Not until recently have tight ends become legitimate early options for NFL fantasy leagues. Who are some potential 2014 sleepers?
Ladarius Green – San Diego Chargers
Antonio Gates has been the man for the San Diego Chargers for a decade but at age 33 is reaching the tail end of a Hall of Fame career. So the Bolts have worked to find his successor and may have one in the works. Ladarius Green didn’t appear often on the stat sheet in 2013, but when he did it was with flashes of brilliance. In just 17 catches he amassed 376 yards and three touchdowns. He is a big target and a threat down the field. Philip Rivers is almost certainly planning to look his way more.
Coby Fleener – Indianapolis Colts
Progress was certainly made last season by Coby Fleener. The Indianapolis Colts drafted him to grow alongside college teammate Andrew Luck and he’s done that, posting 608 yards and four touchdowns. That doubles his numbers as a rookie. With the offense becoming more familiar and Luck emerging as an elite passer, Fleener should intrigue NFL fantasy owners as a possible breakout option.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Big targets are all the rage in football of late and Austin Seferian-Jenkins is just the latest example out of Washington. Not only is he an able blocker, but his athleticism and speed made him an intriguing threat in the passing game. Many feel his true potential was never explored but that could change with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Veteran quarterback Josh McCown has experience throwing to big tight ends, so it should yield results immediately if ASJ is healthy.
Adrien Robinson – New York Giants
Very few people outside of the Big Apple know the name Adrien Robinson. The 4th round pick from 2012 for the New York Giants has not caught a single pass in his pro career thus far, only appearing in three games total. However, as the pass protection for Eli Manning improves and the scheme shifts under Ben McAdoo, expectations are high for Robinson to have a breakout similar to Julius Thomas in Denver. He certainly has the physical traits, and the knowledge that Manning loves to use his tight ends if he can get on the field.
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
His Pro Bowl nod in 2012 was validation of his talent, but Kyle Rudolph hasn’t really broken through on NFL fantasy fronts so far, mostly due to ongoing problems at the quarterback position. Under new coordinator Norv Turner, that should change. Not only is Turner a specialist at developing quarterbacks, his schemes are notorious for featuring the tight ends like he did Antonio Gates in San Diego and Jordan Cameron in Cleveland. Rudolph should benefit accordingly.