Welcome to the preview of what is the most underrated position when it comes to fantasy football and scouting future prospects in your leagues … it’s the tight ends. These players can often make or break your season. If you find a gem, you get a major boost to go alongside your top selections. If you end up picking some busts, then you are scrambling to make up the missing points week after week. So, where do you start when it comes to finding that roster-changing player? Yep, it’s the NFL draft.
In the forthcoming days, I will breakdown my top 10 tight ends in the 2014 NFL Draft.
5. C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa (6-6, 265)
If you have watched Big 10 football in recent years, you have probably saw C.J. Fiedorowicz play for the Hawkeyes. When translating his skill set to the NFL level, he does have some ability to produce from the onset, but he will have to polish his skills to make a serious impact. Fiedorowicz is the prototypical tight end in terms of size and height. He has good speed with a 4.76 40-yard dash. He has also shown the ability to stay healthy and be a durable player game in and game out. His production level is nothing too flashy. Last year, he snagged 30 passes for 299 yards and six scores for a productive year.
There are questions regarding his receiving ability as he needs polishing to be a force in the NFL. First, let us take a look at the good. Fiedorowicz has shown the ability to create separation using his hands and physical ability or by setting up breaks with fakes. He is also good at finding holes in zone coverage and posting up in the gaps. When free in the defensive secondary, Fiedorowicz can pluck the ball in stride and start to accelerate down the seams. He is one tough player and is willing to sacrifice his body for the extra yard or two (yet to see if this will lead to more fumbles). He is also a solid blocker with good awareness and effort to get to the next level of the defense on run plays.
Now, let us look at the weaknesses in his game. Fiedorowicz does not have great footwork, despite his ability to fake out defenders on routes. When on the line, he does have trouble accelerating off the line when against press coverage. He does have the tendency to drop passes despite having big hands (mostly due to wanting to turn up the field before full possession of the ball). He has below average acceleration and elusiveness when rumbling up the field.
Overall, I like Fiedorowicz’s game and his ability to be a contributor at the next level. He does give full effort to improving his game and has shown flashes in his abilities. He needs to work on his concentration and looking passes into his hands before turning up field. He is never going to be an athletic marvel, but can be productive in his own way. I see him as a TE2 in fantasy circles as he develops into his own (maybe a Kevin Boss or Anthony Fasano type). For the draft, he is a third to fourth round prospect.
Fiedorowicz’s highlights (Courtesy of SportsStudio):