Yahoo's Deep Fantasy Sleepers 2018: Tight Ends

Andy Behrens has hopes Jake Butt will be Case Keenum’s new red-zone reindeer. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Andy Behrens has hopes Jake Butt will be Case Keenum’s new red-zone reindeer. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

In the darkest recesses of drafts, a statistical monster sleeps. Every year, a near unanimously overlooked player wakes up and snakes on the competition. When it comes to return on investment, who could be this year’s Jack Doyle? Our fanalysts weigh in.

Andy – JAKE BUTT (227.1 ADP, TE30). All the tight end targets are up for grabs in Denver and the former Michigan standout is a leading candidate to take a significant share. Butt was a matchup nightmare at the collegiate level and seemed a lock for first or second-round draft status, but a bowl game ACL injury caused him to slip. He’s now fully operational by all accounts, and he impressed throughout the summer. If he’s right, he has the potential for a top-12 positional finish.

LIZ – TYLER EIFERT (ADP 150.0, TE14). He’s not exactly a deep sleeper, but Eifert is a straight-up value play heading into 2018. Of course, owning Eifert comes with tremendous risk. Numerous back surgeries have kept him sidelined for the bulk of the last two years (10 games total in 2016 and 2017). However, the potential reward of drafting the Bengals’ favorite red zone target (when healthy) is massive.

Re-signed to an $8 million-dollar deal – of which $3 million is in incentives – the 28-year-old should be plenty motivated to “prove it.” Plus, he passed on interest from the Rams – where his former teammate Andrew Whitworth now plays – to stay in Cincy. That tells me he’s been made some real promises (like playing well ahead of Tyler Kroft).

Reportedly back to health and benefiting from a revamped offensive line, the Notre Dame product has a solid shot of rebounding. He may not score 13 TDs this year, but he’s also available in the thirteenth round of twelve-team exercises… so his risk is baked into his price.

Brad – BENJAMIN WATSON (183.1 ADP, TE22). It seems the honorable tight end once caught passes from Archie Manning he’s been in the league so long. Entering his Age 38 campaign, he’s barely an afterthought to many prospective fantasy investors even in the deepest of leagues. But Watson is a player worth investigating in the wee hours of your draft. In his past two full seasons (2015 and 2017), he finished a very respectable TE8, with New Orleans, and TE16.

Yes, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are sure to dominate the target share, but if Cameron Meredith doesn’t return to full strength, Watson is entirely capable of turning a profit. Last season with Baltimore he ranked No. 1 in catch percentage (77.2) and No. 13 in target separation at his position. In other words, age, in this case, ain’t nothing but a number. Keep in mind he has an established rapport with Drew Brees and is on track to be the primary TE in a prolific offense. On roughly 90-100 targets, he could amass around 55 receptions, 625 yards and 4-5 TDs.

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