by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know that rookie tight ends are a tough group to trust, but given the uncertainty at the position this season is there any hope for someone to step up down the stretch? Let’s take a look at the three most likely candidates to see if there’s any potential value:
Jace Amaro – New York Jets
He leads rookie tight ends in receptions by a healthy margin, with 34, but has just 291 yards and 2 TD to show for it. While he has received at least 5 targets in four of his past five games, a lot of his production came from one monster performance (10 receptions for 68 yards and 1 TD against Denver). He also hasn’t seen his snap count grow considerably, playing 36 snaps or fewer in all but one game this season according to Pro Football Focus.
With Percy Harvin and Eric Decker dominating the opportunities and a running game that has some life (including Michael Vick scrambling), there’s little reason to think things will suddenly change. Maybe he’s a flier in a favorable matchup, but it’s much more likely he develops in 2015.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He has 18 receptions for 198 yards and 2 TD on the season, having played in just seven games. Unlike Amaro, he has seen a lot of time on the field this season. Since returning in Week 4, according to Pro Football Focus he has played at least 57 snaps every game.
Obviously simply being on the field is only half the battle, but he is coming off an 8 target game and has TD in two of his past three. He also has the benefit of a favorable schedule, with three of the ten worst teams at stopping tight ends over the next three weeks (Redskins, Bears and Bengals) including the worst team in the league (Chicago).
With Vincent Jackson struggling and the running game unimpressive, would it be surprising to see his role continue to grow? If you are in need of a flier at tight end, this is a good gamble to take.
Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions
Everyone thought that he would be the compliment to Calvin Johnson, but Golden Tate has clearly emerged in that role. Instead Ebron has missed time due to injury and seen just 20 targets in six games.
Detroit does have depth at tight end and it’s looking likely that Ebron never becomes an impact player in 2014. Maybe he shows flashes, but it’s not something we’d count on.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Pro Football Focus