Late Round Tight Ends to Target in Drafts by Dalton Kates
A lot of different strategies come into play when it comes to the TE position. Whether you like securing a top TE or waiting for a TE late in drafts, there are always late round guys who crush ADP and can become league winners. We saw it last year with George Kittle and these TEs can really make a difference on your team. Let’s focus on guys we should be targeting and keeping an eye on when it comes to securing an upside TE as a starter or a backup with breakout potential.
Let’s dive deep for this one. It wasn’t too long ago Tyler Eifert was cementing himself into the hearts of fantasy owners with a TE7 finish in 2015 despite playing only 13 games. It seemed this was the beginning of a great career for the promising player and suddenly all the excitement has vanished. Playing in a total of 14 of a possible 48 games from 2016-2018 will have people start to forget about you and write you off as “injury-prone”. His injuries over the past few years have been pretty serious. In 2016 he suffered an ankle ligament tear during the offseason that kept him out 3-5 months after surgery and missed the first four games of the season that year. In 2017 Eifert went out in Week 2 with a herniated disk and missed the whole entire season afterwards. And last year he broke his ankle in week 4 causing him to miss the rest of the year. David Chao, a former doctor for the San Diego Chargers for 25 years, stated that he believes Tyler Eifert has had bad injury luck and doesn’t consider him to be injury prone. If this is true and Eifert has actually been on the wrong side of variance with these injuries, then shouldn’t we collectively be more excited about Eifert this season? He’s currently outside the top 15 rounds in both re-draft and dynasty ADP. To give a perspective on just how late you can get him; he went in rounds 21 and 27 of my last two startup drafts respectively. All Eifert has done when he has been on the field is produce. He is the most efficient pass catcher of any player in the Andy Dalton era for the Bengals.
Let’s not forget he was an incredible prospect who had first-round draft capital, athleticism, and great college production heading into the league. While it’s likely Eifert becomes an elite TE this season, he is a great cheap target who can put up solid fantasy points when healthy. Don’t forget about him if you’re in a deep league and looking for a backup TE.
Last year Chris Herndon earned himself a solid role in the passing game and became a usable TE in fantasy leagues. This year he looks to take it up a notch with a breakout in year two. While his season is likely going to be delayed a bit with a two-game suspension, he can enter Week 3 ready to go. Herndon was extremely efficient as a rookie and that is a major indicator for future success in the league. If we just look at an efficiency metric like yards per target we can see how good these rookie tight ends have been later on in their careers.
Chris Herndon puts himself in an extremely exciting group of players. We also saw Herndon finish top 10 among all TEs last year in efficiency metrics such as fantasy points per target, fantasy points per route run, yards per target, yards per reception. He also finished number one in true catch rate, production premium, and target premium according to player profiler. Entering year two where we see tight ends and QBs start to breakout, this bodes well not only for Herndon to see improvement but for his Quarterback Sam Darnold as well. If Darnold can breakout this year, then we are looking at a much-improved offense with no true number one target on the team. Herndon can produce on a weekly basis in this offense and we can see him finish as a TE1 this season at such a cheap price on draft day with an ADP of 14.01. He’s a great TE to target if you wait on TEs or a just looking for a backup with upside late in drafts.
A big part of my argument for Chris Herndon can be copied and pasted for Mark Andrews as well. We saw Andrews become one of the most efficient rookie TEs of all time last season with an insane 11.04 YPT. Again entering year two with a QB as well we know that it is possible that both Andrews and Jackson take a big step forward and potentially breakout this year. While the Ravens are likely going to have a low volume offense, there is the possibility that Andrews becomes the number one weapon for Jackson this season. We saw a strong connection between the two last year as Andrews was 46.9% more efficient per target than the average pass catcher on the Ravens last season. If there’s a stronger indication that we need for Andrews to have a good career it is that he entered last year at 21 years old. We see a higher number of 21 year-olds breakout verses any other age group at TE. This would put Andrews on a very promising path to breakout at some point in his career and now would be the best and cheapest time to take that shot on him. If Mark Andrews is able to get the opportunity in Baltimore this season, we can see him really pay off his cheap ADP of 14.05.