Fantasy Football Draft season is right around the corner and we’re helping you prepare with all types of high end draft analysis. Today we’re bringing you some dynasty league sleeper tight ends from the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers.
#84 Houston Texans, Age: 24
Last year, Griffin was forced into the starting lineup when both Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham went down with injury. During the three games where he started, he put up a respectable 14 catches on 18 targets and 177 yards, accounting for about 35% of the Texans total passing offense over that time. When Owen Daniels left and Bill O’Brien came in, it seemed like Griffin was on his way to going from dynasty sleeper to late round redraft flier. Instead, the Texans drafted C.J. Fiedorowicz, which sunk Ryan Griffin’s stock back onto the sleeper list.
Ryan Griffin measures in at 6’6 and 254lbs with a 4.87 40-yard dash. He’s not a very fast tight end, but with his size he’s more than most players that attempt to cover him can handle. Last season, during the games he started, the rookie showed a lot of pass catching potential, commonly finding himself open in zone coverage thanks to his size. He showed natural hands that could catch, bring the ball to his chest, and he ran for extra yards in a fluid motion. He showed a lot of room for improvement too, he was weak coming out of his routes and was slow on his breaks, leaving him easy to cover when players could keep up in man coverage. Even so, with his height, being able to keep up wouldn’t stop him from grabbing he ball. Griffin flashed the ability in limited opportunities to catch in traffic, whether between defenders or while having one draped over him.
With Bill O’Brien at the helm, Griffin’s potential could still be tapped into. O’Brien was one of the architects of the Patriots 2011 Tight End heavy offensive scheme that allowed Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to become fantasy stars. Griffin isn’t an exact match to either, but he’s closer to Gronkowski than he is Hernandez. A quote came from Garret Graham when the Texans re-signed him saying: “He (O’Brien) wants me to be a move tight end, an H-back, which is what I did a lot in college (Wisconsin).”
With Graham already being relegated to the Hernandez role, the role Gronkowski played in the Patriots offense is still open on the Texans. While Griffin will need to battle out with Fiedorowicz for playing time, he’s shown that he can be a strong offensive threat if given the opportunity and development. In dynasty leagues, he’s a solid late round Tight End sleeper choice.
#86 Carolina Panthers, Age: 26 (27 in October)
Brandon Williams was a UDFA who caught on last year at the Panthers OTAs. He would find himself receiving a 3 year contract from the team, expiring at the end of the 2015 season. A former colligate dual athlete in both Basketball and Football, he falls in line with many of the recent Basketball turned Football star stories. His physical attributes (particularly being able to run a 4.56 40-yard dash at 6’4 and 248lbs) are what give him the potential to become a significant threat in the near future.
Last season however, Williams rarely saw the field. He only played 28 snaps in his rookie year, mostly being used as a blocker to relieve starter Greg Olsen after the game had been won. Like last year though, Williams has found himself impressing at OTAs and minicamps, receiving praise for the amount of progress he’s made in all aspects of his game. He’s been used plenty with the first team, and has been called one of the major standouts during this year’s mini and training camps again.
Unlike Ryan Griffin, Brandon Williams will have an easier time getting playing time this season. He sits behind Greg Olsen, who’s found his career revitalized with Cam Newton, and Ben Hartsock, who PFF lists as the highest overall grade amongst Tight Ends. However, luckily for Williams, Hartsocks grade is entirely a product of his prowess for blocking, a skill that in today’s league would usually put a Tight End as the 3rd player on the depth chart. Carolina also signed Ed Dickson from the Ravens, but Dickson hasn’t shown he can be a very prolific pass catcher. He’s more likely to be depth than a starter in today’s league. So Williams only has to show that he can be a productive pass catcher in order to find playing time. Especially with the news that Carolina will be implementing more two Tight End sets this season.
Brandon Williams is a player that deserves monitoring. You can’t teach a player the kind of athleticism that he brings to the Panthers Tight Ends. With a franchise level QB in Newton throwing the ball in Carolina for potentially the next 10 years, if he finds himself starting as a Tight End or in the H-Back Role in the next couple years, the points will come.