Tight end has become a difficult position to gauge for fantasy football owners this year, with one clear top option that enters the season with no significant concerns (Jimmy Graham), followed by a bunch of question marks for one reason or another.
That group of unproven tight ends includes Jordan Cameron of the Cleveland Browns and Rob Housler of the Arizona Cardinals. Both look likely to move into prominent roles as part of a new offensive system for their teams this year, but should fantasy owners like one more than the other on draft day?
The Case For Jordan Cameron
Cameron has just 26 receptions over 22 games in his first two seasons, but the Browns seem sold on him as their No. 1 tight end after letting Ben Watson leave via free agency and not adding any real threats to his status as the starter (Kellen Davis, Gary Barnidge).
Cleveland’s new head coach (Rob Chudzinski) and offensive coordinator (Norv Turner) both have a history of getting production from tight ends, most notably Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen. Even though Cameron has a long way to go before producing at the level Gates did during his prime, it’s worth noting that he is a former basketball player like Gates and also measures similarly (6’5″, 254 lbs.; 6’4″, 260 lbs. for Gates).
The Browns will be without wide receiver Josh Gordon for the first two games of the season while he serves a suspension, so Cameron has a chance to get off to a nice start and set the stage for a breakout 2013 campaign.
The Case For Rob Housler
Housler is also heading into his third NFL season, and he is coming off a fairly productive 2012 season (45 receptions for 417 yards) considering Arizona’s dismal quarterback situation. That said, Housler is still looking for the first touchdown of his career.
The Cardinals upgraded their quarterback situation by acquiring Carson Palmer from the Oakland Raiders, and new head coach Bruce Arians has been high on Housler throughout the offseason. Arizona released injury-prone Todd Heap before last season ended, so the team appears fully committed to their young tight end.
The buzz surrounding Cameron has him widely regarded as a fantasy sleeper right now, and rightfully so as coaching and increased playing time combine with his raw physical skills. But it may come to a point, as long as he avoids injury prior to the start of the season, where Cameron nearly becomes unworthy of true “sleeper” status.
My choice here, based mostly on better draft day value, is Housler. I think a lot of fantasy owners may reach for Cameron based on his potential, especially with how thin the tight end position looks right now, while Housler might continue to fall under the radar.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.