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Preseason Preview - Tight Ends
David Dorey
July 21, 2010
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Other Positions:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers  |  Tight Ends

Tight End Totals by Year

Year Targets Catches Yards Touchdowns
2005 3,093 1,932 20,171 140
2006 3,104 1,911 20,282 158
2007 3,257 2,095 22,131 183
2008 3,250 2,085 22,658 139
2009 3,558 2,274 24,960 193

Perhaps there is no better sign of the shift in NFL offensive complexity than the ever increasing statistics turned in by tight ends. Last year had a record high 193 touchdowns and almost 25,000 yards. Across the board, the position continues to grow not because of more elite tight ends coming from college ranks but because more offenses are distributing passes out to more than just wide receivers. This is a good sign for the health of the league - more players that contribute.

Top Ten Tight End Totals

Year Targets Catches Yards YPC Touchdowns FF Pts
2003 809 518 6,014 11.6 42 853
2004 997 669 7,688 11.5 62 1,141
2005 1,084 675 7,978 11.8 57 1,140
2006 1,027 629 7,483 11.9 58 1,096
2007 1,053 683 8,267 12.1 66 1,223
2008 961 652 7,524 11.5 55 1,082
2009 1,157 779 8,947 11.5 77 1,357

While 2008 was a slight aberration, the trend has been equally as kind to the top ten each season. The touchdown catches have never been higher and the same for yards and catches. This is all a good thing once again - more players turning in meaningful fantasy seasons. The net effect is coming close to there being a dozen viable fantasy tight ends which would mean there is no advantage really but we're not quite there yet. But heading that way.

Arizona Cardinals

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 57 30 37 30 357 30 9.6 23 8 10
2008 40 31 25 31 237 31 9.5 31 0 32
2009 38 32 23 32 245 32 10.7 20 3 28

The Cardinals have always been a desert for tight ends and last year ranked dead last in the league in both targets and receptions. Sure, Anquan Boldin has gone but that means nothing for tight ends. The Cards will be passing less and running more and those tight ends need to block.

Atlanta Falcons

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 88 19 58 18 542 20 9.3 28 5 18
2008 30 32 19 32 211 32 11.1 11 2 28
2009 151 6 95 6 982 8 10.3 23 8 9

Quite an effect that Tony Gonzalez had on the Falcons tight end numbers. They went from dead last in catches in 2008 to top ten in every receiving category. That's a worthwhile lesson to remember when teams acquire a talented player that seemingly is out of place. Talent will almost always be used. No changes here other than hoping for one more good season from future HOF 'er Tony Gonzalez.

Baltimore Ravens

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 102 14 65 15 507 24 7.8 32 3 28
2008 72 25 41 26 447 25 10.9 16 5 13
2009 80 28 56 23 632 23 11.3 10 6 15

Todd Heap seemed to have a rebirth of sorts last year when he turned in 53 catches for 593 yards and six scores. After two forgettable years, Heap had at least some marginal fantasy value last year. That may not be the case this year since the Ravens still have Derrick Mason and added Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth. There will likely be fewer passes for the tight ends this year. The Ravens also drafted Ed Dickson with their 3.06 pick and then nabbed Dennis Pitta with their 4.16 selection. Camp will help determine what the three tight ends will do in sharing work but in the end it will likely be too meager to make any have fantasy significance. At least Pitta or Dickson could really step up in camp and make it easier for dynasty leaguers looking to add for the future.

Buffalo Bills

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 80 23 56 20 499 25 8.9 29 5 19
2008 89 19 58 20 598 21 10.3 20 3 20
2009 71 29 42 31 374 31 8.9 32 1 32

This was a terrible offense last year and the tight ends were no better ranking in the bottom three in almost every conceivable category. But it is a new offense that will be installed this summer that could make more use of the position that was ignored last year. Shawn Nelson is expected to be the starter but unless the offense is a major surprise, there is no reason to look here for a fantasy starter. With so much to work on, tight ends will have to wait yet another year.

Carolina Panthers

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 93 18 57 19 553 18 9.7 22 6 14
2008 65 27 39 27 404 27 10.4 18 2 26
2009 102 19 63 20 755 17 12.0 7 5 19

The Panthers were one of the teams using the position more than in the past but that was spread out among Gary Barnridge, Jeff King and Dante Rosario. Combined they totaled 755 yards but the best individual was only 252 yards. There is no expectation that will change this year either.

Chicago Bears

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 140 5 86 5 950 6 11.0 10 6 12
2008 155 3 95 5 941 6 9.9 25 6 9
2009 156 5 88 8 832 14 9.5 30 13 2

Greg Olsen has taken over the position and he comes off a career high 60 catches for 612 yards and eight scores thanks to being paired with Jay Cutler for the first time. But that will probably fly out the window now that Mike Martz is the offensive coordinator since he has historically killed the position even when he has stated he would finally embrace it. Consider in 2008 he led the 49ers and yet the tight ends there only ranked 25th in completions(43), 22nd in yardage (547) and 21st in touchdowns (3). The next year without Martz witnessed Vernon Davis explode and the 49ers end top five in all categories for tight ends including #1 in touchdowns (13). If Martz somehow changes his ways it will be apparent in preseason games with passes to the tight ends but it is highly unlikely. It just is not a part of his scheme and even when he makes statements about moving tight ends to the slot, etc.; it just has never happened. Olsen is no Vernon Davis.

Cincinnati Bengals

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 43 32 32 31 333 32 10.4 19 0 32
2008 74 24 49 23 341 29 7.0 32 0 31
2009 68 30 43 28 410 30 9.5 29 2 31

This is always a wasteland for tight ends. Always. Adding in wideout Antonio Bryant only makes that even less likely to help the tight ends. The Bengals barely pass to any position outside of wideouts.

Cleveland Browns

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 170 2 95 4 1,218 3 12.8 1 5 15
2008 141 6 73 12 735 16 10.1 21 4 14
2009 81 27 42 30 469 28 11.2 13 3 26

The departure of Kellen WInslow made the tight end numbers naturally plummet here but merely brought them in line with the rest of the punchless offense. The Browns brought in Ben Watson and paid him $12 million over three years with more than half of that guaranteed so he will be in the mix (but also as a blocker). Evan Moore is another coach favorite despite only catching 12 passes last season. Watson is worth watching here if only because the offense is desperately searching for anyone to help out. With Jake Delhomme or eventually Colt McCoy, the numbers for tight ends should rise at least incrementally here and possibly significantly.

Dallas Cowboys

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 165 3 113 2 1,306 2 11.6 6 11 2
2008 160 2 109 1 1,267 1 11.6 7 8 4
2009 163 3 116 2 1,251 2 10.8 17 2 29

No changes here other than Jason Witten being starved for touchdowns last year. Otherwise, all the tight end stats were in line with the last three years. The Cowboys claim to want to re-involve Witten at the goal line but adding in Dez Bryant probably will not make it much more likely. Martellus Bennett was rumored to be on the trading block in the offseason but remains with the team. Strong unit and big numbers here, even if the touchdowns are lagging.

Denver Broncos

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 109 11 81 7 891 7 11.0 11 8 8
2008 132 7 83 7 1,118 4 13.5 2 8 5
2009 94 22 59 21 705 19 11.9 8 3 24

When Jay Cutler left - 'gasp' - the passing numbers all went down including to the tight ends. Tony Scheffler was tops with only 31 receptions for 416 yards and two scores. And he's gone now. Daniel Graham moves up to being a starter and the coaching staff is talking up Marquez Branson who had no playing time as a rookie last year. Bottom line - even an increase here won't make a tight end that has fantasy significance.

Detroit Lions

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 45 31 30 32 364 29 12.1 3 1 31
2008 78 23 44 24 422 26 9.6 29 3 22
2009 137 7 80 13 800 16 10.0 25 5 18

And here is where Tony Scheffler landed. This is another team that has an encouraging situation that could result in bigger tight end stats this year. Matthew Stafford was already a part of the position being above average in nearly all categories and now gets in Scheffler who was in synch with him during the offseason in OTA's. And Brandon Pettigrew is trying to return from his ACL injury that required surgery and ended his rookie season in week 12. Pettigrew was taken with the 1.20 selection in 2009 and still has high expectations delayed only because of his injury. This year could be Scheffler's season and then 2011 may end up with Pettigrew. Or worse yet, Pettigrew could cut into Scheffler's action later in the season. It is worth watching because Pettigrew needs to look healthy and Scheffler could end up a nice target for Stafford.

Green Bay Packers

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 97 17 68 14 718 12 10.6 16 9 6
2008 79 22 56 21 539 23 9.6 28 6 11
2009 136 8 99 4 1,048 5 10.6 21 10 6

Jermichael Finley helped the Packers' passing game hit fifth gear with top ten numbers across the board and that was with him missing three games. No changes in the depth chart here but all eyes on Finley who should make another step up this year and rub elbows with the rest of the top five tight ends. The Packers have done nothing to spark the rushing effort so there's no reason not to expect Finley to have a big year.

Houston Texans

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 111 10 73 11 862 9 11.8 5 6 13
2008 118 11 81 9 939 8 11.6 8 2 23
2009 111 15 73 16 912 10 12.5 5 6 14

The Texans are another team that likes to use the tight end. Even with Owen Daniels blowing his ACL in week eight, the team still posted the same above average tight end numbers. Joel Dreesen stepped up and became a receiving tight end despite a career track record that said he would never be one. Daniels has signed a one-year contract for about $3 million and the expectation is that he will be ready by week one. He'll probably be limited in camp and that sends his fantasy draft stock south. But the Texans like to throw to their tight end and if he is ready by week one, he'll be a fantasy factor again.

Indianapolis Colts

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 164 4 107 3 1,123 4 10.5 18 12 1
2008 149 5 109 2 1,090 5 10.0 22 7 7
2009 169 1 121 1 1,312 1 10.8 16 10 5

No changes here to the #1 team for tight end targets, catches and yards. Dallas Clark not only is arguably one of the best tight ends in the league, he even tied Reggie Wayne for the team lead with 100 catches and ten touchdowns. And Clark makes up almost all the tight end numbers here.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 108 12 72 13 736 11 10.2 20 4 21
2008 102 16 61 18 700 17 11.5 9 2 25
2009 111 16 65 18 856 12 13.2 2 5 17

The Jaguars are about average in their use of the tight end but that entailed using five different players last year. Marcedes Lewis was easily the most productive with 32 catches for 518 yards and two scores but that level has almost no fantasy relevance. The coaches remain upbeat about Zach Miller but he had 21 catches last year as a rookie and he was only a 6.07 pick in 2009. This team is a perfect example of what is happening in the league - better numbers as a unit and yet no one player has much significance. They are not even reliable enough to cover a bye week.

Kansas City Chiefs

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 207 1 125 1 1,361 1 10.9 12 6 11
2008 166 1 103 4 1,121 3 10.9 17 10 2
2009 82 26 45 27 436 29 9.7 27 3 27

The departure of Tony Gonzalez sucked all fantasy value from this unit and the misguided notion that Brad Cottam was going to do anything was quickly abandoned. The 3.29 pick in the draft of Tony Moeaki has the best chance of stepping up and claiming a role of any meaning but that doesn't have to happen. Charlie Weis will be installing a new offense and it is worth seeing what happens but the Chiefs are no longer the home of the great fantasy tight end. The anemic numbers of last year could rise dramatically and yet still have no fantasy relevance.

Miami Dolphins

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 100 16 64 16 538 21 8.4 31 4 24
2008 107 14 70 14 941 7 13.4 3 11 1
2009 97 21 53 25 532 26 10.0 24 5 21

The Fins offense is run-heavy and that means tight ends mostly block. They remain below average in all categories with no reason to expect that to change. The addition of Brandon Marshall only serves to throw even less to the tight ends. No reason to track this in the preseason. Anthony Fasano had seven touchdowns in 2008 but no yardage with Chad Pennington as the starter. WIth Chad Henne, he still had no yardage but fell to only two scores.

Minnesota Vikings

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 64 28 40 29 449 28 11.2 8 2 29
2008 85 21 55 22 765 15 13.9 1 7 8
2009 101 20 72 17 688 21 9.6 28 13 3

The Vikings only ranked about average in tight end stats with Brett Favre around but the difference came in one category - touchdowns. The 13 scores ranked third best and more importantly, 11 of them went to Vishante Shiancoe. This may only be about average overall but only Shiancoe really matters and that's enough to merit fantasy attention. Nothing new here this year though.

New England Patriots

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 68 27 46 27 468 27 10.2 21 8 9
2008 65 28 31 30 302 30 9.7 27 2 27
2009 61 31 43 29 546 25 12.7 3 7 12

The very diverse passing game of the Patriots does use tight ends but only Benjamin Watson has any fantasy value and that has been marginal at best. And he's gone. The all new crew now features the aging Alge Crumpler and rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots took Gronkowski with their 2.10 pick but Hernandez (4.15) has been more impressive in the offseason and could overtake Gronkowski in camp. It is entirely possible that there is no fantasy relevant tight end on the Patriots this year but camp will confirm it or show who has the potential.

New Orleans Saints

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 102 15 75 8 706 13 9.4 26 4 22
2008 153 4 108 3 1,186 2 11.0 14 3 16
2009 124 11 89 7 954 9 10.7 19 5 16

The Saints produce top ten numbers from their tight ends but barely and that comes using both Jeremy Shockey (48-569, 3 TD) and David Thomas (35-356, 1 TD). If only one player could combine those numbers, then it would be noteworthy but as it stands, Shockey only produces marginal fantasy value. No changes here.

New York Giants

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 120 9 72 12 765 10 10.6 15 5 16
2008 64 29 39 28 456 24 11.7 6 8 6
2009 87 24 56 22 663 22 11.8 9 5 20

When Jeremy Shockey left, he took with him most of the fantasy value and even then it was only marginal. Kevin Boss only had 42 catches for 567 yards and five scores in a season when the receivers were all young and inexperienced. But the youthful wideouts really came through for a banner passing year that did not include the tight ends much. At least not enough. No changes here.

New York Jets

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 76 25 50 24 480 26 9.6 25 4 26
2008 120 10 75 10 776 14 10.3 19 3 18
2009 87 25 47 26 526 27 11.2 12 3 25

Not surprisingly, the tight ends combined for low marks last year because the entire passing game was one of the least productive in the NFL. AT least it mostly all goes to Dustin Keller who had 45 receptions for 522 yards and two scores. As a positive, Mark Sanchez is more experienced this year but he also has Santonio Holmes (eventually) added to Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. And LaDainian Tomlinson who also is an accomplished receiver. There are no changes in the depth chart here and no reason to expect camp to change anything.

Oakland Raiders

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 81 21 52 23 546 19 10.5 17 4 23
2008 102 17 67 16 859 10 12.8 4 1 29
2009 120 13 80 14 902 11 11.3 11 3 23

Stats here are mostly average or slightly better for the tight ends and in Oakland, that is almost exclusively Zach Miller. This will be a camp to watch because now that Jamarcus "The Slug" Russell is gone, the receivers get Jason Campbell. The same player that had made Chris Cooley a top ten talent and then used Fred Davis last year with great effect once Cooley was out. This is a definite camp to watch to see if there is any reason to push Miller's ranking well into the "starter" range. This could be a very good year for the only tight end of note on this team.

Philadelphia Eagles

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 87 20 49 25 522 23 10.7 14 3 27
2008 105 15 66 17 626 20 9.5 30 4 15
2009 120 14 79 15 996 7 12.6 4 8 8

The Eagles may only rank about average in most tight end categories but that doesn't matter in fantasy terms - Brent Celek had all but three catches made from the position. He had a break out season and there is no reason to expect any changes here. Donovan McNabb is gone but Kevin Kolb replaces him. In the two full games that Kolb played in last year, both produced exactly 104 yards on eight receptions for Celek who was the leading receiver in both games.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 69 26 53 22 609 15 11.5 7 11 3
2008 95 18 68 15 674 18 9.9 24 3 19
2009 108 17 83 10 823 15 9.9 26 7 10

Like so many teams, the Steelers are only about average in tight end stats but it almost entirely goes to one player - Heath Miller. No changes in the depth chart this year but the absence of Ben Roethlisberger for at least four if not six games could have a dramatic impact on the production of the entire passing game, along with a very tough schedule starting around when Big Ben returns. No reason to track in the preseason and this unit should be downgraded at least slightly for this season.

San Diego Chargers

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 132 6 85 6 1,070 5 12.6 2 10 4
2008 111 13 75 11 831 11 11.1 12 10 3
2009 128 9 88 9 1,198 4 13.6 1 9 7

Always top ten in virtually all meaningful categories, the Chargers (and ergo Antonio Gates) remain one of the most productive users of the position for the last several seasons. Gates comes off a career best season with 1157 yards and he's remained at eight or more touchdowns in each of the last six years. Camp is needed just to ensure that his foot problems will not be an issue in the regular season. This is the same problem he played with all last year and he has been resting it in the offseason. Even if he doesn't go full speed in camp, it doesn't mean he won't have yet another fine season.

San Francisco 49ers

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 128 7 73 10 683 14 9.4 27 5 17
2008 69 26 43 25 547 22 12.7 5 3 21
2009 162 4 99 3 1,198 3 12.1 6 13 1

If you want one main reason why the tight end stats from 2009 were up, look no further than Vernon Davis. After languishing under Mike Martz, Davis lit up the score board in 2010 and recorded a league high 13 touchdowns as a tight end. Davis ended with 78 catches for 965 yards and now takes his always freakish speed and joins the ranks of the elite. No changes here other than big smiles entering camp.

Seattle Seahawks

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 61 29 41 28 355 31 8.7 30 5 20
2008 86 20 59 19 656 19 11.1 10 5 12
2009 90 23 55 24 593 24 10.8 18 7 11

There is more unknowns in camp this year with a new head coach of Pete Carroll and his OC Jeremy Bates who followed him from USC. John Carlson is the only receiving tight end and he's flirted with being a fantasy starter. Camp is worth tracking to see if Carlson will get any more use but the expectation is just more of the same - moderate showing by Carlson who makes a better fantasy backup than starter.

St. Louis Rams

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 80 24 48 26 532 22 11.1 9 4 25
2008 62 30 35 29 382 28 10.9 15 0 30
2009 108 18 63 19 699 20 11.1 14 4 22

Randy McMichael was the lead receiver among these tight ends last year but that was only for 34 receptions for 332 yards and one score. And he's gone. Camp is worth watching more in a dynasty vein because the Rams will be indoctrinating their new rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and likely Daniel Fells as the starting tight end despite only having 28 receptions in his first two seasons. Billy Bajema will contend as well but for 2010, it is highly unlikely there is any fantasy value here from the tight ends. There may not be for years all depending on Bradford.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 81 22 55 21 594 17 10.8 13 9 7
2008 118 12 72 13 794 13 11.0 13 6 10
2009 166 2 95 5 1,037 6 10.9 15 6 13

Bringing in Kellen Winslow had a dramatic effect on the stats for the Buccaneers at least in catches and yardage. No changes here this year including the standard news that he had offseason knee surgery again, will be ready for training camp again and while he has had six knee surgeries that will certainly combine to shorten his career, it probably won't be this year. Winslow has never scored more than five times in any season but remains a solid fantasy choice in catches and yardage.

Tennessee Titans

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 106 13 63 17 606 16 9.6 24 1 30
2008 127 9 83 8 827 12 10.0 23 3 17
2009 123 12 81 12 736 18 9.1 31 2 30

Not only did the Titans tight ends end up with average yardage and almost no scores, but the stats took a step down when Vince Young took over in week eight. Young had been a big user of tight ends in his first iteration but not so in 2009 when his meager passing generally went to wide receivers as a rather nice change of pace. While hard to shake the past few years, there is no reason to track the Titans tight ends for the foreseeable future. With Chris Johnson around, the tight ends need to block more than receive.

Washington Redskins

Year Targets Rank Rec Rank Yards Rank YPC Rank TDs Rank
2007 123 8 74 9 888 8 12.0 4 9 5
2008 131 8 94 6 926 9 9.9 26 2 24
2009 126 10 81 11 850 13 10.5 22 11 4

This should at least be interesting. With Jason Campbell as the starter, the Redskins consistently posted top ten stats from their tight ends. This not only included Chris Cooley who was the only receiver that Campbell looked for in the endzone. When Cooley went down injured in week seven last year, Fred Davis stepped in and reeled off six scores by the end of the year and posted 50+ yards in most games. Now the Skins have Donovan McNabb - who made Brent Celek a star - and a full complement of Shanahans in the coaching ranks. That should bode well for the tight ends here and Cooley in particular. This is a definite situation to track in training camp to ensure that Cooley doesn't break his ankle again and that Davis remains just a backup tight end. And how well McNabb connects with Cooley.

Tight ends are often a separate position in fantasy leagues and rightfully so since there are enough of them to allow strategy and analysis skills to make for a better, more balanced league. While it still greatly lags running backs and wide receivers in numbers of fantasy relevant players, the position continues to expand. And that is worth keeping up with since the ranks of elite tight ends are still growing.

Other Positions:  Quarterbacks  |  Running Backs  |  Wide Receivers  |  Tight Ends

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