Just like Quarterbacks, the Tight End position seems to be an all-or-nothing draft pick year after year. Either you grab the top three early, or you wait till the double-digit rounds to grab a potential top five sleeper.
If you’ve played fantasy long enough, you know how nice it is to have a “set and forget” type of Tight End like Travis Kelce. But if you don’t like spending a first or second round pick on a Tight End, it’s can be more like throwing a dart on who will outperform their ADP.
In this article we will try and help identify the late-round Tight Ends that could easily end up as a top five player.
ADPs come from our 12-team PPR ADP .
Cole Kmet – Chicago Bears
Cole Kmet was quietly a top 12 Tight End in terms of targets, receptions, and receiving yards last season, but somehow finished as the Tight End 20 in PPR. How could that happen? Well, the 0 touchdowns definitely didn’t help.
Give him four touchdowns and he jumps up into the top 12 Tight Ends in PPR scoring. This is Kmet’s third full season with the Bears, and it normally takes young Tight Ends a few years to really hit their stride. The Bears also lost Allen Robinson (not that he played much in 2021), so they will need to rely on Kmet heavily this season.
Kmet is currently being drafted as the 16 th Tight End off the board and is going late in the 13 th round. Not only does that mean he is being drafted as a backup Tight End (figuring 12-14 team leagues), but it means you can grab a potential TE1 for almost no draft capital. The Bears’ offense may be ugly this season, but if QB Justin Fields takes some strides, Kmet could easily be a 750-yard, five touchdown guy that easily outperforms his ADP. Kmet is by far my favorite sleeper Tight End to grab in drafts.
Zach Ertz – Arizona Cardinals
Zach Ertz is an interesting pick this year and is currently being drafted as the 12 th Tight End off the board in the 10 th round. Ertz finished as the TE5 in 2021, playing in all 17 games and ending the season with 74 receptions for 763 yards and five touchdowns.
Ertz was once one of the top Tight Ends in fantasy football, and he showed last season he still has the capability to be that guy even though many doubted his potential in Arizona. This season he has a real shot at starting off hot, especially with DeAndre Hopkins suspended to start the season and Christian Kirk departing in the offseason. Ertz could be a target/touchdown machine the first six games.
Now his production might drop off once Hopkins returns, but it’s safe to say Ertz has still returned plenty of fantasy value even with a full receiving corp. If you feel like it’s going to be too much of a drop-off once Hopkins returns, you can probably trade Ertz at top value.
Irv Smith Jr. – Minnesota Vikings
There has been a little hype over the Minnesota Vikings’ passing game this offseason, with many thinking they may go more to a pass-heavy offense in 2022. Irv Smith Jr. has had a bit of an up and down career so far, missing the entire 2021 season with a torn meniscus. Before that, he was a pretty hyped-up Tight End. He was drafted in the second round of the NFL draft in 2019 and played college football for Alabama, so it’s safe to say Smith is an athletic Tight End with tons of potential.
The Vikings lost Tight End Tyler Conklin to the Jets, so there are 87 targets up for grabs that should almost exclusively go to Smith. Wide Receiver Adam Thielen also appears to be losing a step, so Smith could see a few extra targets from that alone. Add all that to the fact that the Vikings seem to be heading for a pass-heavy season and you have the makings of at least a top 10 Tight End with top five upside.
Smith is being drafted in the 13 th round as the 17 th Tight End off the board. If you’d like to wait till the last possible moment to grab a Tight End, Smith has one of the best chances to explode in 2022.
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