Using the Projection Machine, I recently projected all 32 teams and took a look at how my ranks compared to current ADP and the composite projections from the rest of the RotoViz crew.
Once you get past the established ten or so tight ends, the picture becomes much murkier. While my projections don’t appear to be vastly different from the crowd, I feel these players have a leg up on their roster competition. Given their draft cost, the ambiguity creates value at a volatile position.
- Current ADP: TE23 (176 Overall)
- Staff Projection: TE21
- My Projection: TE16
Jason Laso outlined the case for Will Tye back in June. The uncertainty brought on by the return of everyone’s favorite accountant, Larry Donnell, caused him to retract his stance. Last week, Neil Dutton took a deep dive into yet another undrafted TE for the Giants, Matt LaCosse.
Both Donnell and LaCosse are 6’6″ and obviously bring a tall red zone presence that the Giants lack with their wide receivers. Tye is slightly shorter at 6’2″ but runs a 84th-percentile 4.62 40-yard dash at 262-pounds.
It’s still unclear what we will see out of Victor Cruz. Tye has the profile to serve as the Giants move tight end and potentially be that third or fourth target in a high volume pass offense.
After Donnell injured his neck in Week 8, Tye was a TE1 in per game PPR points the final eight weeks of the season. At a borderline TE3 price, Tye could be a poor man’s Jordan Reed for the Giants.
- Current ADP: TE31 (216 Overall)
- Staff Projection: TE30
- My Projection: TE18
The ultra-athletic Virgil Green has been typecast as “just a blocker” like it’s a bad thing. Barely targeted in five NFL seasons, he is poised to breakout in a major way this year. Green has been heavily involved in the Broncos offense through the first two weeks of the preseason, totaling 7 receptions for 83 yards.Thus far, the offseason buzz on Green has been relatively muted. Red-shirted (knee) sophomore Jeff Heuerman was presumed to take over for Owen Daniels. Heuerman has once again been battling to stay on the field (hamstring) leaving the door open for Green to take all of the starter’s reps in training camp.
There’s a lot to like about Virgil Green. His blocking skills will keep him on the field in all situations. Gary Kubiak’s offensive scheme made Daniels a perennial TE1 throughout the mid-2000s and even in his absence, guys like Joel Dreesen and Garrett Graham were fantasy relevant.
The Broncos have struggled to find a reliable third receiver outside of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Green could absolutely fill the need and be a focal point of their passing offense.
- Current ADP: None (Undrafted)
- Staff Projection: TE28
- My Projection: TE20
Lance Kendricks is my favorite target of the bunch because he’s free. As I mentioned in my Bold Calls article, he’s a move TE in the mold of former Ram Jared Cook, Aaron Hernandez and Jordan Reed.
Rookie fourth round pick Tyler Higbee is an intriguing prospect but I wouldn’t expect much from him in 2016. Since 2010, only two rookie tight ends drafted in the fourth round or later have exceeded 32 targets. Mychal Rivera had 60 in 2013 and Will Tye had 62 in 2015. Rivera was the lone roster option and Tye was the last man standing. Rookie tight ends rarely produce and I have no concern about Higbee cutting into the veteran’s target share.
Kendricks might be going unnoticed because the Rams are not a high-flying pass offense. To counter that point, neither are the Chiefs and Panthers. All three teams finished in the bottom five of pass attempts per game. Greg Olsen has a TE3 price tag and Travis Kelce is going one spot later.
The Rams, Chiefs and Panthers all feature their starting tight end heavily. Kendricks is a screaming value compared to the other tight ends in this group.