Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker will be 35 in mid-August, and is coming off a gruesome ankle/leg injury that ended his 2018 campaign in early September. He had four receptions for 52 yards on seven targets before his season came to an unfortunate end. Walker had established himself, especially after turning 30, as a valuable fantasy tight end that nearly slid under the radar. He was never the flashy selection, but from 2014-2017, he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and had at least 63 receptions, 100 targets, 800 receiving yards and three touchdowns in each season. The injury last season doesn’t make Walker injury-prone by any means, considering he played in at least 14 games in every season from 2007-2017, but he is another year older and has considerable wear-and-tear on that body at a grueling position.

While Walker has actually aged like a fine wine in the National Football League, Father Time always wins out, and history isn’t exactly on his side. In the history of the NFL, here are some interesting factoids regarding tight ends playing in their age 35 season.

  • There have been just four seasons (2011-2013 Tony Gonzalez, 2015 Ben Watson) with 100+ targets.
  • There have been just seven seasons with 60+ receptions
  • There has yet to be a 1,000 yard season, just seven seasons with 600 or more yards, and 12 seasons with 400 or more receiving yards.
  • There have been just 10 seasons with five or more receiving touchdowns.

The thing to note is that the aforementioned production was primarily courtesy of Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe, Antonio Gates and Ben Watson. If we exclude those three for the sake of this, here are the best performances by a tight end age 35 or older.






Pete Retzlaff

1966 (35 yrs)




Jason Witten

2017 (35 yrs)




Wesley Walls

2001 (35 yrs)




Courtesy of Pro Football Reference

The performances listed above equate to 121.3, 117.5 and 96.7 fantasy points. Among last year’s tight ends, Retzlaff would have been TE7, Witten would have been TE9,  and Walls would have been TE15.

The reports from the Titans in the early going have been promising, mentioning that Walker is more determined than ever, and in his own words, and that this is his “motivation year.” Walker is an above average tight end in fantasy football, but production in recent years has been amplified by a weak supporting cast of pass-catchers around him. From 2014-2017, he led the team in receptions (tied one year), and in each of those seasons, only one receiver (Rishard Matthews , 2016) had 60 or more receptions. When Walker caught 94 passes in 2015, the next closest were Kendall Wright and Harry Douglas at 36! THIRTY FREAKIN’ SIX!

Here were fellow pass catchers around Walker in recent seasons:




Eric Decker , Rishard Matthews , Corey Davis


Rishard Matthews , Tajae Sharpe , Kendall Wright


Kendall Wright , Harry Douglas , Dorial Green-Beckham


Kendall Wright , Nate Washington, Justin Hunter

In 2019, Walker will battle with fellow tight end Jonnu Smith , Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor . Excuse me, I also forgot Corey Davis , rookie A.J. Brown and slot extraordinaire Adam Humphries . This will far and away be the most talented group of pass-catchers that Tennessee has had in quite some time, and while quarterback Marcus Mariota loves Walker, he’ll be spreading the football around in 2019.

Fantasy Alarm’s projections have Walker coming in as the TE14 in a 0.5PPR format, catching 57 passes for 647 yards, and 4.3 touchdown receptions. These numbers seem very fair for a tight end entering his age 35 season and coming off a substantial injury that took essentially is entire 2018 season. Furthermore, the added competition for targets will eat into Walker’s statistical output and young tight end Jonnu Smith is entering Year 3 after flashing his abilities in Walker’s absence last season.

Seeing as he’s no longer the clear-cut No. 1 option in a low-volume passing attack, draft Walker with tempered expectations. There’s a lot going against him this season, and he’s a fair pick at his current draft position (145.86, per NFFC). He’s not overvalued, he’s not undervalued, but priced just right. He’s a TE2 in a low-volume Tennessee passing attack in 2019.

Statistical Credits: