The 2012 NFL regular season may have officially kicked off, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to talk some fantasy football. And perhaps there’s no more tricky position to nail down than at tight end.
Though many leagues have already drafted, there is still bound to be some early value on the waiver wire. If you're a hardcore fantasy player, you know it's never too early to start making moves.
For those of you out there looking to fill out your roster and find some terrific value at the tight end position this year, look no further than these guys. They will provide quality production as a potential TE1 or a TE2.
Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)
All the rage out of Minnesota this offseason has been the impressive showing of Vikings second-year tight end Kyle Rudolph. In the mold of Rob Gronkowski, the Notre Dame product is 6’6”, 258 pounds with underrated athleticism.
Rudolph was hampered by hamstring troubles in 2011. However, he appears to be fully over those concerns and has opened up a lot of eyes throughout the offseason.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune suggests Rudolph could lead the Vikings in targets this season, which is about all you can ask for out of a tight end for fantasy football purposes. If he can beat out No. 1 wideout Percy Harvin for targets, Rudolph could have a breakout year.
You may have snatched him up toward the end of your draft in 10- or 12-team leagues, which is terrific value. But in many leagues, he's going undrafted. Ranked universally as a backup at the position, Rudolph could steadily rise to TE1 rankings in no time.
Don't wait for the rush.
Scott Chandler (Buffalo Bills)
Largely going undrafted in fantasy leagues, Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler has some legitimate upside. He came onto the scene last year by recording 38 catches for 389 yards and six touchdowns. In 2012, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see those numbers improve.
Chandler is particularly useful in touchdown-heavy leagues, as he is a huge red-zone target who uses his 6’7”, 263-pound frame very well. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick loves him because he has soft hands and he uses space intelligently, which is key in Buffalo’s spread offense.
New tight ends coach and Bills legend Pete Metzelaars is sure to help Chandler take advantage of his tremendous size and skill set. He doesn’t have a lot of speed and won’t break many big plays, but if you’re looking for a great value for a backup tight end, Chandler is your guy.
Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)
Last year, Cam Newton took the league by storm with unbelievable production for not just a rookie quarterback but for all quarterbacks. He also resurrected the spark in receiver Steve Smith. But in 2012, the main storyline could be tight end Greg Olsen.
According to the Associated Press (via the Gaston Gazette), Carolina is expecting big things from the veteran tight end: “Coach Ron Rivera believes Olsen could be poised for a breakout season not having to share catches with Jeremy Shockey.”
The AP’s report also notes that “Rivera believes ‘it’s possible’ Olsen could put up numbers similar to what (Rob) Gronkowski and (Jimmy) Graham did last season.”
Olsen has always had great potential, but he was never fully utilized while with the Chicago Bears. His second year in Carolina should finally give him the opportunity to show what he can do.
Because of his pedestrian career numbers, Olsen currently has an average draft position of 134.5 in ESPN snake drafts. If he's available on your waiver wire, take a chance on him as a TE2 with the possibility of a breakout year.