AFC Tight End Watch List

by Danny Coffey ·

With a late name like Stoneburner, how could you possibly be overlooked?

Finding a tight end on the waiver wire can be the difference between vying for a championship and taking up fantasy basketball.  Of the three pass catching positions – WR, RB, and TE, tight ends have the highest rate of injury.  Most fantasy formats require only one starting tight end but multiple starters at the other positions, so waiting until late to draft a tight end has become fashionable.

The rate of injuries at the position requires gamers to be ready to call an audible at the position mid-season at a moment’s notice.  Make the right call and you could land on Gary Barnidge.  Make the wrong call and you’re left playing waiver wire roulette the rest of the year.  Instead of chasing last week’s touchdown and targets, look for opportunity and athleticism.  There are many sluggish blocking tight ends tricking inexperienced gamers that can be simply ignored with use of  Which under-the-radar AFC tight ends have the most pass catching potential?

Jake Stoneburner

Jake Stoneburner is an undrafted 26-year old from Ohio State University.  Stoneburner has been extremely productive whenever given playing time, both at the college and professional level.  He posted a 26.3-percent (80th-percentile) College Dominator Rating with an impressive 16.8 (91st-percentile) College Yards Per Reception at OSU.  He only received five targets and two red zone targets in 2015, but caught all fives passes including two touchdowns in the red zone.  Stoneburner is also measured to be an above average athlete in all six workout metrics on, most notably his 4.65 40-Yard Dash (79th-percentile).

How did a good athlete from an elite college program like Jake Stoneburner go undrafted?  Stoneburner needed minor knee surgery in December of 2011 and followed that up by being arrested for public urination and fleeing from the police the summer before his final season in 2012.  Stoneburner pissed away any chance of being drafted that day.

Jake Stoneburner‘s underwhelming counting stats also pushed him down NFL team draft boards.  Despite playing in 24 games his final 2 seasons at OSU, he only managed 30 receptions for 462 yards and 11 touchdowns.  However, he was undoubtedly held back by Ohio State’s pedestrian passing attack.  In 2012, his final season, Ohio stats finished 106th out of 120 FBS teams in passing yards per game at 181.5.  This was actually an improvement for the Buckeyes, up from a meager 127 yards per game (115th of 120 FBS teams) in 2011. It’s also worth noting that 11 of Stoneburner’s 30 receptions went for TDs. Stoneburner’s College Dominator Rating is representative of stoneburner’s efficiency despite OSU’s volume.


Jake Stoneburner Advanced Metrics Profile

Jake Stoneburner is third on the Dolphin’s depth chart, but trails only Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims, both who have a history of concussions.  At 6-5 262-pounds, Sims is bigger than Stoneburner and figures to be used more in the run game and for passing blocking.  Stoneburner represents the ideal “move” tight end, having played TE, WR, and H-Back in college.  Jordan Cameron is an elite athlete and possesses both the size and speed to be a true every down tight end but has one of the more troubling injury histories in recent memory, suffering both concussions and soft tissue injuries like groin strains.  Scheduled to count $9.5 million against the cap in 2016, Cameron is one the league’s most likely cut candidates.

Demetrius Harris

The Kansas City Chiefs put a premium on athleticism. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, Knile Davis, and Travis Kelce all possess staggering workout metrics.  We all love Travis Kelce, but he did have microfracture surgery on his knee already.  Demetrius Harris should be quickly snatched up should an injury befall Kelce.  Please Lord Baby Jesus, keep pagan counterpart, Zeus, safe.


Demetrius Harris Advanced Metrics Profile

Demetrius Harris went undrafted in 2013, which is understandable since he didn’t play college football. He played basketball at UW-Milwaukee. The former college basketball player-turned-tight end is a common NFL archetype.  Harris possesses a high-upside tight end profile on a basketball player’s frame: 6-7, 235-pounds with 34 1/4-inch (89th-percentile) arms.  He boasts a 4.57 (91st-percentile) 40-time, 111.4 (85th-percentile) Height Adjusted Speed Score, and a 124.9 (83rd-percentile) Burst Score.  Harris’ basketball career and a pair of broken ankles have delayed his ascent, but at just 24-years old, a Ladarius Green career path is still in his range of outcomes.

Virgil Green

The Broncos traded for Vernon Davis in the middle of the year with hopes of igniting their stalled passing attack, but he failed to live up to expectations.  Davis is in the last year of his deal and doesn’t figure to be back with the team next year.  At 33-years old, Owen Daniels has looked out of gas all year despite a two-touchdown performance in the AFC Championship Game.  Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels have had long, productive careers but their best days are long behind them.

Virgil Green would be the ideal in-house replacement.  While the Broncos have thus far used Green mostly as a blocker, it is not because Green lacks athleticism.  Despite 7th round draft-pick status, Green’s workout metrics are drool-worthy, particularly his 139.4 (100th percentile) Burst Score.  Although he received only 15 targets in 2015, Green was able to convert 12 into catches for an 80-percent catch rate and 2.35 fantasy points per target.


Virgil Green Advanced Metrics Profile

While the common narrative that Gary Kubiak turns tight ends in superstars was properly debunked in 2015, that doesn’t mean Denver tight ends should be ignored moving forward.  It surprise no one to see both Vernon Davis and Owen Daniels gone and Virgil Green starting seven months from now.