Tight End Sleepers


Editor’s Note: This article is submitted by a new Member Corner writer, Paul Perdichizzi.  We look forward to seeing much more of Paul’s work in the future.

Over the last decade of football, change has been the one constant in the NFL. From rule changes to new schemes on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, the roles of many players have changed. The position that has evolved the most over this time is the tight end. In the modern NFL, no longer are tight ends asked to predominantly block and just catch some short passes to keep the first down chains moving. Now tight ends are a critical component of many offenses as they are asked to run similar routes as wide receivers, used for jump balls or fade passes in the red zone or are asked to attack the field vertically down the seam. Teams are now looking for their tight ends to be big, fast, athletic and versatile. They want to use them to create mismatches all over the field, whether it is against slot corners that are too small or against safeties and linebackers who are not fast or athletic enough to cover them.

With so many teams now emphasizing the use of the tight end, no position in fantasy football has been more challenging to predict the results from year to year. Over the last few years we have seen Jimmy Graham, in just his second season for the New Orleans Saints, Jordan Cameron in his third year for the Cleveland Browns and Julius Thomas in his third year for the Denver Broncos go from obscurity to elite TE1 options. With the emergence of so many new tight ends, dynasty leaguers in particular have to be constantly on the lookout for the next potential breakout candidate. Below is a list of five potential sleeper tight ends who could see their dynasty value significantly increase in the near future.

Brandon Bostick, TE GB

Bostick may be on the verge of getting his chance to become a household fantasy name. He went undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft before signing with the Packers as an undrafted free agent. He played his college ball at Newberry as a wide receiver before being converted to a tight end. At 6’3″, 250 pounds, he is an athletic freak who also played basketball in college. After being on the practice squad for his entire first season, he got an opportunity to play this year following the serious neck injury to Jermichael Finley.  He appeared in 11 games this season, catching seven passes for 120 yards and one touchdown. With the pending free agency of both Finley and backup tight end Andrew Quarless, who are both not expected back with the team, Bostick may find himself atop the depth chart come training camp. While he is not much of a blocker, he possesses a unique skill set and has a build similar to Julius Thomas. If Bostick can hold on to the starting job, and with Aaron Rodgers and the potent Green Bay offense, I like the odds of Bostick developing into a potential low end TE1 or high upside TE2.

Joseph Fauria, TE DET

Another former undrafted free agent to keep an eye on this upcoming season is Joseph Fauria of the Detroit Lions. Fauria, who is 6’7″ and 255 pounds, played his college ball at UCLA. Leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, most expected him to be drafted somewhere on day three in rounds five through seven. After going undrafted, the Lions made him one of their top priority undrafted free agents. He responded by playing significant snaps in his rookie season and becoming a red zone weapon. He played in all 16 games, totaling 18 receptions for 207 yards, but seven of those catches went for touchdowns. With starting tight end Brandon Pettigrew entering free agency and his status unknown as of now, Fauria currently projects to be the Lions opening day starter. In addition to a potential starting role, the coaching changes in Detroit cannot be overlooked as well. New head coach Jim Caldwell has hired former New Orleans Saints Quarterbacks Coach Joe Lombardi to be the Lions Offensive Coordinator. Lombardi has already said he plans to bring the Saints playbook with him to Detroit, which obviously emphasizes the usage of the tight end as we have seen Jimmy Graham put up record breaking numbers. With the possibility of an increase in snaps, a new coaching staff that loves to use the tight end and his ability to score touchdowns with his elite size, Fauria could be in line for a breakout fantasy campaign this upcoming season.

Adrien Robinson, TE NYG

The New York Giants have had a revolving door at the tight end position for quite some time. Over the last few years, their starting tight ends have been Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett and this past season Brandon Myers. With Myers entering free agency and not expected back with the team next year, the Giants will once again be looking for a new starter. If they do not invest a high draft pick or sign a veteran in free agency, it is possible the starting job will belong to Adrien Robinson. The Giants drafted Robinson out of Cincinnati, with their fourth round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.  At 6’4″, 264 pounds with elite athletic ability, he was famously dubbed the JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) of tight ends by the General Manager of the New York Giants, Jerry Reese. With that type of praise, the Giants organization and their fans have been waiting for that potential to translate onto the football field.  Up until now, it has not happened, as he has battled injuries over his two years and only played in three career games without securing a single reception in his career. While still very raw, Robinson may be given every possible chance to succeed this upcoming season due to his athleticism, size, and upside as a blocker and receiver. Recently hired new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, formerly the quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers, has already said he plans to implement a west coast style of offense that emphasizes the tight end much more than the Giants past offensive schemes. Everything seems set up for Robinson to succeed, so dynasty leaguers need to closely monitor the Giants offseason acquisitions and keep his name on their radar.

Travis Kelce, TE KC

With an early third round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Kelce, one of the premiere tight ends in last year’s draft. Kelce, like Robinson, played collegiately at Cincinnati. At 6’5″ and 260 pounds, he possesses great size, athleticism and can block and catch the ball. He had all of the traits that NFL teams were looking for when trying to find the next great tight end. The only reason he lasted until the third round of the draft was because of some character and off the field concerns. He was drafted to provide Alex Smith a big time weapon over the middle of the field and to complement Dwayne Bowe in the passing game. Most expected him to become a starter immediately in year one, but that never panned out due to injury. He injured himself during training camp and then in the early part of the season needed microfracture surgery on his knee. He appeared in zero games in his rookie year. If healthy, he will compete with Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath to be the opening day starter in 2014. Both Fasano and McGrath have their limitation as players, as Fasano is more of a blocking tight end and McGrath has limited athleticism and upside. While Kelce is most likely on someone’s dynasty roster, their owner may be willing to sell low after an injury plagued rookie season. Before he has a chance to display his potential, target him now in all offseason trades, as his value to obtain may never be lower.

Ladarius Green, TE SD

One important trait to have when playing in dynasty leagues is to be patient with some of your younger players and give them time to develop. The truth is not every owner has the patience needed to wait for their players to get their opportunity. The last name on my list of potential sleeper tight ends, Ladarius Green of the San Diego Chargers, fits this profile. Green was drafted in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He barely played his rookie year, appearing in only four games and securing four receptions. This past season, while still playing behind Antonio Gates, the Chargers found ways to get Green more involved. He played in all 16 games and had 17 receptions for 376 yards, including three touchdowns. His 22.1 average yards per reception illustrates the athleticism and upside potential Green possesses. At 6’6″ and 240 pounds, he is nearly impossible to defend and can create mismatches all over the field. Gates will turn 34 prior to the start of next season, so the Chargers will continue to get Green on the field more this upcoming season. With Gates still producing, the time is now to target Green in all trades as his owner may be growing impatient waiting for him to finally get his big opportunity as he enters his third season. When he does get that chance, whether it be this year or sometime down the line, Green has the ability to turn into one of the next great pass catching tight ends in the entire league.

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  1. ebsteelers

    February 16, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Any thoughts on Tyler Thompson from Tennessee or Gavin Escobar from the cowboys?

    • Slick

      February 16, 2014 at 5:42 am

      also – how about Levine Toilolo? any chance he assumes Tony G’s spot or will ATL look elsewhere? i haven’t heard much about his upside. perhaps he has none??? we know ATL would like to feature the TE in that offense

      • Paul Perdichizzi

        February 16, 2014 at 5:54 am

        Toilolo has some upside as a red zone specialist but I do not see him as their replacement full time for Tony G right now. It is possible he develops into it but I think they will add another TE in the first 3/4 rounds of the draft and also look at some of the veteran tight ends on the FA market.

        The role of the TE is valuable in that offense but with Julio, Roddy and the emergence of Harry Douglas last year, they may move away a little from the usage of the TE.

        • slick

          February 16, 2014 at 5:59 am

          all good points. i tend to agree and he will not be a target of mine.

  2. Paul Perdichizzi

    February 16, 2014 at 5:33 am

    I like the upside of Escobar a lot. Jerry Jones has already mentioned that he needs to be utilized more. Witten is getting up there in age but still so productive. I think Escobar can create a lot of mismatches but dynasty owners may need to wait another two years to really see him have value.

    As for Thompson, he has a lot of upside but still very raw at the position. He is still learning the position after playing DE in college. The new titans staff has also been talking up D Walker, who quietly put up top 12-14, stats for fantasy tight ends. I think Thompson may settle in behind him as their backup TE and it may be a few more years before he gets his chance to show he could be a starter.

    Of the two, I would target Escobar a lot more.

    • Jack

      February 18, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Thompson and Walker are different types of TEs, no? I think that Walker may be a kind of a stopgap until they develop Thompson, and I also like the new coaching staff’s history with TEs.

      • Paul Perdichizzi

        February 18, 2014 at 9:21 pm

        Jack- yes they are different types of players and their age difference is significant. I think Thompson has a chance down the line but I think it is still a few years away and there’s no guarantee he ever pans out. Anytime a player is making a position change it very hard to predict how they will transition. I think your right in a perfect world they would love Walker to be a stop gap but they signed him to a pretty significant 4 year deal worth almost 18 million last offseason.

  3. Mike M

    February 16, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Thoughts on some DEEP guys. Chris Gragg, Nick Kasa, and everyone’s favorite – Vance McDonald

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 16, 2014 at 6:07 am

      Gragg was one of the next guys on my list if I expanded this out to 6 or 7 names. I like Gragg’s potential a lot and Buffalo needs playmakers. Gragg can be that move tight end, similar in style I believe to how Washington used Chris Cooley when he was there. Buffalo would be wise to get him more involved this year if they do not draft more complete TE like Ebron or Amaro or Seferian-Jenkins.

      As for Kasa I do not see him making a big impact for Oakland. He’s more blocker than receiver. I like his teammate more M. Rivera to be a pass catcher and make a fantasy impact.

      I like McDonald and I think he offers upside but his situation is not ideal. With Vernon there and a good stable of WRS if Boldin stays, I am not sure how he ever becomes fantasy relevant.

      • Slick

        February 16, 2014 at 7:19 am

        Buffalo really needs an elite talent at TE and would be wise to target one of the top 3 elite prospects in rounds 2 or 3 this year.
        of course this is tricky because they don’t want to reach in the draft but really need to support EJ and that offense and TE is what the doctor ordered. i don’t see gragg adding much in that regard. bottom line, with questions marks all over the offense and a struggling 2nd year QB, they really need a difference making TE to help jumpstart the passing offense.

        • Paul Perdichizzi

          February 16, 2014 at 7:25 am

          I agree they do need a major weapon for that offense. I think a Gragg could be a nice piece but not an elite te option that can draw double teams and be EJ’s main guy. If they could find a partner to trade down with to 15 range, pick up at least an extra third rd, if not second round pick and draft Ebron, I think thst would be a great move. If not in round two, I think Seferian Jenkins would be a nice pick.

          • slick

            February 16, 2014 at 8:52 am

            I concur! Paul, they need you in their draft room! if they don’t take heed, I will be screaming! btw, i own EJ Manuel as my future/devy QB behind Peyton. I also have Bradford. I have Woods at WR, so I am closely watching Bills draft and offseason moves.

          • Paul Perdichizzi

            February 16, 2014 at 3:50 pm

            Slick- I like Manual’s upside, real interested to see how he develops this year. Bradford is intriguing, they have started to give him lots of weapons, it’s now or never time for him this year, needs to emerge. I like Woods a lot, may be in my WR article I am going to write.

  4. Dan

    February 16, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Loved it. Especially the Fauria insight – I didnt know Petigrew was a FA

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 16, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Yea with Pettigrew a FA and the new OC in place, Fauria is in line for big year if he’s the starter.

  5. Denver

    February 16, 2014 at 8:49 am

    What about Ryan Griffin? I have been really high on him since the end of last season. Graham is a FA and Daniels is getting long in the tooth.

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 16, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Love Ryan Griffin, he was 6th on my list. I think he has a chance to develop into a nice weapon for Houston with Daniels getting older and graham a FA. I do not think he has as much of an athletic upside as the others but he has a chance to contribute this year and make a name for himself.

  6. Raymond

    February 16, 2014 at 11:15 am

    What about tim wright? He looked pretty good for the bucs!

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      I think Wright as he showed last year has potential to be a good receiving threat but he would be on my list of guys to sell in the early part of the offseason. The reason is that Greg Schiano is gone. He played at Rutgers under Greg but with Lovie Smith in charge now, Wrights status is up in the air. They may want to bring in more of a complete tight end that can pass and block.

  7. Nick W

    February 16, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Is Ladarius Green really considered a sleeper in dynasty leagues? Bostick, Robinson, Fauria, and Kelce (somewhat) I can see… But not Green

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      Nick- to some Green may be a household name but not everyone, it really depends on the size of the league. I am in a dynasty league where all five of these tight ends are on rosters. The aim of the article was to try and point out some tight ends that could make a big jump into TE 1 value soon and should be targets in offseason trades. I agree with you Kelce and Green are well known but their owners may be impatient with them. Kelce’s rookie year was a lost year so his value may never be lower. Greene, while he had his moments this year still only caught 17 passes and Gates is coming off another 70 catch season so Green may still be able to be had in trades without giving up an elite talent back in return.

      • sixshooter

        February 17, 2014 at 6:29 am

        Nice job Paul. All of these guys are gone in our Dynasty League as well but there is always a possibility of getting one of these guys as a side piece in a trade. I have Green and have had a few offers with him included but I am not going to let him go for nothing even though I also have J Reed, M Bennett and J Thomas. I currently have Reed and Bennett on the block to get some feelers even though we cannot do any transactions for a couple more weeks and have gotten some nibbles so time will tell.

        • Paul Perdichizzi

          February 17, 2014 at 8:08 am

          Exactly in most dynasty leagues all these guys I talked about in this article and the futures ones on RBs and WRs will be taken but all about trying to buy a year or two early when value is still low. I would try to sell Bennett or Reed, whoever you can get the best offer on. Reed has so much talent but that concussion history is scary, one more real good shot to the head his playing days could be in jeopardy.

          • sixshooter

            February 23, 2014 at 8:24 am

            I hear ya on Reed but they say is 100% recovered so I am keeping fingers crossed. With Fred Davis getting in more and more trouble, his career may be over which makes Reed even more valuable as long as he is healthy!


    February 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    You offered up some good options in your article. One name that I believe should be mentioned is Luke Wilson SEA. Veteran Zach Miller hasn’t shown much and Carrol has mentioned that he wants Wilson involved. Plus dumping Miller is a big cash savings for the Seahawks, and should come cheap on most FF leagues What is your opinion of Luke Wilson going forward.

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 16, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      Like Wilson a lot, he wound have been in the next few names I would have discussed with Gragg and Griffin. I think he has a chance to become their starter, only thing holding him back is their scheme. They are so run oriented, tough to feed so many mouths in terms of fantasy. With Harvin healthy and Baldwin there, and Kearse had his moments this year, even if Tate leaves in FA, do not see Wilson as more than option 4 in a run first offense. He has a strong skill set, just being held back by scheme.

      • EHELMS

        February 16, 2014 at 10:00 pm

        I saw a couple other mentions of Chris Gragg, I’m grabbed him and Moeki before the season ended. Chandler and Lee are a very weak TE duo, so I figured take a chance by betting against them. Do you see any upside to Moeki at this point? He is still relatively young, and Scott Chandler’s ceiling is essentially the same as his floor.

        • Paul Perdichizzi

          February 17, 2014 at 5:36 am

          T Moeki is an interesting stash for right now. He had two somewhat productive seasons prior his injuries. I would rather stash Gragg, who I believe has more upside to be a fantasy factor than Moeki. Moeki’s greatest strength is his blocking, if he was ever the starter I have a hard time envisioning more than 35-40 catches in Buffalo’s offense. I expect Buffalo to draft a Te early in draft, if not they may go with Gragg and Moeki, but I think Gragg would be the receiving option and Moeki would be mostly the blocker.

  9. Ray

    February 16, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Mista Boom Bostick…mmmmm
    Mista lova lova…mmmm

    Love that dude…. Has a top 5 Qb too!

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      Yes he does, I will be targeting Bostick in every league, if Finley leaves via FA

  10. tomtrp

    February 17, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Good article Paul. This patient owner not letting anyone get Green or Kelce cheap. I need to revisit A. Robinson as a result of your write-up.

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 17, 2014 at 7:37 am

      Smart dynasty owners are going to be trying to get Kelce and Green on the cheap this off season, seeing their long term potential. I would hold on to both unless you get a good offer for Kelce and a great offer for Green. Robinson offers upside and is intriguing with new scheme and little on the depth chart. Robinson’s value is tied directly to Giants offseason plans.

  11. Joe Roads

    February 17, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I see you’ve commented on Atlanta’s WRs being utilized more in the future but, I’m still not convinced that Levine Toilolo, 6’8″ & 260 Some odd pounds won’t be utilized more than just a redzone threat. Does he not have sufficient speed? And, is he lacking in athletism? I was under the impression that they were wanting to incorporate Toilolo into Tony Gonzalez’s spot?

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      I think Toilolo may have a chance to be their starter just don’t see him as a major part of the offensive gameplay away from the red zone. He’s got good hands and can high point the catch well but I do not see him having the athleticism to create separation and run the type of routes Tony G did. I think he can be a Scott Chandler type of player, good hands, red zone option, but not a major part of any offense.

      • Joe Roads

        February 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm

        Thanks for elaborating on Toilolo. My concern is that I made the right roster move when I dropped Dallas Clark at the end of the season in order to make room for Toilolo. I felt the need to fix a blunder from earlier in the season when I dropped Gavin Escobar to make room for Latavius Murray. After seeing that somepne had dropped Murray I had tp jump on the RB while I had the chance.

        I have Jason Witten and Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. And, at the time I had Dallas Clark too. I wanted to keep Clark because Pitta was injured and I wanted to have a backup for Witten as insurance. So, I reluctanttly dropped Escobar instead of Clark with the intention of picking Escobar back up the first chance I got. Unfortunately, another owner grabbed him. So, I was hoping that Toilolo would be at the very least, a better replacement for Escobar.

        • cityslickers94

          February 18, 2014 at 2:46 pm

          murray is still a good chip to have though. it sounds like your league is deep, but as this artcile points out TE is a deep position when u are looking for upside. so all in all, you didnt make out too bad. i think murray has immediate value in 2014 and there will be other escobar’s for you to jump on in this draft and as FAs…

          • Paul Perdichizzi

            February 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm

            City-agree with your post completely. Love Murray’s upside and there will be a bunch more tight ends thus year that have similar upside to Escobar.

        • Paul Perdichizzi

          February 18, 2014 at 9:25 pm

          Joe- first off dropping Clark for Toilolo was a no brainer, Clark has zero value long term. While I would rather have Escobar over Toilolo, I would much rather gave the combo of Murray and Toilolo over Escobar, so I wouldn’t worry too much. I love Murray’s upside, real possibility he’s on my list in my rb article, that’s how much I like him.

          • Joe Roads

            February 24, 2014 at 7:28 pm

            Once again I appreciate your opinion Paul. I haven’t read your RB article yet. I’m going to look for it as I am interested in what your thoughts are concerning this years RBs. I am curious about what you think about Oakland signing Kory Sheets recently. What kind of obstacle will, not only Sheets but, Rashad Jennings be as far as Latavius Murray getting his chance to start? I apologize for straying away from the TE subject of this particular post. But, one thing leads to another and…

            Anyway, thanks again Paul for answering my questions. I look forward to reading your RB article. as well as any other future articles that you write.

          • Joe Roads

            May 27, 2014 at 7:53 am

            UPDATE: Post Rookie Draft…


            I came across this article again while surfing for information about Kyle Juszczyk. I’m still interested to find out what value ‘Juice’ might have in 2014. But, after reading the comments three months later I had to give you an update on my TE situation post rookie draft.

            I ended up trading Toilolo for QB Matt Schaub and a draft pick in this years rookie draft. I was in need of a third starting QB and jumped on this opportunity once I heard Schaub went to Oakland. I also needed some draft picks as I was without at the time.

            I ended up drafting TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (1.11), QB Derek Carr (3.04), & TE Colt Lyerla (3.12). Thereby, insuring my third QB situation and securing my TE position for a while I hope.

            I now roster Jason Witten, Dennis Pitta, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, & Colt Lyerla at the TE position. I see it as a definite upgrade from Gavin Escobar and Levine Toilolo. And, I couldn’t be happier with the future potential of my TEs.

            Thanks for your opinion and reassurance.

  12. Robert

    February 17, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    We start 2RB/3WR/TE/Flex in a couple leagues, and I’ve always been a big proponent of RBs as flex players. For some time, though, I’ve been targeting potential TE studs. I think they are worth developing, because a stud TE gives you so much lineup flexibilty.

    My best TE group is Witten, Cameron, Reed, Green, Kelce & Cook.

    In a newer league, I notice other owners are following suit & the pickings haven’t been as good, so I have VDavis, Green, Kelce, Thompson & Luke Willson.

    I’m sure I’ll be dropping Thompson and Willson, and probably Cook, before the rookie draft, but the others are staying put–UNLESS I need one to get some kind of mega-deal deal done…

    • Paul Perdichizzi

      February 18, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      TE are game changers in fantasy. They can give you such a statistical edge over your opponents if you have the elite ones,so it’s really important to be patient if you think one that kind of upside. I agree with who you plan yo keep and drop, exactly what I would recommend.

  13. Toeknee

    February 19, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Just read the Lions are looking to resign Pettigrew. Does this make Fauria near irrelevant again?

  14. Dave schechter

    February 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I know that guy! He is the basis for my fantasy football team name, BetterThanPaul (which I am not) he beats me every year. Keep up the good work

  15. Joe Roads

    February 26, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Any thoughts on the hybrid FB/TE Kyle Juszczyk? I was thinking of dropping Ed Dickson to make room for him. As I listed above, I already have Witten, Pitta, & Toilolo. And, also, do you think that fleaflicker will continue to list Jusczyk as a RB at least for the 2014 season as they did with James Casey and Charles Clay in 2012.

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