5 sleeper fantasy tight end candidates for 2017
No need to sugarcoat it. Last year was a tight end wasteland. The top 10 tight ends produced the fewest fantasy points per game by the position’s top 10 since 2010. Rob Gronkowski was hurt most the season. Jimmy Graham averaged 0.65 touchdowns per game in New Orleans, but now averages 0.30 touchdowns per game in Seattle.
There is some hope. I already wrote about how I believe Cameron Brate will be the 2017 fantasy MVP and nominated Zach Ertz as a bounceback candidate. Martellus Bennett and Dwayne Allen are getting a lot of buzz after moving to the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots, respectively.
But with the inconsistency of fantasy production at the tight end position, what if Brate, Ertz, Bennett or Allen are your TE1? Can you go with one of them and pair them up someone else and play the weekly matchups?
I’m a big fan of that strategy. Therefore, today we’re focusing on tight ends that fall outside of the top-15 ADP at the tight end position according to Fantasy Football Calculator.
Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins (Overall ADP: 174, 18th TE)
That feeling when you start a sleeper article with a guy who showed little fantasy relevance for the last two seasons…
In Jacksonville with Blake Bortles under center, Thomas caught 76 passes for 736 yards and nine touchdowns in 21 games during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In 2013 and 2014, in Denver with Peyton Manning under center, Thomas caught 108 passes for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns.
The Miami Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill fall somewhere in between those two circumstances. The silver lining is that Thomas will reunite with his former offensive coordinator, now head coach, Adam Gase. It was under Gase that Thomas scored 12 touchdowns two seasons in a row, but even under Gase, Thomas’ best season saw only 788 total yards.
Players reliant on touchdowns are risky. However, in 2016 Cameron Brate and Hunter Henry led the position with eight touchdowns on the season. If Thomas scores eight touchdowns in 2017, he’s a top-10 tight end without the top-10 price tag.
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 178,19th TE)
When Tony Gonzalez retired, he left a big hole in the fantasy landscape and on the Atlanta Falcons roster. But it looks like Hooper may be the missing puzzle piece, and fantasy players should take notice.
At the end of his 2016 rookie season, Hooper caught three of his six targets for 32 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Not bad for the first time out of the gates. During the regular season, Hooper caught 19 of his 25 targets for 271 yards and three touchdowns. His 14.3 yards per reception was fifth-best among all tight ends who played in at least 25 percent of their team’s offensive snaps. A third-round pick from Stanford, look for Hooper to take big leap in his sophomore season.