The tight end position has never and will never be as deep as wide receiver or running back. However, it did gain another superstar. Julius Thomas emerged from the bottom of the Denver Broncos depth chart and was named the starting tight end at the beginning of the 2013 season. In his first game, he caught five passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. After that performance, he was the most added player in all of fantasy.
Thomas continued his breakout season and finished with 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. He finished as the third-best tight end, behind Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis, despite missing two games. Entering the 2014 season, Thomas is ranked as the second-best tight end and should be drafted as such.
The biggest difference between Thomas and all the other tight ends (not named Graham or Rob Gronkowski) is the guy throwing the ball. Thomas has the legendary Peyton Manning under center. In a pass-first offense, Thomas shines. At 6-foot-4, 251 pounds, Manning targets Thomas in the red zone every time. Of his 12 touchdowns, eight of them came within 20 yards.
Another benefit of owning Thomas is that he has no competition. The three other tight ends the Broncos have on the roster accumulated 36 total receptions, not much for Thomas to be worried about.
The Broncos are the best offense in all of football. The reason, besides Manning, is all the weapons on that side of the ball. The team has Thomas, Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, new signee Emmanuel Sanders and Montee Ball. With all of those players and only one ball, it may be tough for Thomas to replicate his 2013 numbers, especially the touchdowns.
Thomas did miss two games with a knee injury. He had just one catch during his first two years in the league, as he battled various injuries. While he didn’t face any major injury last year, there is always concern for a player who missed his first two seasons.
Thomas is a top-three tight end with Graham and Gronk ahead of him. He should fall to at least the fourth round, which is a good spot to draft him. You’ll have a running back, two wide receivers and your star tight end. Expect 66 receptions, 750 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Bye Week: 4
Projected Round: 4
Auction Value: $30 (via ESPN)