Frascella's Fantasy Corner: The sleeper tight ends you need to draft this season

Last year I heard the names “Jonnu Smith” and “Irv Smith” until my ears fell off. Hayden Hurst was in that mix, too. You can’t be a sleeper when your name is mentioned 46,000 times on Twitter.


And yet, looking back, Hurst finished as the TE9 in PPR and Jonnu the TE11, while Irv was further down at 22. The “sleepers” weren’t half bad, when it came down to it.


This year, I feel like I’m hearing quite a bit about Robert Tonyan, Cole Kmet and Gerald Everett, so I won’t be touching those three in this piece. (FYI, Kmet’s over/under on DraftKings Sportsbook is 495.5 yards; the believers must be buying, there.)


We’re gonna go deep on this one. No easy layups. Let’s jump right into my personal sleepers:


If you missed my preview of sleeper running backs, click here


If you missed my preview of sleeper wide receivers, click here


Dawson Knox


It just feels like his time now, right?


After working to find his footing his first couple seasons in the league, Knox should now have the proper seasoning to emerge as a solid fantasy play. He’s 6-4, 254 pounds and I personally think he’s a lot quicker than people realize. He finds interesting ways to get loose in the redzone; it’s just a matter of Josh Allen taking his eyes off Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis. We’re talking about the TE27 in Redraft here, so it doesn’t take much to connect on value.


There is nothing too tricky, here – Knox just has to take the “next step up,” as the old saying goes. In terms of Dynasty, Fantasy Football Calculator doesn’t even have Knox in the top 15 in ADP. Still just 24 years young, Knox is worth a late shot.


Mo Alie-Cox, Colts


This guy just looks like he should be an absolute monster, right?


6-5, 267 pounds and he’s pretty damn agile out there. Mo Alie performed quite well by Pro Football Focus’ rigorous standards, so it’s probably just a matter of getting him more opportunities. Unfortunately for Mo Alie’s Dynasty owners, veteran Jack Doyle is still around in Indy. Now, Doyle is far from a dominant fantasy option, but he’s a good solid professional football player, and head coach Frank Reich is well aware of that fact.


Also, Indy doesn’t seem to care much at all about fantasy stats; nor should they. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines will get their opportunities and touches in the backfield. Michael Pittman Jr., T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal will get their looks through the air, too. This is a club that spreads the ball around.


However, an injury to Doyle? Then Mo Alie pops off. At least third tight end Trey Burton is out of the way this season, so an injury in front of Cox propels him right to the front of the line. There’s upside with zero risk here, so we can’t beat that from a value standpoint. I’ll be buying Mo Alie in Dynasty where applicable.


David Njoku and Harrison Bryant


Pick your poison here, right? Flippin’ a coin.


Austin Hooper is still The Man out of this little trio - his over/under prop on DraftKings Sportsbook is 500.5 yards - but Njoku and Bryant simply cannot be ignored. Njoku is the TE44 in Redraft and Bryant is right ahead of him at 43. Yet, if you asked me to rank the top 30 tight ends in a vacuum, both of these young gentlemen would be in there for me. Like the aforementioned Mo Alie-Cox, it’s really just a matter of opportunity for these two guys.


When we go this deep into rankings – into undrafted territory, for the most part – we are really just banking on one thing: The Unknown. Football is so damn unpredictable. What we think we know about teams can drastically change by Week 2 or 3. So when you combine The Unknown with the impressive talent levels of these two tight ends, you are creating the proper equation for an effective dart throw, late.


Njoku and Bryant are clearly two of the top dart throws at the tight end position.


Adam Trautman


Seems like we dodged a bullet with that scary injury the other day, right?


Looked like we were gonna lose Trautman for the year; instead he should be back relatively early in the season.


If healthy, here’s the way I look at Trautman: Significant draft investment (3rd rounder) + big talent + increased opportunity + elite organization = easy fantasy play.


There is still some question as to who the Saints’ starting quarterback is – enjoy retirement, Drew Brees! – though the smart money seems to be on Jameis Winston at the moment.


6-5, 225 pounds, with good skill and Jared Cook out of the way… with Winston tossin’ that thing a whole bunch of times?


Yeah, I’m taking my chances on Trautman, especially with other fantasy coaches hesitating about his injury situation.


John Frascella is a published sports author and Senior Fantasy Analyst at Aaron Torres Online. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy football.


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