Tight end depth isn’t really a thing in fantasy football. After top TEs Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller, and Mark Andrews go off the draft board there aren’t many other guys you that you can rely on week in and week out. Sure, there are up-and-comers like Kyle Pitts, Pat Freiermuth, and Dawson Knox. But instead of taking the risk on those guys, I’m here to convince you to take a stab at these tight end sleepers that will be available in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.
Tight End Sleepers for 2022
Hayden Hurst, Cincinnati Bengals
After a brief stint in Atlanta, Hurst, a former 1st round draft pick of the Ravens, has now returned to the AFC North. Hayden Hurst is a talented pass catcher but has had a run of bad luck. In Baltimore, Hurst was overtaken by Mark Andrews on the depth chart. After catching 6 TDs in Atlanta, the Falcons decided to draft Kyle Pitts at No.4 overall. Rightfully so, Hurst has trust issues. It seems that he’s found a home in Cincinnati.
“ Coach Taylor is extremely authentic. That’s hard to come by in this business as I’ve found out in my four years in the NFL. It’s very refreshing to hear. Very transparent.” Through it all, Hurst’s confidence has never dwindled. “People forget how quick I am. I was the 25th pick in the draft for a reason. I showed what I could do in a starting role in Atlanta in 2020.”
Former Bengals TE, CJ Uzomah, leaves behind 63 targets that Hurst should eat up and then some. Hurst is a much more natural pass catcher than Uzomah. The proof being that Hurst is only 38 receptions behind Uzomah, despite only playing 4 seasons compared to CJ’s 7. This Bengals offense is beginning to look scary good. Defenses will have their hands full trying to cover Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and now Hayden Hurst. According to Head Coach Zac Taylor during media day, Hurst is going to be a big part of the game plan. “The more research we did on him and really dug into it, we feel like that guy can be a real weapon and asset for us this year. I think he’s made of the right stuff and he’s really going to be able to help us at the tight end position.”
LAMAR JACKSON ➡️ HAYDEN HURST
61 yards TD!#BALvsBUF
— PFF (@PFF) December 8, 2019
Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans
Wow. This time last season there was this almost tangible hype for Titans tight end Anthony Firsker. Anthony freaking Firsker! But when it comes to Hooper, crickets! Perhaps his time in Cleveland has soiled his reputation, but I mean c’mon. Can you really hold anybody’s time with the Browns against them? The somewhat disrespectful lack of hype definitely puts Hooper firmly on my tight end sleepers list.
According to FantasyPros, since becoming the Titans starting QB, Ryan Tannehill has thrown 24% of his passes and 25 of his 76 TDs to the tight end position. With the departure of top WR A.J. Brown, that number will most likely increase in Hooper’s favor. Hooper’s main competition for targets is newly acquired WR Robert Woods, who is coming off an ACL injury and the asthmatic rookie WR Treylon Burks. Turron Davenport of ESPN.com had this to say of Hooper and Tannehill, “they made the most of their time on the field together during OTAs and minicamp by getting extra reps in during down periods of practice.” With the conditioning issues surrounding Burks, paired with Woods still not being 100%, it has been Hooper developing a connection with his new QB.
Ryan Tannehill and Austin Hooper have put in extra work during special teams period to develop chemistry and feel for route running. Here's Tannehill on how the process has carried on. #Titans pic.twitter.com/LxY6WVnLZR
— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_NFL) June 14, 2022
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers
This one hurts me a little bit. I happen to be a Donald Parham truther, so when the Chargers went and got Everett, I knew Parham’s time was just about up. At 34 years of age, former Chargers starting tight end, Jared Cook saw a whopping 83 targets last season. That number is the 4th most of his 13 year career and it happened in just his first season in LA. So do me a favor and let your mind wander for a moment while you imagine what a 28 year old Gerald Everett could do.
It is no secret that this Justin Herbert led Chargers offense is looking to push the ball downfield. The Chargers offense is so dangerous when they mix in play-action passes. According to Next Gen Stats, Herbert completed 7 of 9 deep pass attempts on designed rollouts for a league-leading 284 yards. Those nine such attempts led the NFL, and his 21 deep pass attempts outside the pocket were tied for the most in the NFL. Herbert also owns the 2nd highest deep play-action pass EPA at 28.5, and the 4th highest passer rating on such attempts at 120.
During his time in Seattle, Pete Carroll raved non-stop about Everett’s ability to stretch the field by running seam routes while occasionally lining up out wide. The Chargers have found a steal in Everett and you have the potential to do the exact same thing. Currently the 21st tight end off the board in fantasy drafts, Everett is poised to one of the tight end sleepers that could win you your league.
Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
The trend continues. Thus far all of my tight end sleepers are guys playing for a new team. A change of scenario might just be what the doctor ordered for Evan Engram. Nobody is going to be jumping to draft Engram this year in fantasy. In 2022, Engram dropped 11 passes. He cleaned that number up a bit last season, dropping only 6. That number is still a bit high for most, but this time around he gets to catch balls from a more touted passer.
Lawrence spoke about his new tight end during a Monday presser, “He runs like a receiver. Just having that matchup is going to be great for us. Safety, linebacker, whoever’s going to have to cover him, it’s going to be tough.” A former 1st round pick, Engram has the juice to succeed in the NFL. I believe that the new coaching staff in Jacksonville will finally be able to effectively deploy Engram. Evan figures to be a large part of the offense as the Jags don’t seem to have a true number 1 option yet. Engram will compete with Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones, Laviska Shenault, and Zay Jones for targets…he’s going to get his.
New Jaguar TE Evan Engram came on XL Primetime and talked about his first impression of Trevor pic.twitter.com/DYghQtL3p9
— 1010 XL / 92.5 FM (@1010XL) March 17, 2022