Before we get into the always exciting realm of up-and-coming tight ends, I want to point you back to the other articles in this series. Last week, we shared our up-and-coming quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.
Tight ends aren’t as “sexy” or “glamorous” as the other skill positions in football.
But there is something special about watching one split the defense up the seam and rumble through a few defensive backs on their way into the end zone.
The tight end spot is also usually paper thin as far as talent goes, so grabbing one with upside can give you a big boost over other fantasy owners.
After Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham it’s a mess as usual so let’s take a look at a few tight ends that might be on their way up for 2015.
Up-and-Coming Tight Ends
Looking for some young, big pass catchers?
Josh Hill, New Orleans
Sean Payton’s offense flows through receiving backs and the tight end. Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles benefited from this philosophy over the years. Now, with Graham’s exit comes an opportunity for Josh Hill, a third year undrafted tight end that the team is very optimistic about. Playing in a limited role last year pulled in just 14 catches for 176 yards. He did however hit pay dirt five times showing he has some red zone prowess.
It is clear Hill is going to have the opportunity in 2015 to make some noise. He has a great quarterback, an offensive scheme that rotates toward the tight end, and a coach that has a man crush on him. Now all he has to do is play the games. Hill has the potential to put together 800+ yards and eight scores if all goes well this year.
Eric Ebron, Detroit
The Lions figured out last year that rules do in fact allow the quarterback to throw the ball to receivers other than Calvin Johnson. Still, Ebron had a disappointing season considering he was the number ten overall draft pick last year and the Lions’ first-round choice. He recorded just 248 yards and one touchdown by season’s end.
Ebron’s skills are top tier and he has plenty of highlight film to prove it. In his first year, though, he dropped passes and got lost in the offense at times. These were rookie mistakes that if corrected could lead to more opportunities in this pass heavy offense. I see Ebron with the upside to gather 600-800 yards and somewhere around eight touchdowns as a ceiling in his second year.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati
Eifert is coming off elbow and shoulder surgeries and missed almost all of 2014. He was a highly valued receiving tight end out of Notre Dame when he was selected in the first round in 2013 by the Bengals. Splitting time in his first year he cobbled together 445 yards and two touchdowns. If he can come back healthy and stay that way Eifert could join A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard to form a fairly scary three headed receiving corps. Eifert has great size at 6’6” and 250 pounds and could also make a great red zone target for Andy Dalton.
The down side is its Andy Dalton throwing the ball to him. You will be able to grab Eifert late so you won’t be losing much if he ends up back on the trainer’s table this year. The Bengals did grab a tight end in round three of the draft in Tyler Kroft that could eat a little into Eifert’s targets, but Hue Jackson loves the two tight end set and I still see Eifert as the first option. If the Bengals find some rhythm with their offense Eifert could be a steal late in drafts.