The Tight End position isn’t considered a sexy one in anyone’s eyes (unless you’re Chris Moxley), but every league requires at least one starter, and thus, we must pay attention to it.

This TE class has turned into a strong group with the addition of the TEITOs at the top (Dalvin Smith and Holden Willis), but if you don’t pay up big for the top five, then you may feel like you’re reaching just to fill a hole in the roster. Today, I look at two players I feel are extremely underrated right now and one to avoid at this position! 

Tanner Koziol, Ball State: TE25

Courtesy of Ball State University Athletics

Koziol was a guy I mentioned in last year’s article looking at sleeper/underrated TEs, but they underperformed due to a passing game that fell off the map. The offense turned to the run more in 2023 due to injuries, but this should change in 2024. Kadin Semonza appears to have won the job with Kiael Kelly going in and out of the portal, which is great news for all of us looking for value here. Semonza played in just four games as a true freshman and sat around 16-23 attempts per game. This was against a non-conference schedule, including games against UGA, Kentucky, and Georgia Southern. 

With Kelly at quarterback for seven post-injury games, Ball State threw the ball a high of 25 times, but every other game was between 14 and 19. This is not the craziest increase, but it’s worth noting that Semonza and Koziol connected for a stat line of 19/151/1 on 30 targets. In the seven games with Kelly at quarterback, Koziol produced a stat line of 8/78/1! 

What a drastic difference from QB play, as Koziol showed he could produce even with limited team passing attempts. Don’t forget that we liked him with good reason going into the 2023 season. As a 6’7″, 230 lb. true freshman, he caught 35 passes for 373 yards and 7 TDs. And now, we see Brady Hunt, the TEA to Koziol’s TEB in 2023, has moved on to South Carolina. Koziol is a prime target for me in CFF drafts, and a guy I suspect ends around TE12-15 in terms of ADP when it’s all said and done. 

Sam Roush, Stanford: TE27

Roush steps into a starting role completely heading into the season after a really strong second half of 2023. The 23/243/0 stat line that we saw out of Roush starting Week 8 should be entirely possible with Ben Yurosek off to UGA and another year under the belt of the Cardinal TE. 

Last season, we saw a Stanford team that threw the ball 35+ times per game and can’t possibly get worse QB play this season. Ashton Daniels is the assumed starter and is more than capable of getting Roush the ball, as we’ve already seen. Elic Ayomanor is the clear WR1 target in the offense, but who else will be competing with Roush/Ayomanor for targets? Tiger Bachmeier flashed potential as a true freshman, otherwise the likes of Bryce Farrell and Mudia Reuben just don’t intimidate me.

One thing that does need to improve is Stanford’s passing TD rate. That feels like the biggest stretch for me, as they had just 11 in 2023. With his second-half rate, Roush was on pace for 40+ receptions and 400+ yards, two really nice markers for production at the position. He just will need to find his way into the end zone 4+ times to complete the 40/400/4 “rule.” 

One to Avoid: Mitchell Evans, Notre Dame: TE19

Notre Dame TEs are ones to target, but I’m not buying this one for one big reason: a torn ACL and MCL. Evans tore his ACL on October 28 against Pitt, and the Notre Dame Rivals site says that his “MCL was gone too, requiring some reconstructive surgery.” They also describe the timeline of his return as “muddy” and obviously did not partake in spring practice due to the injury happening so late in the season. In this same article, he even says that he doesn’t believe he’ll be ready to go when he gets back from summer and adds, “It’s all questionable.”

I love Evans as a talent, but I’m not spending anything on a tight end coming off a late ACL/MCL injury. We saw what happened to Brant Kuithe and Cam Rising at Utah, Jordyn Tyson at Arizona State and others that I’m currently blanking on. Knee injuries are nothing to play around with, and if they happen late in the season, then there’s a legitimate chance that the player misses enough time to kill his value in drafts.

With that said, Eli Raridon becomes a really interesting free 99 option late in drafts. He had just five catches for 51 yards and a TD last season but is in that typical Notre Dame TE mold (6’6″, 249).

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