The tight end landscape in fantasy football is pretty straight forward. You see it when you’re looking at average draft position, you’ll see it in your drafts. There are three elite players at the position, Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle. Then there is the rookie Kyle Pitts, who looks primed to have one of the greatest tight end seasons we’ve ever seen. His skill set displayed in college combined with the market share available in Atlanta have him grappling with this top tier.
My draft strategy typically will lead me to “punting” the tight end position. It’s tough to take a tight end in the early parts of your draft knowing how important the running back position is to fantasy football championships. Once the top-4 tight ends are selected it’s such a severe drop off. You’re better off letting the other managers in your league making the decision on your starting tight end for you. Look at 2020 for example, Noah Fant and Hunter Henry were firmly in the top 10 for ADP while Robert Tonyan and Logan Thomas were after thoughts.
I’m here to help you identify the players that none of your leaguemates are thinking about. Players that are going to keep you off the tight end waiver wire week in and week out. I’ll talk about 2 tight ends that are currently going outside of the first 10 rounds of fantasy drafts according to current ADP.
Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams
The tight end room in Los Angeles has featured the same cast of characters for the last 4 seasons. Those three players are Johnny Mundt, Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. Fast forward to 2021 and Gerald Everett is now a Seattle Seahawk. He leaves with him 41 receptions, 417 yards and 1 touchdown from 2020.
Last season Tyler Higbee ran routes on 56.7% of the Rams passing plays. This led to just an 11.3% target share, ranking 29th at the position. Gerald Everett maintained the same target share last season along with 46.7% route participation. in the last two seasons there have been 126 and 156 targets to the tight end position.
Now let’s look at what Tyler Higbee has done in games without Gerald Everett. Since 2017, Higbee has played 8 games without Everett and has averaged 15.7 PPR points per game and over doubled his target share from 3.5 to 7.3 a game. What’s even more exciting for Higbee’s outlook is the addition of Matthew Stafford. This offense is going to be much more successful in the passing game this season and Higbee will be the benefactor in the red zone.
You can get this guy in the 11th round of your fantasy drafts and he has clear top-5 TE upside.
Adam Trautman – New Orleans Saints
We’ve talked about it on the OwnersBox YouTube channel, the Saints offense is set to be dominated by Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. I’d expect to see Michael Thomas receive close to a 35% target share. While Alvin Kamara is likely to be around 20%. That still leaves a healthy amount of passing opportunity available to other weapons of the offense.
Looking back at last season, the tight end position was held down by Jared Cook, at least in the passing game. He did grade as the worst pass blocking tight end of all time last season (according to PFF) and is 34 years-old. So it makes sense that they moved on.
Enter Trautman, a 2020 third round pick out of Dayton. Who is an unbelievable NFL story, the 6-5 tight end played quarterback and cornerback in high school and had to call the University of Dayton to go play. He showed out in the FCS, setting school records and putting his elite catch radius on display. He has the size and hands to immediately dominate inside the red zone for the Saints. Jared Cook saw 17 red zone targets last year and caught just 8 of them. He still recorded 6 touchdowns!
The Saints will prove this season why they invested the third round draft capital in Trautman. The best part for you? You can get him with the last pick in your fantasy drafts as he’s often not selected.