The Sleeper TE That No One is Talking About


When you research some of the best fantasy seasons by a Tight End you’ll notice a few correlations.

  1. Their teams were lacking a strong number one wide receiver
  2. They were heavily targeted and led the team in receptions

Jimmy Graham has led New Orleans in targets and receptions since 2011. Colston is not the difference maker he once was. Tony G averaged 135 targets per year the last five he played in Kansas City. Antonio Gates’ most dominant years in San Diego were before Vincent Jackson emerged.

A 2013 playoff team lost its top Three WRs this offseason. Their current WR depth chart shows a first round rookie and a 32 year old pedestrian pass catcher. You’ve already guessed I’m talking about the Carolina Panthers.

The stars are about to align for Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen’s NFL career has been solid if unspectacular. His best years have been with Cam Newton as he finished no worse than 7th best TE (PPR) in 2012 and 2013. His stats have improved each season in Carolina. It’s clear Cam trusts him as he led the Panthers in targets and receptions last year. Olsen is going to do it again in 2014.

The lack of target competition for Olsen is startling. This isn’t a knock on rookie Kelvin Benjamin. I think he’s probably an excellent bet based on cost. Benjamin caught only 84 receptions in two years at Florida State. He may be a TD Machine but he’s not a possession guy. The current #2 in the offense, Jerricho Cotchery, hasn’t had more than 50 catches since 2009. The other WRs on roster, McNutt and King, have yet to register an NFL reception. With Carolina’s apparent lack of a true number 1 WR, it’s safe to assume Greg Olsen will again lead the team in targets and receptions in 2014.

Greg had 111 targets, 73 receptions, 816 yards and 5 tds in 2013. Consider this his floor. I expect his targets to increase. One or more additional targets per game would put him in the 80+ receptions range and around 900 yards based on his 2012/2013 catch rate and yards per catch average. Throw in 5 Tds and he’s suddenly in Top 5 TE contention.

A TE in this ideal situation should be getting picked up fairly early in drafts. According to My Fantasy League ADP he’s the 12th TE taken, somewhere in the 8th-9th round. He’s not a sexy pick and many will pass on him because of it. However, the opportunity and clear path to success is hard to deny.

Let me spell it out for you. Greg Olsen is likely to lead Carolina in targets and receptions. You can draft him after most of your league already has their TE1.

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