The leap-year series is coming to a close as it finishes up with tight ends. As we have moved into the preseason, and now less than a month until regular season football begins, it is time to examine some under-the-radar tight-ends who could find themselves making the leap in 2018.
If you missed the rest of this series you can find the links those articles below:
David Njoku, CLE
The first guy on this list is almost guaranteed to make a big leap in the right direction this season. Njoku showed flashes at points last year, finishing with 32 receptions for 386 yards and 4 touchdowns on 60 targets.
The Cleveland Browns passing game was incredibly volatile, making Njoku an unreliable target a majority of the time. The team finished 22nd overall in the league in passing, averaging a measly 202 yards per game.
Now, however, the Browns have seemingly reshaped the quarterback landscape, and this time it appears they’ve got it right. Tyrod Taylor leads the charge with rookie sensation, and No.1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, falling in close behind.
Njoku definitely flashed his athleticism and ability this past Thursday night in the teams first preseason game versus the New York Giants. In the first quarter, with Taylor under center, Njoku hauled in a beautiful catch-and-run, taking it 36 yards to the house for a touchdown.
A few series later, with Mayfield in, Njoku once again made his presence felt once again. Mayfield found Njoku in the back of the end zone for Njoku’s second touchdown of the game. A night to remember for the chief.
Currently, Njoku has an 11th-round ADP in full-PPR leagues. After Thursday, it is quickly rising. In a matter of days, it has jumped a full two rounds. Make sure to acquire him while you still can at a relatively inexpensive price tag.
Trey Burton, CHI
Burton finds himself on a new team this season, with a new young quarterback beginning his second season in the NFL. The possibilities will hopefully be endless at what Burton could bring to fantasy football general managers. Last season while in Philadelphia, Burton saw seven red-zone targets, converting four of them for touchdowns. For a guy who saw thirty targets in total, that’s not bad at all.
Last season, Mitch Trubisky had twenty-eight attempts inside the red zone, completing exactly half of them. Trubisky’s tight-ends saw six of those targets, twenty-one percent, converting those looks into four receptions for thirty-one yards and three touchdowns. Although Adam Shaheen will be in the mix, Burton will provide a nice red zone target for Trubisky, hopefully leading to many more looks and many more touchdowns.
Burton currently has an 8th round ADP, which is surprisingly descending. The possibility that many people are in on Shaheen could generate the explanation as to why it is happening. Nevertheless, a tight end who is still just 26-years-old is primed to be able to produce in some regard. Without jumping the gun on the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz, Burton will almost provide respectable value for your fantasy team and should see many more targets than he saw last season, making him a “leap-year” candidate.
Jordan Reed, WSH
It may be strange to include Jordan Reed on this list, but here we are. The reality is that if Reed had stayed healthy over the past couple of seasons, he wouldn’t be part of this discussion. Nonetheless, it has unfortunately not been the case. Over the course of his career, Reed has never played a full season and has started less than ten games each year he has been in the league.
When Reed is healthy, he is an absolute monster. In 2015, for example, in the best season of his career, Reed posted 87 receptions for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Four of those games he posted two touchdowns each. Last season, Reed played in just six games, starting five of them. He registered 27 receptions on 35 targets for a paltry 211 yards and 2 touchdowns. A major step back from seasons before.
According to recent reports from the Washington Redskins ESPN NFL Nation reporter John Keim, Reed is still attempting his best to fully catch up on his conditioning.
Tight end Jordan Reed continues to do more each day as he recovers from his two toe surgeries. Reed said he couldn't start running until a month before camp so he's still behind the others. He said he wants to see "more bust, quickness. speed. All those… https://t.co/gqbu5whK1G
— John Keim (@john_keim) August 6, 2018
The fact remains that when Jordan Reed is healthy, he is dominant. Reed will likely never return to his once completely healthy dominating self like that of yesteryear, however, a relatively healthy Jordan Reed is most certainly going to be a productive Jordan Reed.
With the new addition of quarterback Alex Smith, it should only help out Reed’s cause. Last season, in 71 total red zone attempts, Smith passed for 13 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. If you’re wondering who saw the most targets, it was Travis Kelce, and it was not close. Smith targeted the big tight end 21 times, hooking up for 7 touchdowns.
As for his overall value in terms of fantasy football, Reed currently has an 8th-round ADP in PPR leagues. It has been steadily climbing, and if he can stay healthy, along with the addition of Alex Smith, Reed can be considered a steal, which is why he finds himself closing out the list of tight-ends ready to make the leap.
Naturally, the landscape for tight-ends from a fantasy perspective is a tricky one. It can be one of the most streamable positions on a week-to-week basis, however locking down a weekly starter at the position can be a huge advantage. For the three names on this list, anything can happen. If you’re looking for a low-risk, high-reward name, the value here can bring you exactly what you need.
If you’re interested in discussing the tight-end market, I am always willing to converse about your ideas. You can find me on Twitter @loganRwhaley.