The Sports Cannon prides themselves in making the best fantasy football rookie rankings so you are prepared for success each season. This year, we have checked the schedules, the training camp competition and the overall abilities of each rookie to determine which rookie, if any, will be a breakout star.
I imagine more and more people will be doing their homework on rookie tight ends now that Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez single-handedly won and ruined leagues last season.
Tight ends are becoming more of a tool in passing offenses across the league. This year there are a few athletic tight ends joining pass-happy teams. Some have a cloudier situation than others, but there is potential there.
Here are five tight ends entering their rookie seasons who might have fantasy potential:
1. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
No surprise here—sure Rudolph has probably the most quarterback uncertainty of anyone on this list, but he is also the best athlete in the group.
The upside for Rudolph as a fantasy prospect is Adrian Peterson.
Let me rephrase that.
The fact that AP is so good means you won’t have to worry about Rudolph being stuck as a blocker.
2. Luke Stocker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Maybe we are thinking too long-term by ranking Stocker second; he still has Kellen Winslow Jr. to compete with for targets.
The Buccaneers like to run multiple tight end sets though, and Josh Freeman’s decision-making means Stocker could steal some targets.
Here’s hoping that 6'5" frame means he is stealing red zone targets.
3. Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams
As much as we love Sam Bradford—and we do—we just aren’t buying the hype that Kendricks and Bradford are a match made in fantasy heaven.
The Rams were rumored to be interested in Kyle Rudolph, but couldn’t get the opportunity to draft him. Rudolph’s skill set is a better fit with Josh McDaniels' offense, which doesn’t target tight ends all that often to begin with.
Kendricks is young and athletic, but we don’t see much difference between he and last year’s leading tight end, Daniel Fells (300 yards, two touchdowns).
4. D.J. Williams, Green Bay Packers
Williams is a better fit in dynasty leagues with large rosters because he is behind a talented group of tight ends in Green Bay.
That being said, if Williams can crack the starting lineup, he may go on to have the best career of any of the tight ends taken in this year’s draft.
We don’t want to read too much into Jermichael Finely being left out of the team’s Super Bowl photo, but Finley is still taking offense to it. Only time will tell.
5. Robert Housler, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals don’t throw to their tight ends, electing instead to hire tight ends more focused on blocking.
Housler is a happy medium of the hard-nosed blocking tight end prized in Arizona and an athletic pass-catcher. Those who consider Arizona to be Pittsburgh-West also think Housler has the ability to be like Heath Miller—we're thinking he is more like Matt Spaeth.