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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2010 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: September 9, 2010
Top 10's:        
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Tier 1
Antonio Gates - SDC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2007 SDC 16 75 984 13.1 9      
2008 SDC 16 60 704 11.7 8      
2009 SDC 16 79 1157 14.6 8      
Avg   16 71 948 13.1 8 0 0 0
Proj SDC   85 1050   10      

Gates has been hampered by foot problems for a few seasons now but that didn’t stop him from posting a career high 1157 yards last season with a 14.6 YPC and his standard eight touchdowns. Gates saw Dr. Robert Anderson about his foot during the offseason but it was determined that there was no serious issues with it. He has been diagnosed with a minor form of plantar fasciitis that he has had for years.

That means Gates should be in good shape as he enters into his contract year. He is already 30 years old and this will be his final big contract so expect Gates to make himself as expensive as he can. No reason to hold off on scooping up Gates in a tight end required league. If Vincent Jackson is suspended by the league for a few weeks after violating his conduct clause, Gates should do even better.

Vernon Davis - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2007 SFO 14 52 509 9.8 4      
2008 SFO 16 31 358 11.5 2 1 11  
2009 SFO 16 78 965 12.4 13      
Avg   15 54 611 11.2 6 0 4 0
Proj SFO   85 1020   10      

They said it would never happen. Davis was the 1.06 pick by the 49ers in 2006 because he offered a supposed freakish mix of size, speed and athleticism. And then for three straight seasons, he was a relative flop. He never remotely met expectations as the 49ers clicked through a new offensive scheme every year. And then… 2010. OC Jimmy Raye either was there at the right time or brought just the right offense because Davis went from only 358 yards and two scores in Mike Martz pass happy offense to being #1 among all NFL tight ends with 13 touchdowns and top 5 in catches and yards. He ended with 78 receptions for 965 yards and a healthy 12.4 yard average. Davis’ contract is up at the end of the year and the 49ers say they will not allow him to experience free agency next year.

Davis had over half his games exceed 50 yards and ten times scored at least once in a game. Take away the first two weeks and he really only had one down game the rest of the way. With a quarterback who now has chemistry with him and in the same offense for two straight years finally, Davis makes for a great pick in your draft. He had a great 2009 and yet still has upside for more this year with Smith starting every game.

Dallas Clark - BAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2007 IND 15 58 616 10.6 11 2 29  
2008 IND 15 77 848 11.0 6      
2009 IND 16 100 1106 11.1 10 2 11  
Avg   15 78 857 10.9 9 1 13 0
Proj BAL   80 900   9      

As a team, the Colts ranked #1 among tight ends with 169 targets, 121 catches and 1312 yards. The tight ends had more yardage than the running backs total rushing. Clark led all tight ends with 100 catches and was second with 1106 yards. His 10 scores ranked third. Clark set career marks in almost every category as the Colts turned to a more focused passing attack. Clark could always wind up as the highest scoring tight end and more importantly, he has almost no downside since he has been a top tight end for the last four years. Figure on another big season from Peyton Manning’s favorite passing outlet.

Tier 2
Brent Celek - PHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 10%
2007 PHI 16 16 178 11.1 1      
2008 PHI 16 27 318 11.8 1      
2009 PHI 16 76 971 12.8 8      
Avg   16 40 489 11.9 3 0 0 0
Proj PHI   82 990   7      

Celek enters his fourth season after breaking out in 2009 with 76 catches for 971 yards and eight touchdowns. That was third best for yards and fourth best for touchdowns in the NFL last year. Sweetening his outlook even further was the two games he played last season when Kevin Kolb was the starter. Both games produced eight catches and 104 yards each and he scored once in the home stand against the Chiefs. It was only two games but it is encouraging that he had two of his three best efforts with Kolb under center. It also is a plus that he is very good friends with Kolb who he also rooms with during road games.

The Eagles have a better schedule this year and Kolb has already shown a preference for Celek who was a big weapon in the offense last year. Expect no less than a repeat of 2009 with a very good chance for an even better showing. Celek will not come cheaply this year and there is no reason why he should. Celek joins the small group of difference making tight ends.

Jermichael Finley - GBP YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 8%
2007                  
2008 GBP 14 6 74 12.3 1      
2009 GBP 13 55 676 12.3 5      
Avg   14 31 375 12.3 3 0 0 0
Proj GBP   64 790   8      

(+Upside) There were stretches last season where Finley was perhaps the best tight end in fantasy football. Despite missing three games with injuries, he posted eight games of 50 or more yards and six games with five or more catches. Finley closed with four touchdowns in the final five games, then added an exclamation point in the playoffs with six catches for 159 yards against the Cardinals. It’s hard to believe defenses have found a solution for the match-up problems the athletic 6-5, 247-pound Finley presents, and it’s obvious Aaron Rodgers feels comfortable throwing to him; Finley was targeted 71 times in 13 games, roughly the same rate as Visanthe Shiancoe and John Carlson. With per-game numbers that compared favorably to the likes of Brent Celek and Kellen Winslow, a healthy and focused Finley could challenge the elite at his position this season.

08-27-10 Update: One more bump up for the tight end that shredded the Colts secondary. Finley is dominating over the middle and is becoming a major player in this offense.

Tony Gonzalez - ATL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 8%
2007 KCC 16 99 1172 11.8 5      
2008 KCC 16 96 1058 11.0 10      
2009 ATL 16 83 867 10.4 6      
Avg   16 93 1032 11.1 7 0 0 0
Proj ATL   79 830   6      

The 34-year old has opted to give it at least one more season before the clock starts on his immediate enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and his move to Atlanta was a downturn in his career at least incrementally. Gonzo ended with a healthy 83 catches but only gained 867 yards and six scores. His 10.4 yards per catch was the lowest of his career but he did play in a new offense with a quarterback who was injured much of the year.

The Falcons want to pass more this year but it is not likely to spark anything more for Gonzo than the 83 catches from last year. He’s a safe play at tight end every year but there is less reason to reach for him. While he still plays at a high level compared to all other current tight ends, he’s a step down from what he once was.

Jason Witten - DAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 8%
2007 DAL 16 96 1145 11.9 7      
2008 DAL 16 81 952 11.8 4      
2009 DAL 16 94 1030 11.0 2      
Avg   16 90 1042 11.6 4 0 0 0
Proj DAL   82 890   4      

Witten comes off a highly productive season with 94 catches that ranked him #2 among all NFL tight ends and his 1030 yards came in #3. It was almost as good as his career season in 2007 when he had 1145 yards but where he fell off the map was with scoring. Witten only managed two touchdowns despite ranking up 70 yards or better in seven games. While Witten himself says he will improve as a red-zone target this year the reality is that he is not calling the plays and the Cowboys rushing game proved good enough near the goal line last year anyway. Add in yet another receiving weapon in Dez Bryant and there is no big hope that Witten will see any more scores.

But Witten remains an integral part of the offense and with all his catches and yards provides rather rare consistency for a fantasy tight end. Witten will not be the reason why you win your league but he won’t be the reason you lost it either. Productive, consistent and always produces at least half his games with 50 or more yards.

Tier 3
Visanthe Shiancoe - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 4%
2007 MIN 16 27 323 12.0 1      
2008 MIN 16 42 596 14.2 7      
2009 MIN 16 56 566 10.1 11      
Avg   16 42 495 12.1 6 0 0 0
Proj FA   55 570   9      

(+Upside) Is it really possible that Shiancoe actually slipped from fifth to sixth in fantasy scoring among tight ends with Brett Favre at the helm? It’s true, but “slipped” might not be the most accurate word; Big Shank actually saw a 33 percent uptick in catches and a greater than 50% jump in touchdowns. The ranking has less to do with his quarterback and more to do with improved tight end play around the league, but the good news is that whether or not Favre comes down from his tractor and returns to the Vikings Shiancoe’s fantasy value seems solid. With Tarvaris Jackson at the helm Shiancoe was a favorite on the seam route, in no small part because throwing the ball deep down the field is one of the few things T-Jax does well; he averaged four yards more per catch in 2008. But Favre loves him some tight end at the stripe, and Shiancoe led Minnesota receivers in TD grabs last year with 11 after tying Bernard Berrian for that honor in 2008 with seven. It’s always preferable to have a future Hall of Famer throwing the ball at your fantasy tight end, but the fact remains that Big Shank has been a top six performer regardless of quarterback.

Zach Miller - SEA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 4%
2007 OAK 16 44 444 10.1 3      
2008 OAK 16 56 778 13.9 1      
2009 OAK 15 66 805 12.2 3      
Avg   16 55 676 12.1 2 0 0 0
Proj SEA   68 800   5      

(+Upside) Miller has to be happy that Jamarcus Russell is gone. Sure, Russell threw mostly to him but the passes were hardly all catchable. And the Raiders did little to upgrade the receivers so Miller could see an increase to his 805 yards from last year. Plus he should see more than the three touchdowns in a season that he has been limited to in Oakland. Campbell threw 11 scores to tight ends in Washington last year and made a star of Chris Cooley. Miller is in the right position for a step up. The Raiders have made Miller the primary receiver but now Campbell can make him a stud tight end.

Chris Cooley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 4%
2007 WAS 16 66 786 11.9 8      
2008 WAS 16 83 849 10.2 1      
2009 WAS 7 29 332 11.4 2      
Avg   13 59 656 11.2 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   69 720   6      

Cooley enters his seventh NFL season but is only 28 years old – he has plenty of years left. The question is if they will remain with the Skins or not. Cooley was the subject of trade rumors during the NFL draft but nothing transpired. The chance that he would be moved was made possible when he hit the injured reserve with a broken ankle in November of last season and Fred Davis looked every bit as good if not better.

Cooley had been very consistent at around 750 to 800 yards per season and scored seven times a year on average until 2008. And to his credit he gets Donovan McNabb as a quarterback who made a star of Brent Celek last year. And there is a new offense directed by Kyle Shanahan who comes off two seasons making Owen Daniels a stud. But Fred Davis will at least command some playing time and there is talk of using two tight end sets.

   
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