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For my last preseason installment of Dynasty Indubitably, we will take a look at Tight Ends and Kickers you may want to take in your latter rounds of your dynasty drafts. This one is a toughie mostly because this was a very shallow NFL Draft for Tight Ends. The ones already taken are high profile and will be gone by the time you are mining for gems, such as Tyler Eifert of the Bengals. We will truly be digging deep here guys. Kickers will be especially difficult since only two were drafted in this years’ NFL Draft but we certainly will have fun searching won’t we ladies and gents?
Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots
Sudfeld is a gargantuan 6’7”, 255 lbs. He is as close a replacement to Rob Gronkowski as you can get in size (6’6”, 265 lbs), skill set and unfortunately injury history. Sudfeld has come out of nowhere in Patriots camp and has impressed just about everyone associated with the Pats. As of this writing, Sudfeld has 6 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown through three preseason games. He had a long of 22 yards, which so happened to be his lone score. He even has a 2-point conversion ala Tom Brady to his credit. With the Patriots depleted in both the WR and TE ranks, Sudfeld has been a blessing. As of now, it looks as though Gronk won’t be able to go week 1 against Buffalo, leaving Sudfeld a wonderful chance to start and possibly even have a huge game, as Buffalo has been horrendous against opposing TE’s for quite some time now. Sudfeld was undrafted out of Nevada and is very raw but he seems to be picking up his part of the offense rather well. Once he polishes up his pass blocking skills, he will be able to see playing time at any time. Sudfeld isn’t a burner, as his 40-time was only 4.71 compared to Gronk’s own 4.65, but his size alone will make him a mismatch in the red zone against almost anyone. This is my sleeper pick for tight end by far. He is in the perfect situation with a shallow TE depth chart ahead of him, he has Tom Brady throwing him balls, has Bill Belichick as his coach and is playing in an offense in which he can thrive in and that uses two tight end sets regularly. Nab this guy if you can and you will be set at TE for the next 5+ years. Buyer-beware however, as I mentioned earlier, he does match Gronk’s injury history a little too closely. In college, Sudfeld suffered through shoulder and knee surgeries, a broken wrist and a broken leg.
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
Ertz is 6’5”, 249 lbs and ran a 4.65 40. A draft choice of HC Chip Kelly, who has coached against him in college, looks to have a spot in the starting lineup from day 1. With Kelly’s new offense installed, the tight end (or plural) will be featured heavily. The aging Brent Celek is number 1 still but Ertz is a nice compliment to him and may even be his successor in a few years. Ertz is a very athletic TE and will create mismatches all over the field, which fits in perfectly with Kelly’s offense that will undoubtedly show some crazy schemes. Opposing teams will have a hard time trying to stop Kelly’s offense in its most basic forms. Adding a move TE who can get open all over the field to this star-studded offense should be quite entertaining as it has the potential to put up points at will. Giving Michael Vick mismatches to work with, especially in the red zone, could be deadly. Both Celek and Ertz will benefit from each other, much like the Patriots have done in years past. Celek is the better blocker so Ertz does have an excellent shot to be a top-10 fantasy tight end as soon as this year, providing everything goes well for Chip Kelly’s new and unique offense. Pick up Ertz before the NFL and your league mates realize what the Eagles have here. Through three preseason games, Ertz has 5 catches for 59 yards, his longest a 21 yarder.
Chris Gragg, TE, Bills
Gragg is 6’2.5” 244 lbs and ran a blazing 4.48 40. That is some serious speed for tight end. Gragg is very athletic and has very good hands. He is a move tight end, able to line up anywhere on the field, especially as a WR. He reminds me of a Chris Cooley type TE. The Bills, when healthy, will have their red zone threat in 6’7” 260 lb Scott Chandler. Gragg can create mismatches for himself coming out of the backfield or up the middle for Mr. Chandler. There is a logjam at TE on the Bills roster unfortunately. I feel Chandler and Gragg would make a wonderful one-two punch at tight end. Not only would Gragg help out Chandler, he would help create mismatches for C.J. Spiller, who also can be lined up anywhere in the offense. Gragg could be a sneaky player in the red zone with his speed and his ability to catch the ball anywhere on the field, the Bills could use him in a variety of ways down there. Instead of just handing the ball off to their superstar running back and risking injury (which is what happened already in the 3rd preseason game) Gragg could easily be used to run it in up the middle, come out of the backfield for a dump off pass or use a two TE set with Chandler across the middle. He can be used in so many ways, the Bills really do have a special weapon in Gragg if they choose to keep him on the roster and use him in creative ways. I could see Gragg having both huge fantasy days and duds so this is definitely a high risk-high reward draft choice. Through three preseason games Gragg has 5 catches for 38 yards with a long of 11.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
Kelce is 6’5”, 255 lbs and ran a 4.65 40. Kelce has tremendous hands and is more of a giant wide receiver. He has made splashes in camp making incredible receptions. He is also a move TE that will be used at WR in certain packages. He is fighting for a roster spot with the mediocre and aging Anthony Fasano and the oft and still lingering injured Tony Moeaki. Kelce needs to really work on his blocking. Once he has that down, there is no reason why he can’t be the number 1 TE on this Chiefs squad. Through three preseason games Kelce has 1 catch for 17 yards. He was at one point in camp dealing with a groin injury, which has held him back unfortunately.
Dustin Hopkins, K, Bills
Hopkins is 6’2” 193 lbs and was taken in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Florida State. He joins his Florida State placeholder Shawn Powell in Buffalo (as well as his QB E.J. Manuel and LB Nigel Bradham). This at least brings Hopkins some familiarity and comfort to his kicking craft. Having your placeholder from college with you is a huge advantage for Hopkins, as Powell knows his quirks and tendencies and they way he prefers things to be lined up. It paid off, as Hopkins recently beat out long time Bills kicker Rian Lindell for the starting job. Hopkins will have immediate fantasy impact, as the Bills offense has traditionally been mediocre with many stalled drives, leading to a plethora of field goal opportunities (as well as punting opportunities). Hopkins set the all time NCAA Division 1 FBS record for points by a kicker with 459 from 2009-2012. His career long field goal came in his senior year, a 56-yarder, so he does have quite a leg on him and he is very consistent. Through three preseason games Hopkins is 2/2 on field goals (35,39) 3/3 on extra points and has had 8 kickoffs: 6 making it to the end-zone and 4 touchbacks. Draft him and you will have your kicker set for the life of the league.
Caleb Sturgis, K, Dolphins
Sturgis is 5’10” 188 lbs and drafted my Miami in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft out of Florida. Sturgis is from Florida, went to the University at Florida and was drafted by Miami so he is right at home with the Dolphins. As a kicker, being comfortable with your surroundings and getting to know your areas’ weather and wind patterns is vitally important. Sturgis has spent his whole life in Florida and this comfort level is especially important to a rookie kicker. He does not have to learn a new home climate and will fit in perfectly with the Dolphins. Other than completely stinking it up this year, Sturgis should be the Dolphins kicker for the next decade as he has already beaten out Dan Carpenter for the starting job. His career long field goal in college was 56-yarder in his sophomore season. Through three preseason games Sturgis is 6/6 on field goals (22,23,28,36,43,58(already breaking his career long kick in his first preseason game)), 6/6 on extra points and has had 15 kickoffs: 15 made it to the end-zone and 10 were touchbacks. Sturgis has an exceptionally strong leg and will get you those bonus points for the long-range field goals that we all covet. Draft him, sit back, and don’t worry about drafting another kicker. Ever.