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2009 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: September 10, 2009
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Kevin Boss - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 17
Keeper: 16
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007 NYG 13 9 118 13.1 2      
2008 NYG 15 33 384 11.6 6      
Avg   14 21 251 12.4 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   42 440   6      

(+Upside) Boss enters his third season and while he still hasn’t ranked well enough to be a fantasy starter, he’s getting closer with 33 receptions for 384 yards and six scores in 2008. While his primary job will always be as a blocker, 2009 has the Giants cleaning house on all starting wideouts and that should allow Boss to get at least incrementally more catches as a trusted outlet. It‘s not enough to consider Boss as a valuable fantasy starter but he makes a very solid fantasy backup at worst.

John Carlson - ARI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 4%
2006                  
2007                  
2008 SEA 16 55 627 11.4 5      
Avg   16 55 627 11.4 5 0 0 0
Proj ARI   64 660   6      

The three years that OC Greg Knapp was in Atlanta, Alge Crumpler was the leading receiver with never less than 750 yards or five scores. Last year with the Raiders, Zach Miller led the team with 778 yards. That is not to say that Carlson is necessarily due to lead the Seahawks this year since those other situations were dependent on the quarterback and other players on those teams. But – you should not be as concerned that Houshmandzadeh is going to come in and completely take over for the second year Carlson as the possession receiver that Hasselbeck always prefers. Carlson had a wildly effective rookie season in 2008 when he caught 55 passes for 627 yards and five scores. The return of Hasselbeck changes the offense and Houshmandzadeh will command his share of passes. But Carlson was impressive as a rookie – very few manage that – and will play in a system that still used the tight end. Carlson won’t be a top tight end this year but he’s a definite fantasy starter and one that is available later in the draft.

Brent Celek - PHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 22
Keeper: 24
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007 PHI 16 16 178 11.1 1      
2008 PHI 16 27 318 11.8 1      
Avg   16 22 248 11.5 1 0 0 0
Proj PHI   32 400   3      

Celek assumes the #1 tight end spot with the departure of L.J. Smith but his best so far is just 27 catches and 318 yards and one touchdown. Smith did have 682 yards in a season before but had dipped below 300 for the last two years and Celek will merely extend the Philly tradition of using tight ends just enough to make them worth owning but not quite top ten so that you should start one. Celek makes decent backup for your team and nothing more.

Desmond Clark - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 24
Keeper: 25
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 CHI 16 45 626 13.9 6      
2007 CHI 16 44 545 12.4 4      
2008 CHI 16 41 367 9.0 1      
Avg   16 43 513 11.8 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   40 390   3      

Still primarily the blocking tight end, Clark does offer some minor fantasy value but the emergence of Greg Olsen caused Clark to drop from around 500 to 600 yards per season down to just 367 yards last year and with just one touchdown. Figure Clark as nothing more than a bye week filler in a very big league.

Dallas Clark - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2006 IND 12 30 367 12.2 4      
2007 IND 15 58 616 10.6 11 2 29  
2008 IND 15 77 848 11.0 6      
Avg   14 55 610 11.3 7 1 10 0
Proj FA   68 780   7      

The Colts made great use of the tight ends last season and ranked #2 in the league with 109 completions to the position and 5th best in yardage with 1090 yards. Clark had the lion’s share of that action with a career high 77 catches for 848 yards and six touchdowns. He even broke the Colt’s all-time record for tight end catches previously held by John Mackey. The decrease in productivity by Marvin Harrison was caused in part by Anthony Gonzalez, but also by Clark.

No reason to downgrade Clark much this year though he has likely found his ceiling and could have less action with Gonzalez more experienced and other players coming up deserving playing time. He’s a lock to end up top ten among fantasy tight ends but his limited upside says there’ll be at least four or five tight ends better than him. Clark is being drafted a bit early this year based on his career season of 2008.

Chase Coffman - TEN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 32
Keeper: 23
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj TEN   22 240   1      

(+Upside) The Bengals have never used the tight end as a receiver that much and in recent years have ranked near the bottom in yards and scores from the position (no Bengals tight end scored last year). It would be easy enough to assume the same fate for Coffman were it not for one thing. The Bengals drafted him with a 3.34 pick – fairly early – and Coffman is not your blocking tight end. He only weighs 244 pounds and his college career was in Missouri’s spread offense where he had 247 catches for 2659 yards and 30 touchdowns during his four years there. He won the Mackey award as the nation’s best tight end. He is a receiving tight end and possibly nothing else. Why else did the Bengals spend a third round pick on him if it wasn’t to finally start throwing to the tight end?

Coffman is a good pick in a dynasty league to see what happens but in a redraft league the odds are that he won’t produce stats anywhere near what a fantasy starter should.

Chris Cooley - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 4%
2006 WAS 16 57 734 12.9 6      
2007 WAS 16 66 786 11.9 8      
2008 WAS 16 83 849 10.2 1      
Avg   16 69 790 11.7 5 0 0 0
Proj FA   80 820   3      

Cooley ended up with a career high 83 catches last year which ranked #2 in the NFL for tight ends. His 849 yards was also a personal best. But the new West Coast offense by HC Jim Zorn actually reversed how Cooley was being used. Once he was a common receiver but a nearly exclusive red zone target with at least six touchdowns in each of his previous four years. In 2009, he ended up great in yardage but only managed one touchdown catch. That dropped his value to around 8th best in non-reception point leagues despite being 4th best in yardage.

Cooley’s value rises in reception point leagues if only because he proved very consistent last year with catches and yards. Eleven of his games had around 50+ yards and usually four to six catches. That won’t win your weekly game but it certainly won’t hurt it.

Owen Daniels - BAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 5%
2006 HOU 13 34 350 10.3 5      
2007 HOU 16 63 768 12.2 3      
2008 HOU 16 70 862 12.3 2      
Avg   15 56 660 11.6 3 0 0 0
Proj BAL   71 830   4      

Three seasons and Daniels just gets better and better. 2008 ended with 70 catches for 862 yards that ranked #3 among all tight ends in the league. That was second only to Andre Johnson for team receptions. Where Daniels falls short is in touchdowns with only ten career scores over three seasons and just two last year. That precludes Daniels from being a top three tight end but his yardage is among the best for the position and in a points-per-reception league, there’s no reason to let him fall very far in the top ten. He’s been a low risk player with increasing impact for his team.

Vernon Davis - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 15
Keeper: 18
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 SFO 9 20 265 13.3 3 2 5  
2007 SFO 14 52 509 9.8 4      
2008 SFO 16 31 358 11.5 2 1 11  
Avg   13 34 377 11.5 3 1 5 0
Proj SFO   49 580   4      

The new offense in San Francisco should make more use of the tight end that Mike Martz did (or ever had) but Davis has never delivered on his first round draft expectations and now has yet another offense to learn. He’s been knocked for work ethic and for not learning the offense and changing schemes every year is not helping him. Look for an uptick in Davis’ stats this year but anything truly notable will rely on him holding onto catches and learning the plays – something he has yet to excel at after three years in the league.

08-05-09 Update: Davis is looking good so far in the tight-end friendly offense in SF but his track record says you should only consider him as a backup.

Anthony Fasano - KCC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 12
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 2%
2006 DAL 13 14 126 9.0        
2007 MIA 16 14 143 10.2 1      
2008 MIA 16 34 454 13.4 7      
Avg   15 21 241 10.9 3 0 0 0
Proj KCC   45 520   7      

Fasano’s move to Miami and from under the shadow of Jason Witten to Miami yielded a career season with 34 catches for 454 yards and seven touchdowns that ranked him tied for #3 in scoring among all NFL tight ends. The Dolphins ranked #1 as a team with 11 passing scores to their tight ends even though they only ranked 14th best in passes to the position. In Miami, the tight end doesn’t contribute all that greatly to moving the ball down the field but when the goal line nears, Fasano was the most popular target. His seven receiving scores were more than double that of any other position and the team wideouts only managed five in total.

The Dolphins will need to throw even more this year with a tougher rushing schedule and that should benefit Fasano the most. He’s still not to the point of being a tier one player but he’s a solid choice for a fantasy tight end.

Jermichael Finley - FA* YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 16
Keeper: 14
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008 GBP 14 6 74 12.3 1      
Avg   14 6 74 12.3 1 0 0 0
Proj FA*   45 510   5      

While Finley has many of the athletic traits of productive fantasy tight ends—he’s a former wide receiver who bulked up, as well as a former hoopster—he’s also young (still just 22 years old) and inexperienced (just two seasons at Texas). He’s also known more for his talking than his production, though he’s vowed in 2009 to let his play speak for him. There’s no question he has the talent to bring a dynamic presence to a Green Bay offense that’s known for putting tight ends to good use, but right now he’s truly on the radar only in dynasty leagues. Though Donald Lee will start the season ahead of him on the depth chart, Finley is worth keeping an eye on as a potential midseason upgrade or bye-week fill-in.

08-08-09 Update: Finley was a quiet sleeper type this summer but he's showing up in camp as constantly impressive and has drawn rave reviews from Aaron Rodgers. Still a risk as a fantasy starter but he should be your first backup tight end at this point.

Casey Fitzsimmons - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 43
Keeper: 43
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 DET 5 7 71 10.1        
2007 DET 16 8 85 10.6 1      
2008 DET 14 12 85 7.1 1      
Avg   12 9 80 9.3 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   12 100   1      

No analysis available.

Antonio Gates - SDC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2006 SDC 16 71 924 13.0 9      
2007 SDC 16 75 984 13.1 9      
2008 SDC 16 60 704 11.7 8      
Avg   16 69 871 12.6 9 0 0 0
Proj SDC   70 910   9      

Gates comes off his worst season since 2003 when he was a rookie. A turf toe and later a high ankle sprain conspired to leave him with just 60 catches for 704 yards and eight touchdowns which was still #2 in the league for tight end touchdowns. Gates had remained above 900 yards for four consecutive seasons until 2008. Gates enters his contract year and the Chargers will be looking to extend it before the season if they can. This is the big payoff for Gates who was undrafted in 2001 and has spent the last five years being an elite in his position.

Gates is only 29 and has not been injury prone in the past. Expect a bounce back this year which will see him back to form and at the top of the tight end heap once again.

Tony Gonzalez - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2006 KCC 15 73 900 12.3 5      
2007 KCC 16 99 1172 11.8 5      
2008 KCC 16 96 1058 11.0 10      
Avg   16 89 1043 11.7 7 0 0 0
Proj FA   72 900   7      

The future Hall of Famer finally left Kansas City and shows up in Atlanta at the age of 33 and with 12 seasons under his belt. Does he have much left? Hard to prove age has caught up with him at all. Gonzalez has turned in over 900 receiving yards in each of the last six years and comes off a ten-touchdown season. He eclipsed 1000 yards in each of the last two years and there has been absolutely no sign that he is slowing down other than a slight decline in his yards per catch.

What makes this one even more interesting is that the Falcons only threw a total of 30 passes to the tight ends last season and completed just 19. But that was in the first year of the new offense with a rookie quarterback and realistically, Justin Peele probably maxed out with his position leading 15 catches for 159 yards. Gonzalez doesn’t come in as a tight end; he comes in as one of the premier receivers in the NFL. He is bound to slow down soon and he has the first change of scenery since he left CAL back in 1997. But we’ve been waiting for a few years for it to happen.

The Falcons could use the help since Roddy White was the sole receiving threat last season and now Matt Ryan has a full season under his belt. Gonzalez also may end up with no bad weather games thanks to a freakish four home games during weeks 12 to 16 and only a trip to play the Jets in week 15 as a chance for poor weather. Gonzo should not be downgraded just for moving – his situation may be even better.

Todd Heap - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 29
Keeper: 31
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 BAL 16 73 765 10.5 6      
2007 BAL 6 23 239 10.4 1      
2008 BAL 16 35 403 11.5 3      
Avg   13 44 469 10.8 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   28 290   2      

Heap enters his 9th season in Baltimore and his value has never been lower – and that says something about a player who only had 239 yards and one score in 2007. That was back when he missed ten games with injury but 2008 had a relatively healthy Heap playing all 16 games and only amassing 35 catches for 403 yards and three scores (and two came in the Houston matchup). The Ravens have added L.J. Smith just to make Heap look even less attractive and the days of Kyle Boller throwing exclusively to Heap are long gone. The addition of Joe Flacco has given the offense the ability to throw downfield anyway so make a brain dump of any lingering notion that the Ravens throw to their tight ends much. Heap never had more than 58 yards in any game and averaged only about two catches per week.

Steve Heiden - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 26
Keeper: 28
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 CLE 16 36 249 6.9 2      
2007 CLE 16 12 104 8.7        
2008 CLE 14 23 249 10.8        
Avg   15 24 201 8.8 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   36 330   3      

Heiden enters his 11th season and the 33 year old remains a great blocker and only a mediocre receiver. He peaked back in 2005 when he collected 43 receptions for 401 yards and three touchdowns. With Robert Royal on the team as well, it’s a mistake to think that the two of them together can make up for what they lost when Winslow left.

Dustin Keller - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 13
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 4%
Movement:
2006                  
2007                  
2008 NYJ 16 48 535 11.1 3      
Avg   16 48 535 11.1 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   68 700   5      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Keller is a good news/bad news sort of player this year. The good – his rookie season saw him end with 48 catches for 535 yards and three scores. That’s wildly successful compared to all rookie tight ends. Even better – he had 35 catches for 388 yards in the final eight games. However… that was with Brett Favre throwing the ball. This year it will be either Kellen Clemens or more likely the rookie Mark Sanchez. That could be a great thing for the long-term and Keller remains a strong play in a dynasty league but for 2009, it’s a big risk to expect the same stats let alone an increase. Many first year starters will rely on their tight end which could benefit Keller. And the Jets let Laveranues Coles go so they are short proven receivers this year anyway. Keller could still have a great year but with the changes in personnel it is a risk to rely on.

Reginald Kelly - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 41
Keeper: 42
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 CIN 14 21 254 12.1 1      
2007 CIN 15 20 211 10.6        
2008 CIN 16 31 207 6.7        
Avg   15 24 224 9.8 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   19 180          

Kelly managed to be the leading tight end last year but that only added up to 207 yards on 31 catches with no scores. No reason to expect different this or any year.

Jeff King - ARI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 34
Keeper: 35
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 CAR 2 1 1 1.0 1      
2007 CAR 16 46 406 8.8 2      
2008 CAR 16 21 195 9.3 1      
Avg   11 23 201 6.4 1 0 0 0
Proj ARI   22 220   1      

King signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract to remain with the team but his fantasy value is minimal at best on the #27 ranked NFL team at using tight ends. If Rosario doesn’t play for any reason, then King still is not fantasy relevant but he’s a little closer.

Jim Kleinsasser - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 44
Keeper: 44
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 MIN 8 7 47 6.7        
2007 MIN 16 4 43 10.8 1      
2008 MIN 16 6 92 15.3        
Avg   13 6 61 10.9 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   13 140          

As a receiver, Kleinsausage peaked in 2003; over the past three years the Vikings’ blocking tight end has amassed 17 catches for 182 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers are for three years. If your fantasy league’s scoring system rewards players for chip-blocking with the tackle, Kleinsasser would be a viable option. Odds are it doesn’t, in which case Jimmy is valuable fantasy-wise only in that he’ll help open holes for Adrian Peterson and keep Sage Rosenfels (or Tarvaris Jackson or maybe even Brett Favre) upright.

Donald Lee - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 28
Keeper: 30
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 GBP 11 10 150 15.0        
2007 GBP 15 48 575 12.0 6      
2008 GBP 16 39 303 7.8 5      
Avg   14 32 343 11.6 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   31 320   2      

Lee has a couple factors working against him. First, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t share his predecessor’s fondness for throwing to the tight end; in two of the previous three seasons, Green Bay’s TEs ranked in the top 10 in fantasy points but under Rodgers that slipped to 19th. Second, while Lee is the more experienced and more consistent option last year’s third-round selection Jermichael Finley is the more talented and more athletic. Moreover, Lee finds himself battling Jordy Nelson and James Jones for looks, and with Rodgers at the helm those looks are more and more frequently going downfield instead of to the tight end. Lee might offer some early-season help, as the Pack’s four pre-bye games all come against defenses not known for shutting down TEs (CHI, STL, @CIN, @MIN); after that, however, there’s a good possibility Finley will be seeing the bulk of what looks are left over for Green Bay TEs.

Marcedes Lewis - JAC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 25
Keeper: 26
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 JAC 9 13 126 9.7 1      
2007 JAC 16 37 391 10.6 2      
2008 JAC 16 41 489 11.9 2      
Avg   14 30 335 10.7 2 0 0 0
Proj JAC   38 440   2      

Lewis actually had a leap forward in his third season when 2008 witnessed a career high 41 catches for 489 yards but that still only puts him in the fantasy depth category for filling a bye week. He has never had more than two touchdowns in a season since Jacksonville will always run in a score whenever possible. No real upside here.

Randy McMichael - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 23
Keeper: 22
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 MIA 16 62 640 10.3 3      
2007 STL 16 39 429 11.0 3      
2008 STL 4 11 139 12.6        
Avg   12 37 403 11.3 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   40 400   3      

McMichael broke his leg and tore a tendon last season and missed 12 games but is healthy and has returned to full workouts. The new offensive scheme imported from Philly does use tight ends but won’t make McMichael into a superstar. With all the inexperience at wide receiver, Bulger may rely on his tight end more this year and give McMichael enough work to merit him being a fantasy starter but there is a big risk on relying on that. Like most other offensive players, McMichael is a leftover from the previous regime. Grab him as a backup if you can but it’s a gamble to expect big numbers from any Rams receiver this year.

Zach Miller - SEA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 13
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 2%
2006                  
2007 OAK 16 44 444 10.1 3      
2008 OAK 16 56 778 13.9 1      
Avg   16 50 611 12.0 2 0 0 0
Proj SEA   60 740   3      

Miller underwent offseason sports hernia surgery but is expected to be ready for training camp. His presence is important since he was the Raiders leading receiver last year (56-778, 1 TD) and JaMarcus Russell has not proven that he can actually connect with anyone other than Miller. His lack of touchdowns keeps Miller more as fantasy depth but if Jeff Garcia gets to start, Miller could see an increase. He still has upside but not enough to warrant taking as a starter for your fantasy team.

Heath Miller - PIT YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 18
Keeper: 17
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 PIT 16 34 393 11.6 5      
2007 PIT 16 47 566 12.0 7      
2008 PIT 14 48 514 10.7 3      
Avg   15 43 491 11.4 5 0 0 0
Proj PIT   48 530   4      

Miller enters his contract year with the rookie deal playing out this season. He’s become a valuable part of the offense though he has stagnated at around 500 yards each season. In 2008, he fell to a career low three touchdowns as well. Expect that Miller makes a great backup tight end and you could do much worse if you are forced to use him as a starter. Not much upside here but almost no downside either.

Shawn Nelson - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 35
Keeper: 36
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   19 210   1      

Nelson brings some promise the Bills who used their 4.21 pick on the Southern Mississippi star. Nelson has the size to play the game (6-5, 240 pounds) and ended a four year career with the Golden Eagles that produced 157 catches for 2054 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 4.56/40 time at the combine was slower than expected but still ranks as one of the faster tight ends in the league and his athleticism and size can make for some nice mismatches. But Nelson heads to a team that has not ranked better than around 20th in tight end catches and yards for many years and they were also intrigued by his ability to block. Nelson is worth keeping an eye on but as a rookie he’s unlikely to show too much on this offense. He could win the TE2 job as early as the start of the season but historically that hasn’t been worth anything with fantasy significance. In a dynasty league, he’s worth a draft and hold just in case.

Greg Olsen - CAR YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2006                  
2007 CHI 14 39 391 10.0 2      
2008 CHI 16 54 574 10.6 5      
Avg   15 47 483 10.3 4 0 0 0
Proj CAR   61 790   7      

(+Upside) Olsen saw a nice leap in production in his second season when he had 54 catches for 574 yards and five scores. That was good enough to just barely sneak into the top ten in most leagues. He also finished out the season on a strong note with a touchdown in three of his final four games. Now that Jay Cutler has been added to the offense, Olsen should see yet another nice jump in production since the Broncos ranked in the top five for tight end yards and touchdowns under Cutler last season. Olsen makes a great tight end to take when you have waited to take one until after half the league has chosen theirs. He’ll be no worse than be a top ten tight end and could surprise this year thanks to Cutler.

Brandon Pettigrew - DET YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 20
Keeper: 21
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj DET   41 440   3      

Let’s get this out of the way first: rookie tight ends, especially first-round picks, rarely deliver. Consider that this millennium 13 tight ends have been selected in the first round, and as rookies they produced an underwhelming average of 303 yards and 1.9 touchdowns. This group includes Todd Heap, Jeremy Shockey, Dallas Clark, Kellen Winslow, Greg Olsen and Dustin Keller, among others. Among that collective only Shockey and Keller topped 460 yards and only Heath Miller scored more than three touchdowns.

Have your expectations been sufficiently lowered? Now let’s talk about all that is good with Pettigrew. First off, he’s a combo tight end and his blocking will ensure that he’s on the field. New Lions OC Scott Linehan often uses two tight end sets, but a prerequisite is blocking skill and that won’t be a problem with Pettigrew. Speaking of Linehan, he’s had some significant successes with tight ends in the past—most notably Jermaine Wiggins (71 catches, 705 yards) with the 2004 Vikings (in a passing game that included Randy Moss and Nate Burleson) and Randy McMichael (60-582-5) the following season in Miami. Linehan even squeezed 37-393 and 46-401 campaigns out of Vikings blocking tight end Jim Kleinsasser in 2002 and 2003, so there’s little question he knows how to get the tight end involved in the passing game. Then of course there’s the fact that defenses will be devoting most of their attention to Calvin Johnson, leaving the middle of the field open for Pettigrew. And young quarterbacks love to lean on the tight end as a checkdown, so if/when Matthew Stafford takes over expect Pettigrew to be a popular security blanket.

Conflicting trends, to be sure, but there’s enough upside here for Pettigrew to at least be on the fantasy radar as a fringe starter in larger leagues and a definite keeper option in dynasty leagues.

Richard Quinn - CIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 45
Keeper: 45
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008                  
Avg   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj CIN   10 80          

The Broncos surprised yet again in the NFL draft when they moved up to use a 2.32 pick and select Richard Quinn out of North Carolina. His draft grade was much lower on most boards but this was hardly the only surprise that Denver pulled in the offseason. There will be assumptions that Quinn was drafted to replace Tony Scheffler and that he is worth a late pick in a redraft league. Not so. Quinn is a blocking tight end who only had 12 catches in his entire college career. He may help Knowshon Moreno via his blocking but it is highly unlikely that Quinn will ever help your fantasy team. Just 12 catches in college. Do not make him into more – no other team has.

Dante Rosario - CHI YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 39
Keeper: 39
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007 CAR 16 6 108 18.0 2      
2008 CAR 16 18 209 11.6 1      
Avg   16 12 159 14.8 2 0 0 0
Proj CHI   15 180   1      

Rosario is healing up from lower back surgery but still may be ready for training camp. Regardless, the Panthers hardly use the position and Rosario does not produce fantasy significant numbers.

Robert Royal - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 42
Keeper: 41
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 BUF 15 23 233 10.1 3 1 -9  
2007 BUF 16 25 248 9.9 3      
2008 BUF 15 33 351 10.6 1      
Avg   15 27 277 10.2 2 0 0 0
Proj FA   22 180          

Royal goes to his third NFL team in eight years but like Steve Heiden, he’s little more than a blocker. Royal’s best season was just last year when he only had 33 catches for 351 yards and one score in Buffalo. No reason to draft Royal.

Sean Ryan - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 33
Keeper: 34
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 NYJ 7 6 44 7.3        
2007 MIA 10 3 46 15.3        
2008 MIA 1              
Avg   6 3 30 7.5 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   18 180   2      

No analysis available.

Bo Scaife - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 21
Keeper: 20
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 TEN 14 29 370 12.8 2 1 13 1
2007 TEN 16 46 421 9.2 1      
2008 TEN 16 58 561 9.7 2      
Avg   15 44 451 10.6 2 0 4 0
Proj FA   46 490   2      

Scaife remains the primary tight end and signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract but Alge Crumpler also figures in and the rookie Jared Cook could also show up in box scores this year. Scaife probably hit the ceiling in this position when he had 58 catches for 561 yards and two touchdowns. The addition of Nate Washington and Kenny Britt should only serve to decrease the tight end catches this year. Consider Scaife for fantasy depth but don’t expect him to produce starter numbers this year. He’s never been a red-zone player with never more than two scores in any of his four seasons and his yardage should decrease this year.

Tony Scheffler - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 19
Keeper: 19
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 DEN 11 18 286 15.9 4 1 3  
2007 DEN 16 49 549 11.2 5      
2008 DEN 13 40 645 16.1 3 1 -1  
Avg   13 36 493 14.4 4 1 1 0
Proj FA   40 490   3      

Scheffler has been a better than average tight end with 40 catches for 645 yards and three scores last year and 49 receptions for 549 in 2007. He’s only in his fourth season now but there was rampant speculation that he would be traded in the offseason which never transpired. The team also spent their 2.32 pick in Richard Quinn which immediately made Scheffler look like an outsider to the new regime in Denver. With Cutler gone, there is no remaining loyalties or established chemistry for that matter but Scheffler remains one of the better receiving tight ends and had an unheard of 16.1 yards per catch last year. Most tight ends struggle to exceed ten yards per catch. Scheffler gained more than most wide receivers last year. Add in that Orton came from an offense where he often threw to tight ends and perhaps Scheffler will not lose any ground this year. But there is risk at the very least and Scheffler is not worth more than a stand-in for your starter’s bye week.

Derek Schouman - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 31
Keeper: 32
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007 BUF 3 3 19 6.3        
2008 BUF 16 15 153 10.2 1      
Avg   10 9 86 8.3 1 0 0 0
Proj FA   29 250   1      

Schouman enters his third season as the favorite to start this year but he only has 18 career catches and just one touchdown to his credit so far. Robert Royal was the starter last season and only scored once himself and had only one or two catches in most games. The Bills has not used the position for more than around 500 yards in a season going back many years though recently that has been improving. 2008 saw a total of 58 catches for a high of 598 yards and three scores thrown amongst all team tight ends. The addition of Terrell Owens is not likely to cause a boon for this position though and the rookie Shawn Nelson at least has more potential than any other tight end on the roster once he gets familiar with the scheme. Schouman will likely be the starter in week one but Derek Fine will figure in and eventually Shawn Nelson could press for the starting role.

Visanthe Shiancoe - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 11
Keeper: 15
Auction 10: 2%
Auction 12: 2%
2006 NYG 11 12 81 6.8        
2007 MIN 16 27 323 12.0 1      
2008 MIN 16 42 596 14.2 7      
Avg   14 27 333 11.0 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   48 630   6      

Overexposed though he may have been last year, thanks to FOX’s locker room cameras, Shiancoe’s finish as a top-five fantasy tight end was mostly under the radar. His seven touchdowns tied for third among NFL tight ends, and a seven-catch, 136-yard, two-touchdown performance in Week 16 likely won him the everlasting appreciation of fantasy owners he helped to a championship.

The trouble with expecting a full-blown encore is that Shank’s seven scores came on just 42 catches (16th among tight ends) and 59 targets (20th at his position). Moreover, some of Shiancoe’s slot work will likely be usurped by rookie Percy Harvin as the Vikings look to get creative with their top draft pick. That said, there are just as many factors favoring at least similar, if not improved, numbers from the Junk Man. Should Sage Rosenfels win the starting quarterback job in training camp, Shiancoe can expect more accurate passes as Sage’s completion percentage is five points better than incumbent Tarvaris Jackson. Rosenfels certainly knows where to find the tight end; he targeted Owen Daniels at least four times in each of his six games as the Texans’ quarterback last season and was at the helm for the bulk of Daniels’ 11-133 effort against the Vikings last year. And if Brett Favre comes out of retirement… well, tight ends from Mark Chmura to Donald Lee have No. 4 to thank for upticks in their fantasy value. Harvin could also prove a boon to Shank’s success, attracting defensive attention and leaving the seam unattended for Shiancoe and a 14.2 yards per catch average—second among tight ends with at least 32 catches last season. Bottom line, fantasy owners won’t be left hanging if they tab Shank as an every week starter.

Jeremy Shockey - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 14
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 NYG 15 66 623 9.4 7      
2007 NYG 14 57 619 10.9 3 1 6  
2008 NOS 12 50 483 9.7        
Avg   14 58 575 10.0 3 0 2 0
Proj FA   61 730   3      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Shockey’s first season in New Orleans was a lost cause since he suffered a sports hernia which required surgery and limited him to only 50 catches for 483 yards for 2008. Granted, he passed out in Vegas from dehydration but otherwise he is ready to resume his playing time with the Saints and is approaching this as if it is the first season with the team. Remember – Shockey was only acquired in August last year and this will be the first time that he and Drew Brees have spent an offseason working together. Shockey was locked in around 600 to 700 yards each season while in New York but in New Orleans there is at least the promise of even better stats – if he can remain healthy. Historically he always misses at least one game.

No doubt that Shockey carries a lot of risk but consider too that Lance Moore was injured in the offseason and may not be ready for the start of the season. And in any scenario, Shockey could have a career year in this offense if he can only remain on the field for the entire season.

L.J. Smith - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 30
Keeper: 33
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 PHI 15 50 611 12.2 5      
2007 PHI 10 22 236 10.7 1      
2008 PHI 13 37 298 8.1 3      
Avg   13 36 382 10.3 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   25 260   2      

The Ravens brought in L.J. Smith from Philadelphia and signed him to just a one year contract worth $1.5 million which is virtual peanuts for a six year veteran. Smith has been plagued by various ailments in recent years and most notably a sports hernia. He already missed some time in the spring because of his groin and that doesn’t bode well. He is only two years removed from being a big part of the Philly offense but he’s also two years removed from being completely healthy and more than moderately productive. Heap is hard enough to take and Smith is even less attractive in fantasy drafts this summer. Draft for his game, not for his name – and that means no thanks.

08-28-09 Update: Smith has a bad hamstring strain that may last into the season.

Stephen Spach - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 36
Keeper: 37
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006                  
2007                  
2008 NEP 2              
Avg   2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   25 200   1      

No analysis available.

Jerramy Stevens - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 27
Keeper: 29
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 SEA 11 22 231 10.5 4      
2007 TBB 15 18 189 10.5 4      
2008 TBB 14 36 397 11.0 2      
Avg   13 25 272 10.7 3 0 0 0
Proj FA   30 280   3      

Stevens will play an obvious #2 to Kellen Winslow but the coaching staff intends on using a lot of two tight end sets with Stevens the other guy. He won’t have enough action to consider for a fantasy start but Stevens could have a decent showing with Winslow attracting so much attention.

Dave Thomas - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 40
Keeper: 27
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
Movement:
2006 NEP 8 11 159 14.5 1      
2007 NEP 2 1 9 9.0        
2008 NEP 15 9 93 10.3        
Avg   8 7 87 11.3 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   21 180   1      

No analysis available.

Ben Utecht - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 37
Keeper: 38
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 IND 13 37 377 10.2        
2007 CIN 14 31 364 11.7 1      
2008 CIN 10 16 123 7.7        
Avg   12 28 288 9.9 0 0 0 0
Proj FA   21 190   1      

The addition of Utecht last year was supposed to see the Bengals to finally step up from being one of the least TE-friendly teams in the league. 29th in yardage to the position and 32nd in touchdowns by the position (none). Utecht just did not make any difference.

Ben Watson - NOS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 38
Keeper: 40
Auction 10: 1%
Auction 12: 1%
2006 NEP 13 49 645 13.2 3      
2007 NEP 12 36 389 10.8 6 1 11  
2008 NEP 14 22 209 9.5 2      
Avg   13 36 414 11.2 4 0 4 0
Proj NOS   14 130   2      

Watson peaked in 2006 when he had 643 yards on 49 catches but has declined in the last two years when the Patriots had Randy Moss and Wes Welker to use. Watson has never remained healthy for a full 16 game season and now will be challenged by Alex Smith for playing time. Watson has lost all fantasy value.

Kellen Winslow - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 5%
Auction 12: 6%
2006 CLE 16 89 875 9.8 3      
2007 CLE 16 82 1106 13.5 5      
2008 CLE 10 43 428 10.0 3      
Avg   14 71 803 11.1 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   69 800   5      

(-Risk) (+Upside) Winslow agreed to a six-year, $36.1 million contract. The deal includes $20.1 million guaranteed and gives Winslow the chance to make another $7 million in incentives. He finally went through an offseason without having any surgery but must learn a new offense which will be quite different than Cleveland. Winslow was cranking out 850+ yard seasons but last year fell to just 428 yards on 43 catches and missed six games. He will also be faced with what could well be a continually changing quarterback situation this season. The Bucs intend on using two-tight end sets this year and Jerramy Stevens will join Winslow as a potential passing target. Expect a decent season for Winslow – baring injury – but expect a lesser year for him at least for 2008 in a new offense with a much different situation than in Cleveland. He has upside but also risk.

Jason Witten - DAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 14%
2006 DAL 16 64 754 11.8 1      
2007 DAL 16 96 1145 11.9 7      
2008 DAL 16 81 952 11.8 4      
Avg   16 80 950 11.8 4 0 0 0
Proj DAL   79 950   7      

Witten’s numbers were actually down last season and yet his 952 yards still ranked #2 among tight ends and his 81 catches were third best in the league. But that still looked small coming off his 96 catch, 1145 yards and seven scores from 2007. He remains supremely consistent every year in yards per catch and having Terrell Owens leave should make Witten be no less important to the passing scheme. The Cowboys want to run more but Witten’s role should not take any hit. He’s an integral part of what happens on third down and a safe bet for top three fantasy numbers.

Witten doesn’t have much upside since he is already at the top of his position but just as importantly – he’s as safe of a bet as any tight end.

   
 

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