Grabbing a great tight end can provide a huge benefit for your fantasy football team. Only the lucky owners will be in the position to get top options like Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis. Thankfully, there are a number of value picks at the position heading into 2014.
If you’re looking for a low-risk/high-reward option for TE or want to have a bye-week filler in mind when your starter isn’t playing, here are five fantasy TEs with rising value.
1. Travis Kelce: Kansas City Chiefs (FanDuel Price: $4,500)
Selected in the third round of the NFL draft, Kelce’s impact in Kansas City was limited to one game last season because of a knee injury. He’s technically backing up Anthony Fasano on KC’s most recent depth chart, but his performances in the first two preseason games show he’s the superior playmaker of the two. He’s scored a touchdown in each game he’s played, including four catches for 63 yards over the weekend.
While he may not unseat Fasano as the official starter, his explosiveness will give him a larger role in the offense than originally anticipated. With the wide receiver options still underwhelming and head coach Andy Reid’s ability to get the most out of his tight ends, this could be a match made in heaven. The Chiefs and QB Alex Smith thrived last season with short and efficient passing attack. Having someone like Kelce to combine with Jamaal Charles in the passing game will add a dimension they’ve been in search for.
2. Tyler Eifert: Cincinnati Bengals (FanDuel Price: $4,700)
An issue with his shoulder has Eifert currently listed as day-to-day, limiting him in practice and preventing him from getting into a preseason game yet. If he hasn’t played, how could his stock be rising? Well, it’s because Jermaine Gresham is continuing to fall off a cliff with regard to his pass-catching value. Cincinnati led the league in two-tight end sets last season, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for targets even if nothing changes from 2013.
Gresham has been turning into more of a pass-blocking tight end, leaving the playmaking chances up to Eifert. Signal-caller Andy Dalton still has A.J. Green at his disposal, but Marvin Jones will miss the first few weeks of the season. Someone from the wide-out group needs to step up and fill the void, but the QB could turn to Eifert more than he did last season.
3. Zach Ertz: Philadelphia Eagles (FanDuel Price: $4,500)
Uncertainty at the wide receiver position has elevated Ertz’s fantasy value as he continues to have a strong preseason. He looked impressive during joint practices and scrimmages with the New England Patriots and capped off his week with a touchdown catch last Friday. Brent Celek is still on top of the depth chart in Philly, but Ertz’s playmaking ability and athleticism have shined during camp.
Head coach Chip Kelly likes to stretch the field, and that’s exactly what Ertz can offer to him. The complete turnover of the wide receivers over the offseason has opened up plenty of opportunity for the big TE to make a significant impact. He can be a great value pick if you miss out on a top tier tight end, and is a great bye-week filler.
4. Kyle Rudolph: Minnesota Vikings (FanDuel Price: $5,700)
A career-high nine touchdown catches and a Pro Bowl selection in 2012 had fantasy owners salivating at his breakout potential last season. He was on his way to new single-season personal bests in both receptions and yards, but injury prevented him from playing more than eight games. Eyes have been on him to bounce back for a nice season, and everything is starting to fall into place.
New OC Norv Turner gets the most out of his tight ends, and Rudolph has clicked with QB Matt Cassel this preseason, who currently appears as the leading candidate to start Week 1. With a more dynamic and versatile offense set to be used in 2014, he should be approaching and surpassing his career-highs with ease.
5. Eric Ebron: Detroit Lions (FanDuel Price: $5,400)
The rookie is quickly adjusting to life in the NFL. He’s still listed as second on the depth chart behind Brandon Pettigrew, but his stock is rising each time he steps foot on the field. His preseason debut wasn’t anything special, grabbing one pass for just two yards. However, he flashed his play-making ability in his second appearance with a 23-yard catch.
Pettigrew is more of a pass-blocking TE, meaning when Ebron is on the field, he’ll be making a significant fantasy impact on offense. Having him join players like Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Reggie Bush in the passing game gives Matthew Stafford one more weapon to use. Ebron won’t be a top-tier tight end this year, but will be an inexpensive and effective filler when you need him.