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5 Year Fantasy Analysis - Tight Ends
by David M. Dorey
July 10, 2003
 
Quarterback Running Back Wide Receiver Tight End Kickers Defenses

  1998 Pts 1999 Pts 2000 Pts 2001 Pts 2002 Pts
1 S Sharpe 130 W Walls 146 T Gonzalez 167 T Gonzalez 124 T Heap 120
2 C Cleeland 98 T Gonzalez 145 S Sharpe 105 M Pollard 117 T Gonzalez 111
3 B Coates 95 R Dudley 105 F Jones 100 S Sharpe 86 J Shockey 94
4 F Wycheck 84 D Sloan 78 K Brady 87 D Clark 86 S Sharpe 82
5 R Dudley 77 F Wycheck 75 C Lewis 86 F Wycheck 83 B Franks 82
6 A Glover 76 F Jones 72 F Wycheck 85 B Chamberlain 79 M Pollard 77
7 W Walls 74 D Lafleur 69 K Dilger 64 B Franks 79 B Miller 73
8 F Jones 73 J Riemersma 67 J Riemersma 62 D Sloan 78 A Crumpler 68
9 M Chmura 73 P Mitchell 65 D Carswell 61 W Walls 70 R McMichael 67
10 T Gonzalez 66 B Chamberlain 57 M Pollard 58 E Conwell 70 K Brady 65
11 O Santiago 64 M Pollard 56 J Harris 56 C Lewis 70 C Fauria 62
12 T Davis 63 K Dilger 54 S Alexander 53 J Riemersma 69 E Conwell 59
13 J Riemersma 59 R Williams 53 R Dudley 52 F Jones 58 I Mili 58
14 S Alexander 58 D Moore 52 W Walls 50 A Becht 56 C Lewis 56
15 K Brady 56 L Broughton 46 A Glover 46 D Carswell 52 S Alexander 52
16 M Pollard 54 B Coates 44 D Clark 46 E Johnson 51 A Becht 50
17 I Smith 53 S Alexander 43 D Sloan 45 D Moore 47 D Jolley 48
18 T Drayton 46 D Jones 41 I Mili 44 A Crumpler 45 M Ricks 43
19 J Mcwilliams 45 K Brady 39 R Kelly 41 K Brady 42 W Walls 42
20 J Harris 44 T McGee 39 D Moore 41 K Dilger 41 J Kleinsasser 42
21 C Fauria 44 C Cleeland 36 G Clark 41 R Williams 41 F Wycheck 41
22 E Green 42 J Harris 35 B Franks 38 C Cleeland 35 K Dilger 39
23 D Moore 42 C Fauria 33 A Shea 36 E Williams 34 J Stevens 38
24 P Mitchell 39 A Glover 33 J Thomason 32 J Wiggins 33 F Jones 36

Rank 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
1 130 146 167 124 120
2 98 145 105 117 111
3 95 105 100 86 94
4 84 78 87 86 82
5 77 75 86 83 82
6 76 72 85 79 77
Top 6 560 621 630 575 566
7 74 69 64 79 73
8 73 67 62 78 68
9 73 65 61 70 67
10 66 57 58 70 65
11 64 56 56 70 62
12 63 54 53 69 59
7 - 12 413 368 354 436 394
13 59 53 52 58 58
14 58 52 50 56 56
15 56 46 46 52 52
16 54 44 46 51 50
17 53 43 45 47 48
18 46 41 44 45 43
19 45 39 41 42 42
20 44 39 41 41 42
21 44 36 41 41 41
22 42 35 38 35 39
23 42 33 36 34 38
24 39 33 32 33 36
13-24 582 494 512 535 545
Total 1555 1483 1496 1546 1505

Tight Ends - don't you just hate them?

The position is often lumped in with receivers which effectively removes all but a half dozen from being used. Using the standard performance scoring, the very best tight end only scores at a level of about the 24th best receiver. Even more reason to disregard them if the position is not split out by itself.

But for those leagues that do use them, there is some advantage to having one that actually contributes more than the odd couple of points each week. As with most positions, there typically shakes out to be a top three each season with a noticeable drop for the rest. The advantage is not nearly as pronounced as would be thought by those people reaching early to snag a top one in the fourth or fifth rounds of the draft.

If you get a top three tight end, and let's be serious here and say Gonzalez and one of the two other guys, you will see about three points a game from your gamble. After the top six are gone, there is a very gently sloping line for scoring on the rest. Since their seasonal totals are largely the result of a handful of touchdowns, there is little consistency in them.

Taking a top six tight end from the previous season is as predictive of the next year as seen with any position. This is because by and large most offenses do not make significant use of the position and of those that do, only a handful of tight ends are capable of making a success of the opportunity. In the past five years, there had been Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe as residents of the top. Anyone else has never made it to the top three more than once. Certainly Heap and Shockey appear likely to repeat, and their success will spawn other teams to try it, but
Top 6 TE next year became:
  98 99 00 01 Avg
Top 6 2 3 2 3 2.5
7-12 0 0 1 0 0.3
13-24 3 3 2 1 2.3
Duds 1 0 1 2 1
beyond them there is little reason to grab an early tight end. Though the top six hold fairly well since it does not change with Gonzalez and Sharpe, the rest of the tight ends that were in the top six have a bad tendency to take a tumble the next year.

Marcus Pollard and Bubba Franks were the only tight ends that were in the 7th to 12th bracket one year and then rose to the Top 6 the following season since 1999. About half of those names you got to know one year as decent
7th - 12th TE next year became:
  98 99 00 01 Avg
Top 6 3 0 1 1 1.3
7-12 0 3 1 1 1.3
13-24 0 0 1 2 0.8
Duds 3 3 3 2 2.8
tight ends become duds the following year. No wonder tight ends are afterthoughts - they should be.

This is different if tight ends are given higher scoring points than any other position though the relative value within the position of players do not change. One of the greatest oddities of tight ends is that other than Shannon Sharpe and Denver, no team that employs heavy use of a tight end has been particularly effective at even reaching the playoffs, let alone winning there. Before you write about Ben Coates, think about how long ago that was.

Top 6 TE the prior season was:
  99 00 01 02 Avg
Top 6 2 3 2 3 1.3
7-12 3 0 2 1 1.3
13-24 0 1 1 0 0.8
Deeper 1 2 0 2 2.8

Top scoring tight ends that are new to the upper fantasy tier have been almost always young players with the exception of Pollard and Lewis. Over the past five years, new guys like Cleeland, Dudley, Gonzalez, Heap, Shockey and Franks have been pleasant surprises from the start, even if they were unable to sustain their first big year. Last season Heap, Shockey, Miller, Crumpler and McMichael were new names to chase. It is a small position in terms of fantasy significant players and outside the tried and true Gonzalez and likely Shockey/Heap, new names do pop up each season and sometimes even rookies.

If your scoring favors tight ends, get a top three. Otherwise, join the rest of the league in the 12th round looking at depth charts.

Quarterback Running Back Wide Receiver Tight End Kickers Defenses