There’s really two names to know at tight end for this upcoming season. Tight end has been a tough position for rookies to be productive in fantasy. Jimmy Graham didn’t get started until the final four games of his rookie year. Rob Gronkowski caught ten touchdowns in 2010. But that was nothing compared to 2011. Most don’t see his type of success early. So temper expectations for rookie tight ends.
Maxx Williams – Baltimore Ravens
Maxx Williams has found himself in a good situation in Baltimore. Williams arrives with a veteran quarterback in place and not a lot of talent at his position. Williams will get playing time early and often. Second year tight end Crockett Gilmore could take away some red zone opportunities, but Williams with get plenty of chances.
He’s got good size at 6’4” 250. His speed, hands and blocking ability will keep him on the field. Williams can make the big play as he’s not afraid to dive or snatch the ball one handed. Steve Smith, fellow rookie Breshad Perriman and Justin Forsett and others should provide a solid cast around him.
Williams is a Later round pick. If you draft a Gronk, Graham or Greg Olsen. Williams could be trade bait if he ends up being a key part of the offense early. I love the thought of grabbing him in dynasty leagues. He has potential to be a top five tight end down the road. They traded up to get him in the second round. So they must view him as a player who isn’t far from contributing.
Clive Walford – Oakland Raiders
Don’t hold the whole Oakland Raiders thing against Walford. The offense is young and the future looks solid. Second year quarterback Derrick Carr looked like he belonged in the league and should improve in year two. Amari Cooper was drafted with Oakland’s first pick and should give them a legit receiver for Carr. Unlike Williams in Baltimore, Walford has built in competition. Mychal Rivera comes into his third season and almost doubled his targets with Carr under center. Lee Smith is also a veteran on the roster who can provide short term help.
Standing at 6’4” the former basketball player could get red zone looks. Especially if new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave can get creative and find mismatches against smaller defensivebacks or linebackers. He comes from Philadelphia where he was the quarterback coach. So something tells me he’ll have a few tricks that Chip Kelly taught him. So I feel like this could be key to Walford having success this year. Walford is also a good blocker, so that could get him on the field more to open up opportunities.
I wouldn’t draft Walford unless it’s a real deep league. I’d keep tabs on him and give him a look as a free agent pick up if he’s being utilized. Injuries can always create playing time too. Draft late in Dynasty leagues and keep an eye on him as a cheap daily league option. He’s athletic enough to have success now. But he may need a year before he becomes a bigger part of the Raiders offense. An offense that is still very young and is only a year away from being ranked last in total yard, yards per game and rushing yards. So it can only get better.
Other than Williams and Walford there’s not much. Nick O’Leary landed in Buffalo and has a chance at a Scott Chandler type impact. But I wouldn’t touch him this year.
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