The tight end position is looking like it could be one of the most difficult to draft in fantasy football this season. Basically, you have New Orleans Saints stud Jimmy Graham at the top of the list. Underneath Graham, you have everyone else.
Rob Gronkowski is as much of a beast as Graham when healthy, but the timetable for his return remains unclear. He is worth drafting in the early rounds because of how dominant he will be when he plays, but the multiple surgeries he had over the offseason obviously make him a risk. Tony Gonzalez is also as close to a sure thing as you can get, though he won’t make the type of impact Graham or a healthy Gronk should.
But there are several other intriguing names out there, which is why we wanted to tell you about three of our favorite tight end sleepers: Jermichael Finley, Jared Cook and Zach Sudfeld.
A few years ago, Finley looked like a breakout candidate and a lock to become one of the top fantasy tight ends for years to come. It never worked out that way, and he has become more known for dropping passes than his game-changing ability. However, Finley has gotten past rumors that the Packers are looking to get rid of him and is entering a contract year. Not to mention, Green Bay’s coaches have been praising his work this offseason.
“He’s having his finest training camp, I think it’s clear-cut,” head coach Mike McCarthy said, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
“It’s not just this camp, the whole spring,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements added. “He’s been outstanding. He’s been working hard. I think he’s improved his blocking tremendously. He’s become a more detailed route runner. He’s finishing plays.”
Of course, Finley needs to earn the trust of Aaron Rodgers for any of that to matter. For what it’s worth, there have been reports about the two developing improved chemistry during training camp. Finley has tremendous athletic ability and can be a huge mismatch if he holds onto the ball. With Greg Jennings gone, the 26-year-old could see plenty more targets if he focuses early and proves his worth.
Jared Cook signed a five-year, $35 million contract with the St. Louis Rams this offseason. He is not known as a great blocking tight end, so common sense would tell you the Rams offered him that type of cash because they value his playmaking ability. Cook never had anyone to throw to him in Tennessee, but the 26-year-old could become a favorite safety valve for Sam Bradford.
Earlier this offseason, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King described Cook as “the single-best player” he watched on his training camp tour, during which he saw 20 different teams and two preseason games. That’s pretty high praise from someone who knows his football.
Of all the aforementioned players, Sudfeld has probably been the most impressive in preseason play. As LB mentioned last week, the undrafted free agent out of Nevada has made some incredible catches in double coverage that are sure to have earned him the respect of Tom Brady. If you end up drafting Gronkowski, you should make it a point to stash Sudfeld in the later rounds. If you don’t draft Gronk, you might want to give him a look anyway.