TE Sleepers

August 12, 2021

Everyone loves getting value and tight end is one of the places where value can be mined. Let’s take a look at five candidates that could blow up this season.

  1. TJ Hockenson (ADP TE6): Now Hockenson might seem like a weird choice for a sleeper pick, but there is no reason for me to believe that he won’t outperform his ADP. Right now, Hockenson is being drafted behind just Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, and Mark Andrews. I don’t believe he should be going before the first three, but he should be the fourth tight end off the board.

The past two years, Jared Goff has averaged about 1,000 yards when passing to his tight ends. That was in an offense competing for targets with guys like Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Todd Gurley. Goff comes to Detroit with seemingly one reliable target: Hockenson. Hockenson was thrown to 101 times last year, which only five tight ends were able to do. I can easily see his floor at 100 targets, and his ceiling closer to 150 targets. At those numbers, he will start to be in the conversation with the big three (Kelce, Waller, and Kittle). He should also be the top target in the red zone for the Lions this year. I see Hockenson’s floor at the TE5 this year and his ceiling at the TE2.

2. Zach Ertz (ADP TE20): That we have gotten to this point with Ertz is actually crazy. He is just two years removed from finishing his fourth-straight year as a Top-six tight end. Reports from camp are saying that both he and Dallas Goedert are looking great in training camp. That alone, for a talent as great as Ertz, should put him in the low-end TE1 conversation. Whether he is playing for the Eagles or a different team, Ertz should absolutely beat out his ADP as TE20, as long as he is healthy.

With uncertainty around many of the Eagle’s pass catchers going into 2020, Ertz can be relied on. Besides 2020, he has been the most consistent player for the Eagles over the last five years.

3. Gerald Everett (ADP TE22): With little competition from anyone besides DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Everett looks primed to be the number three option for the Seahawks. Russell Wilson hasn’t had consistent tight end play for about three years, and Metcalf and Lockett should open up the field for Everett. Even when splitting time with Tyler Higbee and the other Rams tight ends, Everett has not finished worse than TE26 over the last three years.

Now as the premier tight end target for a high-powered offense, we should finally see Everett break out. Pete Carroll has already predicted him as a breakout candidate. I would definitely be taking Everett in redraft before names like Adam Trautman, Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and Irv Smith Jr. 

4. Cole Kmet (ADP TE26): Kmet has already been listed at the starting tight end on the Bears depth chart. That’s step number one. Now he will probably lose some red-zone work to Jimmy Graham, but he should be primed for a decent amount of targets in 2021. It took until Week 12 last year for Kmet to reach a 77% snap percentage. At that time in the season, though, the Bears came up against their easiest teams against the run. David Montgomery saw an average of 19.3 carries in the last six weeks of 2020. From weeks 1-9, he saw over 19 carries just once. With a full training camp, a better understanding of the offense, and a higher snap percentage; Kmet should be in line for a nice year as a TE2, with Top-10 upside in some weeks. 

5. Jacob Hollister (ADP TE46): Hollister is the deep sleeper here. But if there is anyone who could break out that isn’t on anybody’s radar right now, it’s Hollister. Joining the Bills, Hollister is now in line to work with one of his good friends from college, Josh Allen. In an offense with high passing volume, Hollister would have a chance to contribute in a big way in Buffalo. He is not someone to draft early, or at all if you are drafting right now. But if you want to snag him in the last round of your drafts, or follow Bill’s training camp, he could be a diamond in the rough. Reports from training camp are that Hollister is challenging Dawson Knox for the starting tight end position. If he becomes the starting tight end, expect him to be a solid TE2 with touchdown dependency.