3 TEs: Not As Crazy As You'd Think

Yo, beast. Is it crazy to draft three tight ends?
You make a compelling argument. I respect your opinion, but I must disagree.

 Ladies and gentlemen you are witnessing history in the making. Not only am I, Jared Chastain, debuting as a writer, but I will also sell you on why you should draft three tight ends in your upcoming draft. Here we go!

*Insert cool intro music*

Let’s start with the basics. Can you name me ten tight ends you would be comfortable starting on a weekly basis? Take your time if you need to, but let me save you your time and tell you no. You cannot. Sure, there are a few tight ends with upside in rounds 8 and 9, but if R&B music of the 2010s has taught us anything, it’s that trust issues are real, and frankly, these players cannot be trusted. Additionally, if you are like me you know that rounds 1-10 are (more often than not) devoted to RB & WR depth. Let's assume you follow my lead and dedicate these rounds to positional depth. We will skip through these rounds and move on to round 11.

Round 11 is a great time to draft a quarterback this season. You’ll see there a number of quality arms that do not require a backup such as Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles and even Jameis Winston (my sleeper of 2016). Each of these players bring something special to the table and are more than capable of being a yearly start. I will only draft a quarterback prior to this round if I'm looking for potential trade bait or if there is incredible value in the pick (e.g. Aaron Rodgers in the fifth round. C'mon man!) Moving on.

It is assumed that your defense and kicker will be streamed weekly, so let's go ahead and pencil in a defense and a kicker as your 15th and 16th round picks. Look at you! You’ve landed the Minnesota defense and San Diego kicker, Josh Lambo. Way to go! That leaves rounds 12-14 vacant. In these rounds you may be eyeballing Victor Cruz with hopes that he recovers fully and returns to the salsa dancin’ scoring machine of old. You may even find interest in a Tevin Coleman or Keith Marshall based on the idea that if they’re named the starter they’ll take it and run. Me? I'm using my picks on three tight ends, and I'll tell you why.

 If you look back you will notice a handful of recognizable names of tight ends that were drafted in the later rounds or were undrafted altogether. In 2015 it was Jordan Reed and Gary Barnidge. In 2014 it was Travis Kelce. In 2013 it was Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron. Each of these players was a top TE when their respective seasons ended. That’s the best case scenario with this strategy. So now you may be asking yourself, "I've got my sure fire top 10 TE in round 12, so why am I using my 13th and 14th round picks to acquire two more?" Well, the truth of the matter is no sleeper is guaranteed to blow up. Like any other weakened position it’s best to have insurance, and it's better to have too much than too little.

By using your next two picks to draft two more tight ends the odds of finding a top 10 guy or a hot hand streamer increases dramatically. Having one of your three tight ends become a confident start not only gives you a weekly matchup advantage, but also puts you on pace to be a sure fire playoff team (assuming you didn’t botch your first 9 picks.) So now you have your weekly tight end. What about the other two? With me, the general rule of thumb is you know what you have by the 2nd quarter of the season. Conveniently this is usually the time the free agent pool really begins to heat up with wide receiver emergence as well as former 2nd string running backs who are now the starter because the guy ahead of him tore his ACL. Because of one of your tight end’s success you now have at least one player you can drop. I know you can ask the question, "What if the Kenneth Dixon of my team isn’t the starter by then? He can be dropped." In most cases that is true, but I’d be much more comfortable dropping the Larry Donnell of my team instead of a RB with upside, and that’s the deal breaker when it comes to drafting extra TEs instead of backup running backs and questionable wide receivers. Peace of mind. It's golden.

To make amends for asking you to complete an impossible task at the beginning of this article I will now give you ten players who fit this formula to a t.

Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins: Remember me mentioning him as one of 2013’s breakout tight ends? Well, I'll be the first to say you will not be getting a top 3 guy with him. However, believe it or not, he does have a case of being either top 10 or a hot hand streamer. New head coach Adam Gase loves to utilize tight ends. We’ve seen it with Julius Thomas in Denver, Martellus Bennett in Chicago and Zach Miller, also in Chicago. On September 13, 2015, Zach Miller played his first down of football since 2011. He took over as the lead tight end when injuries held Bennett back and during that span he managed to find the end zone five times. You mean to tell me there's a system that benefits a player who’s been absent for 3 full seasons? Sign me up. Cameron has showed us what he’s capable of doing in the past, and if he stays healthy he has what it takes to be a top 10 tight end in this offense. ADP: Round 14

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts: How many of you were bitten by Dwayne Allen last year? *Raises hand slowly.* Take that thought and throw it away. He was hurt. Luck was hurt. It just didn’t work out. I’m not willing to write Allen off simply because of what he showed in his third year as a Colt. Yes, he caught only 29 balls, but 8 of them were touchdowns, and if you’re a go to red zone option in a pass heavy offense, I want you on my team. ADP: Round 13

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: My personal favorite of the bunch. You can usually find ASJ on the board in rounds 12-13. Ignore the fact he was kicked out of practice last week for "not knowing what he was doing." When you look at his size and athletic ability it’s clear that Seferian-Jenkins is due to breakout at some point of his career. Why not now? He has a 2nd year QB at the helm, and usually young QBs love their security blankets. He has the ability to run past or run through defenders. His defense isn’t too great which could lead to more pass plays being called. The formula seems to favor ASJ this year, and he could be in line for some big work. ADP: Round 12

Jace Amaro, New York Jets: Like ASJ, Jace Amaro is one of the more athletic TEs in the NFL. We just haven't been able to see it. Last year he was sidelined all season long due to a shoulder injury. However he came out and said he wants to be a big part of this offense. Given the current situation with Ryan Fitzpatrick it seems that he’s not a sure thing to return. To be honest I think the longer the holdout the higher Amaro's value becomes. If Christian Hackenberg or Geno Smith is the leader of this offense in Week 1, Amaro's upside bumps up. Either way the upside is there and will continue to grow. ADP: Undrafted

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams: #1 overall pick Jared Goff is the ideal Week 1 starter in my book. I hate to sound like a broken record, but young quarterbacks LOVE the security blanket. Opposing defenses are sure to stack at least seven in the box on first and second downs in an attempt to contain Todd Gurley, thus leading to Goff having to make plays to win games. With Jared Cook out of the picture and a bad offensive line leading to quick passes and dump offs it is assumed Higbee takes over as the lead tight end and is graced with a number of opportunities to succeed. ADP: Undrafted

Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions: For the first time in 9 years we will not see Calvin Johnson in a Detroit Lion uniform. Golden Tate & Theo Riddick are scheduled to see an increase workload in the passing game, but who becomes the big red zone target? What about the 6'4" 3rd year tight end out of the University of North Carolina? Detroit used the 10th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft on Ebron, so they would obviously like to utilize him more, as well as feel the need to. I bought into Ebron in '14 & '15, and like everyone else who did we were a bit premature. I see an overall increased workload and a bump up in red zone targets, thus making Ebron a viable 3 TE option. ADP: Round 12

Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots: Probably the one I will say the least about, but if New England decides to re-implement their 2-TE offense all I have to say is watch out! Bennett fits the bill to take the TE2 spot on the Patriot depth chart and turn himself into a top 10 fantasy tight end in the 2-TE system with ease. Given his current ADP it goes without saying that it is a must to draft Martellus. ADP: Round 14

Ben Watson, Baltimore Ravens: Last season the former New Orleans tight end really proved to be a quality start in a number of weeks. He is now in Baltimore. Yes, they are deep at tight end. That doesn’t concern me. I believe he wins the job and is the starter in Week 1. Looking at their wide receivers you see Steve Smith recovering from an Achilles injury and doesn’t know when he’ll return to action, Breshad Perriman with a fragile leg and Mike Wallace who will never be the Mike Wallace of old. Kamar Aiken should step up but they will need more. Watson is the ideal guy to do so, playing as both a chain mover and red zone target. ADP: Undrafted

Zach Miller, Chicago Bears: I hate using another man's work to help mine gain credibility, but this is the one time I’ll do it. The great Matthew Berry has Miller ranked as his 9th TE at this point and for good reason. Miller and Cutler really came together the second half of the 2015 season. With question marks in the backfield and a go to wide receiver hampered by injuries Miller is ideally due to see a bulk of the work. Kevin White is back, but he's yet to play a down in the NFL, so it's not much of a concern. Miller will likely be the 2nd red zone option as well as an overall vital piece to a quarterback who loves his TEs. Miller is a must own in all formats and is the perfect player to use your 14th round pick on. ADP: Round 14

Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills: Charles Clay fits the "hot hand" mold and should experience that early. With Sammy Watkins currently being sidelined by a foot injury, who knows if he’ll be in football shape for Week 1 or even healthy enough to play. Other receiving options include Leonard Hankerson and Robert Woods. Clay seems like the guy to step up and help Tyrod Taylor continue to progress. He should be a stream-worthy option for the first 3 or 4 weeks of the season. ADP: Round 13

I know this strategy is a bit unusual, but the theory it is due to deliver success and pays off in the long term. By using your 12th, 13th and 14th round picks on tight end you are guaranteed a weekly starter or hot hand due to deliver top ten numbers, thus returning a value that is higher than the 12th round, 2 players to drop and if you play your cards right, you'll exchange those players for 2 free agents that will easily return a value higher than rounds 13 & 14. That being said, I rest my case. I thank you all for participating, and I close out by asking one final question, so Beast, have I sold you? Do you now see why it is a must to draft 3 TEs?
Thank you for playing, boss. Enjoy your retirement by taking your boys to Sizzler like the glory days and reflect on how far you've come.
Jared Chastain
by Jared Chastain
FL Username: @ chastain