While not as polarizing of a position in the fantasy landscape as running back or wide receiver, your tight end can still prove to be just as important on a week-to-week basis as any other player in your starting lineup.
Deeper than most years, the TE position doesn’t see many guys going at the top of the draft, unless it’s Rob Gronkowski; but throughout the mid-later rounds there are a plethora of guys who can make an impact and prove to be great value.
On the other hand, there are some guys who can still burn you and force you to re-think your draft strategy during the season. Check out which tight ends you shouldn’t draft in 2016:
Gary Barnidge (Cleveland Browns)
Where did this dude come from last season? The 8th year veteran broke-out in 2015 as he eclipsed 1,000 yards and hauled in 9 TDs after having only 3 in his previous 7 years in the league on his way to finishing as a top 3 fantasy TE. A late blossomer, it’s quite intriguing to see if the veteran can sustain this type of production on an even younger Cleveland Browns’ offense.
I see Barnidge as a one-hit wonder. He’ll get his fair share of looks as the only quality TE on the roster and could serve as the reliable security blanket for RGIII, but I think the passing game will more-so revolve around the young WR corps which GM Sashi Brown assembled in this past NFL Draft. Hue Jackson and co. will want to see what guys like Corey Coleman, Rishard Higgins and others are capable of and who will standout among the rest.
Currently with an 8.06 ADP, Barnidge is going far too early. You can’t expect him to come back in 2016 and repeat last year’s production. The crowded WR corps will take targets away. I wouldn’t say he’s undraftable as he’ll be the go-to guy in the redzone, but the 8th round
Martellus Bennett (New England Patriots)
The lone guy on the list to be traded over the offseason, Martellus Bennett finds himself 2nd on the depth chart in New England behind none other than Rob Gronkowski. Bennett comes over after three years in Chicago where he saw a huge dip in production this past season and missed 5 games.
Transitioning into a New England offense, you’d have to think Bennett’s production will go up, especially when you consider the success the Patriots had in their 2 TE sets featuring Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez a few years ago. I do think Bennett will have a better 2016 campaign compared to last year, but he’s just too unpredictable.
With an ADP of 12.05, Bennett finds himself being drafted over guys like Dwayne Allen, Zach Miller and Eric Ebron – not the best value at that stage in the draft. Coming off his worst season since 2011 where he hauled in only 3 TDs, Bennett will be overshadowed the entire year as long as Gronk stays healthy – ultimately limiting his chances in the redzone where he would make the biggest fantasy impact.
Jared Cook (Green Bay Packers)
Every year it seems like Jared Cook is bound for a breakout season, and every year he leaves fantasy owners disappointed. Last season he suffered his worst statistical year since 2010 where he failed to haul in a TD pass in 16 games and accumulated less than 40 receptions and less than 500 receiving yards. After being cut by the Rams, Cook was able to find a new home in Green Bay where he will split TE duties with Richard Rodgers.
Going from a poor situation with the Rams to a much better offensive team in Green Bay – something he’s lacked throughout his career, maybe this is finally the breakout season from Cook that we’ve all been waiting for. That could be true, but I just don’t see it this late in his career. Cook has missed only 5 games throughout his entire career, and he’s still failed to go over 760 receiving yards or 5 TDs in a season.
Richard Rodgers will remain the top target at TE for Aaron Rodgers as he finished as a top 10 TE fantasy last season. Cook’s ADP at 13.07 is too high based on his résumé and failure to meet expectations year after year. Honestly, I’m surprised to even see him be drafted in most leagues. Cook could serve as a spot-starter at TE on some weeks, but he’s not trustworthy enough to hold a roster spot throughout the season.
Coby Fleener (New Orleans Saints)
The Indianapolis Colts elected to re-sign Dwayne Allen and let Coby Fleener walk in free agency which led him to find a new home in New Orleans. Fleener lands in the league’s top passing attack from 2015 where even Ben Watson was able to have a career year at 34 years old. Sean Payton will surely utilize Fleener’s receiving ability in a creative fashion, but will Fleener live up to his 7.06 ADP?
First off, let me say that I love Fleener’s potential with Drew Brees and that high-volume passing offense, but I don’t trust him as early as the 7th round. The Saints are stacked in the WR corps, especially after drafting Michael Thomas. While Brees is one of the best under center at distributing the ball evenly amongst his weapons, I still wouldn’t bite on him before the 9th round or so, especially with great value even later than that.
Coming off arguably the worst year in his short career, Fleener’s yards per catch dipped below 10 last season, although he did haul in a career-high 54 catches. There was inconsistent QB play in Indy last season, but Fleener never topped 90 receiving yards in a game and only caught one TD in the 2nd half of the season. His production should go up in a new offense, but I don’t trust him as a consistent producer to draft as high as the 7th round.
Ben Watson (Baltimore Ravens)
The lone player on this list who finds himself going undrafted in most leagues, Ben Watson is coming off the best year of his career, as a 35 year-old at that. During his 3rd and last season with the Saints, Watson saw career-highs in receptions (74), receiving yards (825) and TDs (6) and finished as a top 10 fantasy TE, but they neglected to not re-sign the seasoned vet.
The 13th year TE signed with Baltimore over the offseason where he lands in a crowded TE group which features guys like Crockett Gillmore, an emerging Maxx Williams and Dennis Pitta who is primed for a bounce-back season. Aside from the fact that Watson will be playing outside of an offense which greatly inflated his stats, he’ll have to earn his playing time against younger, more talented players which will be no easy task.
Based on last year’s production, Watson may entice some fantasy owners as a TE option, but he is untouchable. The only way Watson would be worth a look during the season is if the other competing TEs on the roster were to get injured which would see an expanded role for Watson – perhaps making him a viable spot starter for a week or so.