Fantasy football draft strategy: Kyle Rudolph, Vernon Davis should be targeted

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Not comfortable splurging on Jimmy Graham in the first or second round? Here's some tight ends with solid value later on in your fantasy drafts.

The tight end position has underwent some pretty significant changes in the NFL in recent years. They're becoming more and more of a receiving option for teams around the league, and having a big-bodied pass-catcher now is a requirement rather than a luxury.

As such, the way tight ends are used in fantasy football will change, as well. You have some people taking New Orleans' Jimmy Graham in the first round, while Rob Gronkowski is always a popular pick. But the change is slow, and very productive tight ends can still be found late.

We'll take a look at five tight ends with solid value, using data from the Fantasy Football Calculator.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 102.3

Kyle Rudolph is something of a polarizing fantasy football figure, given that he's been called undervalued and overvalued by different sources. Last season, he managed 493 yards on 53 receptions, but the big stat was the nine touchdowns he managed to put up in 16 games. Rudolph is big, has another year under his belt and now has Greg Jennings to draw away some of the coverage -- not to mention the rest of the league is fully aware that Adrian Peterson is healthy. Maybe he flames out and hits his ceiling, but he has potential to do some serious damage in 2013.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 58.8

It's difficult to suggest that the third-highest drafted tight end is undervalued, but there's an argument to be made. While Vernon Davis has been inconsistent at times, he's got all the skill to be the most productive tight end in the league. On top of that, when Michael Crabtree suffered his ACL injury, Davis became the most-likely candidate to be the team's No. 1 receiver. Anquan Boldin will be the actual "receiver," but smart money is on Colin Kaepernick hooking up with Davis early and often.

Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 108.1

Staying away from Jared Cook has been a smart move to this point. It never felt like the Tennessee Titans quite knew how to use him, and he always seemed to be falling short of his potential. The Rams, however, need Cook for exactly what his skillset can deliver: a tight end who can stretch the field. They'll use him right, and if Cook is the real deal at all, he should provide production far above his average draft spot.

Zach Sudfeld, New England Patriots, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 120.2

Most people haven't really seen Zach Sudfeld at all, yet his fantasy value is rising steadily. This is due to the fact that the New England Patriots love having two big, productive tight ends, coupled with the Aaron Hernandez drama and Rob Gronkowski's injury history. Sudfeld is a smart bet to see the field and catch a lot of passes, regardless of what happens with Gronkowski. Plus, you know, Tom Brady. He's still a thing.

Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 149.5

The Bengals have a couple tight ends who might be worth looking at, but Tyler Eifert has the skill and upside to take over the position. The Bengals have said in the past that Eifert will be used much like a wide receiver, and given that Andy Dalton seems to be getting better and better, he is a smart bet. He's one of the lower drafted tight ends on average, and should be a solid pickup late if you find yourself in need of some boom potential for your fantasy team.

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