Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts
Eric Ebron made the most of his first year with the Indianapolis Colts after being released by the Detroit Lions after four seasons. He never lived up to his first-round draft status and was often criticized throughout his time with the Lions, but the move to Colts may have resurrected his career. He finished the season as a TE1 for the first time in his career, finishing as TE4. Ebron posted career highs in targets (110), receptions (66), yards (750), and touchdowns (13). To put that touchdown total into perspective, he had 11 total touchdowns during his four years with the Lions.
The addition of second-round pick, Parris Campbell, could make Ebron fantasy relevant once again this season. Campbell adds 4.31 speed to the outside, forcing defenses to rethink shading coverage to T.Y. Hilton’s side, which should help open up the middle of the field for Ebron. Jack Doyle is still recovering from hip surgery and is playing in the final year of his contract. His age (29) and the breakout of Ebron could make the Colts rethink resigning him long-term.
Last season, Ebron had a 52.2% touchdown conversion rate when inside the red zone and a rate of 62.5% when inside the ten. That is a better rate than Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle. When the Colts get down in the red zone, Andrew Luck is going to be looking for Ebron. Ebron will be a low-end TE1 with top-five potential, especially if he can supplant Doyle as the true number one. Ebron is only 26, if you can buy low, the time to pull the trigger is now.
O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Both O.J. Howard’s first two seasons have been cut short due to injuries to his right ankle/foot. While Howard has only played 24 games, he’s been dynamic when on the field, averaging 16.6 yards per catch, 11.5 yards per target and an 18.3 percent touchdown rate (11 TDs on 60 receptions).
There is some competition with Cameron Brate, but when Howard is on the field, he is the tight end that Jameis Winston is targeting. With Winston at quarterback, Howard averages 7.51 more fantasy points per game than fellow tight end Cameron Brate. In the 10 games Howard played last season he had more receptions and receiving yards than Brate, who played 16 games. The Buccaneers lost both DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries to free agency, leaving 179 targets up for grabs. Howard should inherit some of those targets, especially in the red zone. Sixth-round draft pick, Scott Miller, shouldn’t take many targets away from Howard, if any. If Howard can remain healthy, he could be looking at a top 10 finish.
Evan Engram – New York Giants
Evan Engram exploded into the league during his rookie campaign, posting the seventh-best fantasy finish in history by a rookie tight end. Engram finished as the TE5 in 2017 and looked like he was heading for another solid year in 2018, but his season was cut short due to injuries.
In a move that shocked the NFL, Odell Beckham Jr. was traded to the Cleveland Browns. Yes, the Browns. With Beckham leaving, the target volume should increase for Engram. In the past two seasons, Engram has averaged 3.5 catches for 38 yards in the 11 games played with Beckham in the lineup, compared to 4.7 receptions for 59 yards in games without Beckham.
Engram is a field stretcher and runs routes like a wide receiver. He is a matchup nightmare, and with no superstar wide receiver in New York, it could be Engram’s time to shine. The Giants did bring in Golden Tate this offseason, who will take a chunk of the vacated targets left by Beckham, but along with Sterling Shepard, he should help open up the field, allowing Engram to get free underneath. Engram has a good possibility of leading the team in targets in 2019 and has the potential of being a top-five fantasy tight end.
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