Welcome to my fourth, and last installment of my fantasy football rookie sleepers.
So far, I’ve covered the first-year quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers who could sneak up on owners this year and are worth drafting in fantasy leagues. These are “sleeper picks”, so you won’t see the Lions’ Eric Ebron on this list.
Not all players suggested stand to have an immediate impact, but they will be relevant in dynasty leagues for years to come.
Today I will be focusing on the young tight ends (roll porno credits here) in the NFL. Traditionally, rookie tight ends don’t shift the fantasy football landscape, but there are a few recent draftees that have fallen into favorable situations and warrant your attention.
(Players aren’t listed in any specific order; college attended in parentheses)
Jace Amaro, Jets (Texas Tech): Amaro’s landing spot is quite good. The Jets lack great production from their tight ends and with wide receiver-like qualities, the 6’5″, 265-pound former Red Raider should immediately become a featured asset in the offense. The Jets’ WR corps is a small, inexperienced one, so whether it’s Michael Vick or Geno Smith lining up behind center, Amaro’s size and strength will quickly make him a favorite target in the red zone. Jeff Cumberland and Zach Sudfeld should pose no real threat during training camp, making Jace Amaro one of the few rookie tight ends worth snagging in redraft leagues.
Colt Lyerla, Packers (Oregon): After a much-publicized spree of criminal antics, Lyerla’s draft stock pretty much became non-existent. To put it lightly, Lyerla had a series of somewhat psychotic episodes while at the University of Oregon — eluding campus police, posting conspiracy-laced tirades on Twitter, and cocaine possession, just to name a few. His future was in doubt after he left school in October. Unsurprisingly, he was passed over during this year’s draft.
The Packers decided to take a chance on him, though, signing the undrafted free agent to a deal on Monday. The signing comes with its risks, namely off-the-field ones, but if they can corral him, it could be one of the biggest payoffs of the offseason.
Mental issues aside, Lyerla is one of the most physically gifted young players to declare for the draft. He finished the rookie combines with a 4.61 40-yard dash (third-best) and had the best vertical jump and tied for the best broad jump among all tight ends. Like the aforementioned Amaro, Lyerla doesn’t have much competition at the position. Andrew Quarless is the incumbent, but he’s really more of a blocking tight end, and Brandon Bostick failed to impress in his sophomore year. Rookie Richard Rodgers will compete with Lyerla for reps, but the former Ducks’ sheer athleticism should vault him ahead of his teammates.
The talent is there with Colt Lyerla, and if he can find regular reps in the Packers’ pass-first offense, he should be a legitimate fantasy asset in all formats.
Other TE sleepers to keep an eye on: Troy Niklas - Cardinals (Notre Dame), Austin Seferian-Jenkins - Buccaneers (Washington), C.J. Fiedorowicz - Texans (Iowa), Richard Rodgers - Packers (Cal)
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