barnidge was a waiver wire star in 2015. He led a lot of people to championships last year as the third-ranked tight end behind only Jordan Reed and Rob Gronkowski. Barnidge was only one of four tight ends to reach the 1,000 receiving yard mark.
The Browns will continue to be a bad team in 2016, which is good for Barnidge’s fantasy value. It means that they will be trailing in a lot of games so more targets for him. The problem is that is it the Browns and they haven’t had the best history of quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III is in line to be his quarterback so we are unsure of how that will play out. That being said, Barnidge’s current ADP is in the 11th round. He is super cheap for the guy that finished as the TE3 last year. Will he repeat those numbers? Probably not. But the regression will not be to the point where it will keep him out of the top-10, barring injury.
Witten is as reliable of a player as anyone in the NFL. Since he became a starter for the Cowboys in 2004, he has not missed a game. On top of that, Witten and his quarterback Tony Romo have one of the strongest developed rapports in the entire NFL. He is often referred to as the “safety blanket” because Romo checks down to him so much. Now, with Romo hurt for eight to ten weeks, that same logic can be a factored in for Dak Prescott. One of the easiest throws for a rookie quarterback to make is the big man over the middle.
Witten is getting up there in age as he will be entering his age-34 season but he can still produce fantasy points. One thing that helps make a tight end valuable is volume. Witten has plenty of that. Over the 12 years that Witten has been the Cowboys starter, he has averaged 107 targets per year. Only seven tight ends had more targets than Witten in 2015 and that was with Romo only playing in four games. Witten’s current ADP is around the 15th round, per Fantasy Pros. He is even going undrafted in some drafts. For a guy that is a lock to play a full season and get 100 or more targets, Witten’s value is through the roof.
San Diego Chargers
Gates is another player that is fighting against father time. Gates is going into his age-34 season. Yet it does not look like that has hindered his play. Gates played in 11 games in 2015 and still put up 630 yards and five touchdowns. Those aren’t great numbers but considering he only started four of the 11 games he played in, that is pretty good.
Gates, like Witten, is a tight end that has an unbreakable chemistry with his quarterback. He has been playing with Philip Rivers since 2004, which was Gates’ second year in the league. That duo has combined for more touchdowns than any other QB-TE duo in the history of the NFL. Gates’ current ADP is in the 12th round, which is a huge bargain for a guy who played 11 games and finished 11th in total fantasy points among tight ends.
Ebron is a more of a flier. He did just sprain his ankle but reports are that he will be good to go week one. Ebron is a former first round pick, 10th overall actually, in the 2014 draft. He has not performed up to his billing of a 10th overall pick, but 2016 may be the year he breaks out.
Ebron showed flashes of it last year as he had 537 yards and five touchdowns. With Calvin Johnson retired, he has the chance to be the red zone target of Matthew Stafford. At his current ADP, you can get him almost for free. He is going undrafted in most drafts and in the 14th round of ESPN drafts. If the ankle really is not a major issue, Ebron could blossom into a different player as the red zone target in a pass happy offense.