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2005 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: September 5, 2005
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Tier 1
Tony Gonzalez - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 1
TD Only: 2
Keeper: 1
Auction: 14%
2002 KCC 16 63 773 12.3 7      
2003 KCC 16 71 915 12.9 10      
2004 KCC 16 102 1258 12.3 7 1 5  
Avg   16 79 982 12.5 8 0 2 0
PROJ FA   80 920   8      

The only player to exceed 100 catches in 2004 was not even a wide receiver. It was Gonzalez and it was made possible by a gift that HC Dick Vermeil ordered by calling an astounding 20 passes to be thrown at Gonzalez in the final game. He snared 14 for 144 yards and would have ended with the most receptions for a tight end even without that game.

2004 was the big year for tight ends and several deserve consideration first, but none have the track record of Gonzalez who has been a top three tight end virtually his entire career. He played the entire season with a foot that had been bothering him for two years and still ended with 1258 yards. Only six wide receivers accomplished more than that.

Gonzalez is a guaranteed top three tight end and since he is always there, it?s folly and unrealistic risk to make anyone else the first tight end taken ? including the one year freak of Antonio Gates. If a tight end is required in your league, then Gonzalez should not wait more than the third round because he acts like an extra #1 wideout for your team. Gonzalez had surgery in January to correct his foot ailment and is expected to be 100% this summer. Imagine what he could do healthier than last year.

Rob Gronkowski - NEP YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 2
TD Only: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction: 15%
2002                  
2003                  
2004                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ NEP                

No analysis available.

Antonio Gates - SDC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 2
TD Only: 1
Keeper: 2
Auction: 12%
2002                  
2003 SDC 11 24 389 16.2 2      
2004 SDC 15 81 964 11.9 13      
Avg   13 53 677 14.1 8 0 0 0
PROJ SDC   75 860   9      

2004 was not so much ?the year of the tight end? as it was just ?the year of Antonio Gates?. He entered his second season with only two scores as a rookie and left with six more touchdowns than any other tight end in the NFL. Only three wideouts managed to score more than Gates did as a second year tight end. He hit the endzone at least once in eight games and had three weeks with multiple scores. He was second only to Tony Gonzalez by turning in ten games with 50 or more yards which included two 100 yard efforts. He had the third best yardage (964) for the position in spite of missing the final week as he rested for the playoffs.

He was record setting with his scoring and when the Chargers started running out of wideouts due to injury, Gates stepped in and more than filled the need. He?s only 25 years old and suddenly becomes one of the elite tight ends that deserves special consideration because he scores many more fantasy points than almost all wideouts.

While it is not unusual for a player to a freakishly high career year, Gates does not fall into the category for one year wonders. He was a huge part of the passing offense and forced defenses to change just to cover him. He still had touchdowns in both of his final season games. Even if he decreases the amount of scores he has, Gates still must be considered as a top tight end that may have more upside to fill, particularly with catches and yardage. For 2005, he becomes the other side of the coin from Gonzalez when deciding on the first tight end to draft.

Tier 2
Jason Witten - DAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 3
TD Only: 5
Keeper: 3
Auction: 8%
2002                  
2003 DAL 15 35 347 9.9 1      
2004 DAL 16 87 980 11.3 6      
Avg   16 61 664 10.6 4 0 0 0
PROJ DAL   77 870   6      

(+Upside) Witten used his second year in the NFL to literally explode onto the fantasy scene and become the preferred passing target of the offense. His 87 catches were second only to Tony Gonzalez as were his 980 receiving yards. His six touchdowns were tied for fifth best for tight ends last year.

The Dallas offense is perfectly suited to use Witten?s talents and in just one season, he?s showing as much importance as any tight end in a Parcell?s offense including Ben Coates. He rarely had less than five passes in any game and managed at least five catches in eleven different games ? astounding for any tight end.

Going into his third season, Witten?s future is very bright in Dallas and he?s already surpassed the best season from Cowboy?s legend Jay Novacek. He?ll have a new quarterback to mesh with but Bledsoe was the one that gave Ben Coates his name. Only a better rushing game should diminish the need for Witten in the offense but even during the high-production games from Julius Jones, Witten still remained a fantasy gem. There is consistency, production and upside for the future ? you can?t ask for much more in a tight end.

Dallas Clark - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 4
TD Only: 3
Keeper: 4
Auction: 4%
2002                  
2003 IND 10 29 340 11.7 1      
2004 IND 13 25 423 16.9 5      
Avg   12 27 382 14.3 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   47 610   8      

(+Upside) The departure of Marcus Pollard opens the door wide for Clark to step into one of the most productive positions in the NFL for a tight end. Pollard enters his third season as the primary tight end and with only Ben Hartsock behind him; there should be no concerns that he?ll be sharing the wealth.

The Colts offense mixed Clark and Pollard for an astounding eleven scores last year, as many as 2003 (7) and 2004 (4) combined. Clark was hampered last season with a strained calf and later a biceps strain that forced him to miss three games and play limited in several others. He still ended with five touchdowns over a five game period mid-season while completely healthy. He even managed a 100 yard game in week 10 against the divisional rival Texans.

2005 should witness a sharp increase in production for Clark in a high-powered offense that no longer has Marcus Pollard. For a position typically scores little, Clark?s upside this season should see him be a top tight end taken. At worst, he?ll be an average starting fantasy tight end. At best, the sky is the limit in that offense. Clark had groin surgery at the start of April but is expected to be 100% for training camp.

Alge Crumpler - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 5
TD Only: 7
Keeper: 5
Auction: 3%
2002 ATL 16 36 455 12.6 5      
2003 ATL 16 44 552 12.5 3      
2004 ATL 14 48 774 16.1 6      
Avg   15 43 594 13.7 5 0 0 0
PROJ FA   52 690   5      

Four each of his four seasons in the NFL, Crumpler has improved his catches and yards and finished 2004 with 774 yards to rank sixth for tight ends with his six scores tied for third best in the position last year. While Michael Vick may not realize he has wideouts, he definitely knows he has a tight end.

Crumpler?s numbers were actually depressed last year when he strained knee ligaments in week 15 and sat out the final two games of the year. He returned for the playoffs but in two games only had 71 yards and one score.

Crumpler is the focus of the most anemic passing attack in the NFL which elevated him in the typically yardage-poor tight end position but there is some concern that his fifth season may not witness yet another increase from the previous year. Crumpler was solid for the first seven weeks last year (355 yards, one TD) but then enjoyed a four game stretch that produced 354 yards and 4 TD?s. Once the defenses finally noticed that Vick only threw to Crumpler, the coverage slanted towards the tight end and his numbers plummeted.

In the five games from his mini-explosion through week 12 last year, Crumpler only managed 18 catches for 136 yards and one score ? about 25 yards a game. The defenses won?t stop that until Vick finally makes wideouts become a concern to the secondary.

Todd Heap - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 6
TD Only: 13
Keeper: 6
Auction: 3%
2002 BAL 16 68 836 12.3 6 4 38  
2003 BAL 16 57 693 12.2 3 3 21  
2004 BAL 6 27 303 11.2 3      
Avg   13 51 611 11.9 4 2 20 0
PROJ FA   61 700   4      

(-Risk) Heap suffered a severe ankle sprain in week two last year and was initially diagnosed to be out for between two and four weeks. That actually became nine weeks and actually ten since his first game back was nothing special. It was the first real injury for him during his four years in the league.

The lackluster numbers from last year were no great surprise and mirror what happened in 2003 with Boller as quarterback. Heap was great in 2002 when he gained 836 yards and scored six times but under Boller he has yet to perform as well, even though he has easily been the primary target.

Heap is a big part of the offense; it just doesn?t throw particularly well. The addition of Mason and Clayton this off-season may help give the secondary more to think about than merely Heap in the middle, and yet it would just as likely drain away throws to the tight end. Heap is a lock to be a top ten tight end because the position does not contain may true receivers but an offense that is ran by Boller and that has new weapons on the outside will not likely see Heap become any better than his 2003 season.

Jeremy Shockey - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 7
TD Only: 8
Keeper: 7
Auction: 3%
2002 NYG 15 74 894 12.1 2      
2003 NYG 9 48 535 11.1 2      
2004 NYG 15 61 666 10.9 6      
Avg   13 61 698 11.4 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   55 640   5      

(-Risk) After three seasons in the NFL, Shockey is getting dangerously close to playing in all 16 games each year. The oft-injured tight end only missed the final game last year due to a sore back and he only had hamstring problems during the season otherwise. Well, that and the lingering effects of having foot surgery in the offseason of 2004. With the bruising style of play Shockey is known for, it?s a bit of a shock he made it for 15 consecutive games.

While the addition of Burress may change the equation, so far Shockey has been the primary passing target for the Giants and his 61 catches last year were tops for the team and 7th best in the NFL for tight ends. After two seasons of gaining yardage and no scores, Shockey turned in six touchdowns in 2004. He was on quite a roll from weeks four through eleven when he had five scores in seven games. Under Eli Manning?s command, Shockey only had two scores.

This season Eli Manning should be better and with that at least average numbers for Shockey for however long he remains healthy. It is encouraging that the offense called on Shockey for six short-yardage throws into the endzone. The question is if Manning can replicate what Warner was able to do with Shockey. He is a very safe bet to produce above average yardage for a tight end and he?ll score a handful of times. He?s more fun to watch than to own, but with an offense that has used him as a primary receiver, the little risk is outweighed by the reward.

Ed Dickson - CAR YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 8
TD Only: 12
Keeper: 8
Auction: 3%
2002                  
2003                  
2004                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ CAR                

No analysis available.

Randy McMichael - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 8
TD Only: 11
Keeper: 8
Auction: 3%
2002 MIA 15 39 485 12.4 4 1 8  
2003 MIA 16 49 598 12.2 2      
2004 MIA 16 73 791 10.8 4      
Avg   16 54 625 11.8 3 0 3 0
PROJ FA   59 690   4      

(+Upside) McMichael has proven to be a rock solid fantasy tight end in each of his three seasons in the NFL. He?s increased his receptions and yardage every season and in 2004 ended as the #5 best with 791 yards. He was also #5 in the league with 73 catches and this in the season that tight ends were better than ever. He turned in nine games with at least 50 yards ? only Gonzalez, Gates and Witten had more.

There is natural and reasonable risk around McMichael this season as the Dolphins rebuild and install a new as-of-yet unseen offensive scheme. New offensive coordinator Scott Linehan comes over from Minnesota and that should prove to be more of a positive for McMichael in spite of the learning curve the entire team will be experiencing.

The Vikings were one of the top teams last year for using tight ends and McMichael is already a known commodity in the offense. Favorable too is that typically first year offenses on rebuilding teams invariably make more use of the tight end spot until the passing game later takes shape. If Ronnie Brown is very successful from the start, that could spell more blocking for McMichael but chances are high that the Dolphins will need to throw and will use McMichael at least as much as last season. He could end up a very nice draft pick available much later than warranted.

Tier 3
Chris Cooley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 9
TD Only: 4
Keeper: 9
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003                  
2004 WAS 16 37 314 8.5 6      
Avg   16 37 314 8.5 6 0 0 0
PROJ FA   46 480   7      

(+Upside) Cooley was a full sixteen game starter at tight end/H-back and by the end of the year had become an integral part of the Redskins? offense, particularly in the red zone. His six scores on the year were bettered by only four other tight ends in the NFL for 2004. Pretty promising for a rookie on an offense not noted for passing much. When they do pass, it was often towards Cooley who scored four times in the final eight games.

While he won?t challenge for the lead in yardage, Cooley is a redzone threat that the Redskins are comfortable using ? his six receiving touchdowns were tops for the team. In a TD-only league, Cooley deserves to be considered a top 5 tight end, in yardage + scores leagues; he still is a top ten tight end. His pace at the end of the season would have resulted in about 500 yards in a full season, not unlikely for this year.

Cooley was impressive with scoring and showed progress in 2004 while he was only a rookie in the first year of an offense. He becomes even more likely to improve with the departure of Laveranues Coles who played the possession receiver. Santana Moss shows up but it is not for gaining moderate yardage on third downs. Cooley remains under the radar of most fantasy leaguers, but after the top five tight ends are off the board, he is a solid pick with upside.

L.J. Smith - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 10
TD Only: 6
Keeper: 10
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003 PHI 14 27 320 11.9 1      
2004 PHI 16 34 377 11.1 5      
Avg   15 31 349 11.5 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   42 530   5      

(+Upside) Smith enters his third season with little more yards to show from last year but a nice jump in touchdowns score. Smith?s five touchdowns were impressive as well since he scored them in five games, not in bunches. He is expected to play the clear-cut starter this year without Chad Lewis around and for a position that typically scores little; Smith has upside to improve this year.

Expect to see an increase in the numbers for Smith in 2005 as he becomes even more integrated into the offense. He?s gained the confidence of Donovan McNabb and the offensive scheme regularly produces 500 or more yards from the tight end position.

Unless Owens holds out, Smith won?t become a regular target in the endzone but he offers enough to be considered as a fantasy back-up at the worst and has the upside to warrant him being a very early back-up.

08/11/05 Update: Smith moves up to 10th after the Owens situation turns to fiasco. Smith is in a nice position to turn in a surprising season and McNabb appears to be in need for new targets this season.

Ben Troupe - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 14
TD Only: 19
Keeper: 11
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003                  
2004 TEN 13 33 329 10.0 1      
Avg   13 33 329 10.0 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   44 450   3      

(-Risk) (+Upside) As a rookie, Troupe started very slowly with only spotty play as Erron Kinney was the starter (when healthy). Troupe was said to be struggling considerably in training camp and just did not get the confidence of the coaching staff until later in the season.

When Kinney went out at the end of the year, Troupe had three nice weeks with two games of 75 yards and one score during that time. It was a nice way to end an otherwise forgettable rookie season. Troupe broke a bone in his foot during mini-camps and is expected to miss training camp if not longer.

This year the Titans are changing the offense and going with ex-USC Norman Chow as offensive coordinator. That new style of offense will not likely feature the tight end as much as the old Titan offense under Mike Heimerdinger. Troupe is missing valuable time with the new scheme as he recuperates. He makes an interesting back-up for a fantasy team since he has upside, but there is an equal amount of risk without even considering the foot injury.

Jermaine Wiggins - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 11
TD Only: 10
Keeper: 12
Auction: 1%
2002 CAR 11 10 62 6.2 1      
2003 CAR 9 8 80 10.0 1      
2004 MIN 14 71 705 9.9 4      
Avg   11 30 282 8.7 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   48 550   4      

(+Upside) With Kleinsasser out due to a torn ACL, Wiggins had a great opportunity last season but first had to recover from a slight fracture to his hand in week two. Once he returned in week six, he was one of the most productive and consistent tight ends in the league. He placed 7th in the NFL for tight ends in yardage in spite of only starting 13 games.

Wiggins was not a scoring machine ? he only had three games with touchdowns though two were against divisional rivals. This season Kleinsasser should return from his knee injury and training camp will indicate if he seems likely to cut into Wiggins? production. Kleinsasser was the primary tight end in Minnesota for two seasons before Wiggins joined the team last year.

With Moss gone, a tall receiver downfield would seem more attractive but it may not work out that way. Wiggins has to contend with Kleinsasser and the Vikings want to run more this season and bring a better balance back to the offense. Both factors could, and likely will, reduce the production of Wiggins. He?ll go during the run on tight ends in your draft, but that?s mostly off his numbers last season. His risk will likely have him taken too early.

Eric Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 12
TD Only: 18
Keeper: 13
Auction: 1%
2002 SFO 10 36 321 8.9        
2003                  
2004 SFO 16 82 825 10.1 2      
Avg   13 59 573 9.5 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   45 520   3      

(-Risk) Eric Johnson started out last season as the most surprising tight end in the NFL. In only his first five games, he had two touchdowns and gained 460 yards. Unfortunately, the opposing defenses decided to start covering him once he had 162 yards against the Cardinals and in the subsequent 11 games he failed to match his five-game total for yards. He also never scored again, not that any other player in San Francisco was much different.

He ended 3rd best in the league with 82 catches by a tight end and while he had plenty of sub-25 yard efforts, he topped 50 yards in four more games. Considering that the 49ers have lost Cedrick Wilson this season, there is a possibility that Johnson could get heavier use this year that will undoubtedly have plenty of need to throw. What is not known is if the offensive scheme being installed by Mike McCarthy from New Orleans will use the tight end or make him a much-needed blocker. Tight ends in New Orleans have not fared that well.

There is too much risk revolving around the 49ers this year to consider Johnson as a fantasy starter and he already had a big cool down last year once he was noticed. But there is upside if only during trash time and he makes a solid back-up for your fantasy team.

Ben Watson - NOS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 21
TD Only: 17
Keeper: 14
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003                  
2004 NEP 1 2 16 8.0        
Avg   1 2 16 8.0 0 0 0 0
PROJ NOS   36 360   3      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Watson was drafted in 2004 with the 1.32 pick by the Patriots and was the second tight end taken last year. Other than Kellen "vroom" Winslow, Watson was considered the finest tight end product in the draft. Not unlike Winslow, Watson tore his ACL and required surgery to repair his knee. Watson had been the last rookie to sign a contract in 2004 and was on injured reserve by the end of September.

Watson is considered to be a rare talent and was expected to be a big contributor to the offense as he develops. He could be used in an H-back role or as a pure tight end and is considered equally adept at receiving as he is blocking.

Watson is expected to be at or near full strength in time for training camp. He's ranked below Daniel Graham initially but it is only a matter of time - and health - for Watson to assume his expected role. Graham has been a disappointment and the upside on Watson could be significant.

Tier 4
Bubba Franks - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 13
TD Only: 9
Keeper: 15
Auction: 1%
2002 GBP 16 54 442 8.2 7      
2003 GBP 14 30 241 8.0 4      
2004 GBP 15 34 361 10.6 7      
Avg   15 39 348 8.9 6 0 0 0
PROJ FA   34 340   5      

Franks enters his sixth season in Green Bay and he remains much what he has been for the last five seasons. A touchdown machine (in relative terms) that rarely adds much yardage to the equation.

Franks comes off a very standard season with 361 yards on 34 catches with seven touchdowns. In the past four years he has never fallen below four scores and has been as high as nine touchdowns (2001). He is a preferred endzone target for Favre who will have around 30 scores to distribute each season. Franks rarely manages over 35 receiving yards in any game or more than a couple of catches. What he does do is score about once every three games.

There will never be a season where Franks turns into an Antonio Gates because Franks is not viewed as a receiver other than an endzone outlet. He has little upside but almost no downside. A very safe pick when the run of tight ends begins.

Heath Miller - PIT YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 22
TD Only: 15
Keeper: 16
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003                  
2004                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ PIT   24 280   4      

(-Risk) (+Upside) This year it was mainly considered a one-man race for the best tight end and Miller comes in with the lofty comparisons to Todd Heap and Tony Gonzalez. The biggest surprise in this is that the Steelers have historically never used the tight end position as much more than a blocker. With the success of several tight ends in the league last year, it appears the Steelers are jumping on that bandwagon because Miller would be miserably miscast as merely a blocking tight end.

This is a tight end with flypaper hands and the size to pluck scores away from the crowd in the endzone. It will be a change to the offense in Pittsburgh for sure - they ranked near the bottom for tight end production last year as they always do. But Miller was the first pick and will be guaranteed to get a chance to earn his paycheck doing exactly what he does best - catching the ball.

Working in his favor is that at 6?5?, he has the height for endzone catches which are suddenly looking for a pair of hands now that Burress has left. The best case scenario has the Steelers splitting up roles by having wideouts for yardage and now a tight end for touchdowns. The worst case is that Miller plays like a rookie on a team that never had pages in the playbook involving a tight end. He has more value long-term, but don?t over-estimate what a rookie in his situation might do. Miller was slowed by a sports hernia in May but did participate in some mini-camps and is expected to be ready for training camp.

Doug Jolley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 16
TD Only: 12
Keeper: 17
Auction: 1%
2002 OAK 13 32 409 12.8 2      
2003 OAK 12 31 258 8.3 1      
2004 OAK 16 27 313 11.6 2      
Avg   14 30 327 10.9 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   36 380   4      

(+Upside) Jolley came to the Jets when New York swapped a first and seventh round picks in the 2005 NFL draft in exchange for Doug, a second and a pair of sixth round picks. Since the Jets had let Becht leave for the Buccaneers, the starting job will be Jolley?s after the formality of training camp since Chris Baker already has three years in the system and deserves ?a shot?. The Jets didn?t make the move on draft day believing that Jolley would be less than Baker.

Doug has been moderately successful as a tight end in Oakland but there is optimism that the move to New York will improve his numbers. The Jets have a new offensive coordinator in Mike Heimerdinger from Tennessee and with him ushers in an offense that will use a tight end. The Titans have always made great use of the position and it?s not a big change from the west coast variant already used in New York ? it just relies more on the tight end for short passes.

While Jolley may not immediately become the next Frank Wycheck, he should see higher use with the Jets and with that he has better fantasy value than most would think. There?s too much risk to consider Jolley as a starting fantasy tight end, but he?ll make a great back-up with the upside to move up on your own depth chart.

09-03-05 Update: Jolley has been demoted to the #2 behind Chris Baker and as such he should not be taken as a starting tight end obviously. Jolley could still end up the best receiving tight end for the Jets, but his numbers look likely to be lower than originally expected.

Daniel Graham - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 24
TD Only: 22
Keeper: 18
Auction: 1%
2002 NEP 11 15 150 10.0 1      
2003 NEP 13 38 409 10.8 4      
2004 NEP 14 30 364 12.1 7      
Avg   13 28 308 11.0 4 0 0 0
PROJ FA   30 300   3      

(-Risk) Daniel Graham started the season as the hottest tight end around ? he scored in each of the first four games including two touchdowns against the Cardinals in week 2. Of nine scores thrown by Brady in the first month, five of them went to the tight end Graham. After that had every fantasy owner giggling, Graham never scored again for the next eight consecutive games. He ended with two straight games with touchdowns because no one was starting him anymore.

Graham suffered from sore ribs during the mid-season and that had an effect on his performance. He only managed one game over 45 yards and most of them were around 25 yards or less. He just happened to be a favorite end zone target for Brady.

Daniel is not getting any better in catches or yardage and apparently has hit his ceiling in the offensive scheme. His fantasy value comes from all those end zone passes. He had seven touchdowns and seven passes thrown to him in the endzone. He doesn?t drop them when it matters. Consider Graham a touchdown machine in fantasy terms but realize that the team considers Ben Watson as a better receiver that has not yet played a healthy season. If Watson is healed and plays well, he'll drain away action from Graham.

Jerramy Stevens - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 15
TD Only: 14
Keeper: 19
Auction: 1%
2002 SEA 12 26 252 9.7 3      
2003 SEA 13 6 72 12.0        
2004 SEA 15 31 349 11.3 3      
Avg   13 21 224 11.0 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   34 390   4      

Stevens was drafted with the 1.28 pick by Seattle in 2002 with the intention that he would become the receiving tight end for the offense. While he disappointed in his first two seasons, he was voted by teammates at the most improved in the 2005 training camp and became the starter because of that and the fact Itula Mili decided to hold out.

His numbers were not jaw-dropping with only 349 yards and three scores, but he showed progress with being targeted about five times a game by mid-season. He battled a sore knee to start the year but ended the season on an up note with two scores in the final three games.

Stevens is not likely to become a top five tight end, but he?s developing slowly into a decent fantasy prospect with some upside and enough fantasy points to make him a good back-up with the chance to move in as a starter if his progress continues. Look for slightly improved numbers for 2005 as he finally begins to deliver on the promise carried by his first round selection.

Jeb Putzier - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 18
TD Only: 20
Keeper: 20
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003 DEN 1 4 34 8.5        
2004 DEN 15 36 572 15.9 2      
Avg   8 20 303 12.2 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   31 400   3      

Putzier was shoved into a starting role last year when Denver suddenly released all other tight ends that had playing experience. After fantasy players spent the summer deciding between Jed Weaver and Byron Chamberlain, both were cut on September 5th right before the season started. Putzier-time was on and so was the waiver wire rush.

Considering that Putzier only had four catches for 34 yards in his two years with the Broncos, his ending with 572 yards was a surprise. The Broncos have historically used the tight end position as heavily as any other team but that had been related more to Shannon Sharpe and not a third year player who had only four catches ever.

Putzier only scored twice in 2004 and the Broncos acquired Stephen Alexander from Detroit in the offseason to add into the mix. Since Alexander has always been injured, or disappointed, Putzier is still the main tight end to grab from Denver. His numbers will likely suffer though if Alexander gets a shot at much playing time.

Desmond Clark - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 19
TD Only: 25
Keeper: 22
Auction: 1%
2002 MIA 9 2 42 21.0        
2003 CHI 15 43 433 10.1 2      
2004 CHI 14 24 282 11.8 1      
Avg   13 23 252 14.3 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   39 450   2      

(-Risk) The Bears acquired Desmond Clark in 2003 and his 433 yards and two scores gave some optimism last season since the new regime under HC Lovie Smith was intending on replicating the Chiefs offense. This immediately conjured up thoughts of Tony Gonzalez. It should have conjured up thoughts of George Custer.

Clark was even worse in the new system, catching only
24 passes for 282 yards and one touchdown. Only three times did he ever gain more than 25 yards in any game. In over half his starts, he had only one catch or less. This was during a time when the Bears needed someone ? anyone ? to catch a pass. He was hampered by the revolving door at quarterback, but the closest guy usually gets the pass when the rush comes in. Not so in Chicago.

The Bears once again are shifting gears and trying something new offensively. Bringing back Ron Turner could pay dividends for Clark since two of the years under Turner previously had eight scores going to tight ends. However, the other two seasons under Turner the Bears only had one TD for the position all year. This is not a case of split the difference ? be safe and assume the lower end once again greets Clark ? he?s already proven comfortable at that level.

Alex Smith - CIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 34
TD Only: 33
Keeper: 23
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003                  
2004                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
PROJ CIN   11 130   2      

(-Risk) (+Upside) There?s rarely much excitement in the fantasy world about a rookie tight end and while that will likely prove true in this case, Smith deserves some scrutiny in training camp this summer and he?s worth tracking for development into a fantasy relevant player.

The Buccaneers have also been a heavy user of the tight end position in the complicated scheme of HC Jon Gruden though that usually employs a literal platoon of tight ends each season. The intriguing factors with Smith are that he was the second best tight end in the NFL draft this year and Gruden absolutely raved about him during mini-camps.

Smith was the all-time leader for tight ends for Stanford and he?s considered a much better receiver than blocker. He isn?t exceptionally explosive or even considered quick, but he can catch the ball in traffic and make the short gains. And most importantly, Gruden likes him. That counts more than any other quality.

Courtney Anderson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 20
TD Only: 21
Keeper: 24
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003                  
2004 OAK 8 13 175 13.5 1      
Avg   8 13 175 13.5 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   37 370   3      

Anderson filled in as a complementary tight end to Doug Jolley last season but only lasted half of the year. In his eight games, he never exceeded had more than 38 yards and scored only once all season ? against the Colts in week five. He suffered a serious knee sprain that initially was expected to require four to six weeks but he never played again in 2004. Anderson did make it back to the active list but never played.

In his absence, Teyo Johnson finally began to deliver on his promise and even though Doug Jolley was sent to the Jets, Anderson will remain as the #2 tight end this season. He?s almost the same size as Teyo but not nearly as fast ? Johnson has leapfrogged him on the depth charts.

Expect to see Johnson continue to progress this season while Anderson likely will see only spot duty. The Raiders have a full set of receivers to start the year and there?ll be even less need to throw to the tight ends in 2005. When they do ? it will be to Johnson much more often than Anderson.

08-06-05 Update: Anderson is now the named starting tight end for the Raiders according to HC Norv Turner. While he is higher than Teyo Johnson on the depth chart, the duo are considered virtually the same and will likely see a sharing of the tight end receptions.

Matt Schobel - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 25
TD Only: 16
Keeper: 25
Auction: 1%
2002 CIN 15 27 212 7.9 2      
2003 CIN 12 24 332 13.8 2      
2004 CIN 12 21 201 9.6 4      
Avg   13 24 248 10.4 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   17 200   4      

The Bengals offensive scheme relies on the tight end position more than most teams and threw five scores their way in 2004.The problem for fantasy football is that they often mix three of them ? Matt Schobel, Tony Stewart and Reginald Kelly. They also have historically had problems keeping a healthy crew since none of the three played more than 12 games last season.

Schobel is the primary receiver though hardly the only tight end used in the passing scheme. He comes off a four touchdown season last year and three were thrown by Carson Palmer. Other than one long catch against the Cowboys last season, Schobel never managed over 28 yards in any game played and relying on him means hoping you get the ?one out of four games? correct that he will actually catch a touchdown. It?s not yardage here, it?s only redzone scores for 6?5? tight end.

Schobel doesn?t make anything more than a bye week filler for tight end and there?s no reason to assume that will change. Tab him only if you waited too long to back-up your primary tight end.

Stephen Alexander - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 26
TD Only: 23
Keeper: 26
Auction: 1%
2002 SDC 12 45 510 11.3 1      
2003 SDC 2              
2004 DET 16 41 377 9.2 1      
Avg   10 29 296 6.8 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   23 260   3      

The Broncos signed Alexander to a three-year contract worth $4.2 million ? a much bigger contract than a mere afterthought back-up player would cost. Alexander?s career has consistently been about two defining characteristics. He has the potential to be a good pass-catching tight end as evidenced by his two seasons over 500 yards receiving and he also has never really been more than an often injured and always disappointing player that now heads to his fourth team after only seven years.

Alexander typically goes to a team with the expectation that he will become a part of the passing scheme and then he fails to meet expectations, often gets hurt and inevitably ends up on another team. Denver will use a tight end that fits into their scheme but thus far, Alexander has been mostly a tease and bust considering how often teams try to rely on him.

He brings out the optimists, if nothing else. In Denver, Alexander will have his fourth chance at an NFL career and there are few better places for a tight end to produce some fantasy points. But his entire career has never met expectations and he has only scored four touchdowns in the last four years. Optimists will jump on him this summer ? just as they did Jed Weaver and Byron Chamberlain last summer. Realists? He needs to show something more than mediocrity before calling his name on draft day.

Erron Kinney - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 27
TD Only: 27
Keeper: 27
Auction: 1%
2002 TEN 13 13 173 13.3        
2003 TEN 16 41 393 9.6 3      
2004 TEN 9 25 193 7.7 3      
Avg   13 26 253 10.2 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   26 260   2      

Kinney was the starting tight end last season until suffering a calf injury in week three and after returning for five weeks, he sprained his ankle and missed two more games. He?ll again be the starting tight end going into 2005 but there are two very big issues that cloud his fantasy value.

The Titans selected Ben Troupe as the eventual heir to Frank Wycheck who retired last year. Troupe was still learning the ropes and was not a big contributor the first time Kinney was out but the final three weeks had Troupe scoring once and gaining over 70 yards in two of those games. Kinney never had more than 53 yards in a game. He?ll likely lose his starting spot to Troupe at some point, possibly as early as this training camp.

Complicating matters more, there is a new offense being installed by OC Norman Chow and there is no certainty that the tight ends will have nearly the same use as they once did under Heimerdinger. USC had 34 passing scores last year and Chow only called three scores that went to a tight end. The age of the dominating tight end in Tennessee is likely over.

Steve Heiden - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 28
TD Only: 28
Keeper: 30
Auction: 1%
2002 CLE 14 17 105 6.2 1      
2003 CLE 8 18 134 7.4        
2004 CLE 12 28 287 10.3 5      
Avg   11 21 175 8.0 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   26 250   2      

Heiden tore his MCL during the preseason and did not return to full duty until week seven last year ? well after the Browns had lost Kellen Winslow. Heiden was his primary back-up and once he was able to play, he turned in a career best five scores. However ? three came in one game and other than the Cincinnati match-up that sent fantasy owners running to the waiver wire, Heiden only scored one more time in 2004 and never had more than 27 yards in a game.

Now that Winslow will spend yet another season in injured reserve, Heiden once again becomes the starting tight end. With Romeo Crennel now in charge and a new offense being installed, there is obvious risk in figuring Heiden to be anything more than what he has always been ? a tight end that mostly blocks and catches maybe two passes per game. Considering that the Browns have drafted Braylon Edwards to add to Andre Davis and Antonio Bryant, there?ll be many more targets for the quarterback than last season.

Heiden may be worth taking as a deep back-up tight end for the year and the OC Maurice Carthon is familiar with schemes using the position so there may be some upside here. But there?s plenty more downside to the offense to consider.

Marcus Pollard - ATL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 29
TD Only: 29
Keeper: 31
Auction: 1%
2002 IND 15 43 478 11.1 6      
2003 IND 13 40 541 13.5 3      
2004 IND 12 29 309 10.7 6      
Avg   13 37 443 11.8 5 0 0 0
PROJ ATL   21 240   2      

(-Risk) The Lions acquired the free agent Pollard in the offseason just in case there were any passes left over after satisfying what Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams deserve. Pollard has been a top ten tight end for past four seasons while Peyton Manning was throwing the passes but with Dallas Clark promoted into the primary position, Pollard was expendable. At 33 years of age, he?s not ancient but also not likely to get any faster or more productive.

Detroit took in Stephen Alexander last year in the hopes he would provide an outlet for Harrington but that never really developed. Alexander was sent packing and Pollard enters in as a veteran with experience in a high-powered passing offense. That doesn?t mean he is a lock for a big year, but that he will be in the right place at the right time when the need arises.

With the big three wideouts and Kevin Jones to run the ball, the Lions are in no danger of becoming a team that uses the tight end spot for more than change of pace. Pollard won?t even make a great redzone target given the size of the wideouts either. He?ll likely be drafted too early based on his name and previous success, but Pollard is winding down a great career and should have a great vantage point to watch the most exciting young set of receivers in the league.

Mark Campbell - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 30
TD Only: 30
Keeper: 32
Auction: 1%
2002 CLE 15 25 179 7.2 3      
2003 BUF 15 34 339 10.0 1      
2004 BUF 10 17 203 11.9 5      
Avg   13 25 240 9.7 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   19 220   2      

(-Risk) Campbell is recovering from knee surgery stemming from his injury back in week 13 of last season. The Bills are not big on throwing to the tight end because of the running game installed by HC Mike Mularkey and they drafted Kevin Everett this April in the hopes that he could develop into a pass catching tight end. Everett almost immediately went down with a torn ACL in his first mini-camp.

Campbell?s numbers from last season looked pretty respectable with five touchdowns but three came in one game and he never exceeded 37 yards in any week. With Everett likely a non-factor this year, Campbell should reassume his role as the starter but his knee recuperation prevented him from attending mini-camps. Make sure to check out how he does in training camp but even in the best case scenario, he?s likely not worth more than a very deep back-up tight end for your team.

Anthony Becht - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 31
TD Only: 31
Keeper: 34
Auction: 1%
2002 NYJ 16 28 243 8.7 5      
2003 NYJ 16 40 356 8.9 4      
2004 NYJ 13 13 100 7.7 1      
Avg   15 27 233 8.4 3 0 0 0
PROJ FA   25 290   2      

The good news is that Becht goes to the Buccaneers who consistently use the tight end position for up to 500 yards and five scores a season. The bad news is that the Buccaneers under Gruden have always used four or five different tight ends each season to accomplish that with the primary tight end barely fantasy relevant. Becht leaves the Jets where he had scored four or five times a year until 2004 when they ran the ball more often than passed it. He was a blocker primarily and only had 13 catches the entire year.

Becht is an average tight end who has consistently remained around eight or nine yards per reception for all five years in the league ? it just depended on how many passes he was thrown. At 6?5? he was a decent endzone target, but he?s never had more than 40 catches in a year and that won?t likely change in Tampa Bay.

He?ll be the primary tight end this season and likely have the most catches and scores, but if those will be enough to warrant a fantasy start remains to be seen and there is history for both Becht and the Buccaneers that indicate he?ll only have marginal value for your team. He?s nothing more than a fantasy back-up and could be even less in 2005.

Todd Yoder - WAS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 33
TD Only: 32
Keeper: 35
Auction: 1%
2002 TBB 14 2 26 13.0        
2003 TBB 5 7 68 9.7 2      
2004 JAC 12 14 157 11.2        
Avg   10 8 84 11.3 1 0 0 0
PROJ WAS   17 200   2      

No analysis available.

Mike Seidman - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 36
TD Only: 38
Keeper: 36
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003 CAR 7 5 35 7.0        
2004 CAR 9 13 123 9.5 2      
Avg   8 9 79 8.3 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   16 180   1      

No analysis available.

Itula Mili - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 37
TD Only: 39
Keeper: 37
Auction: 1%
2002 SEA 14 43 508 11.8 2      
2003 SEA 16 46 492 10.7 4      
2004 SEA 14 23 240 10.4 1      
Avg   15 37 413 11.0 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   16 180   1      

Mili had an ill-advised holdout last season and while he finally did show up and play, his numbers were his worst in five years. He had a groin injury mid-season that also limited him but he had already lost the starting job to Jeremy Stevens who had a great training camp while Mili was absent.

At the age of 32 and already falling out of favor, Mili once again sat out of mini-camps which seems no less misguided than his actions last summer. He is in the final year of his contract and this won?t be helping him force anything.

Consider Mili only as a potential fantasy back-up for your team and likely he won?t even be that good. He scored only once all season last year and has yielded the starting role to Stevens who improved last year.

Christian Fauria - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 38
TD Only: 40
Keeper: 38
Auction: 1%
2002 NEP 15 27 253 9.4 7      
2003 NEP 15 28 285 10.2 2      
2004 NEP 11 16 195 12.2 2      
Avg   14 24 244 10.6 4 0 0 0
PROJ FA   15 160   1      

No analysis available.

Kyle Brady - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 40
TD Only: 41
Keeper: 39
Auction: 1%
2002 JAC 15 43 461 10.7 4      
2003 JAC 16 29 281 9.7 1      
2004 JAC 10 14 103 7.4 1      
Avg   14 29 282 9.3 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   13 150   1      

There?s nothing much to see with Kyle Brady other than he is the starting tight end for the Jaguars and he is the most likely tight end to matter ? if it happens. Brady only played in ten games last season thanks to starting the season with a torn tendon in his finger that required a splint. When he did participate, he never exceeded 27 yards in any game.

Brady is the default tight end if you must own one from the Jaguars but he is no lock to end up as the best one to own ? if such a thing even exists (it didn?t last year). The West Coast variant they have installed would like for a tight end to matter, but thus far none have. George Wrighster spawned optimism that he could be that receiving tight end but had a herniated disc removed from his neck in the offseason. There was speculation it could end his career though it appears he will play again.

The Jaguars also have Brian Jones who could step up to become the receiving tight end but until that happens; it will be Brady who takes the starting role with assistance from Todd Yoder who is better blocker than receiver. Best chance is that there will not be a Jaguars tight end with fantasy relevance this season.

Chris Baker - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 41
TD Only: 42
Keeper: 40
Auction: 1%
2002 NYJ 10 2 14 7.0        
2003 NYJ 10 14 137 9.8        
2004 NYJ 12 18 182 10.1 4      
Avg   11 11 111 9.0 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   13 150   1      

No analysis available.

Jim Kleinsasser - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 42
TD Only: 43
Keeper: 41
Auction: 1%
2002 MIN 14 37 393 10.6 1 6 17  
2003 MIN 16 46 401 8.7 4 2 15  
2004 MIN 1 2 24 12.0        
Avg   10 28 273 10.4 2 3 11 0
PROJ FA   12 140   1      

(-Risk) Kleinsasser was the MIN leading tight end in 2002 and 2003 which lead to a nice 5-year contract in the spring of 2004. Kleinsasser was expected to continue in his role as H-back and pass catching tight end until he tore his ACL in the first game of the season. He was placed on injured reserve and missed the rest of the year.

Jim is expected to return and be healthy enough for training camp where he will mix with Jermaine Wiggins who turned in a big year in relief of Kleinsasser last season. The Vikings intend to run more this season and welcome back one of their better blockers in Kleinsasser.

It is too early to know if Kleinsasser will regain his health enough to resume his role in the passing game and Wiggins was effective last year. The Vikings use the tight end more than most teams but the biggest effect that Kleinsasser will have is if he reduces Wiggins? production. The duo will either share or cancel each other out or Kleinsasser will become primarily a blocker ? which they need and intend. In either case, Kleinsasser is not the tight end to get, but he is the tight end to watch.

Casey Fitzsimmons - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 48
TD Only: 48
Keeper: 42
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003 DET 11 23 160 7.0 2      
2004 DET 13 10 103 10.3        
Avg   12 17 132 8.7 1 0 0 0
PROJ FA   8 70   1      

No analysis available.

George Wrighster - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 57
TD Only: 57
Keeper: 43
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003 JAC 11 13 150 11.5 2      
2004 JAC 4 10 69 6.9 1      
Avg   8 12 110 9.2 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   4 50          

No analysis available.

Visanthe Shiancoe - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Performance: 54
TD Only: 50
Keeper: 44
Auction: 1%
2002                  
2003 NYG 8 10 56 5.6 2      
2004 NYG 4 5 25 5.0 1      
Avg   6 8 41 5.3 2 0 0 0
PROJ FA   2 20   1      

No analysis available.

   
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