In the final part of my Bargain Bin series we will look at one of the toughest positions to sort out on your fantasy rosters – tight ends. You have your elite tight ends in Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen but unless they fall in my drafts I very rarely get one of the top guys. Gronkowski is currently being drafted on average about 20th overall, which is quite low for him based on his average draft position from previous years, but with his injury concerns and the thousands of pass catchers the Patriots have I just can’t get on board with him. I have found three tight ends who can be drafted in the later rounds who I’m expecting big years from if they can stay healthy. If you draft one of these tight ends and they do get injured you can easily cut your losses and pick up another; if you draft Rob Gronkowski in the 2nd round and he gets injured that could be your season over.
Julius Thomas – 147th overall, TE 13
As a Jaguars fan I was bitterly disappointed with Julius Thomas when he was with us, I was excited to have him after seeing what he had done with the Broncos. Paying him as the highest-paid tight end in the league he certainly didn’t repay that with performance on the field with less than 800 yards and only nine touchdowns over the past two seasons for Jaguars. He was blighted by injury and the system the Jaguars used didn’t give him a chance to show what he could do with his time in Jacksonville.
In Thomas’ final two years with the Broncos he caught 12 touchdowns each season, his offensive coordinator at the time was Adam Gase who he has reunited with this year at Miami. Last year was Gase’s worst from his tight ends in his coaching career but he did only have Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims who only managed to combine for just 316 yards and five touchdowns and if all goes well I see no reason why Thomas can’t double those numbers himself. On paper Thomas should be Tannehill’s top target in the red zone this season and should see a lot of snaps this year. Having Thomas and Gase back together could be a good thing for the Dolphins, your fantasy teams and local restaurant, (he likes to eat). As with all late round tight ends, if you get lucky enough to get a week to week starter then you’ve done well and I believe that Thomas can do just that. If you plan on taking a late round tight end then Thomas is well worth a flyer in the last few rounds. #MakeJuliusThomasGreatAgain
Jack Doyle – 148th overall, TE 14
This offseason the Colts signed local kid Jack Doyle to a 3 year $19 million contract and the following day they traded Dwayne Allen to the Patriots for a draft pick. This was the news us Jack Doyle fans have been waiting for. In the last couple of seasons when Dwayne Allen was ruled out Doyle was always on my mind when I had to stream a tight end. 2016 was a breakout year for Doyle as he led all NFL tight ends with a 78.7% catch rate last season and ranked fifth in red-zone receptions with nine. He finished 2016 as the no.13 tight end and with Allen out of the picture Doyle is the clear-cut number one for the Colts. Doyle’s targets should increase and with Andrew Luck back healthy after struggling with a shoulder injury all year I would expect the Colts offense to come out firing with Doyle as Luck’s security blanket on short and intermediate routes. If he can stay healthy I have no doubt he can end the year as a top 12 tight end. He’s currently coming off the board as the 14th tight end.
His touchdown upside in this offense is immense. He could easily get double digit touchdowns and getting him this late is excellent value. Don’t go wasting your 4th round pick on Travis Kelce, draft Jack in the 12th.
Zach Miller – Not Ranked
Deep sleeper alert! Zach Miller suffered a lisfranc fracture in his right foot back in November to cut short what was on course to be a decent season. In ten games last season Miller caught 47 passes for 486 yards and made four touchdowns. He’s currently no.1 on the depth chart for the Bears but they did sign Dion Sims who is primarily known for his blocking and they also spent a 2nd round draft pick on Adam Shaheen, but if Miller is healthy he will be the man. The Bears undoubtedly have one of the weakest receiving cores in the league with Cam Meredith, (a sleeper if he can get healthy), Kevin White, (Mr Injury), Victor Cruz, (Senor Injury) Kendall Wright, (gross) and Markus Wheaton (Grossest) they can use all the help they can get. With quarterback Mike Glennon joining this off-season and the Bears 1st round draft pick, Mitch Trubisky, competing to be the no.1 they will be hoping to get Zach Miller back to full fitness to give them a safe option in the passing attack.
His ADP on FantasyFootballCalculator is currently going undrafted so you can get him in one of the last rounds or maybe even after draft is over. Health is the biggest issue with Miller but at his current value you won’t have to give up too much to get him. You could do a lot worse for a last-minute option in your draft.
ADPs and Rankings from FantasyFootballCalculator.com
Visit us at www.TheHateful8FF.com
Follow @TimJablonski and @TheHateful8ff on Twitter
Subscribe to The Hateful 8 Fantasy Football podcast on iTunes and Google Play