Fantasy Football: Top Sleeper TEs 2021

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Fantasy Football
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 22: O.J. Howard #80 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on October 22, 2017 in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo defeats Tampa Bay 30-27. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The tight end position is one of the hardest to evaluate for fantasy football players. If you aren’t able to draft one of the big three you truly do not know the type of weekly output you will get from your TE. If you draft one of the second-tier TEs snagging a sleeper TE late could pay off huge for your team especially in dynasty leagues. In this article, we will be talking about players with a dynasty ADP past pick 200. Let’s dive in.

Fantasy Football TE Sleepers

1| Mo Alie-Cox

Mo Alie-Cox, or as the Fantasy Footballers call him, Gigantor is a monstrous TE for the Indianapolis Colts. Alie-Cox is a converted basketball player who played college basketball for Virginia Commonwealth University. He was brought in by the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017 as a project TE.

Fantasy Football
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 27: Mo Alie-Cox #81 of the Indianapolis Colts makes a touchdown reception as Tarell Basham #93 of the New York Jets defends during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 27, 2020, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

He stands 6-4 and weighs 262 lbs. He ran a 4.8 and has an impressive burst score in the 79th percentile which shows up on film. We have seen many converted basketball players such as Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates perform great at the position. Alie-Cox may not be a popular sleeper TE in the community, but he should be.

Alie-Cox had some really good games for the Colts and fantasy football players this year and saw his snap percentage increase from 21% in 2018 and 33% in 2019 to 46% in 2020. He logged the second-most snaps out of the TEs at 503, only 37 behind Doyle. This in addition to the fact that the Colts placed a second-round tender on him shows that they have a plan for him in 2021. He proved to be the most explosive of the TE bunch over Jack Doyle and Trey Burton.

Big Mo gets to team up with Carson Wentz, who is enamored with TEs throwing to them at about a 33% rate throughout his career. This could spell a big fantasy football breakout for the massive TE turning him from a sleeper TE to a weekly starting option. Alie-Cox quietly was near the top of the league for TEs in many categories:

  • 12.7 Yards Per Reception #7
  • 10.4 Yards Per Target #1
  • 2.26 Yards Per Route Run #4
  • 81.6% Catch Rate #2
  • 0.46 Fantasy Points Per Route Run #7
  • 2.12 Fantasy Points Per Target #6

Alie-Cox has legitimate upside in redraft and dynasty fantasy football leagues as a sleeper TE in 2021. He is a huge TE target with good athleticism comparable but slightly better than Zach Ertz. Dynasty League Football has his ADP at 235. At this point in the draft all you can ask for is a dart throw with upside and Mo is a great one!

2| O.J. Howard

Okay so for this one I cheated just a little bit. His DLF ADP is sitting at 189 right now but in February was 223. Many fantasy football managers have given up on him, but O.J. Howard has all of the talent, athleticism, and draft capital (1.19) to eventually breakout! He has turned from one of those second-tier guys to a sleeper TE after dealing with injuries.

Howard was a monster for the Crimson Tide and I believe he still has a chance to be a very good TE in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He ran a 4.51 forty-yard dash giving him a 98th percentile weight-adjusted speed score, 97th percentile burst, and an 88th percentile catch radius. He is an athletic marvel at the position.

Howard suffered an Achilles injury in 2020, but we have seen players even at older ages, such as Emmanuel Sanders bounce back. Bruce Arians seems to think that he is on track to return for 2021 saying he looks “fantastic” in his return and “what a huge addition to have him back.” Arrows are pointing up for OJ. He is on a contract year on his fifth-year option making $6.01 million.

In 2020 Howard was off to a good start, averaging 0.64 fantasy points per route run and 1.98 fantasy points per target. He received four deep targets in his four games, managed 13.3 yards per reception, a 60% catch rate, and Tom Brady had a 117.4 QBR when targeting him. As he was hitting his stride the injury bug bit him again. Since we only have four games in 2020 to look at let’s bounce over to 2019.

In 2019 Howard performed at a high rate. To list out these achievements:

  • 12 deep targets #4
  • 8.5 yards per target #10
  • 10.5 yards average target distance #4
  • All while having a 74.1% catchable target rate #34

Howard has had his fair share of drop issues but that can be fixed. He is being mentored by one of the best TEs to ever play the game in Rob Gronkowski and the GOAT himself, Tom Brady. You could literally not draw up a better situation for a young player to rise to fantasy football. He started coming on strong for Brady last year and if he can stay healthy he should be able to perform well enough to earn a payday in 2021!

If you can get Howard for a late third or even later pick that is a great move in dynasty, especially in TE premium leagues. I saw one trade on DLF where he was even moved for the 5.03! Pick up this sleeper TE where you can and reap the benefits when he shows us that athleticism that got him drafted in the first round.

3| Gerald Everett

The University of South Alabama product, Gerald Everett, is due for a breakout and has been a popular sleeper TE in the past. He gets a change of scenery and a future Hall of Fame QB in Russell Wilson now that he has joined the Seattle Seahawks. He can easily be the third target for Mr. Unlimited. The young TE has tons of athletic upside. He ran a 4.62 forty giving him a 75th weight-adjusted speed score, a 94th percentile burst, 81st percentile agility score, and an 87th percentile catch radius.

Fantasy Football
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 13: Gerald Everett #81 of the Los Angeles Rams catches a pass during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on September 13, 2020, in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Everett has not been able to fully break out being tied to a lackluster Jared Goff and sharing time with Tyler Higbee. He has shown flashes as a deep target and the Seahawks did not have that at the TE position. Greg Olsen saw 159 slot snaps (41.2% rate) 13th in the league and Everett should easily take over that role. Will Dissly should perform more so as their in-line TE.

Everett was ninth in deep targets just two years ago in 2019 with eight. He also had two yards of separation per target in that season. He has had 17 catches over 20 yards out of 127. He should have even more with a huge upgrade at QB. Everett has posted numbers similar to Jonnu Smith the past two years but has been even more efficient with his receptions, yet Smith gets the hype and Everett does not.

Everett has a DLF ADP of 210. He gets the sleeper TE title this year but next year he could make a huge leap. Draft Everett at a value late and if he hits you are sitting pretty in your dynasty league!

4| Dan Arnold

We have been focusing on a few names that many in the fantasy community already know as possible sleeper TEs but here we are diving a little deeper. A guy that after being cut by the New Orleans Saints thought he may hang the cleats up! Dan Arnold had a career year for the Arizona Cardinals last year and has now been picked up by the Carolina Panthers who have been lacking a true pass-catching option at the TE position.

Arnold is a small school undrafted free agent who came out in 2018 and is a converted WR. His combine numbers show him at 6-5 and 222 lbs but he claims to sit around 240-250 lbs currently. He is only 26 years old with plenty of upside!

Arnold is listed as a WR/TE on the sleeper platform showing just how athletic he still is with his added weight. His player profile numbers show him with a 4.68 forty, a 97th percentile burst score, 94th percentile agility score, and a 95th percentile catch radius. Dan the Postman really impressed in the desert. Kliff Kingsbury said, “He was on scout team and going up and just ‘Mossing’ people, and everybody’s just ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’, and we didn’t even know his name.”

This started his Arizona Cardinals career off with a bang and he did not look back. In 2020 he had a career year while still getting adjusted to the position. He played in every game, starting five, gathering 45 targets, 31 receptions, 438 yards, and 4TDs. Even after a career year, he said “I want to play every snap of every game, that’s just the kind of player I want to be. My goal is to be the player you can not take off the field.” He is a hard worker and very invested in learning his new position.

Now he has gone through free agency signing with the Carolina Panthers. Arnold has far outproduced anything Ian Thomas has done in a single season and should easily become the primary pass-catching TE for the Panthers after being signed to a two-year six-million dollar deal. Arnold is a sneaky pick in dynasty at a dynasty ADP of 237 that may even be sitting on your waiver wires and if not he should be acquirable for a late third or even later! He is the true definition of a sleeper TE and if he hits you got him at bargain-basement prices.

5| Chris Herndon

I am completely aware that all fantasy players are tired of hearing Chris Herndon brought up as a sleeper TE breakout candidate, but it seems the Adam Gase effect is a real thing. Now that he is out maybe it is truly time for Herndon to show out. Robert Saleh has taken over as the head coach and brought along the San Francisco passing game coordinator Mike Lafleur. Herndon could become the east coast George Kittle for the New York Jets.

Fantasy Football
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 23: Chris Herndon #89 of the New York Jets scores a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2018, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers targeted the TE position at a high rate and Kittle had 85 receptions for over 1,000 yards in 2019. Even Jordan Reed had fantasy-relevant games for the 49ers. Herndon has shown plenty of flashes in his career and even flashed potential at the end of 2020 finishing with two double-digit fantasy finishes.

Chris Herndon went off his rookie year with 56 targets, 39 receptions for 502 yards, and four TDs, averaging 12.9 yards per receptions. Herndon gets an upgrade at head coach already and could have an upgrade at QB from Sam Darnold to either Zach Wilson or Justin Fields. Herndon has an ADP of 226 showing he can be had cheaply in dynasty leagues. Snag him for the upside!

Bonus | Tyree Jackson

For the deepest of deep sleeper TEs, we will jump over to a converted QB. We have seen the leap from QB to TE from Logan Thomas recently. Tyree Jackson is a younger and even more athletic prospect to make the switch. Jackson is 6-7, 249lbs, ran a 4.59 forty-yard dash with an 86th percentile burst score!

The former Buffalo Bulls QB now is rostered by the Philadelphia Eagles and could have some upside if Zach Ertz is actually traded. He is basically free in trades and probably on your waiver wire as we speak and he has an ADP of 239. Jackson is a “why not” type of player in dynasty with high upside. He is the sleeper TE of all sleeper TEs.

Thank you for reading my Fantasy Football: Sleeper TEs article. Let me know if you have any other sleeper TEs you like for 2021.

Check out the OTH Twitter page here, the OTH football account here, go to OvertimeHeroics.net for all of your sports needs, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @FF_Schmuck!

Main Image Credit

Fantasy Football
ORCHARD PARK, NY – OCTOBER 22: O.J. Howard #80 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on October 22, 2017, in Orchard Park, New York. Buffalo defeats Tampa Bay 30-27. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

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