It wasn’t long ago that the Tight End position was something that you regarded about as highly as a Kicker on your fantasy football teams. But with the evolution of football, the relevance and need for a top Tight End has grown. The real explosion came in 2011 when Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham combined for 2,637 yards and 28 touchdowns both breaking Kellen Winslow Sr’s record set in 1980. In 2012 I was shocked to see these two being selected in the 1st and 2nd rounds and although it is up for debate looked to be a very interesting and possibly successful strategy. While the majority of Tight Ends will never be to this caliber with the proper mix of an explosive offense such as New England or New Orleans, we do have to keep a close eye on some very impressive rookies that could make a huge impact for teams looking for that next dynamic playmaker at the Tight End position, making them valuable to your fantasy teams. So with that, let’s take a look at some targets at the position and their possible “dream team” landing spots for the 2013 NFL Draft and how they might affect your 2013 fantasy football season…
1. Tyler Eifert Notre Dame: At 6’5”, 250 and an outstanding combine finishing in the top of every category at the position, is the prototype Tight End. If anyone has the ability to be a top Tight End, it his going to be Eifert. He isn’t a great blocker, which limits his every down ability, but can be used in multiple ways either in the slot and even split out wide. Don’t be fooled by Eifert’s numbers; he averaged about 55 receptions a year and only had 11 touchdowns in three years, but that’s more of a function of offensive production at Notre Dame and less a product of his ability. My dream team for Eifert would be the Cleveland Browns. Even with the signing of Kellen Davis and the potential contributor Jordan Cameron and poor Quarterback play from Brandon Weeden, Cleveland is potentially a great fit for a young athletic Tight End like Eifert for Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski to work with.
2. Gavin Escobar San Diego State University: One of my favorite Tight Ends in the draft is Escobar…ok maybe it’s the infamous last name or the fact that I got to personally watch his pro day and meet him but this guy is impressive. He may not have wowed anyone at the combine with 4.8 forty yard dash but he has solid hands is an excellent route runner and competes for every ball thrown his way. Escobar’s weakness is he lacks serious yard after the catch ability. While he’s not going to be the down field playmaker that racks up yards he has the potential to be an every down tight end that could accumulate a high volume of receptions and could be a great red zone target. My dream team for Escobar would be the Atlanta Falcons. With Tony Gonzalez reaching the end of his amazing career, adding Escobar would be a smart move. I see similar aspects in their game and it would be amazing to get some coaching and learn the position from one of the all time greats.
3. Jordan Reed Florida: At 6’2”, 236 Reed is one of the smaller but more exciting prospects in this class. I hate to make the comparison because they came from the same school but it’s hard not to think Aaron Hernandez when watching him play. Reed’s blocking and fundamentals need serious work but there is no denying his upside. In the multiple ways he can be lined up, he would be an absolute nightmare for any linebacker trying to keep up with him and he is big enough to overpower safeties and cornerbacks in space. I think Reed might be risky in Fantasy Football but if he’s on your team he could be one of those rare players that could be in your lineup every week. My dream team for Reed would be the Seattle Seahawks . The Seahawks desperately need a dynamic player at Tight End and with Harvin now added as a receiver, this could be an absolute deadly combination for Russell Wilson.
4. Travis Kelce Cincinnati: When it comes to Tight Ends, Kelce is a really safe pick and is built like your prototypical Tight End at 6’5” 260. He didn’t wow anyone at the combine posting average numbers, but he does have amazing fundamentals and is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. He is drawing comparisons to Rob Gronkowski which I think is a stretch but on film he is impressive, I’m just not sure that it will translate all that well to the NFL. Kelce also has had several off the field issues, which you hate to see from a young prospect so that will be an interesting situation to monitor. My dream team for Kelce would be the San Diego Chargers who desperately need someone to step in and be the play maker on offense that Antonio Gates used to be. With Kelce’s blocking skills, he would also be an asset to the offensive line that had it’s share of struggles in 2012.
5. Zach Ertz Standford: This big physical Tight End is drawing comparisons to Jason Witten. Not that I don’t agree as there are similarities in their game – tough receiver that’s not afraid to take hits in traffic and a fairly polished route runner and blocker – but unlike the veteran he has a lot to learn before being a significant impact player in the NFL. Many will look at his impressive stat lines in 2012 but I would attribute that mostly to a very effective Stanford offense and less to his abilities as a player. Ertz will have to work hard but could be someone we are talking about a few years down the road and might be the one tight end in this class that I wouldn’t classify as an immediate contributor. My dream team for Ertz would be the Green Bay Packers. With the departure of Tom Crabtree and the ineffectiveness of Finley, the Packers would do well to add him and having Aaron Rogers as your Quarterback could help to hide some of the things Ertz does poorly and of course with the lack of a running game, he could be a great red zone target.