Can these surprise tight ends repeat in 2016?

Jordan Reed, Gary Barnidge and Ben Watson all rose from undrafted to fantasy success last year. Mike Tagliere looks for what makes a surprise tight end, and whether their success ...

| 7 months ago
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Can these surprise tight ends repeat in 2016?


It’s been common in recent years for tight ends that go undrafted in fantasy to shoot up the ranks. In each of the past four years, three undrafted tight ends have risen into the top 12 at the position, and before that, in 2011, two made the jump.

Last year’s trio — Jordan Reed, Gary Barnidge and Ben Watson — will certainly catch some fantasy eyes. Is there a common thread between guys that make the leap? Are those jumps sustainable?

Guys who have done it

Below is the list of undrafted tight ends who’ve finished in the top 12 over the last five years, and how they fared the following year.

Player Year Finish Next Year Finish
Dustin Keller 2011 TE10 2012 TE37
Fred Davis 2011 TE12 2012 TE45
Heath Miller 2012 TE4 2013 TE27
Dennis Pitta 2012 TE7 2013 NR
Brandon Myers 2012 TE10 2013 TE18
Julius Thomas 2013 TE3 2014 TE7
Charles Clay 2013 TE7 2014 TE16
Delanie Walker 2013 TE12 2014 TE9
Coby Fleener 2014 TE6 2015 TE22
Delanie Walker 2014 TE9 2015 TE5
Larry Donnell 2014 TE12 2015 NR

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Mike Tagliere is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy. He's ranked as a top-six fantasy football expert twice over the last four years by FantasyPros.com.

  • http://www.unreasonablydangerousonionrings.com/ Moralltach

    Keep in mind that Barnidge is now working under Hue Jackson, whose last tight end (Eifert) had phenomenal success. Part of that might have been due to a strong receiving corps keeping safeties off him, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.