Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Sneaky Tight End Values Who Won't Break the Bank
If you are hell-bent on landing one of the top tight ends from last season, Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, you should know you are going to pay a steep price they probably won't live up to this season.
In ESPN's Live Draft Results, Gronk has an average draft position of 14.7—yes, he's a second-round pick this year—while Graham is at the top of the third round with an ADP of 21.8.
If you don't want to pay a steep price for one of those two or get sucked up too early as the next tier of tight ends—Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Aaron Hernandez, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez—flies off the board, there are a few players who represent solid values later in the draft.
Here are three sleeper candidates you should keep a close eye on this year.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals, ADP: 142.1
But Gresham seems poised to have a breakout season. When Albert Chen of Sports Illustrated visited the Bengals' camp recently, that was the impression he got as well:
The hot topic in camp is who'll line up as the No. 2 receiver. Will it be the former practice squad player Armon Binns? Brandon Tate? Or the rookie, Mohamed Sanu? With no clear candidate there, don't be surprised if Gresham emerges as Dalton's No. 2 option in the passing game. Gruden has hinted at an increased role for the former first-round pick, who made his first Pro Bowl last year. Gresham isn't at all satisfied with his production in his first two seasons. Given his talent, he shouldn't be.
As Chen noted in that article, the Bengals are going to open up the playbook in year two of the Andy Dalton tenure and will look to take more shots down the field. A.J. Green is sure to get his, but the man who could benefit greatly from a more open passing game is Gresham.
Fred Davis, Redskins, ADP: 102.4
And he's available in the 11th round.
Plus, he now has Robert Griffin III running the offense and other weapons like Pierre Garcon to attract the attention of defenders. It's hard to ignore the potential Davis presents at the tight end position.
But he'd better stay out of trouble, and he'd better work to earn RGIII's trust quickly. One more failed drug test leads to a year-long suspension, and the Redskins still have Chris Cooley on the squad who could steal some of Davis' value.
He's a risky play, but after the second tier of tight ends, he's the best value you'll find. If you don't land your man earlier, don't be afraid to wait on Davis in the ninth or 10th round.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles, ADP: 135.2
Which sleeper are you most likely to take a chance on in 2012?
On the other hand, when the Eagles do utilize Celek, he is a dangerous weapon down the middle of the field. In the final three games of the 2011 season, he caught 13 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns.
Celek often benefits from the speed of wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who often dictate teams cover them deep, leaving the middle open. Celek shouldn't be drafted as an every-week starter given how often he blocks, but in a platoon for your team could put up big numbers in given weeks.
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