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The tight end position has seen its ranks depleted by injuries (Dennis Pitta, BAL, and Dustin Keller, MIA) and murder charges (Aaron Hernandez, formerly NE). The No. 1 pick at this position was already clear anyway, but several other players have moved up the ranks from the depths where they normally would reside.
As for my sleepers, it's getting more difficult every year with fantasy football information overload to find true needles in the haystack. I feel like I'm reaching a bit this year, so my definition of sleeper is that none of the guys I mention below should be drafted before the 12th round in a 15- or 16-round draft.
1. Jimmy Graham, NO: He is so far and away the top choice at this position that even if he ends the season with under 1,000 receiving yards and less than 10 TDs, he will still be the top-ranked TE.
2. Tony Gonzalez, ATL: Final season. They will do their best to get him the ball in the end zone. ATL has a lot of options, but Gonzo will be targeted often.
3. Greg Olsen, CAR: Definite gamble here. I'm bumping him up a few spots, thinking Cam Newton will be looking for him more often to curb his INT frequency.
4. Rob Gronkowski, NE: He probably will be back in late September, and 13 games is good enough for him to remind us he's one of the best at TE, but the injury story is starting to get old.
5. Jason Witten, DAL: Usually a safe bet, though he could lose a few catches to Dez Bryant. He tends to have a few big games and a couple others where plays targeting him just don't pan out.
6. Vernon Davis, SF: I've seen him ranked as a high as third at TE, and he delivers in big games, but the overall numbers fantasy-wise just weren't there last year.
7. Kyle Rudolph, MIN: Fairly hyped last year and had his moments. Seems Christian Ponder will have to use him even more, but it's all Adrian Peterson's leftovers, which ain't much.
8. Fred Davis, WAS: There is reason to believe RG-3 won't run as much this year after injury, and that means at least a few extra passes for Davis.
9. Antonio Gates, SD: Supposedly gluten-free and feeling good (no, really). He's no longer a star and rates as a gamble for a starting fantasy TE, but SD's WR injuries might just give him a boost.
10. Jared Cook, STL: Always living on the fringe of fantasy relevance, it seems like he might play a bigger role on STL's offense, though it's not a great offense.
11. Jermichael Finley, GB: Far removed from years of over-hype, he may actually reach 700 yards receiving this year, pretty good for any TE, but we've been burned too many times before.
12. Owen Daniels, HOU: Never seems like there's much room for him in a run-oriented offense that also has a top WR in Andre Johnson, but he gets a lot of HOU's frequent play-action receptions.
13. Martellus Bennett, CHI: When he came to the Bears, I thought for sure I'd rank him higher than this, but he has seen few passes in preseason, and I'm concerned his numbers will suffer.
14. Brandon Myers, NYG: Pretty good on a lousy OAK team last year, and if Eli Manning can return to form, he should get plenty of end-zone looks.
15. Jordan Cameron, CLE: Would have called him a sleeper a month ago, but he's being heavily hyped by the experts. He could surge into the top 10 if CLE shows early that it will use him.
16. Brandon Pettigrew, DET: Banking on DET's offense to be very good this year, and the likelihood that they will look for options beyond Calvin Johnson.
17. Rob Housler, ARI: Another would-be sleeper brought into higher ranks by overall TE depletion. He'll have an experienced QB in Carson Palmer, who helped make Brandon Myers a semi-star.
18. Jermaine Gresham, CIN: Usually reliable, and cleared 737 receiving yards and five TDs last year, but rookie Tyler Eifert is being heavily hyped.
19. Zach Sudfeld, NE: There was plenty of room for two TEs in NE's offense before, so why not now?
20. Coby Fleener, IND: Fellow TE Dwayne Allen is ranked higher in Yahoo! and had better numbers in 2012, but I'm still banking on that Stanford connection with Andrew Luck.
* E.J. Manuel, BUF: He's injured and a rookie, but after Week 1 the job should be his, and he does have a great pass-catching RB in C.J. Spiller.
* Ryan Fitzpatrick, TEN: Former BUF QB is not even the starter . . . yet. This is more a last-round grab-and-stash idea, but Fitzpatrick has shown he can pile up yardage when given the chance.
* Bilal Powell, NYJ: The Jets are so bad that they need to use him. I'm guessing he will lead the team in TDs, whatever that's worth.
* Marcel Reece, OAK: He's second to Darren McFadden, but McFadden is an injury risk and was a big disappointment last year. Reece has shown a lot when given the chance.
* LeVeon Bell, PIT: He's on partial-season IR, but there is no clear backfield leader in PIT. He could be a upstart fantasy factor in the second half of the season.
* Emmanuel Sanders, PIT: With Mike Wallace out of the picture, everyone moves up, meaning Sanders looks like the No. 2 WR for a team that, as mentioned above, is a bit of a mess at RB.
* Darius Heyward-Bey, IND: His move to IND was one of the most interesting from a fantasy perspective, as he becomes the No. 2 or 3 WR in a pass-happy offense.
* Alshon Jeffery, CHI: He has not showed much in the preseason, and growing concern about Jay Cutler being locked in on Brandon Marshall doesn't help, but that's why we call him a sleeper.
* Anthony Fasano, KC: Big hopes for Andy Reid's offense in KC, and Fasano showed he can catch the ball even in a lame offense in Miami.
* Dallas Clark, BAL: The injury to Pitta gave the aging Clark another life in BAL, where Joe Flacco needs reliable receivers.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
This is what progress looks like.Continue reading "Times Change" »
Posted on Jul 24, 2017