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Dynasty Football: O.J. Howard and Other Tight Ends to Watch
With the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl coming this weekend, draft season is clearly upon us. The tight end class in Mobile is an impressive one. Three guys stand out as ones we should all be paying attention to. They have early impact potential both for the NFL team that drafts them and fantasy owners. Who should you pay attention to during Saturday’s Senior Bowl?
O.J. Howard | TE | Alabama Crimson Tide
(6’ 5” 249 pounds)
O.J. Howard comes into mobile with a ton of buzz and momentum. Not only is he the highest rated tight end in Mobile, but he may be the highest rated player for most scouts. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Howard as his 18th overall player on his big board, while ESPN’s Todd McShay has him at 17.
Howard finally got his opportunity to play meaningful snaps during his last two seasons with the Tide catching 38 and 45 balls respectively. He put up basically 600 yards each of those years and found the end zone a couple of times. For a Crimson Tide team that relied so heavily on the run game and the deep ball Howard had his moments but was never the centerpiece of the offense.
In terms of athleticism and big play potential, anyone who watched either other National Championship games from the past two seasons has seen massive plays from Howard.
He came back for his senior year and has made a trip to Mobile to improve his run blocking and ensure his NFL Draft stock. This is huge for getting and staying on the field as a young player.
With a projected late first or early second round draft slot in the NFL draft, Howard will be coveted heading into rookie drafts. The right home could make him a fantasy useful player in year one much like Hunter Henry a season ago. Be ready to use a late first or early second round pick on him in 2017 rookie drafts.
Evan Engram | TE | Ole Miss Rebels
(6’3” 236 pounds)
Evan Engram is an incredibly interesting prospect. His senior season was his best statistical season by a wide margin. He had 65 catches for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. His previous seasons were shared Laquon Treadwell, Quincy Adeboyejo, Cody Core, and Damore’ea Stringfellow. That said when he was targeted he displayed big play potential averaging double-digit yards on his catches including 17.4 during his sophomore season.
Heading into the Senior Bowl Engram wants to show that he can be a consistent offensive threat. On Day 2 of Senior Bowl practices it was Engram who caught NFL Networks Daniel Jeremiah’s attention saying, “No one on the field could cover him today.”
At the next level Engram is guy that can be lined up all over the field. Draft Wire’s Jackson Safon used Zach Ertz as a comparison and it’s one that seems to work really well. He has the speed and athleticism that will make him a problem for both linebackers and safeties.
Fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on this guy during the NFL Draft. The right landing spot could have him on the field sooner than later. After the absolute dumpster fire that was the tight end position in 2016, Engram will be a welcomed addition to the fantasy landscape.
He currently has a late second round ADP on DLF can be a nice piece to target if you miss out on Howard. The right landing spot may make Engram more interesting than Howard for some. Either way he will be a guy I’m very interested in.
Jeremy Sprinkle | TE | Arkansas Razorbacks
(6’4” 256 pounds)
Jeremy Sprinkle got his chance as the feature tight end after sharing time with Hunter Henry in previous seasons. Arkansas much like Alabama leans heavily on the run and utilizes play action. Sprinkle amassed 380 yards on 33 catches this season finding the endzone four times. This on the heels of a 389 yards and six touchdown season with 27 catches.
Sprinkle is a guy that will be taken somewhere in the middle rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft. He is very much cut in the mold of Dwayne Allen as guy who is relied upon for his blocking skills. Sprinkle isn’t explosive off of the line but can make plays down the field. He will be a guy that can be a red zone presence and has the potential to be a touchdown machine.
As a fantasy option landing spot will be huge for Sprinkle. If he can land in an offense that gets up and down the field with ease, say the Atlanta Falcons, fantasy production could be coming. If he ends up on a team that values his blocking skills keeps him in to do that on a consistent basis fantasy production could be hard to find. I like what he can do and would be fine using a late rookie pick on him but am by no means going out of my way to make sure I land him.
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