I have always been a supporter of waiting on the tight end position. In the last few years, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski have shot up fantasy football draft boards because they have put up incredible numbers that we have not seen from the tight end position in the past. The NFL is a copycat league, so teams are now utilizing the tight end position much more than in years past. Because of this, the position is getting deeper and deeper, making for some nice late round tight end value.
Obviously, the guy who drafted Graham in the 2nd round of your fantasy football draft this season is feeling pretty good about that pick right now. We are only three games in to the season, and the New Orleans Saints tight end already has 23 catches for 358 yards and four touchdowns. He has been simply incredible and does not look to be slowing down anytime soon. This is great, but if Graham is on your team you paid a high price to get him. Jordan Cameron is a guy that I own on a ton of teams. He is a very athletic tight end and his head coach Rob Chudzinski is known for utilizing the tight end position. The earliest that I saw Cameron taken before the season was the 9th round. Usually, he was falling to the 11th, 12th or even later. After three games Cameron has 20 receptions for 269 yards and 4 touchdowns. Obviously, he does not have the track record of Graham, so it is fair to wonder whether he will keep this up, but I, and everyone else who drafted Cameron, have an elite tight end that we did not have to spend an early round pick on.
If you waited on tight end and did not hit on a player like Cameron or Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, you may be struggling to find a solid tight end option right now. One guy who you should seriously consider is Charles Clay of the Miami Dolphins.
Miami signed Dustin Keller this offseason in hopes that he would be able to work the middle of the field and help the team in the red zone. Unfortunately, Keller suffered a major knee injury in the preseason and was ruled out for the year before it even began. Filling in for Keller is Clay, who is in his third season in the league. In years past, Clay was mostly used as a fullback/”H-Back”. He did line up at tight end occasionally, but for the most part he was used as a lead blocker and a guy that could catch the ball out of the backfield. So far this season, Clay is playing almost exclusively tight end, and the Dolphins are utilizing him the way that they planned on using Keller.
Clay has caught 14 passes on 17 targets so far in 2013, totaling 203 yards. He has yet to reach the end zone receiving, but he did have a one-yard touchdown run in Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts when he also hauled in five receptions for 109 yards. The numbers may not be super impressive compared to Graham and Cameron, but he does have the 10th most tight end points in standard scoring leagues. Also, Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks to be much improved this season and seems to like Clay as a receiving option.
My favorite thing about Clay’s potential fantasy value is his touchdown potential. The Dolphins have already given him a goal line touchdown run, and there could easily be more of those in the future. Also, Miami lacks red zone receiving options as Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are more dangerous with space to operate. I see no reason why Clay cannot step up and take that role.
Because of the lack of options, I think the touchdowns will come for Clay, and it could start this week against the Saints. If you are desperate at the tight end position, you could do much worse than Clay from here on out.