Rookie Tight End Sleepers

While updating the latest tight end rankings, there were several rookies that stood out. If you’re in a dynasty league, adding unknown rookies at the end of your draft can result in the next Dennis Pitta. And while such rookies as Tyler Eifert, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and Jordan Reed have already popped up on dynasty rankings, there’s several others that haven’t. Let’s take a look at a few that you may want to become familiar with before your dynasty draft.

  • Dion Sims (MIA) – At 6′ 5″ and 262 pounds, Sims has the prototypical build of a successful tight end. Brought it primarily as a blocker and backup to newly-signed Dustin Keller, Sims has nonetheless seen a lot of the field in OTA’s. Keller only played in eight games last year due to injuries so if history repeats itself, look for Sims to play even more snaps. Long-term, if Sims can evolve as a pass catcher, he can ride the wave that Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace are creating.
  • Vance McDonald (SF) – While carrying the same size as Sims (6′ 4″ / 267), McDonald actually has the opposite profile heading into his NFL career in that he was primarily a receiving tight end and rarely lined up in the three-point stance. Drafted in the 2nd round to take Delanie Walker’s role in the offense, he’s impressed the coaches and the quarterbacks so far with his catching ability. Of course, teams have yet to start making contact and the 49ers have yet to determine if McDonald can fulfill his primary duty of blocking so they can free up Vernon Davis. McDonald has entered into an ideal dynasty fantasy situation with a young franchise quarterback, a great team foundation that should be good for years to come and a tight end playing in front of him who will turn 30 next year with an expiring contract not long after.
  • Chris Gragg (BUF) – While Gragg is a tad shorter than either Sims or McDonald (6′ 3″), he was, without a doubt, the fastest of the bunch coming out of the draft after clocking a 4.5 40-time. Thanks to Scott Chandler still recovering from his ACL tear suffered at the end of last season, Gragg has been taking the first team snaps in OTA’s. Already, Coach Doug Marrone has mentioned using him vertically to create matchup problems with his combination of size and speed. I believe Gragg will have the earliest opportunity of these sleepers to contribute early. His dynasty prospects are even better as he’s playing behind Chandler, who not only turns 28 this year but has an expiring contract as well.
  • Luke Willson (SEA) – Perhaps the most physically impressive sleeper of the bunch, Willson stands at 6′ 5″ and 251 pounds with a 4.51 40-time. He’s also the biggest question mark after making only 78 catches in his entire collegiate career at Rice. Additionally, he spent his senior season missing six games to injury while backing up Vance McDonald (see above). But with incumbent Zach Miller coming off a torn plantar fascia in the playoffs and previously thought second stringer Anthony McCoy tearing his Achilles not long ago, the door is wide open for Willson to make an impression. In fact, he already has at rookie minicamp in May. Willson was able to get behind the defense, make tough catches, and find the end zone. Willson’s performance in training camp will be the sole factor in just how much he contributes early. For dynasty, he’ll have to outperform no less than three candidates for the starting job. But with no clear-cut leader, that may not be difficult.

The Matthew Stafford Contract Extension

Contract extensions don’t usually mean much to fantasy football re-drafters but they do when Matthew Stafford is your franchise quarterback in a dynasty league. Stafford just signed a contract extension through 2017. While this news is great for Stafford’s dynasty value it’s especially great for Calvin Johnson’s, who’s signed through 2019. To have stability in the quarterback position is extremely important and should keep CJ at the top of dynasty big boards. Hopefully Stafford can keep getting 200 targets to Johnson for many years to come. Needless to say it also has positive value for other Lions like Ryan Broyles, who has the potential to be a very good #2 WR in the Lions offense for many years to come. Now would especially be a good time to buy low since he’s recovering from ACL surgery. It also solidifies Brandon Pettigrew as a top-15 tight end option for at least 2-3 years and makes Reggie Bush a solid top-20 option at running back for at least this year.