Draft Day Sleepers: Identifying Tight Ends & Defenses To Target In The Later Rounds

by Joe Delcorse

When and where to draft a tight end and a defense in fantasy football is a tough question to ponder. If conventional wisdom is saying to punt the quarterback position, where there is some predictability, then what do you do with these two unpredictable and unreliable spots? The tight end has seemingly become a lethal weapon and it isn’t limited to only a few elite options. Offenses throughout the league that were behind the curve have quickly realized the importance of a pass catching tight-end being the quarterback’s best friend.

With that in mind, here are a few under-the-radar options that you should be considering on draft day:

  • Kyle Rudolph (MIN) - I think Rudolph stands out as a no brainer due to the addition of Kirk Cousins. I’ve streamed him many times in the past few seasons and he rarely has disappointed, and 2018 could be a career season in both yards and touchdowns. Last year he logged 8 TD and in 2016 he had over 800 yards receiving, 7 TD and an eye-popping 132 targets.
  • Ben Watson (NO) - Part of the equation here is elementary due to the quarterback, but Watson has proven to be a productive target particularly in the red zone. A couple years removed from an ACL injury, he has proven to be capable of putting up some solid numbers, is atop of the depth chart of a dangerous offense and if Drew Brees trusts him so should you, my dear Watson.
  • Luke Wilson (DET) - I think a change of scenery and having Matt Stafford throwing the ball 40 times every week is going to positively influence Wilson’s value. He has the potential to improve upon his 4 TD from last season and will see a drastic uptick in targets at the very least. This could be one of the biggest surprises this season at the position.

As far as defense and special teams I like to target about 3-5 teams I’m willing to accept and draft based on need and value. The secret is out on the Jacksonville defense and they are now going to cost a pretty penny… and they will be worth it. Here are my sleeper defenses  I think are primed to have big seasons if you are not able to score one of the elite options:

  • Atlanta Falcons – People tend to forget head coach Daniel Quinn was brought in from the vaunted Seattle defense. People also are forgetting this team is two years removed from being in the Super Bowl and their performance late last season has me confident that they will be among the elite by the end of the year.
  • Chicago Bears – With newly minted rookie linebacker Roquan Smith in camp and sophomore Leonard Floyd’s ability to wreak havoc off the edge, the Bears have a chance to exceed expectations.
  • Cleveland Browns – In an earlier article I mentioned that the Browns would return to fantasy relevance. I leave you with the first round selections on defense in the past two drafts: Miles Garrett (DE), Jabrill Peppers (S), and now a shut down corner in Denzel Ward. I predict the dawg pound will resurrect this season and dare I say (gulp) be a tough place to play in the rugged AFC north.
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