Arizona Cardinals: Andy Isabella
The Cardinals traded up in the second round to draft Isabella, whose 40-time clocked in the 100th percentile, was PFF’s highest-graded college wide receiver ever last season and is seemingly an ideal fit for Arizona’s Air Raid offense that’s going to feature a ton of plays and a bunch of shots downfield. Some patience may be needed, but Isabella could be a difference-maker over the second half of his rookie season.
Atlanta Falcons: Austin Hooper
Tight ends typically take longer to develop, and Hooper has seen his target share increase every year he’s been in the league. The Falcons play just three games outdoors this season, and there’s hidden touchdown upside here. Hooper may have grabbed just four TDs last year, but he tied for seventh among all receivers with 10 targets inside the 10-yard line and also ranked top-10 in looks inside the five-yard line (not just among TEs), so expect more end zone trips in 2019.
Baltimore Ravens: Mark Andrews
Few players have received more glowing offseason reports than Andrews, who’s emerging as the favorite to be Baltimore’s No. 1 target in the passing game. The Ravens are no doubt going to be among the most run-heavy teams in the NFL this season, but he’s also set up to lead his team in target shares unlike many other tight ends around the league. Typically one of the toughest positions to learn as a rookie, Andrews finished second among tight ends last year in yards per target (11.0) and Passer Rating (124.8) and was fourth-best both in fantasy points per target and in yards per route run (just ahead of Zach Ertz). He should break out in Year Two with an improved Lamar Jackson throwing to him.
Buffalo Bills: Devin Singletary
He doesn’t possess overly impressive athletic ability, but Singletary was among the league-leaders in broken tackles each of the past two seasons in college, when he also led the nation in touchdowns two years ago. His College Dominator grade was in the 86th percentile, and the Bills’ backfield is wide open with Frank Gore being 36 years old and LeSean McCoy limping to the finish line. Buffalo should have a strong defense, and the running ability of Josh Allen should benefit Singletary once he wins the backfield job.
Carolina Panthers: Curtis Samuel
He’s received a bunch of hype this summer, so Samuel is no secret, but all that praise is more than warranted, yet he remains undervalued in drafts. I have Samuel and teammate D.J. Moore ranked back-to-back, but you can grab the former much later.
Chicago Bears: Mike Davis
I’m aggressively drafting David Montgomery this year, but if he were to go down, Davis would immediately become a must-start. He’s a more-than-capable backup who can play on all three downs on a team with a strong offensive mind at coach.
Cincinnati Bengals: Giovani Bernard
While the Bengals’ new coaching staff has brought optimism for other players, it seems the one who might benefit most is being overlooked in Bernard. He should be a PPR asset at a minimum, with upside for much more, should Joe Mixon go down.
Cleveland Browns: Rashard Higgins
He moved to WR3 on Cleveland’s depth chart after Antonio Callaway was suspended for the first four games of the season and has shown good rapport with Baker Mayfield. Higgins even has some upside should injuries strike on this explosive offense that’s going to score a bunch of points.
Dallas Cowboys: Tony Pollard
Whether Ezekiel Elliott signs soon or not, Pollard has established himself as clearly the other Dallas RB to roster, as the rookie has been productive this preseason while earning effusive praise from the coaching staff. Pollard is fast, can be used as a receiver and has huge upside if given the opportunity on a Dallas team that loves to run behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. Pollard is deservingly flying up draft boards.
Denver Broncos: Noah Fant
Normally I wouldn’t recommend a rookie tight end (and his recent mild foot injury needs to be monitored), but Fant’s workout metrics are off the charts, and Joe Flacco features his tight ends unlike many other QBs.
Detroit Lions: C.J. Anderson
I’m a huge Kerryon Johnson fan, but if his body isn’t up to the task of having a fuller workload and breaks down, CJA is the ready replacement on a team that will concentrate on the run. His situation certainly helped, but Anderson came off his couch late last season to become the first running back in NFL history to run for 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his first three games with a team, so clearly he has something left in the tank should an increased opportunity arise again for the 28 year old.
Green Bay Packers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling
He looks like the clear favorite to act as the Packers’ No. 2 wide receiver, which should be quite beneficial with Aaron Rodgers throwing to him in an ostensibly more modern offense with a new coaching staff in Green Bay now. Valdes-Scantling posted the third-best separation rate as a rookie last season, and at 6-4, he also has the size to be a threat in the red zone (and he certainly has good speed). Plus, if Davante Adams were to go down, MVS could be a league-winner.
Houston Texans: Jordan Thomas
He’s back practicing after dealing with a hamstring injury and remains on track to be Houston’s starting tight end this year with Ryan Griffin gone and little competition elsewhere. Thomas has shown flashes this summer, and as far as targets, few receivers are more injury-prone than Will Fuller and Keke Coutee. The Texans also project to have a favorable schedule for tight ends.
Indianapolis Colts: Jacoby Brissett
Andrew Luck is dealing with an ankle injury that’s bothered him for three+ months, and his availability is a legit question mark. It hurts the rest of Indy’s fantasy value, but Brissett is now a flier in SuperFLEX leagues, as he’s comfortable in the team’s innovative, fast-paced system. Moreover, wide receiver Deon Cain is an intriguing dynasty buy right now as well.
Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Chark
I’m all in this year on Dede Westbrook, but if you’re digging deeper there’s also Chark, who sports crazy athleticism and faces weak competition as Jacksonville’s second option in the passing game, which should be much improved with Nick Foles (whose lone terrible year came under Jeff Fisher) taking over for Blake Bortles (who’s really bad).
Kansas City Chiefs: Darwin Thompson
I’m big on Damien Williams this year, but it’s true he’s never eclipsed 50 carries in a season, and there isn’t a bigger potential lottery ticket in fantasy than a piece of Kansas City’s backfield. Thompson doesn’t have workhorse potential, but this is someone to target later in drafts.
Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Jackson
Melvin Gordon is holding out, and while Austin Ekeler owns some extremely impressive under-the-hood stats, it became clear he benefited greatly from limited work after taking over as the starter last season (3.2 YPC compared to 6.4 as a sub). That’s a small sample, but Jackson is going to be heavily involved in a potent offense should Gordon not sign (and he doesn’t have any leverage).
Los Angeles Rams: Gerald Everett
I’m fading Todd Gurley this season, so Malcolm Brown also qualifies here, but Everett is a strong TE flier who’s nearly free in drafts. He’s entering Year Three with a strong pedigree and after their offense had no counters late last year, the Rams have been using far more multiple TE sets (and no longer strictly 11 personnel) this preseason, which could be big news for 2019 (and not great for Cooper Kupp). Everett is a top-20 TE on my board.
Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker
Seemingly everyone has given up on Parker, who’s (I hope you’re sitting down) currently dealing with yet another injury, and the QB situation in Miami remains a bit unsettled. But Parker has the talent to easily become the Dolphins’ clear WR1 this season should health cooperate for once. He has a clean slate with the team’s new coaching staff and had another impressive summer. I’m not giving up on him.
Minnesota Vikings: Alexander Mattison
Minnesota plans to be run-heavy this year, and Dalvin Cook has missed more games (17) than he’s played (15) over the first two seasons of his career. The rookie should immediately step into the Vikings’ RB2 role with Latavius Murray gone, and although it would take an injury, Mattison could easily be a fantasy factor this year.
New England Patriots: Damien Harris
New England running backs have finished second in PPR scoring in three of the past four seasons, and the Patriots should become even more run-heavy with Rob Gronkowski retired and Tom Brady being 42 years old. Sony Michel’s bad knee could become an issue at any moment, and while Harris doesn’t have blazing speed, the rookie back is capable of playing on all three downs and is a Michel-injury away from going down as one of the steals of this year’s fantasy drafts.
New Orleans Saints: Tre’Quan Smith
The Saints have become more run-heavy these days, but Smith is a third-round pick who showed flashes as a rookie and is an ideal best ball target with room for much more should injuries strike New Orleans.
New York Giants: Evan Engram
This is cheating, but sleeper candidates are catatonic in New York, and Engram is still being undervalued after Odell Beckham Jr. was traded during the offseason (and Golden Tate will open the year serving a four-game suspension). Engram produced the sixth-most yards per route run among tight ends last season as a sophomore with poor quarterback play and could explode in 2019 looking at a big increase in targets. Daniel Jones might even be an upgrade at QB.
New York Jets: Ty Montgomery
Le’Veon Bell sat out of football all of last year and has played 16 games just once during his career, and Montgomery has looked good acting as the team’s lead back during preseason work. There’s potential here given the presence of Sam Darnold, who went from the youngest QB to start a season opener last year to leading the NFL in QBR during December. Quincy Enunwa is another sleeper on the Jets, as he’s much cheaper than perennial disappointment Jamison Crowder, but is arguably the better pick regardless of price.
Oakland Raiders: Darren Waller
Waller is an unknown with an extensive injury history, but the converted wide receiver is an explosive athlete who’s looking at a big opportunity after Oakland lost Jared Cook during the offseason. Derek Carr sure enjoyed throwing to the tight end position last year, and it's becoming more difficult to project Antonio Brown for a full workload.
Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert
He’s competing for looks with Zach Ertz and suffered a calf injury that knocked him out for most of the preseason, but Goedert is clearly a star in the making and gets to play in an innovative offense with Carson Wentz, who’s targeted tight ends more than any other QB over the last three years. DeSean Jackson is also going too low in drafts.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Donte Moncrief
The Steelers watched 200+ targets leave when Antonio Brown and Jesse James exited during the offseason, and Moncrief has emerged as the clear favorite to step into the team’s WR2 role. No team threw the ball more than the Steelers last season, and it’s reportedly been a smooth transition picking up Pittsburgh’s offense for Moncrief, who’s admittedly disappointed before but posted intriguing Air Yards numbers in a dire situation in Jacksonville last season.
Seattle Seahawks: Will Dissly
He’s back from injury and appears to be the frontrunner to be Seattle’s starting tight end this season. The Seahawks should remain run-dominant, but Doug Baldwin retired, David Moore has failed to impress and D.K. Metcalf is raw and recently underwent knee surgery, so there are open targets in Seattle.
San Francisco 49ers: Niners defense
San Francisco set a record in futility last season, recording just two interceptions, so this defense is free at drafts. But after trading for Dee Ford, signing Kwon Alexander and drafting Nick Bosa, the defensive line is loaded with first round pedigrees and should benefit from continuity at D coordinator. The 49ers arguably went from having a bottom-five D-Line to a top-five front four during the offseason. As for offense, Jalen Hurd is the fun dynasty target in the Bay Area.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones II
He’s coming off a lost rookie season but has a shot at a significant role in an intriguing offense with only Peyton Barber competing for touches in Tampa Bay’s backfield. Jones has reportedly looked like a different player in training camp, and the unknown aspect he brings makes him a far superior pick to Barber.
Tennessee Titans: Delanie Walker
He’s a boring and aging veteran coming off a lost season to injury, but Walker is back healthy and averaged 74-896-5 over the previous four seasons, and Marcus Mariota loves throwing to tight ends.
Washington Redskins: Jordan Reed
He’s healthier now after not having to rehab for the first offseason in three years and still has the talent to emerge as Washington’s clear No. 1 option in the passing game. Still yet to turn 30 years old, Reed’s upside remains and any injury risk has been priced into his discounted draft cost.