Many fantasy football owners like to stream their tight ends based on weekly match ups if they can’t land the prized possession of Jimmy Graham or a second-tier tight end such as Rob Gronkowski (second-tier only because of injury), Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis or 2012 breakout TE Dennis Pita. The loss of Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez makes the tight end position just that much shallower. For those looking for later round TE’s that could produce well this season, let’s get started.
1. Jared Cook | St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams landed the fifth year tight end on a five-year, $35+ million contract this past offseason. Is Jared Cook worth the money? He’s stated that the Tennessee Titans offense really didn’t fit his style of play, and I agree with his statement as I don’t think we’re yet to see Cook’s actual potential. His targets reduced 12.2% from 2011 to 2012, which seems unfitting for a lower-end Titans offense. The Rams are looking to use Cook as a receiver, which could be great for standard league owners, and a goldmine for PPR league owners. At a current ADP of 129.3 in Yahoo leagues, Jared Cook could be one of the biggest surprises in 2013 and worth every gamble at his ADP. Don’t be surprised if he puts up top 10 TE numbers this season.
2. Jordan Cameron | Cleveland Browns
As a non-factor his first two NFL seasons, Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron is looking to become a threat down the center in 2013. With Benjamin Watson now out of Cleveland, the tight end spot is now Cameron’s to lose. The game plan seems to be more vertical than last season, which will leave Cameron more open under the long attack in the middle of the field. The Browns best long ball weapon wide receiver Josh Gordon is suspended the first two games of the season, meaning Cameron could struggle in the early part of the season. It seems as if Jordan Cameron will be more successful if opposing defenses are biting on the Browns vertical game.
3. Rob Housler | Arizona Cardinals
Entering his third NFL season, Rob Housler for the first time in his young career has a quarterback that can get him the ball. Carson Palmer isn’t a top quarterback in the NFL, but he is leaps and bounds over what Housler had to work with last season in a combination of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. He recorded 417 receiving yards on 45 receptions last season though he didn’t haul in any touchdowns. He now has offensive guru Bruce Arians as his head coach, formally of the Indianapolis Colts. Arians really liked what he’s seen from him in OTAs, meaning he could be a big part of the game plan along with Larry Fitzgerald. Rob Housler has great hands and should get more targets this season than he did last when 68 balls were thrown his way.
4. Zach Ertz | Philadelphia Eagles
A second round pick in this year’s draft, Zach Ertz seems to fit well into the offense Chip Kelly will bring to Philly. He’s a big, physical tight end that is a serious threat in the red zone. Last season at Stanford, Ertz recorded 898 receiving yards with 6 touchdowns. If in fact that Kelly is to run an offense similar to the fast-paced New England Patriots offense, Ertz could be in a big rookie campaign. If there’s one thing that will limit Ertz’s production and playing time in 2013, it’s his blocking as he is a below-average blocker.
5. Zach Sudfeld | New England Patriots
I’ll start off by saying I don’t think Zach Sudfeld is going to be the next Rob Gronkowski, but he is similar to “Gronk” minus about 40 lbs. and the NFL experience. He’s the dark horse TE in 2013. Sudfeld is 6’7”, 225 lbs. while Gronkowski is 6’6”, 265 lbs. While he may be a bit undersized (weight-wise) for a TE, Sudfeld will have to work on putting on weight this offseason. They also had similar numbers during their final season in college. Let’s take a look at those numbers;
Final College Season Comparison
|Zach Sudfeld||Rob Gronkowski|
As you can see, Gronk did have the better numbers in his final college season, but they’re very comparable. With the news of Aaron Hernandez being released from the Patriots and Gronkowski’s week 1 status still uncertain, I think Sudfeld is the better option over Jake Ballard in fantasy leagues. Even when Gronk is activated, I still could see Bill Belichick utilizing Sudfeld the same way he did with Hernandez. I believe Sudfeld could become the Dennis Pita of the 2013 fantasy football season.
Would you prefer a top TE this season or is your strategy to steam one based on match ups?