When putting together Best Ball teams on DraftKings, the best play is to draft with a minimal tight end mindset. But that doesn’t mean drafting bad tight ends. It makes tight ends even more important as you won’t have many players in that position to get points. This is where finding those sleepers can really make a team. Based on moves made this offseason, there are some quality tight ends that will be available late in drafts. Focus on red-zone targets or guys that are going to have big improvement statically this season.
Top 5 Best Ball Sleeper TEs
Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos (DraftKings ADP: 146)
After adding Russell Wilson, tight end changes are probably the biggest news in Denver heading into the season. Last year, Albert Okwuegbunam averaged 10 yards per catch, playing behind Noah Fant. In 2021, the Broncos ranked sixth in total team tight end targets, split 90/40 between Fant and Okwuegbunam. Wilson is not afraid to target tight ends, with tight ends ending the season as two of Seattle’s top five targeted players in Gerald Everett and Will Dissly.
Stokastic’s Best Ball package has Okwuegbunam’s recommended draft position 40 places higher than his current DraftKings ADP. With Fant in Seattle and Wilson under center for the Broncos, when Wilson is cooking, there is a good chance Okwuegbunam will be the sous chef.
Zach Ertz, Cardinals (DraftKings ADP: 111)
After a late-season trade to Arizona, not only did Zach Ertz’s output stay steady, but he also improved slightly across most of his stat line.
This season he’ll have had the full offseason to study the playbook and tons of time to work with Kyler Murray. Don’t forget that Ertz went for 1,100-plus yards just three seasons ago. In the final three weeks of the season, during the playoff chase, Ertz tied Dalton Schultz for the most red-zone tight end targets. Ertz currently projects as a top-10 tight end in Stokastic’s Best Ball projections, and the recommended draft position is 15 places higher than his current ADP on DraftKings.
Noah Fant, Seahawks (DraftKings ADP: 170)
Noah Fant was traded but shared a moving true with his QB, which should help him make an immediate impact in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle seems to be all in on Fant, as he is the first player in Seahawks history to have his fifth-year option picked up by the team.
Fant caught almost 75% of his targets in 2021. Not only can he catch the ball, but also, because of how he was used in Denver, people forget that he can get down the field. He should show more of his college numbers, when he put up 14 yards per catch than he did with the Broncos, which ended up under 10 yards per catch in 2021. Expect Fant to take that fourth-year leap in Seattle and bust his 600-yard ceiling. Fant could easily end up a top-10 tight end this season; he is projected 39 spots higher than his current 170 ADP.
Tyler Higbee, Rams (DraftKings ADP: 165)
This man could really be a steal in drafts. Stokastic projects him to wrap the season as a top-10 tight end and can be had in the 12th round currently. Tyler Higbee should be one of the pass catchers that should benefit from less Robert Woods on the roster this season. The numbers are impressive, 70% catch rate in the red zone, with an average of one red zone target each game.
2021 was a COVID-shortened season for Higbee, and he still had 85 targets. Ten games with 9 or more DraftKings points? That’s a steady output and additional peak games thrown in. Higbee was peaking at the end of 2021, commanding 19% of the target share over the last four games. He ended very strongly, with two touchdowns and over 20 DraftKings points in the last week of 2021. How many 20-point games are needed from a tight end to really boost a team? Spoiler alert, there are not many, especially if they are drafted past the 11th round. Higbee should be an easy way to get a piece of this high-scoring offense, and he is projected over 30 places higher than his current DraftKings ADP.
Robert Tonyan, Packers (DraftKings ADP: 143)
It’s embarrassing to even put this on the Internet, but Sammy Watkins is no Davante Adams. Clearly, the Packers know this, which is why they drafted three wide receivers in April. Since they traded away Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Aaron Rodgers is going to have to find replacement hands for their 224 targets, and some of those are certainly going to end up in the hands of Robert Tonyan. Many drafters will check Tonyan’s numbers from last season and forget that he lost a large portion of the season to a torn ACL. Going back to 2020, he had 52 receptions and 11 touchdowns. When targeted in the red zone in 2020, Tonyan caught 90.91% of those passes — that’s a wild stat. In 2021 his red zone completion percentage was over 80%. That’s going to mean touchdowns. A whopping 35% of Rodgers’ red zone targets are going to have to be redistributed, and a good portion of those should end up in the steady hands of Tonyan. Tonyan currently projects 12 spots higher than his current ADP on DraftKings.
Pro Tip: Be sure to keep an eye on his ACL recovery situation.
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