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2003 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: August 24, 2003
 
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TIER 1 - The Studs  NFL   Bye   Upside   Risk    Ht    Wt   Age   Exp     Auction % 
  1 Gonzalez, Tony KC 9     6-4 248 27 6   14
  Over the past four seasons, no other tight end can touch what Gonzalez has done. In that time span, Gonzo has never fallen below 773 yards or six scores. He numbers were down ten passes and about 140 yards from 2001, but Tony also elected to play the contract waiting game last season. Last year, Gonzo had eight games over 50 yards and scored in five of them. In 2002, he had the same consistency. In 2000 - his big career year, he had nine games of 50 yards and scored in eight games. In light of Holmes rushing the past two years coupled with the lack of any significant wide receivers to defend, Gonzo was still third best in the league for tight end yardage and tied for the lead for TE touchdowns (seven). The worst you are going to get with Tony is maybe second or third best in the league and for a position with little consistency, Tony is the lock pick.
  2 Shockey, Jeremy NYG 4     6-5 252 22 1   14
  Shockey is close behind Gonzalez and a case could be made to prop him past. Shockey not only played superbly last season, he was a rookie and represents the only tight end that you actually want to sit down, get comfortable and watch him catch passes. To say that Shockey plays with reckless abandon is like saying Kurt Warner was disappointing last year. Jeremy is exciting to watch because when he has the ball, you can almost sense he wants someone to try to tackle him. Shockey led the NFL in TE catches and yards even though he missed a game. He had over 50 yards in nine games and even managed two 100 yard weekends. Shockey loses out to Gonzo for two reasons - first he does play like it was professional wrestling and they forgot to tell him it's supposed to be fake. He had a turf toe injury last year and he is slightly more likely to be injured than most tight ends considering the number of passes he gets and how many end with an echo. The second realization is that the Giants do not throw many touchdowns. Kerry Collins has thrown for over 3700 yards the past two seasons and never exceeded 19 touchdowns. Shockey only had two last year. His touchdown potential is not as high as Gonzalez. Still, he is hands down the most entertaining tight end around and a fine pick as the #1 or #2 tight end. He will definitely get yards and catches and has become an integral part of the Giants offense in only his first season.
  3 Heap, Todd BAL 5   6-5 252 23 2   10
  In only his second season, Heap turned in a banner year for the Ravens, catching 68 passes for 836 yards and six touchdowns. Another 30 yards and he would have been their lead receiver. Todd had eight games over 50 yards and scored in four games as well. Twice he had double touchdowns in one game. While Chris Redman locked onto Heap during the first seven weeks of the year, he did not increase his yardage. Under Redman, Heap only averaged 42 yards a game and only twice had over 50 yards. Heap did have his two double score games in that time. Under Jeff Blake, Heap actually averaged 58 yards a game with six of ten above 50 yards. Redman loves Heap but locking onto to his tight end did not boost Heap's numbers as well as a better quarterback did. Heap is a great receiving tight end in an offense that uses the position heavily. Heap's numbers may decline under Redman and if Boller plays even more risk is introduced. In a position so under used, Heap still makes the Big 3 as a consistent receiver with a good touchdown potential.
TIER 2 - Best Bets NFL Bye Upside Risk Ht Wt Age Exp   Auction %
  4 Pollard, Marcus IND 7   6-3 247 31 8   8
  While Pollard's numbers fell from his career best 2001, he still turned in a solid 478 yard, six touchdown effort in 2002. Pollard's yardage fell from 739 because he was less involved in the passing game with the loss of Ken Dilger. The Colts prefer a two tight end package and there was no viable complement to Pollard. He still was involved in the red zone, catching six scores and his numbers should see an increase this season if rookie TE Dallas Clark can meet his expectations. Pollard is a solid choice this year and has upside to return to loftier numbers of the past.
  5 McMichael, Randy MIA 4   6-3 247 23 1   6
  McMichael was so impressive in his first ever NFL training camp that he won the starting job and then delivered on his promise by averaging 47 yards a catch the first seven weeks with four touchdowns. McMichael's numbers fell sharply after that, suffering from a foot injury and missing one game. He only posted on average 20 yards a game with no scores in the remaining eight weeks. Playing in Norv Turner's offense that likes TE's on third down, McMichael has big upside and is only in his second season. If McMichael had sustained the pre-foot injury numbers last year, he would have ended with 750 yards and eight scores. In a position of so little, McMichael has the upside to make him worth strong consideration.
  6 Franks, Bubba GB 8     6-6 263 25 3   6
  Only a fourth year player this year, Franks comes off two seasons that he scored nine and seven touchdowns. Franks had the fifth best number of receptions for TE's last season with 54 which was 50% higher than 2001's 36 catches. A solid threat in the redzone and a favorite of Favre's, Franks still has room to grow but needs more passes to do it since his 8.2 yards per catch is the lowest of the good tight ends. Update (08/11/03) - Franks drops one spot on the news that Wesley Walls signed with the Packers. Most likely it will not affect Franks, but with limited action received by any tight end, even a little change makes a difference.
  7 Miller, Billy HOU 5 6-3 230 26 4   4
  After two years on the bench at the Bronco's tight end factory, Miller made a splash last season by hauling in 51 passes for 613 yards and three touchdowns. That was good for the fifth highest TE yardage and sixth best for catches. The Texans used an early pick to grab Bennie Joppru in the draft, but have made a point to say that Joppru will not get passes at the expense of Miller. The Texans offense struggled last season and Miller was likely a target so often because he was closest to Carr who was about to be sacked. This season the Texans will have a better running game with Mack and a new receiver in Andre Johnson. But even with an offense that is more diverse than "hit Billy or die", Miller should post at least moderate numbers again this season.
  8 Sharpe, Shannon DEN 10   6-2 228 34 13   2
  The Godfather of tight ends will undoubtedly be taken earlier than this in most drafts because of the very best reason - he has a name you know. That alone is not enough and Sharpe mulled retirement this season before opting back in to throw a little more on his record. Sharpe's numbers have been declining the past few years, down to 686 yards and three touchdowns in 2002. He has also been getting dinged up more lately and at 34, that is to be expected. With a new QB in Plummer, yet another year older and considering his indecision to even play, this ranking may be optimistic.
  9 Clark, Desmond CHI 3   6-3 255 26 4   2
  Clark ended his Bronco career in 2001 with 566 yards and six touchdowns. Down in Miami, he never got past McMichael and only had two passes all season. Now in Chicago, there is renewed hope that Clark can rekindle the numbers from 2001. The Bears are happy to have him and are planning on making him their receiving tight end. Last season, the Bears used an ever-changing cast of tight ends and still had over 400 yards and five scores from the position. Clark is certainly capable of that but on a new team, he will need to mesh with Kordell and the rest of the offense first. Update (08/15/03) - Clark is looking sharp in Chicago and has the coaching staff excited at the prospect of using an actual receiving tight end. Clark warrants the bump up into the starter range based on his great 2001 year and now looking good in a new offense that wants to use him.
  10 Becht, Anthony NYJ 5   6-5 272 25 3   2
  Becht maintained his five touchdowns from 2001 but fell last year from 321 yards to only 243 yards. With the increased development of Lavernues Coles and Chad Pennington, Becht saw his passes decrease in the later part of the season and scored all five times in the first nine weeks. With Coles gone, Becht in his third season and Pennington more experienced, expect Becht to improve both yards and scores this year. Update (08/15/03) - Becht gets a move up one spot from looking in synch with Chad Pennington and being a better bet at a starting fantasy tight end.
  11 Crumpler, Alge ATL 8   6-2 262 25 2   2
  After only two seasons, Crumpler is showing good "middle of the road" ability as a fantasy tight end, rising from 330 yards and 455 yards last year and going from three scores to five. The most encouraging thing about Crumpler was that four of his scores came in the final six weeks but like most tight ends, Crumpler was rarely good for more than 30 or 40 yards in a game and with Price and Jenkins added to the receivers, he may not meet last year's numbers. (08/16/03) - The absence of Vick will hurt Crumpler's numbers, but only slightly as the offense will more likely need to throw to stay in games and Crumpler is well suited to the old Reeve's scheme before Vick came along.
  12 Fauria, Christian NE 10     6-4 250 31 8   2
  With only 253 yards last season, Fauria was 26th best for tight ends in 2002. With seven touchdowns, he was tied for first with Gonzalez and Franks. Fauria had three games where he had less than 10 yards receiving and topped out at 39 yards in a game. But scoring in six different games is a difference maker and props Fauria into a starting fantasy role. There is always less consistency with tight ends that catch few passes but several touchdowns, but getting a score from that position in any week is a plus.
TIER 3 - It Could Happen, Maybe. NFL Bye Upside Risk Ht Wt Age Exp   Auction %
  13 Jolley, Doug OAK 8     6-4 250 24 1   2
  Jolley was worked into the rotation in 2002 and showed a surprising spark for the final six games when he recorded four games over 50 yards and one 100 yard game. His yardage could improve next season with a full 16 game start but he only had two scores last season and Oakland drafted WR Teyo Johnson in the second round this spring with the notion that he may be converted to a receiving tight end.
  14 Brady, Kyle JAX 7     6-6 278 31 8   Minimum
  Brady is no youngster, but he has gained at least 300 yards every season for the past five years and turned in 461 yards and four touchdowns last year. Brady had two or three passes a game in 2002 and makes a solid #2 fantasy tight end.
  15 Alexander, Stephen SD 6   6-4 250 27 5   Minimum
  Alexander had a good yardage season in 2002, ending with 510 yards but only scoring once in week 17. His numbers were boosted too by the week 16 overtime game against Seattle when he had eight catches for 129 yards. Otherwise, Alexander exceeded 50 yards only twice all year. Alexander has value because he is capable of the odd big game. That must be tempered with the fact he is injury prone, missing two games last season with a concussion or a sprained right foot. He was placed on IR for nine games in 2001 with an ankle injury. He plays in an offense that will use a tight end, and can turn in the nice game but more likely will have minimal production or be injured.
  16 Mili, Itula SEA 4     6-4 260 30 6   Minimum
  The Seattle offense produced 760 yards and six scores to the tight ends last season. Mili had 508 yards and two of the scores and was slated to swap places with Jeremy Stevens but potential legal problems for Stevens may call Mimi back to the same role.
  17 Wycheck, Frank TEN 9     6-3 253 31 10   Minimum
  Wycheck turned in his worst season since 1994 last year and at the age of 31, may very well have seen his best years gone by. Still good for production every game, it is just very low and rarely includes touchdowns anymore.
  18 Stevens, Jerramy SEA 4 6-7 265 23 1   Minimum
  Facing sexual assault and drunk driving charges, the jury is out on whether Stevens contributes this year or not. Will rise or fall from here depending on the outcome. Update (08/16/03) - Stevens appears to be able to play this season but still will share with Mili.
  19 Lewis, Chad PHI 3   6-6 252 31 5   Minimum
  Like other Philadelphia receivers, Lewis always seems more promising than he actually delivers. With 398 yards and three touchdowns last season, Lewis continued his slide in yardage, yards per catch and touchdowns. Knowing that the 31 year old tight end will soon be spending the fall eating cheesesteaks instead of playing, the Eagles wisely drafted L.J. Smith as his heir apparent. But give Lewis is due - he will still be there again this year, declining slightly and still living off his fantasy name from the big season in 2000.
  20 Jones, Freddie ARZ 7   6-4 271 28 6   Minimum
  In the Huddle standard performance scoring, Jones spent four years in San Diego finishing 8th, 6th, 3rd and 13th in fantasy scoring through 2001. Then last year he went to Arizona and laid an egg with only 358 yards and one score (31st). There's a decline to compete with Martha Stewart stock. Although the Cardinals ran out, literally, of receivers last year due to injuries, Jones still was never used more than five passes a game and never down the field. His high game was only 45 yards and he averaged only 8.1 yards per catch on 44 catches. With Jeff Blake at quarterback, it may get better or worse but smart money says it remains the same play calling. Jones had upside in the recent past and is only 28 years old. But Arizona is looking like a fantasy desert this year.
  21 Ricks, Mikhael DET 6   6-5 252 28 5   Minimum
  Hidden somewhere in the Detroit trainwreck last season, Ricks turned in a few nice games enroute to his 339 yard, three touchdown year. He only missed one game but was plagued with injuries most of the season - rotator cuff, groin and knee. He had a 68 yard and a 79 yard game and caught at least one pass when he played. The Lions signed him to a new three year contract in January, so they have a commitment to Ricks. The offense is bound to be improved, if only marginally, and may bring Ricks along with their better production.
  22 Dilger, Ken TB 4     6-5 250 32 8   Minimum
  Dilger is brought up into the fantasy backup region as a veteran player on a team that will throw to a tight end. About all you are hoping here is that he scores a touchdown the week you want to use him.
  23 Kinney, Erron TEN 9   6-5 285 25 3   Minimum
  Kinney only had 173 yards and no scores last season, but Wycheck is getting older and less durable. The Titans have always used their tight ends extensively, so Kinney gains value in keeper leagues and may step over Wycheck this season.
  24 Chamberlain, Byron MIN 6   6-1 242 31 7   Minimum
  Chamberlain fooled people in 2001 by gaining 645 yards with three scores. Those who thought the then 30 year old tight end was breaking out were disappointed. The Vikings moved Jim Kleinsasser back to his natural position of tight end instead of H-back and had two tight end sets all year. Mostly that was for blocking. Chamberlain had 389 yards to Kleinsasser's 393, but had three touchdowns versus one. Chamberlain also suffered last year from various knee and ankle sprains and at 31 years of age will be no less susceptible. His stock is higher than Kleinsasser only due to marginally higher touchdown production. Chamberlain's ranking may fall since he showed up to mini-camps overweight and the Vikings are looking to use Kleinsasser more - primarily as a blocker but for receptions as well. Dropped 16th to 25th (7/11/03) - Chamberlain will be suspended the first four games of the season due to testing positive for ephedra. That makes almost a third of the fantasy season but Chamberlain is little more than a fantasy backup anyway - just pair him with higher ranked tight end that has a later bye week.
TIER 4 - The Haystack NFL Bye Upside Risk Ht Wt Age Exp   Auction %
  25 Cleeland, Cameron STL 5     6-4 272 27 5   Minimum
26 Riemersma, Jay PIT 7     6-5 252 30 8   Minimum
  27 Conwell, Ernie NO 10     6-2 265 30 7   Minimum
  28 Dudley, Ricky TB 4     6-6 255 30 7   Minimum
  29 Seidman, M. CAR 3   6-4 261 22 R   Minimum
30 Jed Weaver SF 10     6-4 258 27 5   Minimum
  31 Kleinsasser, J. MIN 6     6-3 274 26 4   Minimum
  33 Witten, Jason DAL 3   6-5 264 22 R   Minimum
  34 Mangum, Kris CAR 3     6-4 249 29 5   Minimum
  35 Jopru, Bennie HOU 5     6-4 272 23 R   Minimum
  36 Campbell, Mark BUF 9     6-6 260 27 4   Minimum
  37 Kelly, Reggie CIN 6     6-3 255 26 4   Minimum
  38 Manumaleuna, B. STL 5     6-2 288 23 2   Minimum
  39 Carswell, Dwayne DEN 10     6-3 260 31 9   Minimum
  40 Graham, Daniel NE 10     6-3 253 24 1   Minimum
  41 Johnson, Teyo OAK 8     6-5 247 22 R   Minimum
  42 Shea, Aaron CLE 9     6-3 250 26 3   Minimum
  43 Weaver, Jed SF 10     6-4 258 26 4   Minimum
  44 Campbell, Dan DAL 3     6-5 263 27 4   Minimum
  45 Clark, Dallas IND 7     6-3 257 24 R   Minimum