As fantasy football and fantasy baseball start to overlap, you can start to notice some similarities between the two. You can wait on the quarterback position, just like you can wait on pitching. Power is at a premium in baseball, as is a running back who has the job to himself. But perhaps no comparison is as true as a tight end in football is just like a shortstop in baseball (well, kickers and catchers are pretty damn close). In fantasy baseball, shortstop is basically a fantasy wasteland. You either have Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Correa or you have nothing. The same goes for tight end in football, too. Last year, it was either Jimmy Graham (and his then-first-round tag), Julius Thomas, or Rob Gronkowski. After that, there wasn’t much at all to get excited about. Injuries plagued Graham and Thomas, leaving Gronkowski as the best option at the position, as he dominated the competition similar to the way that Tulo does when he’s healthy.
[findthebest id=”b31XXJKiCHP” title=”Rob Gronkowski Overview” width=”600″ height=”560″ url=”//www.findthebest.com/w/b31XXJKiCHP” link=”http://football-players.pointafter.com/l/7965/Rob-Gronkowski” link_text=”Rob Gronkowski Overview | PointAfter”]
This year, though, things have changed. It’s Gronk and everyone else. More than likely, if you want Gronk, you have to pay up for him in the first round or pray that he falls to you in the early second round. After that, though, it’s up in the air, which is why tight end is the perfect position to stream. It’s not really a strategy, but a necessity.
Gronk is fine in the first round, but we thought Graham would be last year, too. Now Graham has moved on to Seattle, where reports say he will be prepared to block on 75 percent of the snaps. He’ll still get his redzone looks, but it could be a career low for fantasy points for Graham in 2015.
As for Thomas, he left Peyton Manning for Blake Bortles as he took his talents south to Jacksonville. OK, he cashed in, which I can’t blame him. His ADP has dropped him behind the likes of Gronk, Graham, Travis Kelce, Martellus Bennett and Greg Olsen as the sixth tight end off the board. Those who watch the Jags practice are excited about Thomas, expecting a big year out of him. Rumor has it those who watch the Jags are also excited about a new product coming out called MySpace. It’s a game-changer, y’all.
Chances are, I’m not going to land any of the names above. I’d much rather spend my first- and second-round picks on running backs and wide receivers, depending on my draft position and the format of the league. But one thing is for sure, if Gronk doesn’t fall to me in the second round, I’m going to wait until at least round 10 before I take a tight end, because they just aren’t worth it.
Some names that I have been targeting in standard mock drafts late have been Tyler Eifert, Owen Daniels, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Eric Ebron and Dwayne Allen. One of them SHOULD hit, but if they don’t, I’ll just play tight end roulette throughout the season.
In PPR leagues, I like all of the above options, but tend to think less about Dwayne Allen as he is solely touchdown dependent. Yes, most are, but he’s an extreme example. I tend to look toward Delanie Walker in PPR mocks, despite his recent finger injury.
In auction drafts, my strategy is simple; Throw out Gronk, Thomas, Graham, Kelce early and let everyone go crazy on them just like quarterbacks. I’ll sit back, wait until the end of the auction and pluck a guy or two that I like for $1 or $2. It’s just not worth it when the point differential isn’t enough on a week-to-week basis.
One player who is in a unique situation this season is Antonio Gates. Gates, the safety-net for Philip Rivers for so many years in San Diego, is suspended the first four games of the season. While I’m more than certain his production last year is unsustainable, he’s a name and people love names. When should you draft him, though? Well, I’m not, but I’ll play along. He’s a guy to target toward the end of your draft in Round 12 or 13 of a 15-round draft. Pair him with a high-upside guy if you want or stream him until he returns.
What you could do, though, is pair Gates with an upper-tier tight end, if you decide to go against my advice, and trade one when Gates returns. I’m not one for drafting players with the mindset of trading them, but almost everyone is looking for a tight end they can plug in each week. Try to take advantage of your league.
Spend high on a quarterback if you want, but unless you get Gronkowski, do the right thing and wait on tight end.
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