Jan. 27, 2019
2019 Fantasy Football Sleepers and Steals TE Edition
This article is going to fairly brief as good fantasy tight ends are few and far between. This season we will have three premier tight ends, Kelce, Kittle and Ertz and the rest is hit or miss. Then there is the fairly obvious 2nd tier of tight ends that include: Henry, Howard, Engram and Njoku. All of who can be breakout players and crack into the 1st tier of tight ends. However, I will be focusing on guys that are borderline top 10 or lower.
Chris Herndon TE, NYJ (ADP undrafted in 12-team 16 round draft, TE 20+)
Herndon last year was a rookie playing in a bad offense with a rookie quarterback who struggled at times. However, going down the stretch of the 2018 season Herndon was a top 10 TE for a considerable amount of time. From week 6 to the end of the season Herndon had 86.5 of his 93.2 point season, in half ppr. That's an average of 8.65 points per game, which by no means is exceptional, but the rather long stretch of top 10 TE play makes him a breakout candidate for 2019. If the Jets offense and Sam Darnold take the next step except Herndon to be a fairly valuable TE for the 2019 season.
Overall: Herndon is a good young tight end who has shown good pass catching ability and has built a rapport with QB Sam Darnold. The big question with Herndon is will he be suspended by the league for a DWI that happened in 2018. If he does get suspended except him to go undrafted in most leagues, if that's the case you can pick him up off waivers the week prior to his suspension is over and have a good TE 2 that has the upside to be a mid-tier TE 1. If he isn't suspended you should use a late pick (Round 12-16) on Herndon as a decent upside player.
Ian Thomas TE, CAR (ADP undrafted in 12-team 16 round draft, TE 20+)
This is basically the same situation as Herndon a good young TE, who really wasn't used much until the end of the season, when Greg Olsen went down. With Olsen's injury history I would say there's a decent chance that he doesn't play all 16 games in 2019, and I'd expect his usage to be cut down due to injuries and the emergence of Ian Thomas. This is the player that came out of nowhere in week 14 and saw 11 targets which he converted into 9 receptions for 77 yards. In the last 5 weeks where Thomas was used as the Panthers Primary TE he scored 49.1 points, which was a very good average of 9.8 points per game.
Overall: I'd expect some decrease in stats for 2019, but if Thomas is the primary TE for the Panthers except around 8-10 ppg. He will also likely go undrafted as long as Olsen is a member of the Panthers, therefore you can use a late pick to stash Thomas if your TE situation isn't ideal, or if you have a good TE you can pick him up off waivers in the event of a Olsen injury or a switch in usage to primarily Thomas.