What qualifies as a sleeper fantasy player these days in the information age? If you look hard enough, you can easily spout out names such as Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron, and Jared Cook. The 3 Js each put up 5+ catches, 100+ yards, and at least one touchdown. Are we witnessing the beginning of the next wave of great fantasy tight ends?
Julius Thomas Already has Chemistry with Peyton Manning
Thomas started week 1 with a bang for this semi-anonymous tight end group. He connected early and often with Peyton Manning. It looked as if Baltimore was guarding the deep passing game and giving the middle of the field to Manning. Despite taking a few hard hits, Manning stood tall and clicked with short target Wes Welker and looked for Julius Thomas on intermediate routes. Manning has multiple weapons and every week may bring new receiver fortunes, but if you look at Manning’s body of work, the offenses he has been in can indeed support 4 high end performing receivers. In 2004, Manning had three 1,000 yard receivers: Reggie Wayne (1,210 and 12 touchdowns), Marvin Harrison (1,113 and 15 touchdowns), and Brandon Stokley (1,077 and 10 touchdowns). That season, the Colts had two capable starting tight ends / h-backs, Marcus Pollard and Dallas Clark, who was entering his second season. The duo combined for 732 yards and 11 touchdowns. Neither Pollard or Clark has Thomas’s athleticism. Perhaps Manning can put up the numbers he did in 2004 where he won the league’s MVP and provide a few more record breaking games.
Norv Turner could make Jordan Cameron a PPR Monster
Things are lining up nicely for Jordan Cameron in 2013. The change in coaching staffs meant good bye to conservative play caller, Brad Childress and hello to an offensive coordinator who had offenses that featured the likes of Jay Novacek and Antonio Gates. While Brandon Weeden is still trying to prove he can be an NFL quarterback, he has at least shown a propensity to locate Cameron. The second year tight end was targeted a team high 13 times in week 1 versus the Dolphins, and hauled in 9 of those passes. Cameron could be a PPR stud. In 4 out of 6 years coaching the chargers, Antonio Gates caught 60 or more passes.
Jared Cook finally has a Quarterback…
Cook had the most impressive stat line with an eye popping 7 catches, 141 yards and 2 touchdowns in week 1. The potential of good size and speed has always been there, but Cook had the likes of erratic throwers, Vince Young and Jake Locker throwing to him. Neither quarterback broke the 60% accuracy benchmark. Cook, playing in a spread offense, is using his size and speed to be an every down mismatch. Bradford has never had a strong red zone target in his portfolio of weapons. We expect Cook and Bradford to hook up a few more times and wouldn’t be surprised if Cook had another multi-touchdown game in him in 2013.