Now that we’ve finished our 2022 Player Profiles, it’s time to take a look at the top sleepers at each position. Today, we cover sleeper tight ends. This is my favorite series to do every year, since hope springs eternal. In order to stave off people who say “hey that’s not a sleeper!” I have set criteria: the players have to go as “backend backups.” To determine this, I multiplied the number of players taken in a standard 1QB/2RB/3WR/1TE draft and multiplied that number by 1.5. This means this series will cover players I believe have a chance to finish as weekly starters for you, who are currently ranked outside the top-18 at quarterback, top-36 at running back, top-54 at wide receiver, and top-18 at tight end. This way I am only looking at players going as backups. To find these numbers, I used 4for4.com’s consensus average draft position tool.
Tight End Sleeper #1: Gerald Everett, L.A. Chargers (TE20, 154 overall)
Gerald Everett never stood a chance in his career. He had to split targets with Tyler Higbee with the other L.A. team, and he had to deal with the 21st-most tight end targets last year in Seattle, and the whole mess surrounding Russell Wilson’s pinky. But, on a per-target basis last season, he was among the best in the league. He was top-fifteen in yards per target, thanks to his athleticism leading him to the #3 true catch rate and #2 contested catch rate (per PlayerProfiler.com). He replaces Jared Cook in L.A., and on the surface, they had very similar seasons, but a peek under the hood shows that Jared Cook squandered his opportunities, and Everett made the most of his.
Jared Cook finished 2021 with 3 catches for 35 yards per game and scored four touchdowns, and Everett had 3 catches for 32 yards per game, scoring… four touchdowns. But, Cook did it on many, many more opportunities with the Chargers. Jared Cook had 83 targets and 68 air yards last year, which ranked 14th and 11th, respectively. Everett ranked 21st and 24th in those categories, meaning that Cook and Everett did basically the same thing with Cook getting more opportunities to produce. What if Gerald Everett gets Jared Cook’s opportunities in 2022?
Tight End Sleeper #2: Austin Hooper, Tennessee (TE23, 163 overall)
The Titans have a history of utilizing the tight end and were in the top half in tight end target rate last season. Unfortunately, given how they rotated tight ends, no tight end had enough targets to matter last year, or the year before that, or really, since Delanie Walker (no matter how much we wanted Jonnu Smith to be a thing). Now they have a solid pass catcher in Hooper and a wide-open room for targets. The last time we saw a highly-targeted Hooper was his two years in Miami, wherein he finished as TE6 in both years, averaging 73 receptions for 723 yards and five touchdowns per season. At this point, the Titans’ offense could be hot garbage, what with all the question marks. But it probably won’t be considering that all those question marks are around if good, quality players will continue to be good, quality players. Hooper has a chance to be 2020’s Logan Thomas, a guy who gets consistent volume and then turns it on when a player ahead of him on the depth chart falls, allowing him to vault up the ranks.
Tight End Sleeper #3: Logan Thomas, Washington (TE25, 194 overall)
With everything going on with Washington, we just sort of… forgot about Logan Thomas. The converted quarterback came off the PUP earlier this week, and he stands to slide right back into the role he occupied before we all decided to forget about him. In his games where he played more than five snaps last season, Logan Thomas averaged 5 targets, 3.6 receptions, and 39 yards per game, while scoring three touchdowns in five games. This comes on the heels of his torrid pace to finish 2020, where he averaged 7 catches for 60 yards, and scored 3 touchdowns in six games to end 2020. In his last seventeen games, Logan Thomas averages 4.5 catches for 45 yards per game, and he has scored eight touchdowns in those 17 contests. That comes out to 76 catches, 760 yards, and 8 touchdowns, which would have been good for 200 PPR points. Last year, the year-long TE4, George Kittle, scored 198 points.