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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT GUIDE

2007 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: September 3, 2007
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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: 16%
Auction 12: 14%
2004 SDC 15 81 964 11.9 13      
2005 SDC 15 89 1101 12.4 10      
2006 SDC 16 71 924 13.0 9      
Avg   15 80 996 12.4 11 0 0 0
Proj SDC   80 1010   10      

While Tomlinson was busy setting records, all Gates did was to yet again lead all NFL tight ends with 924 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s easily the best tight end to draft since he has locked down the #1 spot for the last three seasons but his 2006 campaign was his lowest since becoming a starter in 2004. Gates numbers increased later in the season which is a favorable sign that he is getting in synch with Phillip Rivers and the Chargers should be able to get more from their wide receivers this year with Vincent Jackson, Eric Parker and the rookie Craig Davis. In his worst year, he is still the best tight end.

Tony Gonzalez - ATL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 12%
2004 KCC 16 102 1258 12.3 7 1 5  
2005 KCC 16 78 905 11.6 2      
2006 KCC 15 73 900 12.3 5      
Avg   16 84 1021 12.1 5 0 2 0
Proj ATL   75 900   6      

Entering his 11th NFL season, the 31-year old Gonzalez has yet to slow down. While the team being taken over by HC Herman Edwards was a concern last year, the reality was that Gonzalez ended with almost the exact same receiving numbers, catching 73 passes (tied for #2 in the NFL among all tight ends) and 900 yards (#2 yet again). His five touchdowns were up from only two in 2005. He remains the only guy that challenges Antonio Gates for the top spot in both NFL stats and fantasy drafts.

This year will have Gonzalez without Trent Green for the first time since 2001 but he had better numbers with Damon Huard last year than he did with Green. In a position devoid of many difference makers, Gonzalez is about as low risk as there is once Gates is off the board, regardless which quarterback is used. Should Brodie Croyle take over in 2007, what better target downfield than the tall and sure-handed Gonzalez? The only question with Gonzalez this year is how long you can afford to wait once Gates is drafted.

Kellen Winslow - NYJ YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 8%
2004 CLE 2 5 50 10.0        
2005                  
2006 CLE 16 89 875 9.8 3      
Avg   9 47 463 9.9 2 0 0 0
Proj NYJ   80 820   5      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Winslow finally comes off a full season with great results. He caught 89 passes to tie a team record and to rank #1 among all NFL tight ends – by a margin of 13 receptions. His 875 yards ranked third best for tight ends in 2006 though his three scores were obviously low. It is Cleveland, after all. Winslow never scored after week eight but he had nine games with more than 50 yards including three of 90 yards or more.

Winslow is recovering from offseason microfracture surgery on his knee and has not participated in minicamps with the hopes he can return in time for training camp. His January surgery typically has around four months of recovery time and not all athletes have returned to the same level of performance afterwards. Winslow said he was basically playing on one knee last year and evidently his right knee cartilage was almost gone by the season’s end.

The Browns have brought in OC Rob Chudzinski who was a TE coach in Cleveland before serving as the TE coach in San Diego for two seasons. Apparently the addition of Chudzinski should be a great benefit for Winslow not only from his NFL background with tight ends, but for the fact that he was also the OC and TE coach at Miami when Winslow was there. This could be a big season for Winslow but it all depends on how his knee responds to rehabilitation and of course, that he is able to remain healthy if that happens. Definite risk here with definite upside.

Tier 2
Jeremy Shockey - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 6%
2004 NYG 15 61 666 10.9 6      
2005 NYG 15 65 891 13.7 7      
2006 NYG 15 66 623 9.4 7      
Avg   15 64 727 11.3 7 0 0 0
Proj FA   65 690   7      

After three seasons with Eli Manning, Shockey has been pretty consistent each year with around 700 yards and seven scores – good enough to remain one of the top tight ends in the league even if he has never started all 16 games in a season. For the last three years, he has only missed one contest each season though and usually ends up playing injured for several games of the year. Shockey’s 66 catches in 2006 was 5th best for NFL tight ends and his seven scores ranked 3rd best but his yards per catch fell to a career low 9.4 last year. That largely reflected him playing with a foot injury for much of the year and ending the season with a sprained ankle.

Shockey has never risen to being considered a lock certain great tight end each year but his productive consistency warrants him being one of the first tight ends drafted every year – just make sure to have someone else for his bye week and the other week he misses with an injury.

Vernon Davis - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2004                  
2005                  
2006 SFO 9 20 265 13.3 3 2 5  
Avg   9 20 265 13.3 3 2 5 0
Proj SFO   65 720   6      

Davis was the hot rookie with freakish size and speed when he was drafted by the 49ers last year but thanks to a broken fibula in week three, Davis only played in nine games and ended with 265 yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns. His 13.3 yards per catch was better than all but Alge Crumpler for tight ends with 20 catches of more. He had low numbers in most games but did turn in 74 yards on three catches against the Packers and had four receptions for 91 yards against the Cardinals during the final four weeks of the season. Davis has huge upside in this offense and a broken leg is not like a bad knee or shoulder – it’s a freak one-time thing. The new OC Jim Hostler has already said he is working on ways to expand Davis’ role in 2007 and while he may not be among the top tight ends taken in your fantasy draft, he could end up being one of the top scoring tight ends in your league. If you miss out on one of the top three, take a swing for the fence with Davis. In a position that begs for playmakers and mainly offers up run blockers, Davis should see a dramatic increase this year.

Todd Heap - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 5%
2004 BAL 6 27 303 11.2 3      
2005 BAL 16 75 855 11.4 7      
2006 BAL 16 73 765 10.5 6      
Avg   13 58 641 11.0 5 0 0 0
Proj FA   69 730   6      

Pairing up with Steve McNair last year was expected to at least maintain the same sort of production for Heap as previous season, if not improve his stats since McNair would not lock onto his tight end and ignore the other receivers as did Kyle Boller. That was supposed to free up Heap to improve his yards per catch and touchdowns. Instead, Heap’s 765 yards and six touchdowns were right in line with what he has always done in the NFL. The oddity was that he only had 10.5 yards per catch – the lowest of his career.

The positive here is that Heap does offer consistency in a position often overlooked by most NFL teams. The addition of McGahee could impact Heap if the running game improves significantly but there’s no reason to expect that Heap won’t post his standard even then since he’s an occasional endzone target and a reliable third down receiver.

Chris Cooley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 4%
2004 WAS 16 37 314 8.5 6      
2005 WAS 16 71 774 10.9 7      
2006 WAS 16 57 734 12.9 6      
Avg   16 55 607 10.8 6 0 0 0
Proj FA   68 710   6      

(+Upside) Three seasons into his career and Cooley has apparently settled down to his standard. For the last two seasons, he has turned in around 750 yards and six scores though 2006 had him more productive with his catches by ending with 12.9 yards per catch – very healthy for a tight end. More encouraging for 2007 is that Jason Campbell will be the full year starter and in seven common games to end 2006, the duo hooked up for three touchdowns and his three best performances – 89, 89 and 77 yards. With Mark Brunell under center, Cooley only averaged 36 yards per week but with Campbell, that rose to 59 yards per game.

With no changes in the wide receivers and the second season of Al Saunders KC-style offense taking root, Cooley should be good for no less than his standard year and it could be even higher. He actually has upside with Campbell as the starter and makes for a great tight end pick once the top three are gone.

Jason Witten - DAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 DAL 16 87 980 11.3 6      
2005 DAL 16 66 757 11.5 6      
2006 DAL 16 64 754 11.8 1      
Avg   16 72 830 11.5 4 0 0 0
Proj DAL   65 730   2      

After exploding on the scene in 2004 with 980 yards and six scores, Witten has spent the last two years in almost identical fashion. In both seasons, he had almost exactly 65 catches for 755 yards but 2006 served up one disappointing shocker to fantasy owners – Witten only scored once. His yardage was still 6th best in the league and he was also 6th best in receptions as well. But one score? The introduction of Terrell Owens to the offense meant that there was another target in the endzone and Owens came at a much higher price tag.

Witten started 2006 out very slowly but he picked up the pace after the first month and typically turned in around 3 or 4 catches per game for about 50 yards. He just never scores anymore and as long as Owens is there, he’s not needed in that role. The new coaching staff in Dallas spins a bit of uncertainty on the offense but HC Wade Phillips comes from the Chargers with Antonio Gates. More importantly, OC Jason Garrett has also been involved with the use of tight ends in Miami and as a quarterback with Dallas. Expect Witten to maintain a decent yardage role as a viable third down target but his scores are certain to suffer with Owens there and Barber excelling at the short touchdown.

Alge Crumpler - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 2%
2004 ATL 14 48 774 16.1 6      
2005 ATL 16 65 877 13.5 5      
2006 ATL 16 56 780 13.9 8      
Avg   15 56 810 14.5 6 0 0 0
Proj FA   50 670   4      

(-Risk) Crumpler has been the preferred target of Michael Vick for three years now and he comes off his 2007 season with 780 yards and a career-best eight touchdowns. He’s been consistently around 800 yards and six scores since becoming Vick’s main target. Over the last three seasons, he’s been one of the lowest risk tight ends in the league. His 13.9 yards per catch ranked #1 among all tight ends for 2006.

However – there’s a new sheriff in town named Bobby Petrino that casts some risk on Crumpler continuing on being the common outlet for Michael Vick. There’s zero doubt that Crumpler will not continue to figure into the passing equation but the notion that Petrino will be satisfied with his quarterback ignoring his wideouts and playing pitch and catch with Crumpler is hard to believe. Crumpler only had 56 catches last year and actually gained 117 yards and three scores in just one game. Add in that the Falcons have acquired Joe Horn and the chance that Crumpler continues to lead the wide outs is even lower. If Crumpler does end up as the primary receiver yet again, that will not be a sign of success for this offense. Look for a downturn by Crumpler that really happened last year outside of one “stat saving" game.

07-18-20 Update: The worst thing that could happen to Crumpler would be for anything to happen to Michael Vick - and that is happening with the federal indictment. With a different quarterback, chances are high that Crumpler will see a reduced role since the wide receivers will come into more production - at the expense of Crumpler.

Randy McMichael - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 MIA 16 73 791 10.8 4      
2005 MIA 16 60 582 9.7 5      
2006 MIA 16 62 640 10.3 3      
Avg   16 65 671 10.3 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   55 540   4      

(+Upside) When McMichael was released by the Dolphins for salary cap purposes, the Rams wasted no time in signing him to a three-year contract worth $9 million. It’s not enough to merely consider that McMichael has averaged over 600 yards per season, he was also snapped up by his ex-offensive coordinator Scott Linehan who now head coaches the Rams. McMichael is not a particularly great blocker, his forte is almost exclusively related to his ability to receive. The Rams only completed 27 passes for 333 yards and two scores among all tight ends in 2006. Expect that to increase this year – McMichael alone has never had those low of numbers.

Bo Scaife - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005 TEN 12 37 273 7.4 2      
2006 TEN 14 29 370 12.8 2 1 13 1
Avg   13 33 322 10.1 2 1 7 1
Proj FA   44 450   5      

(+Upside) The second-year player had a solid 2006 season, catching 29 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns including a 12.8 yards per catch average. The Titans have always been a team that heavily used the position but last year had a low of only 602 yards and four scores from the tight ends after relying heavily on them in 2005 when they accounted for 1359 yards and eight scores. Still, Scaife was easily the top wideout last year and became an outlet for the rookie Vince Young. His numbers were inconsistent as the position so often is but he did turn in five games over 40 yards and twice had five catches in a game. With the apparent lack of playmakers at the wide receiver position again, Scaife should do no worse than last year and likely will become more involved. Scaife played with Young at Texas and their relationship continues.

Tier 3
Heath Miller - PIT YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005 PIT 15 39 459 11.8 6      
2006 PIT 16 34 393 11.6 5      
Avg   16 37 426 11.7 6 0 0 0
Proj PIT   36 420   5      

As a rookie, Miller started out on a very promising note when he caught 39 passes for 459 yards and six touchdowns but rather than take the next step up for a traditional second year breakout for a tight end; Miller just repeated his first season again. He gained 393 yards on 34 carries and scored five touchdowns in 2006. His production was only that high because he opened the year with a 101 yard game thanks to an 87-yard touchdown catch. That’s over 20% of his annual total on one catch in the fourth quarter of week one. Miller never again turned in more than 37 yards in any game and typically had around two or three catches per week for around 25 or 30 yards. Hardly the play of a stud tight end even if he did roughly score one touchdown every three games. With the offense undergoing at least some tweaking by new OC Bruce Arians, it’s unlikely that Miller’s role will grow into much more than it already is. A decent fantasy back-up but so far he’s not showing that he will take the next step into being worthy of a starting fantasy tight end.

Dallas Clark - BAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 IND 13 25 423 16.9 5      
2005 IND 14 37 488 13.2 4      
2006 IND 12 30 367 12.2 4      
Avg   13 31 426 14.1 4 0 0 0
Proj BAL   38 440   4      

Clark ended 2006 with 367 yards on 30 receptions but he also had a sprained ACL that forced him to miss four games. He had gained 303 yards through the first nine games but then turned in two one catch efforts before injuring his knee. After playing for the Colts for four years, Clark has yet to play all 16 games in a season. His normal role – if healthy – has been around 450 yards per year and four or five scores but last year he was passed by Ben Utecht in both yards and receptions. While Manning prefers to throw to Clark near the endzone over Utecht (no scores last year), the reality is that Indy usually employs two tight end formations and Clark has never risen in effectiveness since he became the starter in 2004. He makes a decent back-up tight end but has little upside with so many other weapons on the team.

Ben Watson - NOS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 NEP 1 2 16 8.0        
2005 NEP 14 29 441 15.2 4      
2006 NEP 13 49 645 13.2 3      
Avg   9 27 367 12.1 2 0 0 0
Proj NOS   38 420   3      

Watson had a nice third season when he caught 49 passes for 643 yards and three scores. A sprained knee forced him to miss the final two games of the regular season but he returned for the three postseason games to record 10 catches for 81 yards in total. He ranked 8th best in the NFL for tight end yardage. Watson is a solid contributor for the Patriots and only had three games where he failed to catch at least three passes but 2007 could see a downturn in his production at least a little. The Patriots have reloaded their receivers with Randy Moss, Daunte Stallworth and Wes Welker which has to eat into the action that Watson gets this season. He’ll make a decent fantasy back-up tight end but it’s optimistic to expect him to meet the numbers of 2006.

David Martin - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 GBP 8 5 88 17.6        
2005 GBP 11 27 224 8.3 3      
2006 GBP 10 21 198 9.4 2      
Avg   10 18 170 11.8 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   38 400   3      

Martin comes over from the Packers where he has spent his first six years in the league and yet never gained more than 224 yards or 27 catches in a season. His acquisition would seem unremarkable except for two facts. First, the Dolphins allowed Randy McMichael to leave for St. Louis and right now Martin is the best tight end that they have. The only other with an NFL catch is Justin Peele who only had 16 catches for 116 yards and one score last year. Martin is the starting tight end and the closest thing to a true pass catcher they have in the position., Secondly, the new offense being installed by Cam Cameron is the same he has run in San Diego where a certain tight end has been fantasy manna from heaven.

Of course Martin is hardly 1:1 with Antonio Gates, but it is favorable that he was acquired by Cameron in the offseason and he will fill the position that was made famous in San Diego. Tight ends also will often have very good seasons in the first year of an offense as the team digests the change in scheme. It’s is very premature to consider Martin as worthy of being a fantasy starter, but his upside alone makes him an intriguing back-up tight end for your team. Any tight end with upside after the first dozen are drafted is indeed a tight end worth owning.

Daniel Graham - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2004 NEP 14 30 364 12.1 7      
2005 NEP 8 16 235 14.7 3      
2006 NEP 11 21 235 11.2 2      
Avg   11 22 278 12.7 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   39 400   3      

Graham signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Denver Broncos during the off season that included $15 million in guarantees. He has been brought onto the team not just as a receiver but mostly as a rush blocker as he had demonstrated in New England for the last five seasons. Graham never had more than 38 receptions in a season and only had 37 catches over the final two years in New England while catching five scores in that time.

With the promising second-year player Tony Scheffler and Stephen Alexander there, Graham is not coming over to become the next Shannon Sharpe – should that ever happen again, Scheffler is more likely the choice. But he will figure into the passing equation in addition to blocking for Travis Henry this year. The price-tag for his services may seem to say more about his receiving abilities, but he’s more valuable as a blocker.

08-05-07 Update: Graham gets a bump up in the rankings since he's looking good in training camp and appears to be quickly gaining chemistry with Jay Cutler. Tony Scheffler continues to recuperate from his broken foot and was placed on the PUP list for now but is expected back soon. But Graham appears likely to take a significant role even when Scheffler returns.

08-31-07 Update: Graham has been everything the Broncos were hoping and is planned on being the every down tight end. He's been constantly impressing the coaches as a reciever and should figure in heavily this year.

L.J. Smith - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 PHI 16 34 377 11.1 5      
2005 PHI 16 61 682 11.2 3      
2006 PHI 15 50 611 12.2 5      
Avg   16 48 557 11.5 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   38 390   3      

(-Risk) Smith had a hot start to 2006, averaging four catches for 53 yards through the first seven weeks bit then he tailed off the rest of the way which worsened once McNabb left in week 11. Still, his 50 catches for 611 yards were in line with 2005 and his five touchdowns tied a career best. During McNabb’s hot start to the season, Smith was turning in good numbers every week and with McNabb back, he should pick up again. Brian Westbrook’s ability to catch the ball limits what Smith can do and the addition of Kevin Curtis should have a slight effect as well. Smith is a solid tight end choice after the run starts but he only serves to make your tight end position not hurt you – he’s not a difference maker.

One caveat here - Smith suffered a sports hernia that required surgery in May and his availability for training camp could be affected. Obviously if this condition continues to be a problem, his ranking will drop. He is in the final year of his contract and will be playing for a payday. He needs this year.

08-10-07 Update: Smith had sports hernia surgery on May 31st but was just returning and was looking good. But then he re-aggravated his injury and was carted from the practice field. He should not be considered a fantasy starter now and there is a good chance he will continue to fall in the rankings. Already having problems with the injury indicates he may need significant time off.

Tier 4
Zach Miller - SEA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005                  
2006                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj SEA   39 440   2      

Miller was a three year starter and all-American at Arizona State and the Raiders wasted little time in acquiring him with their 2.06 selection last April. Next to JaMarcus Russell, this is the guy that the Raiders wanted to bring in to change their offense. Miller declared early for the draft so the 21 year old could use more seasoning but at 6’5" and 259 pounds, he’s already had more experience in the college ranks than most seniors. Miller had 144 catches for 1512 yards and 14 touchdowns at ASU in only three years and already ranks 6th in school history for receptions. The only ASU tight end that has done better is Todd Heap.

Temper expectations for 2007 but Miller should work into the mix this season and then step up in 2008. Consider him more strongly in a keeper league since he’ll be playing in the same offensive scheme that Alge Crumpler did in Atlanta. One qualifier here – Miller only ran a 4.87/40 at the combine so don’t expect any long gainers here.

08-07-07 Update: The hot rookie from Arizona State has not only looked good in training camp, the Raiders have already released Courtney Anderson and Randall Williams to clear the path for Miller to have an impact this season. Taken as the second player in the NFL draft by the new regime, Miller was drafted to add a receiving element to the offense that now looks to start this season.

Eric Johnson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 SFO 16 82 825 10.1 2      
2005                  
2006 SFO 11 34 292 8.6 2      
Avg   14 58 559 9.4 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   34 310   4      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Johnson comes to the Saints where the team only had 411 yards and two scores to the tight ends in 2006. In his six seasons in the NFL, Johnson missed two years due to injury and done little outside of the 2004 season. That is remembered by many fantasy fans because he had two monster games early in the year - 10-113 and 13-162 but was mediocre the rest of the way while he averaged just 39 yards per game outside those two abberations. Johnson has never been able to remain healthy for long and his reputation as a good tight end still is tied almost solely to those two games in 2004. He's only scored seven times total in his six seasons in the NFL and while he gets a chance to shine in New Orleans, chances are great that it won't be any different than his six previous years - minus two magical games when the 49ers had no wide receivers worth using.

Greg Olsen - CAR YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2004                  
2005                  
2006                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj CAR   34 350   3      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Olsen was the most athletic, fastest tight end in the draft last April and the Bears made him the first drafted with their 1.31 pick. Hailing from the tight end factory of Miami (FL), Olsen caught 40 passes for 489 yards last season when he was the top receiver for the team. Unlike most tight ends, Olsen was not drafted for his ability to block because he’s never been a particularly good blocker. He runs a 4.5 40 which leaves most any other tight end in the dust and can cause problems for the defense because he’s one tight end that you should never allow to get behind the safety. He can stretch the field and has very good hands which could come into play with Grossman throwing.

The Bears consider their first round pick as the centerpiece of their draft and there’s every intention of getting him onto the field as quickly as possible. With his speed, he can stretch the field for the other receivers and do some damage when he gets the ball into his own hands since most safeties will have to think about going head-first into a 255 pound tight end. A big, tall and fast receiver in the middle of the field should be attractive to Grossman to be sure but in his rookie season, temper expectations. Olsen makes a very solid keeper league pick since his future should be no less than good and could be great but for 2007, expect the learning curve to hold him back from turning in a big season from the start.

08-31-07 Update: Olsen sprained his knee in the final preseason game and while an MRi is not yet performed, the injury appears bad enough to have him at least miss a week or two to start the season and could be much worse.

Leonard Pope - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005                  
2006 ARI 14 16 161 10.1        
Avg   14 16 161 10.1 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   31 340   2      

The Cardinals spent an early pick last year to nab the 6’8" Pope but for all the bluster about wanting to finally use the tight end position in Arizona, the results were "same old, same old". All combined the position only posted 431 yards and one score with Pope accounting for just 161 yards on 16 catches and never scoring. The change in offense this year could end up benefiting the tight ends more (how could it not?) but even an increase will not necessarily mean there will be any significant fantasy value here even for the starter. There are only so many passes thrown and with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin already there, whatever does trickle down will be minimal. One thing to watch for – new offenses often use tight ends more in the early stage and then decrease their use as the season progresses. If Pope should start out looking like he is breaking out, do not expect it to last.

Matt Schobel - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 CIN 12 21 201 9.6 4      
2005 CIN 14 18 193 10.7 1      
2006 PHI 13 14 214 15.3 2      
Avg   13 18 203 11.9 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   29 320   2      

Schobel is added to the rankings as the back-up tight end that will get more work thanks to the injury to L.J. Smith. Schobel could rise more in the rankings depending on Smith's status but fifth round rooke Brent Celek is also impressing coaches so Schobel is no slam dunk to replace Smith if needed.

08-20-07 Update: With Smith still nursing his groin, Schobel was very effective in the preseason game against the Jaguars when he had three catches for 71 yards. Smith will still be the #1 when healthy, but Schobel will contribute when Smith is out and looked good enough that the Eagles could feel better about not rushing Smith back before he is healthy.

Marcedes Lewis - JAC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005                  
2006 JAC 9 13 126 9.7 1      
Avg   9 13 126 9.7 1 0 0 0
Proj JAC   33 320   2      

(+Upside) The UCLA rookie was drafted to be a receiving tight end last year but he only logged 13 catches for 126 yards and scored just one touchdown in 2006. He missed almost the entire first half of the season with a high ankle sprain and never had more than three catches in any game. His numbers would suggest that he’s not worth a fantasy glance but that should prove wrong. Lewis lost most of his first year to that high ankle sprain and he had a change in quarterbacks by the time he returned. He was learning the offense for the first time but started to come to life in the final three games that he played.

The second year is the most common one for tight ends to break-out and the Jaguars have hired ex-Arizona State HC/OC Dirk Koetter to install a new offense. That offense will feature more two tight end formations meaning that Lewis is on the field more – a good thing. And Koetter likes to make use of his tight ends because the scheme calls for deeper, more vertical routes and when they are covered far downfield or the pass rush is coming fast, the tight end will get more passes. Last year at ASU, Koetter’s lead receiver was actually tight end Zach Miller (drafted by OAK at 2.06 last April). Miller had 50 catches - no wideout had more than 20 (though in fairness a dozen different ones had catches). Lewis is not a fantasy starter by any stretch, but he’s a good one to get as a fantasy back-up in case it happens for him in his second year – the stars are aligned right and HC Jack Del Rio already has said that Lewis will have a bigger role this year.

Marcus Pollard - ATL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 IND 12 29 309 10.7 6      
2005 DET 16 47 516 11.0 3      
2006 DET 10 12 100 8.3        
Avg   13 29 308 10.0 3 0 0 0
Proj ATL   31 320   2      

The Seahawks finally parted ways with the troublesome Jerramy Stevens but in his place they only acquired Marcus Pollard. They signed him to a one year contract which was responsible since Pollard is 35 years old and wouldn’t be around long enough for a multi-year contract. Pollard disappeared in Detroit last year thanks to the Martz offense which almost never uses them as receivers. In 2005 and in his first season with the Lions, Pollard did score three times and turn in 47 catches for 516 yards. But he’s 35 years old now and it’s already hard enough to tell when a tight end loses a step.

The Seahawks have traditionally used the tight end spot for around 600 yards and five scores a year but in 2006 that fell to just 332 yards for the position. The aging Pollard doesn’t have the look of a player to make a big improvement in those numbers and Will Heller will be around for a few catches as well. Consider Pollard only as a back-up tight end.

Bubba Franks - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 37
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 GBP 15 34 361 10.6 7      
2005 GBP 9 25 207 8.3 1      
2006 GBP 14 25 232 9.3        
Avg   13 28 267 9.4 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   33 320   2      

After spending four years known for never having many yards but catching touchdowns, Franks has really declined in the last two years and only scored once over the last two years – and that was in the injury shortened 2005 season. He only had 232 yards on 25 catches last year despite Favre needing more open targets. He’s been outplayed by the departed David Martin and Donald Lee. Franks never had more than 442 yards in his best season but he averaged seven scores from 2001 through 2005. Despite only being 29 years old, Franks has fallen from favor.

Tony Scheffler - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2004                  
2005                  
2006 DEN 11 18 286 15.9 4 1 3  
Avg   11 18 286 15.9 4 1 3 0
Proj FA   31 310   2      

(+Upside) The outlook for Scheffler is bright for 2007 despite the Broncos acquiring Daniel Graham and retaining Stephen Alexander. In 2006, the rookie Scheffler equaled Alexander with 18 catches on the season but Scheffler turned that into 286 yards and four scores – about twice what Alexander did with his receptions. The more critical factor here is that Scheffler had 12 catches for 219 yards and four scores in the final five games as the newly starting Jay Cutler began to successfully use his fellow rookie. In the final four games with Cutler, Scheffler had three efforts over 50 yards and scored all four of his touchdowns.

Scheffler was drafted for his ability to be a receiver more than a blocker and that started to come through late in the year with Cutler. While the passing game likely won’t feature Scheffler as the primary receiver, Cutler is still learning the game and should continue to rely on his 6’5" outlet on passing plays. Many tight ends break out in the second season and Scheffler should be in a nice spot to improve upon what was a nice end to 2007. He broke his foot mid-May but the prognosis should have him ready by training camp.

08-05-07 Update: Scheffler was placed on the PUP list for now while his broken foot heals. He's expected back soon but is losing out to Daniel Graham who has looked sharp in camp so far.

08-27-07 Update: Scheffler is back and looked good in the preseason game of week three when he caught two passes for 33 yards.

08-31-07 Update: Scheffler is back from his broken foot but Graham has already entrenched himself as the starting TE. Tony will still figure in but Graham is the primary now.

Donald Lee - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 MIA 11 13 110 8.5 1      
2005 GBP 13 33 294 8.9 2      
2006 GBP 11 10 150 15.0        
Avg   12 19 185 10.8 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   34 310   2      

Donald Lee only had 10 catches for 150 yards in 2006 and never scored. His 2005 season was better with 294 yards and two scores but his best advantage this year is that David Martin left for Miami and only he and Franks remain as veteran tight ends. Problem here is that regardless of his ability, the Packers do not use the tight ends the same as they once did. The position combined only had 56 catches for 580 yards and two scores in 2006 and that required three tight ends to accomplish. Forget the glory days of Green Bay tight ends catching touchdowns – it just does not happen much anymore.

Desmond Clark - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 CHI 14 24 282 11.8 1      
2005 CHI 13 24 229 9.5 2      
2006 CHI 16 45 626 13.9 6      
Avg   14 31 379 11.7 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   35 300   2      

(-Risk) Nothing like watching your team spend their first round draft pick on your position to make a guy feel bad. After four seasons with the Bears, the 30 year-old Clark comes off a career best season with 45 catches for 626 yards and six scores but he amassed those numbers in a very inconsistent way. After a hot start to the season where he had 391 yards after seven games, he only managed to gain 235 yards in the final nine match-ups and 125 yards came in one game. Were it not for that aberration against the Buccaneers when he had seven catches for 125 yards, Clark would have only totaled 110 yards in the second half of the season. Clark redeemed himself a little with a team-leading 64 yards in the Super Bowl, but obviously not enough to stop the Bears from drafting Greg Olsen.

Clark will continue to start this season but Olsen will obviously cut into his action more as the season progresses. While Olsen may take time as a rookie to get more passes, the reality is that Clark’s fantasy value has taken a hit and even worse could be declining as the season progresses.

Chris Baker - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 NYJ 12 18 182 10.1 4      
2005 NYJ 8 18 269 14.9 1      
2006 NYJ 16 31 300 9.7 4      
Avg   12 22 250 11.6 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   32 300   2      

For each of his five seasons with the Jets, Baker has increased his yardage but that progression still only amounted to a career best 300 yards on 31 catches in 2006. Baker turned in four touchdowns as well making him a worthy fantasy back-up tight end but his upside by now is very small. His 2005 season was shortened because of injury but in 2004 he had four scores as well. The Jets should have an improved rushing game this year and that won’t help out Baker’s numbers. He’ll remain on the waiver wire in most leagues but could serve as a bye week filler in leagues requiring a tight end. His performance of 2006 was close enough to 2004 to serve as proof that his upper limit has already been realized.

Jerramy Stevens - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 SEA 15 31 349 11.3 3      
2005 SEA 15 45 554 12.3 5      
2006 SEA 11 22 231 10.5 4      
Avg   14 33 378 11.4 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   30 280   2      

(-Risk) After five seasons in Seattle filled with little more than unrealized potential and more than a few legal and team “situations". Stevens was cut loose and picked up by the Buccaneers who signed him to a one-year contract worth around $600,000 – not exactly coughing up the big bucks to acquire his services. Stevens had his best season in 2005 when he recorded 45 catches for 554 yards and five scores but he halved that in an injury shortened 2006 season when he tore his meniscus and only played in 11 games.

Stevens has the measureables since he is reasonably fast, stands 6’7" and weighs 265 but his downfall has been his run-ins with the law and the team, a propensity to drop passes and generally a failure to put in the work to realize what his potential is considered to be. The Buccaneers will throw to their tight ends and it could happen here, but the risk is too high and the team already has Alex Smith. Leave Stevens for someone else.

Owen Daniels - HOU YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005                  
2006 HOU 13 34 350 10.3 5      
Avg   13 34 350 10.3 5 0 0 0
Proj HOU   26 270   2      

The rookie won the starting tight end spot in training camp last year and paid big dividends to fantasy teams once they realized he was a good start. Of course that only lasted through week eight when he had already scored five touchdowns and was coming off a 99 yard game of nine receptions in Tennessee. He never scored again and only managed a total of 167 yards over the final nine games.

To Daniel's benefit, Matt Schaub has played in a tight end friendly offense in Atlanta and there is an apparent lack of playmakers outside of Andre Johnson. But the offense shifted away from using the tight end so Daniels may find his rookie season was a career best. He’s mildly interesting as a back-up tight end who should get 10 or 20 yards per week at worst, but it’s optimistic to expect him to repeat 2006 let alone improve.

Ben Troupe - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 33
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 TEN 13 33 329 10.0 1      
2005 TEN 15 55 530 9.6 4      
2006 TEN 10 13 150 11.5 2      
Avg   13 34 336 10.4 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   24 270   2      

After a promising 530 yard, four touchdown season in 2005, Troupe only had 13 receptions for 150 yards and two scores last year and missed the final five games due to a fractured right ankle. In the final six games that he played with Vince Young at quarterback, Troupe never had a game with more than 16 yards. Expect Troupe to bounce back this year but that still won’t likely mean that he’ll have any fantasy value.

Jeff King - ARI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 33
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005                  
2006 CAR 2 1 1 1.0 1      
Avg   2 1 1 1.0 1 0 0 0
Proj ARI   25 260   2      

King will likely take over the starting tight end spot from Michael Gaines this year. The Panthers only had 37 catches by all tight ends last year and just two scores and King only had one catch for one yard and one score in 2006. The third year player is replacing Gaines as the receiver but that doesn't account for much in this offense.

Ben Utecht - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 34
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005 IND 4 3 59 19.7 2      
2006 IND 13 37 377 10.2        
Avg   9 20 218 15.0 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   25 260   2      

This third year player finally was given the #2 tight end role last year and responded with a 37 catch, 377 yard season. Problem is that he never scored a touchdown and being the #2 tight end does not account for much even in the high-powered Colts offense. Utecht will continue to figure in but he’ll also share with Brian Fletcher on occasion, lowering what are already are low fantasy numbers.

Robert Royal - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 35
Keeper: 39
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 WAS 9 8 70 8.8 4      
2005 WAS 13 18 131 7.3 1      
2006 BUF 15 23 233 10.1 3 1 -9  
Avg   12 16 145 8.7 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   25 240   2      

Royal was the only Bills tight end that mattered last year and that still only accounted for 23 catches for 233 yards and three scores. He only had three games with more than 30 yards and almost half the time he played he ended with less than 10 yards. Nothing more than some fantasy depth in a very large league.

Alex Smith - CIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 36
Keeper: 34
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005 TBB 15 41 367 9.0 2      
2006 TBB 14 35 250 7.1 3      
Avg   15 38 309 8.1 3 0 0 0
Proj CIN   28 240   2      

Smith started his promising second season in 2006 and while he had a 72 yard game in week three and two scores by week six, his production took a nosedive for the rest of the year while the Buccaneers pretended that Bruce Gradkowski was a viable option at quarterback. Entering his third season, Smith was looking like he should take the next step but the Buccaneers acquired Jerramy Stevens which will siphon off at least some action from Smith and possibly too much to merit any fantasy significance this year. Watch training camp to see if either Smith or Stevens takes a clear and preferred role, but in either case the player won’t provide more than back-up for your starting tight end.

Reginald Kelly - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 37
Keeper: 35
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 CIN 12 15 85 5.7        
2005 CIN 9 15 90 6.0 1      
2006 CIN 14 21 254 12.1 1      
Avg   12 17 143 7.9 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   20 190   2      

Kelly enters his ninth NFL season and fifth with the Bengals. He’s mostly valued for his blocking ability but last year had his best year as a Bengal when he caught 21 passes for 254 yards and one score. But even with that “good" year, he never had more than 35 yards in any individual game and rarely had more than one or two passes in a game. No reason to expect more.

Visanthe Shiancoe - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 38
Keeper: 36
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 NYG 4 5 25 5.0 1      
2005 NYG 9 8 91 11.4        
2006 NYG 11 12 81 6.8        
Avg   8 8 66 7.7 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   22 220   1      

The Vikings acquired Shiancoe this year to help fill the void left by Jermaine Wiggins’ departure. But the new offensive scheme that started last year used the tight ends very little. As a position, four different tight ends combined for only 518 yards and three touchdowns with the best being Wiggins with 386 yards and just one touchdown. Shiancoe was impressive early in his career with the Giants but playing behind Jeremy “I’ll just play hurt then" Shockey meant that Shiancoe had very little playing time. He never topped more than 91 yards in any season but always was impressive in training camps when coaches would comment that he needed more playing time (FYI – never happened). Shiancoe will compete with Richard Owens, Jeff Dugan and Stephen Spach for playing time. The biggest threat could be Spach but regardless, the #1 tight end in Minnesota won’t have enough fantasy value to rate as a starter for your team. The Vikings were in a desperate need for receivers last year to do something and yet the tight ends as a whole contributed little.

Daniel Campbell - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 39
Keeper: 38
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 DAL 2 2 16 8.0        
2005 DAL 5 3 24 8.0 1      
2006 DET 15 21 308 14.7 4      
Avg   7 9 116 10.2 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   20 180   1      

The blocking tight end Campbell came over from Dallas last year and surprisingly turned in a career high 308 yards on 21 carries with four touchdowns. Pretty heady numbers for any tight end in a Martz-offense that typically ignores tight ends but Campbell also turned in four games without any catches and had more than 25 yards in only six games last year. Too inconsistent for fantasy relevance and the addition of the tall Calvin Johnson this year should only serve to diminish Campbell’s role near the endzone.

George Wrighster - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 40
Keeper: 40
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 JAC 4 10 69 6.9 1      
2005 JAC 13 13 120 9.2 2      
2006 JAC 15 39 353 9.1 3      
Avg   11 21 181 8.4 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   20 180   1      

No analysis available.

Daniel Wilcox - BAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 41
Keeper: 41
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 BAL 11 25 219 8.8 1      
2005 BAL 9 20 154 7.7 1      
2006 BAL 12 20 166 8.3 3      
Avg   11 22 180 8.3 2 0 0 0
Proj BAL   14 90   2      

Wilcox is a solid blocker but as the #2 tight end in Baltimore, his role remains about one or so catches per game for around 10 yards with the odd touchdown. He had a career high three scores in 2006 but only caught 20 passes for 166 yards – almost the exact same sort of numbers from 2005. If Heap is injured, Wilcox will continue to provide his lofty one catch per game. He’s just a blocker and occasional scorer when all other receivers are covered.

Jeb Putzier - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 42
Keeper: 42
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 DEN 15 36 572 15.9 2      
2005 DEN 15 37 481 13.0        
2006 HOU 10 13 125 9.6        
Avg   13 29 393 12.8 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   20 170          

Putzier re-united with Gary Kubiak last year but it never amounted to more than 26 yards in any game. He’s mainly a blocker with the ability to add one or two catches per game. Leave him for the waiver wire because there’s no expectation that he will do more. He was already familiar with the offense last year and could not beat out an unheralded rookie tight end.

Joe Klopfenstein - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 43
Keeper: 43
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005                  
2006 STL 14 20 226 11.3 1      
Avg   14 20 226 11.3 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   11 100   1      

Klopfenstein only had 20 catches for 226 yards and one score in his rookie season but that was outstanding for a Rams' tight end based on the Martz years. He caught at least one pass in all but three games but unfortunately, it was usually only the one pass. Klopfenstein still remains in the long-term plans for the Rams but the acquisition of Randy McMichael in the off season will stunt any further development that would have occurred this year. Klopfenstein won’t have much fantasy value this year but could emerge in future seasons.

Anthony Fasano - KCC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 44
Keeper: 44
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004                  
2005                  
2006 DAL 13 14 126 9.0        
Avg   13 14 126 9.0 0 0 0 0
Proj KCC   12 80          

The Notre Dame rookie only had 14 catches last season and with all the other receivers in Dallas, his role will continue to be as a blocker. No real fantasy value expected here.

Dwayne Blakley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 45
Keeper: 45
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 ATL 5 4 35 8.8        
2005 ATL 5 4 30 7.5 1      
2006 ATL 5 6 76 12.7        
Avg   5 5 47 9.7 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   6 60          

While Blakley’s main role is as a blocker, he does manage to catch a few passes along the way and would be first in line should Alge Crumpler be injured. Blakley had six catches for 76 yards last year and he’ll likely do no better in 2007.

Ernest Wilford - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 45
Keeper: 55
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2004 JAC 15 19 271 14.3 2      
2005 JAC 16 41 681 16.6 7      
2006 JAC 16 36 524 14.6 2      
Avg   16 32 492 15.2 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   52 700   3      

The Jaguars soured on Wilford last year, moving him back to being the slot player and giving Reggie Williams his #2 spot back. Wilford still had 524 yards and two scores but that’s certain to decrease this year. The Jaguars brought in Dennis Northcutt and drafted Mike Walker to vie for the slot role because they have the one characteristic that has been Wilford’s downfall – he has no speed. He’s a hard worker and has great hands, but the new offense wants more speed and that counts Wilford only as wideout depth now.

08-21-07 Update: Wilford has risen back to being a starter and has seen his stock renewed in the eyes of the new offensive coaching staff.

   
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