While the right rookie tight end can boost the value of your Fantasy Football team, you aren’t likely to find a sleeper from the 2015 NFL Draft.
That isn’t to say this draft class isn’t talented, or that a rookie tight end couldn’t develop into the next Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, but you aren’t likely to see a Fantasy Football impact in year one from any of these players.
Running backs generally have an easier transition into the NFL, and rookie wide receivers can develop a quick rapport with their quarterbacks, but rookie tight ends have a very full plate when they first enter the league.
For teams with older or mobile quarterbacks, a tight end has to quickly learn how to protect his field general, or he will spend most of his time on the sidelines (Ex: Zach Ertz).
— The Answer (@MarloweAlter) April 13, 2015
Despite the challenges the position presents, should you focus on any rookie tight ends in your season long 2015 Fantasy Football drafts?
2015 Rookie Tight End Prospects
1. Maxx Williams, Minnesota
Williams was a top performer at the tight end position for the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle at the 2015 NFL Combine. As a 6-foot-4, 249-pound tight end, he possess a nice mix of size, strength and speed. Williams was a redshirt sophomore, so he is able to enter the NFL early. That means he only has two years of college experience, which could add to his learning curve in the NFL.
The 21-year-old tight end comes from the right bloodline though, as his father and grandfather both played in the NFL, and his mother was on the volleyball team for Minnesota from 1984-1987. In his second and final season with Minnesota, Williams hauled in 36 receptions for 569 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
If it initially takes a few years for a tight end to develop, what about a rookie tight end who only played two seasons in college? When selecting a rookie tight end, its kind of like eating before you go swimming and getting a cramp. You know you aren’t supposed to, but you think you can just get away with it one time and beat the system. I had that same thought process last year with Eric Ebron and you know how that turned out. I know there is some hype going around that the New Orleans Saints might select Williams at the end of the first round, but I think that’s just wishful thinking for dynasty owners. The Saints plan to run the ball more, which means the team doesn’t have a glaring need for a tight end. There was also speculation that Jimmy Graham was traded because of his blocking abilities, or lack theeof, so I don’t think New Orleans would rely too heavily on a rookie to protect Drew Brees. While Williams may have a bright future in the NFL, he probably doesn’t deserve to be on your season long roster in 2015.
2. Clive Walford, Miami
Walford was a basketball player in high school, and we are finding more and more teams looking for athletic tight ends like Antonio Gates and Graham, both of whom played basketball. Since he’s had issues with drops and blocking, I don’t think that will lend to a successful rookie season. He does have a favorable comparison to Dwayne Allen, however, so that is something to consider for his long term success.
If you’re look for Walford to buck the trend of unsuccessful rookie tight ends in Fantasy Football, Williams is a better horse to bet on.
The Rest of the 2015 Rookie Tight Ends
After Williams and Walford, things get a little dicey. In four seasons with Ohio State, Jeff Heuerman only recorded 52 receptions. The route-running abilities of MyCole Pruitt are questionable and Jesse James has a hard time finding separation. All tight ends seem to come with their own little peccadilloes, and it’s really hard to find a rookie tight end who is truly NFL ready.
On FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Williams is actually being drafted ahead of much more relevant Fantasy options. Even as a backup, I still think it’s way too early to select him in the middle of Round 13. Tight ends going later than Williams that have a better chance for Fantasy success this season include the following:
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Virgil Green, Denver Broncos
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
I think each of these tight ends offer much more upside than Williams, and it will cost you a whole lot less. It’s fun to think of what a rookie tight end could do in the future, but I’ll let someone else in my league take a chance on Williams or Walford.
With the 2015 NFL Draft fast approaching, make sure to check back with the So-Called Fantasy experts to find out the most important news for your 2015 Fantasy Football season.
Maxx Williams Photo Credit: MGoBlog
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