The fantasy football tight end conversation is being dominated by three names in 2019. Travis Kelce has an average draft position (ADP) in the top 20 among all players, while Zach Ertz and George Kittle aren't far behind, with ADPs inside the first three rounds.
If you're not taking one of the top three TEs, your draft pick should have more to do with upside than with reducing risk. The bust rate is going to be fairly high for the long list of potential tight end sleepers, but the TE position is deep enough that you can afford to deal with a bust and still grab yourself a viable option off the waiver wire if your pick fizzles out.
There are some tight ends with high upside that you can snag later in drafts, something that will allow you to focus on your fantasy squad's RB/WR depth through the first 70-plus picks. That's where players like Hunter Henry, who has an ADP of 69, or Jordan Reed, who sits outside the top 150 (ADP 156), come into play.
Neither of them have ever played a full 16 games in the NFL, and Henry missed the entire 2018 regular season due to a torn ACL. However, when they're healthy, both are incredibly productive.
Henry was targeted at least 50 times in each of his first two NFL seasons, and he has put up some amazing numbers when the ball comes his way. Through his first 115 career targets, he's racked up 81 receptions for 1,057 yards and 12 TDs. He'll be competing with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams for targets, but that elite efficiency gives him some crazy upside. The Chargers' offense should continue to roll with Philip Rivers at the helm, leaving room for plenty of fantasy relevant players, and Henry's ADP has him being drafted in the sixth round.
While Henry is super efficient, Reed's upside comes from his potential for huge volume. Despite playing only 12 full games last season, Reed led the Washington Redskins with 84 targets. His 6.9 targets per game in those 12 contests put him on a 16-game pace of 111, which would have ranked fourth among TEs in 2018.
The Washington offense isn't going to help his efficiency any, but their lack of weapons means Reed is all but a lock for huge volume again, as long as he's healthy. An ADP of TE16 more than makes up for the risk that he doesn't stay healthy, especially because you'll likely at least get a couple of startable weeks out of him to start the year.
With upside like these two TEs offer in the mid-to-late rounds of 2019 fantasy football drafts, it becomes tough to justify spending a top pick at the position.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.