Targeting Late-Round Fantasy Tight Ends in FFPC Drafts – Who’s Sneaking in the Back Door?

There’s a lot of conversation on social media lately about Elite Fantasy Tight Ends and how it’s such a great strategy for 2024. It might even be true. I expect to see a lot of tournament teams qualifying for the shootout rounds on the backs of some of these elite TEs. But another thing is also true. Not all of these elite TEs will come through like we expect. 

Additionally, there will be surprises from the late rounds among the years-end top 12 tight ends. Most likely, at least one of these late round tight ends will crack the top 6. Teams that roster an elite TE taken in the back half of the draft will have an enormous advantage over those who spent more draft capital on their TEs. So, let’s dive in and look at some late-round options that have the potential to propel us into, and through, the money rounds of FFPC tournaments.

Late Round Tight Ends

What we’re looking for in these late TE options is some sort of a path to being a top-2 option in terms of targets earned on their NFL team, and/or a path to 8+ TDs. In the FFPC best-ball tournaments, a late-round TE with a high weekly floor can be an ideal companion piece to early TE options such as George Kittle who, on a weekly basis, has a sky-high ceiling and a floor that’s somewhere below the sub-basement. It’s also possible to put together a late-round platoon of TEs who can mimic the scoring abilities of a single elite TE taken much earlier in the draft. For example, in 2023 a platoon of the overall TE18 and TE19 (Tyler Conklin and Hunter Henry) yielded a Week 1-17 total of 193.3 points. That would have been the TE7 overall for the season. 

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Tyler Conklin ADP 128, TE17

Conk Daddy actually finished as the TE18 for 2023 in FFPC scoring despite catching passes from the likes of Zach Wilson, Trevor Siemian, and something called Tim Boyle. Given the Jets added no appreciable competition for him this year, we can safely presume he’s currently being drafted at his floor. Last year, Conklin gave us seven games with 11+ PPR points and only three games of six points or less.

With Aaron Rodgers at the helm this year, those numbers could easily improve. We’ve also seen Rodgers support some top-12 TE seasons from unheralded TEs such as Donald Lee, Richard Rodgers, and Robert Tonyan. Given the shaky nature of the Jet’s pass-catchers not named Garrett Wilson, it’s entirely possible that Conklin challenges for the No. 2 most targets on this year’s Jets team.

Hunter Henry ADP 136, TE19

Hunter Henry is another solid option for best-ballers looking to cobble together a late-round TE platoon. Henry has rarely been a big target-earner. But, he has proven to have a knack for scoring TDs. This will likely give him more spike weeks than most late-round TEs. Even on last year’s utterly wretched Patriots passing attack, he generated five weeks of 15+ points.

In fact, in two of the past three years, he’s scored 37.5-percent of all the receiving TDs scored by Patriots players. Once again, the Patriots have assembled a dubious cast of characters to catch the balls thrown by Drake Maye or Jacoby Brissett. Therefore, Henry is once again likely to be a key cog in this attack.

Jonnu Smith ADP 169, TE24

Is Jonnu Smith finally in a situation which could allow him to vault into top-12 TE status? The odds are still against him. However, there’s no doubt that it’s at least possible in this system as something of a poor man’s George Kittle. Smith is fast enough to fit the theme of this offense. Additionally, he’s a capable goal line option who can be used as either a rusher or a receiver. We’ve also seen him outperform this ADP in three of his last five seasons with a handful of spike weeks each year. He’s proven if he can get enough touches, he will make the most of them. It’s hard to see him as a top-2 target-earner. However, it’s quite possible he gets the No. 3 most targets on the team this year. This is a valuable role for a player drafted this late in our fantasy drafts.

Noah Fant ADP 174, TE26

Take just a minute to soak in what an athletic freak Noah Fant is as a TE. It’s hard to find a better profile than his 97th and 98th percentile scores across the board and an early breakout age in college. His NFL career was on a nice arc in Denver before he became collateral damage in the train-wreck Russell Wilson trade. Fant fared nearly as badly in his new Seattle offense as Russell Wilson fared in Denver. Prior to the trade, Fant was earning 90+ targets after his rookie year and had turned in a couple of top-12 seasons despite atrocious QB play. The Seattle debacle reached its nadir last year when he was mired in a hopeless 3-man platoon under OC Shane Waldron. But in 2024, the shackles may have been removed.

Noah Fant Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

His platoon-mates have both left for greener pastures. Also, Waldron is also gone. He’s been replaced by college passing guru Ryan Grubb. Fant’s competition for targets is also a little sketchy other than DK Metcalf. Tyler Lockett is getting long in the tooth. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is coming off a disappointing rookie campaign. It’s easy to see a plus athlete like Fant as an integral part of this new offense. I’m expecting a solid floor at minimum with a very realistic path back into the top 12 TEs.

Zach Ertz ADP212, TE32

What often separates the winners from the losers in the fantasy game is that winners aren’t afraid to win ugly while losers would rather win the award for sexiest roster. In the Year 2024, there is no uglier way to win than rostering Zach Ertz. He’s old. He’s slow. He plays on an NFL team that’s been a dog in fantasy for years. But let’s take a look at the late-career renaissance Ertz has enjoyed since joining forces with Kliff Kingsbury:

Yes, that’s correct. Ertz has been a TE1 an astounding 63-percent of his games under Kingsbury. Sure, there are possible roadblocks to repeating this performance in Washington. Maybe he’s just too old now. Maybe Ben Sinnott steals too much of his work (though I’ll point out that he was teammates with the sensational Trey McBride in 2022-23). Given that he’s almost free, going in the 18th round or later, why wouldn’t you take some shots that Ertz and Kingsbury can make beautiful TE music again?

Daniel Bellinger ADP 224, TE36

Darren Waller has officially retired. For some reason, Bellinger’s ADP has barely even moved. It’s true that the Giants offense is expected to be uninspiring, to say the least. However, Bellinger has a pretty easy route to being a top-target earner here. Nabers will undoubtedly get all the volume he can handle, but after that we have a collection of questionable-at-best alternatives.

Darius Slayton probably continues to tease from an outside WR role, but Jalin Hyatt and Wan’Dale Robinson are the only other viable options, leaving a healthy amount of routes for Bellinger from in-line and the slot. Bellinger is easily worth a flier if your TE room still lacks depth in the final couple of rounds.

For more from PlayerProfiler, check out this article – Fantasy Sleepers – Targets in Dynasty Fantasy Football for 2024 (