A sleeper is a player taken as a backup who ends up worthy of being a starter or at least far outplays the draft slot where you selected him. Below are players ranked by the current Average Draft Position (ADP) as found on MyFantasyLeague.com considering all scoring systems as a general basis. I’m assuming a league of 12 teams where most would take two quarterbacks and start one.
Green Players are the values/sleepers I like while Red Players are the ones I do not value high enough to ever draft. If not red or green, the player is slotted pretty close to where I see him.
Average Draft Positions taken from MyFantasyLeague.com using only real drafts conducted after August 15th.
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Starters – Value Plays
|1||Rob Gronkowski||NE||First rounder in most leagues.|
|2||Jordan Reed||WAS||After 87-952-11 last year and then 120 yards and a score in the playoff game, Reed made a quick ascension in the rankings. He had five different games with 8+ receptions last year.|
|3||Greg Olsen||CAR||He’s one of the big three TE’s and could be considered #2. Over 1000 yards the last two years but is 31 years old.|
|4||Travis Kelce||KC||The last two seasons was right at 850 yards and 5 TDs. Nothing wrong with that but he was only 8th best last year and already found his level. Too early for me. Over half his games have under 50 yards.|
|5||Coby Fleener||NO||Fleener never had more than 54 catches in IND but they used two TEs and had plenty of other options. I really like him with Drew Brees looking to rekindle some Jimmy Graham production that has been missing from the offense. He has upside in this offense.|
|6||Delanie Walker||TEN||He was a 31-year-old stud last year in his career best season (by a huge margin). But the Titans are going to run more this year and Marcus Mariota will make a natural transition to throwing more downfield. Don’t see him repeating his career aberration but still has value. Just not this high.|
|7||Tyler Eifert||CIN||Love Eifert but returning from ankle surgery and won’t not be ready for the start of the season. He is a risk but one that could really pay off if he doesn’t miss many games and returns to form. Not expected back until “early in the regular season.” What does that mean? You can find out, I won’t bother.|
|8||Gary Barnidge||CLE||Barnidge was a beast last year and totaled more yardage and scores than he had in his seven previous seasons combined. No one is buying a repeat since the Browns will have all new coaches, schemes and receivers. But this deep, he’s an okay pick. Not nearly the same upside this year.|
|9||Zach Ertz||PHI||Ertz is always going to be Top 10 and yet maybe never Top 5. Solid pick.|
|10||Julius Thomas||JAC||Thomas dropped to just 5 TDs last year but his second season in JAC should pay off better. He’s a risk but has upside in a pass-happy scheme.|
|11||Antonio Gates||SD||Hard to jump on board with a 36-year-old TE. He could end up injured again but he also could end up with 6+ catches in games that he plays. Don’t want him as a starter from the risk but as a back-up? Sure. But he is starting to cost like a starter. He is 8 TDs from the all-time TD record for TEs and Phillip Rivers wants him to get it. That is all he is playing for. So yardage and catches? Not sure. Health? Not sure. Eight TDs – if possible. Risky pick. Get another TE you can rely on.|
|12||Jimmy Graham||SEA||As a back-up TE, I might take the chance. His patellar tendon injury was serious and this could be a wasted pick and you better get a second TE fast. Better off with Graham as your TE2.|
|13||Martellus Bennett||NE||I am intending on getting Bennett as the TE2 on every one of my fantasy teams. He’s been as good as 90-916-6 in 2014 and now heads to a team that knows how to throw to TEs. His cost is very cheap considering his upside. All day long I want Bennett as my TE2. I’d take Bennett as my TE1 and then grab a second TE in short order. There is serious upside here.|
|14||Dwayne Allen||IND||I love Allen as a TE2 this year. The Colts are going away from their two-TE sets but Allen remains and he is the only TE on the roster with any experience or chemistry with Luck. Allen caught 8 TD in 2014 and he’s one of several TEs in this tier that I like to have. Honestly, this year I think Gronkowski is too expensive and I am waiting until later to get my TEs and load up on WR and RB.|
|15||Jason Witten||DAL||He is 34 years old and wafting gently down to the bottom but he remains a decent bye week filler. A return by Dez Bryant will ensure that Witten slides even more this year.|
|16||Eric Ebron||DET||Had an Achilles scare in training camp but says he will be okay. He has upside this year and could turn in a nice season with the passing scheme to spread out more with Calvin Johnson gone. He’s missed nearly all of the preseason thanks to a bad ankle injury but may be ready for Week 1. Decent pick for a TE2.|
|17||Ladarius Green||PIT||He opened camp on the PUP from his offseason ankle surgery. He replaces Heath Miller and the Steelers need their receivers with Martavis Bryant out. But even Miller rarely made the Top 10 and only once had a season where he had significant fantasy stats (2012). Green’s career best is only 429 yards and three were rumors that he had migraines stemming from his concussions of 2015. He has denied it but it all wraps up into a package I would leave on the shelf.|
|18||Zach Miller||CHI||This is a nice chance for Miller to step up and replace Martellus Bennett. He signed a 2-year deal in the offseason and had 34-439-5 playing as the #2 TE for the Bears last year. Reasonable chance to take here.|
|19||Jared Cook||GB||Cook’s best season was 759 yards back in 2011 but his career has been stuck with the Rams and Titans. He now gets the best QB of his career in an offense that actually throws the ball well. This deeply in your draft? This is exactly the sort of #2 TE you should grab "just to see". There’s always plenty of other crappy TE’s on the waiver wire anyway.|
|20||Charles Clay||BUF||600 yards and about 3 TDs each year. That about defines the 20th best TE. No real upside but consistent enough to cover bye weeks. Bills at least say they want to use him more.|
|21||Austin Seferian-Jenkins||TB||Talent but has been a big disappointment for both years and has been less than durable as well. He may still start to meet expectations but not on my team. He’s not drawn good reviews again this summer and may or may not be passed by Cameron Brate on the depth chart. I have no time for headcases in my fantasy drafts.|
|22||Clive Walford||OAK||Rising in the ADP. Raiders want to incorporate this second year ex-Miami TE into the passing offense. This is absolutely the sort of TE2 you should pick. Was the second overall TE drafted in the 2015 NFL draft.|
|23||Hunter Henry||SD||Rookie TE’s never do anything much less one that plays behind Antonio Gates (just ask Ladarius Green).|
|24||Donnell, Larry||NYG||He’ll still share with William Tye and won’t be worth much more than the worst back-up TE.|
Undrafted – Best Value
Vance McDonald (SF) – Love McDonald’s upside in the Chip Kelly offense that always ranked Top 10 in TE catches and yards in PHI. If he is not drafted, he will be taken as an in-season free agent.
Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – He’s a bye week filled worth about five to ten points most weeks with the chance for a TD.