In fantasy football, the tight end position is a tricky equation to solve. There are fewer studs and significantly less depth that can be relied on for weekly or yearly productivity compared to the other fantasy skill positions. That has allowed multiple players to rise from obscurity to finish top 10, or even top 5, each year. In 2019, it was Darren Waller and Tyler Higbee. Austin Hooper and Jared Cook vastly exceeded expectations from similarly low ADP’s in 2018.
Given that dynasty leagues tend to have larger roster sizes, fantasy gamers can afford to spend a small number of those slots on sleepers who do not have immediate paths to opportunity but possess the tools to produce efficiently if called upon. Young, athletic tight ends make great targets for these roster slots. Situations can change quickly whether due to injury, free agency, or trade. Holding high ceiling sleepers has vast asymmetric upside in the event of one hitting. Using PlayerProfiler’s advanced stats and metrics, here are five super deep options for the bottom of your dynasty taxi squads. Keep an eye on these guys in redraft leagues as well.
Josh Oliver (FFPC ADP: 338.08)
There is much to be excited about with Josh Oliver, a Day 2 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in last year’s draft. The first is his wheels. He runs a 4.63 (87th-percentile among qualified tight ends) 40-Yard Dash which, at 6-5 and 249-pounds, equates to a 109.2 (87th-percentile) Speed Score. With a 113.0 (71st-percentile) SPARQ-x score, he is more than a straight-line burner.
Injuries kept Oliver off the field as a rookie, but he is back and ready for a larger role this year. The Jaguars were desperate for tight end production in 2019, with James O’Shaughnessy serving as the lead option. They brought in Tyler Eifert in the offseason, creating a competition for targets, especially in the red zone for a big bodied receiving option. Oliver is 23 years old, on a pass happy team, and receiving positive reports from the coaching staff heading into the year.
Dan Arnold (ADP: 325.77)
Dan Arnold was a small school mega-producer at Wisconsin Platteville, where he had a 38.4-percent (97th-percentile) College Dominator Rating with 18.1 (97th-percentile) yards per reception. He has special athleticism with a 132.6 (97th-percentile) Burst Score and 11.11 (94th-percentile) Agility Score.
After a few seasons with the Saints, Arnold was waived and subsequently claimed by the Arizona Cardinals in December of last year. In Week 17, he saw meaningful snaps after Charles Clay went down. He capitalized by grabbing four balls on six targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. Clay is now a free agent, leaving Arnold to be the primary tight end option on a wide open depth chart at only 25 years old. On a team that loves to spread the formation, Arnold being asked to block at 220-pounds should not be required, allowing the team to split him out wide as a matchup nightmare.
Foster Moreau (ADP: 344.27)
LSU’s Foster Moreau was an early Day 3 pick in the 2019 draft for the Raiders. Since then, Darren Waller had a career year, receiving almost twice as many targets as any other player on a squad devoid of receiving talent. While he signed a multi-year extension, the team also signed Jason Witten to a one year deal and invested in several skill position players in the 2020 NFL Draft. This appears to be an unfavorable target situation, but Waller’s contract features no dead cap after 2020 and Witten is unlikely to command meaningful targets.
Moreau carved out a red zone role as a rookie with seven (No. 11) red zone receptions and five (No. 8) touchdowns. There is a path to a prominent role for the 23 year old that possesses a 127 (93rd-percentile) SPARQ-x score and athleticism metrics above the 80th-percentile across the board.
Kahale Warring (ADP: N/A)
A former water polo player, Kahale Warring has upper tier athleticism in all metrics. He ran a 4.67 (80th-percentile) 40-Yard Dash, recorded a 124.9 (85th-percentile) Burst Score, and owns a 10.21 (84th-percentile) Catch Radius. Not only is he athletic, he was a big time producer in college at San Diego State with a 20.5 (70th-percetile) Breakout Age and his 19.6-percent (61st-percentile) College Dominator Rating.
Check out Kahale Warring on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Dynasty Rankings and Projections:
There were big expectations for Warring as a third round rookie in Houston, but 2019 was a lost season on IR with a concussion. In his place, Darren Fells and Jordan Akins were both productive for the Texans. Warring is part of a crowded tight end depth chart, but may find himself in a prime position for targets as a middle-of-the-field complement to the small and speedy WR corps on the outside.
Mo Alie-Cox (ADP: 348.85)
What do Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Mo Alie-Cox all have in common? Say it with me: “tight ends who played basketball in college!” Alie-Cox is a 6-4, 262-pound former basketball player with a 35 7/8-inch (99th-percentile) arm length. He’s a plus athlete all around with a 113.2 (72nd-percentile) SPARQ-x score, a 123.1 (79th-percentile) Burst Score, and a 10.12 (73rd-percentile) Catch Radius. Throw the ball in his direction and he will come down with it.
On an Indianapolis Colts team featuring Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle, there was little opportunity for Alie-Cox to break through last year. Despite signing Trey Burton, Ebron’s departure opens up over 50 targets. Philip Rivers also represents an upgrade both as a quarterback that has supported fantasy relevant tight ends before, and to the offense as a whole.
This was a quick look at a selection of deep options at the tight end position that can be acquired on waivers or as throw-in’s for trades. For that cost, the upside is immense if any were to seize a starting role. Not every roster spot should be dedicated to winning a weekly matchup. It is important to allocate a few bench spots with a longer-term goal in mind of accruing value.