The TE landscape is a tricky situation to traverse. If you don’t land one of the top tier guys (Ertz, Kelce and Kittle) in your draft, you’re not going to be be completely confident going into the season. However, that doesn’t mean you will be hopeless at the position. George Kittle went largely undrafted in 2018 and went on to break the single-season receiving record for TEs. In 2017, Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph were often found on the waiver wire and helped teams to championships with 6 and 8 touchdowns, respectively. So let’s take a look at some TEs that can be grabbed in later rounds that have the potential to throw down with the top tier guys.
Trey Burton – Chicago Bears – 10th round ADP
After his first season in Chicago, Burton finished the 2018 campaign as the TE #7 with 54 catches on 76 targets for 569 yards and 6 TDs – all career highs. With the Bears aiming for an NFC North division repeat and Mitch Trubisky with another year of experience under his belt, I see Burton beating his career high marks from last season in targets, yards and TDs.
If you’re not going to pull the trigger on an early TE, Burton will be a great player to add later. He’ll have more helpful weeks than hurtful weeks and is easily a TE1 candidate.
Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers – 5th round ADP
While not as much of a ‘value’ as the rest of this list, Henry has the most potential of cracking the top tier of TEs in 2019. Based on his rookie year, we know he can score (8 TDs). He also averages a very respectable 13 yards per reception and 57 receptions per season. With basically a full year of recovery from his ACL injury, his chance of repeating his injury has lessened.
Now fully taking over for future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, Henry will have a lot of opportunities to make big catches on a team that values and utilizes it’s TE to the fullest. And you don’t have to burn an early pick on him, as he is currently being drafted at the end of the 5th round.
Matt LaCosse – New England Patriots – Undrafted
While the Pats wait for Ben Watson’s suspension to be served, someone will have to play the TE position. Enter Matt LaCosse. In his last two games of 2018, LaCosse caught 9 balls for 76 yards on 14 targets for the Broncos. At 6’6″, he’s a big target for a team that throws plenty to their TEs.
If you want to ‘punt’ the TE position altogether, LaCosse represents a guy you can take with your last pick who could be extremely valuable for the first 4 weeks of the season.
Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – 14th round ADP
The biggest question about Reed has always been his health. In his 6 years in the NFL, he has never played a full season. What there is no question about is his talent. Over his career, Reed has caught 73.7% of his targets and averages 51.9 yards per game. His career stats for a healthy 16 game season are 109 targets, 80 catches, 829 yards and almost 6 TDs. Those numbers would have made Reed the #6 TE in fantasy for 2018 and the TE #4 in 2017.
Clearly he has ability to shine on the field, if he can stay on the field. To spend only a 14th round pick for a potential top 5 TE seems like a no-brainer, if you want to take on the injury risk.
Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals – Undrafted
Yes, it’s another TE with health issues. But it’s also another TE with huge upside – 13 TDs in a season upside. His career numbers stated out to a full 16 game season are impressive – 52 receptions on 77 targets for 638 yards and nearly 8 scores.
Eifert is another case of crazy potential with high risk and probably my favorite TE on this list. Well worth a last round flyer in any TE mandatory league.
For reference, here is how I rank the Top-15 TEs for the 2019 season:
1) Travis Kelce – KC
2) George Kittle – SF
3) Zach Ertz – PHI
4) Hunter Henry – LAC
5) Evan Engram – NYG
6) Jordan Reed – WAS
7) O.J. Howard – TB
8) Trey Burton – CHI
9) Tyler Eifert – CIN
10) Vance McDonald – PIT
11) Jared Cook – NO
12) Mark Andrews – BAL
13) Eric Ebron – IND
14) David Njoku – CLE
15) Delanie Walker – TEN