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2007 Fantasy Football Sleepers - Tight Ends
Huddle Staff
August 9, 2007
Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

David Dorey's Tight End Sleepers

Vernon DavisVernon Davis, San Francisco
No surprise here really but in a position with only a dozen or so it’s important to get the ones that will exceed common expectations. Davis had his rookie season cut short with a broken leg but he still returned to post games of 74 and 91 yards near the end of the season. Alex Smith is more experienced this year and has already been working hard with Davis to make a connection in the off-season. Davis has already shown growth by no longer looking tentative and thinking too much and just using the tremendous speed and hands that he has. The 49ers fully intend on making Davis become a premier tight end in this league and that will only be using the talents he already has. If any tight end turns in a surprise big season, it will be Davis.

Randy McMichael, Detroit
Conventional wisdom always was that the Rams do not use tight ends. That was certainly true when Mike Martz was there but Scott Linehan took over in 2006. True enough – the tight ends did not do much last year since the team tried to make do with rookie tight ends Joe Klopfenstein and Dominque Byrd. In the offseason though, the Rams acquired McMichael who played with Linehan in 2005 when he caught 60 passes for 582 yards and a career high five touchdowns.  Probably not enough to become a fantasy starter this year but an excellent back-up to grab.

Chris Cooley, Washington
The Redskins were installing the offense inspired by Al Saunders of Kansas City fame last year and that resulted in big rushing numbers and yet only a respectable 57 catches for 734 yards and six scores last year – about the norm for Cooley. But more notable was that the Redskins switched to Jason Campbell as the starting quarterback in week 11 last year and Cooley scored three times in those final seven games with Campbell. And Cooley averaged 59 yards per game with Campbell but only 36 yards per game in the first nine games when Brunell was there.  Cooley is always a lock for a good year but 2007 could be his first great one.

Scott Boyter's Tight End Sleepers

Jason Witten, Dallas
It's hard to imagine that Witten, a Pro Bowl talent, is being overlooked. But he is. Granted, he only scored one TD in 2006, but he still ranked No. 6 in yards receiving among tight ends. Add three or four touchdowns and Witten is a solid No. 1 tight end.

David Martin, Miami
Yeah, this is probably a reach, but Martin looks to be the favorite to start the season as the No. 1 TE in Miami. If that's the case, he'll get a lot of opportunities. Remember that Cam Cameron helped make Antonio Gates a superstar at the position.

Dallas Clark, Indianapolis
Clark didn't crack the 400-yard mark in 2006 and still had four touchdowns. He's a solid No. 2 fantasy tight end and could be a strong No. 1 with some more yardage.

Brent Clement's Tight End Sleepers

Randy McMichael, St. Louis
McMichael should immediately become QB Mark Bulger’s security blanket, and give the Rams offense a dimension it hasn’t had at the TE position in a number of years. In this offense, McMichael could be the teams 2nd leading receiver behind Tory Holt, and give fantasy owners a gem later in the draft.

Marcus Pollard, Seattle
Imagine for a second, Jeremy Stevens with hands.  Well that would be Marcus Pollard.  Pollard is no young man, but he is still very capable of making plays down the field and stretching the defense down the seem. QB Matt Hasselbeck is very effective throwing the ball to his tight ends, its just a matter in years past if those passes were caught or dropped.  In 2007, expect more completions to the TE position,  and Marcus Pollard is the reason why.

Michael Courter's Tight End Sleepers

Ben Watson, New England
The wonderfully talented, but inconsistent tight end out of Georgia, saw the Patriots more reliable tight end option, Daniel Graham, leave for the big free agent dollars in Denver in the Spring and downfield threats Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth arrive in New England to bolster the Patriots thin receiving corps, all personnel moves working in his favor. Watson will enter the 2007 season as New England’s lone threat at the tight end spot and the middle seam of defenses will be wide open to exploit thanks to Moss and Stallworth keeping opponent’s safeties back, creating a high value strike potential, especially in the red zone, for Watson when his number is called by Brady.

Owen Daniels, Houston
I’m not recommending Daniels as a starter in leagues with 12 teams or fewer, but the 24-year old does have a promising future ahead of him after an impressive rookie year that saw him catch 34 passes for 352 yards and five touchdowns.  Assuming an improvement takes place with the quarterback position (Matt Schaub), running game (Ahman Green/ Ron Dayne) and offensive line (they can’t go anywhere but up), it’s reasonable to assume Daniels has a shot at 48 grabs, 500 yards and seven touchdowns this year.

Alex Smith, Tampa Bay
Smith can either be had very late in fantasy drafts, or, in 10 team leagues, be found on the waiver wire, which qualifies him as a deep sleeper this year.  Several things to like about Smith this year.  He caught 35 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns in 2006 in what appeared to be an elephant man-like version of the west coast offense, thanks to just about everything falling apart for Jon Gruden, including having backup Bruce Gradkowski direct the attack behind a porous offensive line and no running game to speak of.  In 2007, the quarterback situation is far more stable, with experienced Jeff Garcia and promising holdover Chris Simms duking it out for the starting position.  The offensive line has been upgraded considerably on paper, and that could also lead to Cadillac Williams coming out of his 2006 statistical slumber.  All encouraging developments for the fast and rangy Smith, who operates the critical tight end position in the Buccaneers controlled passing offense.  Which makes this late round choice a reasonable candidate to double his 2006 yardage and touchdown numbers.

Bob Cunningham's Tight End Sleepers

Randy McMichaelRandy McMichael, St. Louis
The Rams are committed to a more traditional passing attack as a complement to Stephen Jackson’s bangs and bursts, and the signing of a pure receiving tight end like McMichael is further evidence of that.  Look for him to be a top five tight end, and find the end zone a fair amount of times.

David Martin, Miami
New Dolphins QB Trent Green relied heavily on star tight end Tony Gonzalez during numerous successful seasons at Kansas City, and he’s going to want to have that security blanket there again as he figures out a new offense, new receivers and those ugly marine green jerseys the Dolphins don when they play home games in prime time.  Martin won’t be in the class of San Diego’s Antonio Gates, but don’t be shocked if he’s not too far behind Gonzo himself.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
Miller showed glimpses of brilliance a year ago, and he has built up a nice rapport with QB Ben Roethlisberger.  Pittsburgh’s cast of wide receivers isn’t overly impressive, so it appears that the opportunities will be there.  Expect numbers good enough to justify him as a regular starting fantasy tight end.

Joe Levit's Tight End Sleepers

Vernon Davis, San Francisco
Special talent. Davis will pump up the volume this season in San Francisco. Alex Smith will look his way a lot when Gore isn’t shredding defenses. The speed that Davis has is irreplaceable, which will allow him to pull away from a lot of defenders when he catches a perfectly thrown ball in the seam.

Ben Watson, New England
Sure, there are a lot of hands grabbing for passes in this offense this season, but I still think Watson will perform well. The team may just be able to score in bunches, which means more for everyone. Daniel Graham is in Denver so Watson will be the most-experience tight end on the team.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
The Steelers will open up the passing game for Ben Roethlisberger a year after his tough off-season. Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward will be favorites of Big Ben down the field, but come red-zone time look for Miller to get a lot of looks, and convert a number of them.

Kevin Ratterree's Tight End Sleepers

Vernon Davis, San Francisco
Not really a sleeper, but if you miss out on Gates, this is probably the only guy capable of coming close to his numbers.

Chris Cooley, Washington
Here is the sleeper value of the tight end position this season.  You can get this guy after the 7th round in lots of drafts, yet he has a pretty good chance of being top 3 at the position.  Rock solid and consistent.  Should gel further with Campbell this season, and we all know how much young QB's like to dump off to the tight end.  Lack of name recognition is the only thing keeping his value deflated, but that should change after this season. 

Tony Scheffler, Denver
His off-season injury derailed him a bit, as did the signing of Graham.  But Scheffler and Cutler showed some nice chemistry at the end of last season, and I expect them to be making magic for years to come.

Paul Sandy's Tight End Sleepers

Eric Johnson, New Orleans
If anyone can resurrect Johnson’s career, it’s Drew Brees. Three seasons ago, Johnson caught 82 passes for 800+ yards. Then he got injured and the 49ers drafted QB Alex Smith. Johnson’s game has been in the dumps ever since. However, Brees knows how to get the most out of the TE position. While Johnson isn’t in the same stratosphere as Brees’ old buddy Antonio Gates, he should get enough passes to once again become a fantasy factor. If you wait until the mid or late rounds of your draft to choose a TE, don’t overlook Johnson.

Owen DanielsOwen Daniels, Houston
Daniels caught five TD passes last year—the same as Tony Gonzalez and Todd Heap. The only problem was they all came in the first half of the season. Over the second half, Daniels was a forgotten man, catching just 16 passes. The good news is that all the key guys involved in running the offensive show (Matt Schaub, Mike Sherman, and Gary Kubiak) have been a part of systems in the past that heavily utilized the TE. Look for Daniels to build on a strong rookie showing and become a top 10 TE for years to come.

Darin Tietgen's Tight End Sleepers

Eric Johnson, New Orleans
Another guy who’s definitely on many fantasy footballers’ radars, but definitely worth mentioning here.  We all know about Drew Brees, Marques Colston and the double-headed RB team of Deuce & Bush. But Johnson could be the best VALUE of the bunch. Why? Because in leagues that require a TE (most, I’m guessing, do these days), after everyone grabs the higher-tier guys like Gates, Heap and Shockey, there will be those that reach for guys like L.J. Smith and Randy McMichael. Guys like that MAY certainly have solid seasons, but why not wait a few more rounds and take Johnson?  Johnson proved that he can play back in 2004 with the Niners when he hauled in an impressive 82 catches (with a 10.1 per catch average) for 825 yards and a pair of scores. Keep in mind, too, that the Niners’ QBs threw a “grand” total of 16 TDs on the year. With Drew Brees now tossing him the pigskin, that TD total could easily triple, if not better. Brees obviously feels comfortable throwing to his TE (see: Gates). With Reggie Bush so involved in the passing game, and the probable continued reliance on the young Colston, Johnson may only have 60 or so catches, but should still be in the 700-750 yard range, and haul in 6-8 TDs, possibly more if Deuce (who gets the bulk of the red zone carries) misses any time with injury.

Leonard Pope, Arizona
Everyone is banking on a huge improvement from the Arizona Cardinals this year under new HC Ken Whisenhunt, the more experienced youngsters Matt Leinart, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and the veteran Edgerrin James. But let’s not forget about the other very talented (albeit somewhat raw) cog in this offense: tight end Leonard Pope.  Pope is a freak of nature: a massive 6′8″, 265 lbs., heralding from Georgia. He put up solid numbers at the generally run-first University of Georgia (25 catches for 482 yards and 6 TDs as a sophomore and then 39 catches for 541 yards and 4 TDs as a junior) and now has a chance to shine in the high-flying Cardinal offense.   Pope will certainly create matchup problems, especially in the red zone, with his size. I don’t know any safeties that are 6′8″, let alone linebackers. With Anquan Boldin on one edge, Larry Fitzgerald on the other, the talented Bryant Johnson in the slot, and a capable pass-catching RB in Edgerrin James, Pope could see plenty of holes in the opposing defenses this season.   Will Pope put up Gates-like numbers? Probably not. But for those looking for a solid sleeper at TE this season, Pope fits the bill.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
Miller was regarded as one of the better TE prospects coming out of college in 2004.  He had an impressive 6 TDs in his rookie season, and despite the offensive shortcomings of the Steelers last year, had 5 TDs.  As the Steeler offense opens up this season, under a new coaching regime steadfast on improving this offense, Miller will most definitely improve his yardage totals (only 852 yards over two season) and should easily haul in 6 or more TDs.

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