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August 20, 2020

Fantasy football tight end sleepers: Here's who to target in the later rounds

Tight end is kind of a frustrating position when it comes to fantasy football. Unlike running backs and wide receivers, a tight end doesn't really need to be on the field. And different teams value them in different ways, giving them differing amounts of snaps and targets across the NFL.

If you're looking to spend some draft capital for a no-brainer tight end, Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Zach Ertz and Mark Andrews are the guys to look for.

If you are looking to beef up at other positions and let other fantasy owners "over pay" for the top tight ends, options exist further down on draft boards. Since technically everyone really needs only one tight end, we'll call any TE projected higher than the top 12 or so as a sleeper pick. 

We've used our own tight end rankings as the jumping off point. Here are our 2020 tight end sleepers:

TJ Hockenson, Lions (TE14)

Hockenson is a bit of a risk/reward play. The same ankle injury that derailed his rookie season is still lingering a bit as he prepares for 2020. He burst out of the gate in his first NFL game to the tune of 131 yards on six catches and a score, but proceeded to score just one TD and collect 236 yards in his following 11 starts. Lions quarterback Matt Stafford is the perfect arm to be tossing to a tight end like Hockenson, but monitoring his health will be key. If he's available and you are willing to take a risk, he's worth a late round pick.

Ian Thomas, Panthers (TE25)

The 2018 fourth round pick has been stuck in neutral in Carolina behind Greg Olsen over his first two seasons. But with Olsen now clearing the roster sheet and a new quarterback in town in Teddy Bridgewater, Thomas appears to be the man with the starting job for the Panthers. If Thomas can turn the flashes of greatness that yielded a modest 52 receptions for 469 yards and three touchdowns over his first two campaigns, he could be a reliable starter in fantasy.

Jonnu Smith, Titans (TE17)

In a situation nearly identical to Thomas' in Carolina, Smith has been blocked for three seasons by Delanie Walker in Tennessee but has still managed to post a respectable eight touchdown catches as a streaming fantasy tight end. He will now assume the role of full-time starter and his ceiling is pretty high for the former third round pick. The beauty at tight end is if you do take a chance and it doesn't work out, there should be plenty of streaming options available on the wire. Smith is worth one of those chances.

Chris Herndon, Jets (TE15)

Herndon had a very solid, nearly breakout rookie campaign in 2018 (502 yards, four TD) before injuries derailed his sophomore campaign. In New York, rising quarterback Sam Darnold isn't equipped with the most dynamic of pass-catching options, and having a safety valve with speed and strength like Herndon offers huge potential for his drafters in fantasy. Herndon is worth a late round flier and the TE has enough upside to potentially become a weekly no-brainer starter.

Also keep an eye on Blake Jarwin, Cowboys; Eric Ebron, Steelers

Fantasy football Quarterback sleepers • Running backs • Wide Receivers

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