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Undervalued TEs

Read the introduction to this series if you haven't yet.

Owen Daniels - HOU ADP: 135 overall, TE 14 4 votes

Ryan Hester - Daniels seems to be routinely forgotten in discussions of the league's truly gifted tight ends. He's very athletic and can challenge defenses down the field. He can be a mismatch for linebackers and safeties. And this season, primary backup Joel Dreessen is no longer with the team -- most likely giving Daniels a bigger share of the wealth among Houston tight ends. James Casey figures to receive an increase in targets as well, but he's also the team's primary fullback. Daniels could sneak into the top-10 of fantasy TEs, but he's being drafted outside of it (15th).

Jeff Pasquino - Owen Daniels comes back to Houston after an injury last year, and he will once again be the unquestioned starter. Matt Schaub loves his big target over the middle, especially in the Red Zone, and the Texans do not have a legit WR2. That means plenty of targets, catches, yards and touchdowns for Daniels who is undervalued right now in all formats. Daniels is a cheap pickup late in fantasy drafts that has definite Top 10 tight end upside.

Aaron Rudnicki - The Texans have clearly shifted to more of a run-based offense in recent years thanks to the play of Arian Foster, but part of that has also been due to injuries by Daniels and star WR Andre Johnson. The talent is there for the Texans to be a very productive passing attack again, especially if most defenses try to load up against the run. Daniels is a talented player who appears to be healthy going into the season. If you want to wait at tight end, you could likely get low-end TE1 production from him and make your team strong elsewhere.

Matt Waldman - Daniels is two years removed from his ACL tear and the Texans are no better off with its wide receiver corps than they were before he injured his knee. The only player I see eating into his potential totals is fullback/tight end James Casey and with a healthy Matt Schaub at the helm, it might not be an either-or situation. There are at least four players drafted ahead of Daniels that I think he will outperform.

Dustin Keller - NYJ ADP: 156 overall, TE 18 4 votes

Steve Holloway - Keller's number of targets and receptions have increased in each of his four years in the NFL with the Jets. He has finished as the #9 tight end each of the last two seasons and suddenly has an ADP of TE 17. This decreased ADP is all about the Jets' quarterback situation with both Sanchez and Tebow playing poorly in the pre-season games. I believe that eventually the quarterback play will improve and Keller will be the most often targeted Jet receiver.

Aaron Rudnicki - The Jets offense looks like a mess, but Keller has a chance to be a primary target. Santonio Holmes is banged up to start the season and doesn't appear to be on the same page as his QB. Keller meanwhile, has been a top-10 TE in each of the past two seasons and probably has even less competition for receiving targets now than ever. The fact that you can get a tight end this good at the 148th pick in the draft is an indicator of how deep the position is these days.

Mark Wimer - Dustin Keller had career highs in targets (115), receptions (65), yards receiving (815) and touchdowns (five) last year. I expect Mark Sanchez to throw short and intermediate routes often (an so would Tim Tebow if he winds up under center for part of the year) - either way, Keller should thrive in the PPR paradigm.

Jason Wood - I wouldn't say I'm a Dustin Keller fan. He seems to disappear down the stretch and doesn't dominate in the red zone. But he is a fluid athlete with good hands, and the Jets continue to have questionable options at the wide receiver position. Keller is virtually guaranteed to be among the most targeted tight ends in the AFC, and he remains in his prime. At TE17, Keller is being treated like an end game backup that's barely above replacement level. Yet, Keller has ranked as the 9th best fantasy tight end in EACH of the last two years. Take advantage of the arbitrage value.

Brent Celek - PHI ADP: 132 overall, TE 13 2 votes

Sigmund Bloom - There is some risk here, as Celek isn't the most physically gifted tight end, but he had over 500 yards receiving in the second half of 2011, and that was with Vince Young at quarterback for three games. Celek also had scores in each of his last three games after Michael Vick came on, and he was a top five tight end in 2009, so his upside is proven. If you decide to slough tight end, Celek should be at the top of your 10th round or later target list.

Jeff Pasquino - Brent Celek was banged up most of last year, yet he came on down the stretch with five or more receptions in 6 out of the last 10 Philadelphia contests. Celek played through injuries to his hip and also with a sports hernia yet still produced as a Top 10 tight end for the year. Celek had surgery to repair the issues and is a great sleeper tight end for this year as he comes very cheaply late in drafts but has huge upside in that prolific Eagles passing game.

Fred Davis - WAS ADP: 92 overall, TE 10 2 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Davis was producing at a top five clip in most formats when he was suspended last year, and that was with Rex Grossman at quarterback. Robert Griffin III is going to open things up for more big plays in the offense, and Pierre Garcon will draw attention from the deep safety, so Davis can actually improve from his 2011 production, which alone would easily justify a pick in the 7th/8th round as TE9.

Heath Cummings - Only an injury last season prevented Fred Davis from being a top 4 tight end. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III hasn't targeted him much in the preseason, but once he does he'll see Davis' playmaking ability and go back to him often.

Tony Gonzalez - ATL ADP: 90 overall, TE 9 2 votes

Jeff Haseley - Gonzalez is going to have another big year, in what will likely be his final season of a hall of fame career. He is still a very capable receiver, who will be a key fixture on a potent offensive team. I expect 70+ catches with 7-10 TDs. Why expect less? He has always produced. Always!

Marc Levin - I know there is a glut of talented tight ends in the league right now, and Gonzalez is most certainly on the downside of his career as he heads into his 15th season. Even so, Gonzalez finished as the 4th best fantasy tight end last year with 122 targets. He has not finished below TE8 (higher in PPR leagues) since 1998! What has changed in his situation for 2012? Absolutely nothing. With a floor of TE8, drafting him at TE10 in the late 8th round sounds like great value drafting.

Brandon Pettigrew - DET ADP: 83 overall, TE 8 2 votes

Ryan Hester - The Lions throw the ball more than anyone in the league, and Pettigrew was the team's second-most targeted player. In fact, he was the entire league's second-most targeted tight end -- getting two more looks than Rob Gronkowski. In PPR formats, Pettigrew gets an even bigger boost. Currently being drafted as the 8th tight end in PPR leagues, Pettigrew could easily end up in the top five -- providing a huge value in the middle rounds.

Mark Wimer - Brandon Pettigrew plays for a powerful offense and is a trusted target for Matthew Stafford. I can see him catching 100+ passes this year, which should make him a monster in PPR leagues - Pettigrew should outperform his current #8 ADP fairly easily, in my opinion.

Jared Cook - TEN ADP: 137 overall, TE 15 1 vote

Mike Brown - Cook was well on his way to a completely forgettable 2011 season when a funny thing happened. The Titans put Jake Locker under center, and Cook exploded over the season's final three weeks and led many a team to a fantasy title with 21 receptions for 335 yards and a touchdown during that time. Cook looks poised to really break out in a big way this year and join the ranks of the elite tight ends in the league. Talent has never been the issue for Cook, who is arguably as talented a receiver as any tight end in the league. But now that he's added an opportunity to his ledger, the sky is the limit in 2012.

Jermichael Finley - GB ADP: 63 overall, TE 6 1 vote

Andy Hicks - It's a crazy world when Jermichael Finley has his best season to date and starts dropping down peoples draft lists. Sure there are many great options in the Packers passing game, but Finley is right up there with the best of them. Until the Packers show an interest in running the ball, Finley can only improve even further. Donald Driver is slowing down, James Jones is inconsistent and defenses will primarily focus on Nelson and Jennings.

Antonio Gates - SD ADP: 43 overall, TE 3 1 vote

Marc Levin - Normally, the TE3 should not represent value. This year, two tight ends will go off the board in the first two rounds. Many owners are not willing to pay that high a price, but they may be willing to select a TE a few rounds later. To have a chance to compete against the early round tight ends, the owner needs the player who is most likely to perform like them on a given day and who has the upside potential to leave the remaining tight ends far behind. The one most likely to do so is the one who was elite for seven years prior to last year, and had elite "per game" numbers last year. If you can get Gates before one of your league-mates snags him, you received value for your pick.

Jermaine Gresham - CIN ADP: 120 overall, TE 12 1 vote

Steve Holloway - Gresham, the former first round pick from Oklahoma has improved his production in each of his two seasons with the Bengals. I anticipate continued improvement for Gresham, as well as Andy Dalton in his second season quarterbacking the team. Gresham finished 13th a year ago, even while missing two games. I think that the Bengals will expand their passing game this year out of necessity and also because Dalton will be ready for the increased role.

Aaron Hernandez - NE ADP: 49 overall, TE 4 1 vote

Heath Cummings - It wasn't too long ago that we all thought Hernandez was going to be the best tight end in New England. I don't think he surpasses Gronkowski this season, but I do think the extra attention given to Gronkowski will mean a lot more targets for Hernandez. Don't discount what that Patriots showed late last year with Hernandez in the backfield; he could become the Percy Harvin of tight ends.

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