2012 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight end

by Cory J. Bonini on August 27, 2012 @ 14:16:42 PDT

 

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Each year fantasy football owners gain a leg up on their competition by finding sleepers in their drafts. KFFL.com has identified these candidates for the 2012 season and analyzed why you want them on your team.

Other players fall into the undervalued category: Their fantasy stock isn't as high as it should be, and you often can land them on the cheap to help bolster your lineup. Generally, undervalued players are veterans that are coming off a down year or returning from injury and have slipped below the radar of most fantasy owners. KFFL will help you take advantage of their oversights on your quest to building a championship roster!

Note: All Average Draft Position (ADP) figures are based on standard-scoring, 12-team leagues.

Sleepers

Jermaine Gresham | Cincinnati Bengals | ADP: 9th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi
334333443413

Staying on the field has been a problem for Gresham dating back to his collegiate years. When he is on the field, few players at his position are more talented. The Bengals' offense has stymied his ability to get downfield to a degree, as did his recovery from a knee reconstruction before his rookie season.

Gresham enters Year 3 and is coming off a year in which he improved in every notable statistical category. Andy Dalton doesn't have a lot of weapons, and Jay Gruden's West Coast offense is looking to put more emphasis on the tight end position. He is recovering from a mild knee sprain and should be fine for the regular season.

The youngster is still figuring out the nuances of the position and spent extra time this offseason studying the NFL's best tight ends. We don't expect Gresham to post league-leading numbers among tight ends, but there is little reason to believe he won't make a significant leap as long as he can play a full season.

Draft Gresham as a midrange tight end after the elite names come off the board.

Fred Davis | Washington Redskins | ADP: 8th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
Well worth the risk of losing him

Davis is an athletic beast with fluid movement in the open field and soft hands to haul in most anything thrown his way. However, he has been troubled off the field and faces a certain suspension if he makes another gaffe in his personal life. The team is confident that he will not repeat past mistakes and signed him to a one-year franchise tender.

In 12 games last year, the USC product snagged 59 passes for 796 yards and scored three times. The Redskins will feature him at tight end, making him the primary safety outlet for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Davis is a big play waiting to happen and will be a focal point of the offense - one that lacks a lot of weapons. Some risk exists in drafting Davis, but you can make that argument about a lot of players. Draft him as a midrange No. 1 tight end.

Greg Olsen | Carolina Panthers | ADP: 14th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi
8393918101868

Olsen's first year with the Panthers was rather pedestrian, as he notched 45 receptions for 540 yards and scored five times. The shortened offseason set him back, but he has a full summer to build more chemistry with Cam Newton and master the playbook.

Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is a former tight ends coach, and Carolina's lack of weapons in the passing game suggests we could see more from Olsen in his second season with the team.

All things considered, he probably will amount to just an occasional spot starter. There is serious potential for more, though. Draft Olsen if you are in a league that starts two tight ends or requires you to roster a pair of them. Owners in shallow formats can keep an eye on him early in the season in case he puts it together.

Coby Fleener | Indianapolis Colts | ADP: 13th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi
435349959935

Fleener has become a popular sleeper candidate, and rightfully so. The only thing really working against him is the historical value of how little rookie tight ends have contributed for fantasy purposes. In a positive sense, he has been reunited with Andrew Luck, his collegiate quarterback.

The Colts have a dearth of talent at the skill positions. Rookie quarterbacks generally rely heavily on the tight end position, and given the duo's familiarity with each other, Fleener could be targeted more than any rookie tight end in recent memory.

The tight end pool is so deep this year that drafting Fleener as a No. 1 is a bit ambitious. Consider him an ideal second tight end if you're looking for late-round upside.

Undervalued

Heath Miller | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: 18th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi
617166376346

Todd Haley's offenses haven't been known for their usage of tight ends, but few of his past players at the position have been as versatile as Miller. Ben Roethlisberger loves to rely on him as a checkdown option, and an expanded passing game could open up more room over the middle for the veteran. Big Ben's shoulder injury may lead to more short-range passing, too.

Miller is two seasons removed from a 76-789-6 line, a year in which Big Ben posted arguably his best statistical effort to date. The running game looks to be OK with Isaac Redman, but if he struggles they will have to resort to more passing.

Miller is a low-end No. 1 in deep leagues (14 teams or larger) and should be on your short list for backup tight ends.

Kellen Winslow | Seattle Seahawks | ADP: 14th round

2012 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Seattle's receiving corps is suspect and trying to find their way. The Seahawks' addition of Winslow could be a good thing for his fantasy value, especially with rookie Russell Wilson starting at quarterback.

One source says Winslow may be nothing better than a rotational player at this stage of his career, which is possible, but he still knows how to get open and has reasonable hands. He will have to share some work with Zach Miller (concussion), whose first season in Seattle was anything but impressive.

Winslow should be viewed as a high-end backup for leagues in which teams roster two tight ends. He is coming off a 75-catch season and didn't simply lose it overnight. His reception total won't be nearly as high, but he should prove to be worthy of the occasional flex play. Perhaps playing in a new city will re-energize him.

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Fantasy football sleepers: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT

 

About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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