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NFL Draft

Fantasy Football: 5 Late-Round TEs To Target

  • The Draft Network
  • July 6, 2021
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Ah, the tight end position. Outside of the top three-to-four options, the rest of the board can be a murky one to maneuver. That’s why hitting on a late-round tight end makes that much more of an impact. Just ask those who drafted Logan Thomas last year. As for this year, there are five tight ends who you should consider drafting past the 10th round in your fantasy drafts. Just don’t bank on any of these guys to become the next Travis Kelce.

Adam Trautman

Underdog ADP: TE14

12-Team Round Projection: 11th

Trautman didn’t see much action during his rookie season, but with Jared Cook gone (more on him in a minute) this may be a prime opportunity for the second-year tight end. Even though the Saints added Nick Vannett, New Orleans will likely feature Trautman more. Drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Kyle Crabbs’ described Trautman as a “sure-handed receiver.” That’s especially important since the Saints don’t have many proven pass-catchers outside of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Trautman is the only returning tight end on the roster, so he should have plenty of opportunities to give Sean Payton the best tight end he’s had since Jimmy Graham. While Trautman has obvious upside, pairing him with a more proven tight end may be the smartest route.

Jared Cook

Underdog ADP: TE19

12-Team Round Projection: 13th

Cook joins the Chargers after two fine seasons with the Saints. While Cook’s playing time decreased in his time in New Orleans, he showed he can still be a viable weapon, especially in the red zone. Six of his seven touchdowns came within the red zone. Despite this, Cook had the seventh-largest yards-per-target among tight ends, which shows he doesn’t just have to be a big red zone threat. This works well in a Chargers’ offense that needs to replace Hunter Henry. Henry—now a Patriot—saw the sixth-most targets per game among tight ends last season. While Cook isn’t as young nor as athletic as Henry, he still enters a good enough situation to be fantasy-relevant. If you miss out on a top tight end, you should consider drafting Cook, though I suggest also adding a younger tight end with a higher ceiling.

Cole Kmet

Underdog ADP: TE23

12-Team Round Projection: 15th

Rookie tight ends typically don’t burst onto the scene, yet Kmet showed enough promise to warrant some consideration ahead of his second season. It wasn’t really until the end of the season when Kmet started to find his groove. While he only topped 10 points just twice all season, his snaps and target share increased significantly over the final five weeks. Not only was he more involved in the Bears’ offense than Jimmy Graham, but Kmet saw the eight-most targets among all tight ends in that span. It’s even more encouraging that Chicago was eighth in targets to tight ends all season. Outside of Allen Robinson, the Bears don’t have many reliable pass-catchers. Darnell Mooney is getting there, Tarik Cohen is returning from an ACL injury, and Jimmy Graham has slowly faded out of the offense. The opportunities should be there for the former second-round pick.

Gerald Everett

Underdog ADP: TE17

12-Team Round Projection: 16th

Everett is sort of becoming an afterthought in fantasy circles. After starting a career-high seven games for the Rams in 2020, the 27-year-old tight end signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks. Unlike the other tight ends on this list, we can’t really rely on past production so much with Everett. He just didn’t produce enough in Los Angeles alongside Tyler Higbee. In Seattle, Everett will compete with Will Dissly for snaps, which isn’t too daunting. What makes Everett such an intriguing pick is his potential role in the Seahawks’ offense. If Seattle reverts to the pass-happy offense we saw in the first half of last season—the same one that bolstered Russell Wilson into the leading MVP candidate—then targets should be fast and furious. Looking at the team’s current roster, there aren’t many reliable pass-catchers outside of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Now, the Seahawks haven’t been known to utilize their tight ends much; they were below average in that regard last season. However, it may be fair to say Everett is the team’s most athletic tight end since Jimmy Graham. While Everett doesn’t have Graham’s size, he does hit the 75th percentile in all of Player Profiler’s Workout Metrics. There’s a chance Everett becomes the No. 3 receiving option in Seattle, which would be enough to bolster him above his current ADP.

Anthony Firkser

Underdog ADP: TE21

12-Team Round Projection: 16th

I continue to wonder why Firkser’s ADP is so low. Is it because Tennessee added Julio Jones? Yes, Jones will steal a few targets from Firkser, but Firkser will still have his own role in the Titans’ offense. It’s no secret Tennessee has been fond of their tight ends. Ryan Tannehill targeted the position at the seventh-highest rate last season. On top of that, Firkser saw the third-most targets among all tight ends who did not lead their team in targets at the position. Simply put, we know Mike Vrabel and his staff have faith in Firkser. Despite playing just 32% of the Titans’ snaps, Firkser only saw one fewer target on average than Jonnu Smith. Even with Geoff Swaim returning, Firkser should be the primary pass-catcher out of Tennessee’s tight end room. Let’s say he inherits Smith’s snap rate (75%) coupled with his own target rate per snap (15.1%). Because that’s such a high target rate, let’s bring it down to a more moderate number of 13%. That would give Firkser 96 targets, which would’ve been sixth-most among tight ends last season. Even a drop to 12% still ensures he’s top 10 in targets. My point: Firkser has a clear path to becoming a TE1 in fantasy.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know on Twitter @ZachCohenFB!

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