The NFL Combine is over, and NFL Free Agency doesn’t start for another couple of weeks. We sit, serenely, in this downtime of takes (Mike Florio, as always, excluded). Fortunately for you, we here at Football Absurdity do not believe in downtime. As we patiently wait for NFL Free Agency to begin, it’s time to start taking a look toward 2020 fantasy football sleepers! We’ve already taken a look at quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers, so let’s move on to the position everyone loves to hate: tight ends! Tight end turns into a weekly crapshoot, but that doesn’t mean that researching the position is fruitless. Much like the wide receivers, tight end sleepers are plentiful outside the top-twelve. The tight end rank for the pre-agency sleepers is their expert consensus rank on FantasyPros.com.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (TE14)
Early offseason rumblings out of Miami point to Mike Gesicki’s usage being conducive to fantasy football production. Last offseason, there was a lot of handwringing about how Gesicki fails as a blocker and looks more like a large WR than a tight end out there. It took almost the entire season for the geniuses to start using him that way. Should the Dolphins learn from their mistakes and pepper Gesicki with targets over the course of the year, he’s a shoo-in to finish inside the top-ten at the position. He’s an athletic monster who can’t block, so… they stopped making him block. Gesicki started receiving consistent targets in week nine. From that point onward, he played on a 64-reception, 741-yard, 9-touchdown pace, which comes out to 160.1 fantasy points over the course of the season. Austin Hooper, 2019’s TE6, scored 152.2 points.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (TE16)
I’m more-than-ready to give every Cleveland Brown a pass for their 2019 dumpster fire. As news leaks out, it becomes more evident that Freddie Kitchens was in over his head as their head coach. Njoku now has Kevin Stefanski at the helm and is ready to put his disastrous 2018 campaign behind him. Njoku played in just one game wherein he wasn’t either injured or in Kitchens’ doghouse last year, and he had 37 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Let’s not forget the talent and upward trajectory Njoku displayed before he locked horns with a one-and-done coach who was clearly over his head. Njoku turned in 56 catches for 639 yards and four scores in 2018 (TE9 in HPPR) and was a popular sleeper. If you believe Freddie Kitchens torched the 2019 Browns, then you have to move Njoku up your boards.
Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers (TE18)
Ian Thomas, like David Njoku, showed signs of life in 2018 that failed to come to fruition in 2019. While a hand injury and doghouse entering did in Njoku, being behind Greg Olsen toasted Thomas’ chances. Thomas isn’t the best route runner, but he has good hands and body control and is fast and strong with the football. He will be the heir apparent to Greg Olsen now that Olsen’s moved on to Seattle. It’s a crowded offense for targets (Thomas, Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel), but Thomas presents the best end zone target not named CMC for the 2020 Carolina Panthers. He could easily turn one hundred or so targets into 800 yards and eight touchdowns. I say those numbers because that’s the pace he played on to finish his rookie 2018 campaign when he spelled an injured Greg Olsen.
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(Header Image Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pennstatelive/28488293600/in/photolist-Yhzbzy-KppXaS by Penn State under CC-BY SA 4.0)