Fantasy TE sleeper picks: Why Bears' Cole Kmet is value in drafts

·3 min read

Why Cole Kmet could be top fantasy sleeper pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

So you’ve made the decision to punt on the tight end position until the late rounds of your fantasy draft. It’s a great strategy if you want to load up on skill position players, or grab a quarterback with an earlier pick, but to really make it work, you’ve got to make sure you draft the right guy. If not, you could be stuck streaming tight ends week after week, and that’s no fun. To avoid that unfortunate fate, you’ll want to take a look at Bears TE Cole Kmet when you reach the double-digit rounds of your draft.

Last season, Kmet was an irrelevant tight end for fantasy purposes. He caught 60 passes for 612 yards, with no touchdowns. That made him the No. 22 tight end in standard scoring, No. 21 in half-PPR, and No. 20 in full PPR. Drafters are projecting Kmet to do better this season. He’s typically the 12th tight end coming off the board with an ADP of 117.1 in Yahoo! leagues. But there’s a chance he could return even better value.

The biggest pain point in Kmet’s fantasy game last season was obviously his lack of touchdowns, and there are plenty of reasons to believe he can not only find the endzone this season, but find it often. To start, coming away with no scores last season felt like an anomaly. Any regression back towards the mean, without any additional changes, would have him scoring at least a few touchdowns. However, there are several changes that will help Kmet put points on the board. Jimmy Graham, who was a major red zone threat in Matt Nagy’s offense, is gone. Kmet will now primarily be competing for those quality targets with Darnell Mooney and Equanimeous St. Brown. Further, Kmet dropped passes last season that could’ve gone for touchdowns. This year it’s clear that Kmet has focused on improving his pass catching in traffic, and throughout the summer he came down with the football more often than not, even in tight windows.

Another factor in Kmet’s disappointing output last season was his lack of chemistry with Justin Fields. Since Kmet spent all of his training camp with the starters, and Fields was relegated to playing with the second-stringers, the two had few opportunities to work together. This season, Fields and Kmet were proactive about developing a better bond. They traveled to Atlanta together, along with Mooney, to work on routes and to get a head start on training camp. The work clearly paid off, as it’s clear Fields trusts Kmet to be where he expects him to be, and doesn’t hesitate to get him the ball.

Kmet should get the ball plenty, too. Luke Getsy’s new offense will be built around the zone-running scheme, and then using the run game to set up the play-action pass. In those scenarios, Kmet can thrive. He’s proven himself a capable run blocker, so defenders must respect the possibility of a run when Kmet engages. That gives Kmet, and the offense, the advantage when he leaks out as a pass catcher. We’ve seen it all throughout the preseason, even when the Bears have run vanilla concepts. We’ve also seen the Bears repeatedly get the ball in Kmet’s hands for screen plays, allowing Kmet to use his physicality to gain extra yards. It’s no secret that the tight end plays a pivotal role in offenses that resemble what Getsy is installing in Chicago. So if you’re not taking a sure-fire TE1 like Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews, Kmet deserves serious consideration in your fantasy drafts.

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