Fantasy Football Preview – Tight Ends
These are your premier TEs. This elite group is perhaps more head and shoulders above the typical player than for any other position. You’ll have to get them fairly early (3rd-5th round) or you’ll miss out.
Antonio Gates – He’s been the Alpha Dog for a few years now. I don’t see this year being any different. All he did was go for 75 receptions, 984 yards, and 9 TDs.
Jason Witten – Witten’s 2007 campaign was second-to-none (that includes Antonio Gates) as far as TE’s go. He had 96 grabs for 1145 yards, and 7 TDs. Witten is a couple of years younger than Gates (although Gates is only 28) so the torch could be passed soon.
Kellen Winslow, Jr. - After the early bumps in his career, Winslow, Jr. has settled into being an elite TE in this league. He had fewer receptions (82 compared to 89) than in ’06, but his yardage skyrocketed (875 to 1106). He also saw an increase of 2 in the TD department. I see his receptions remaining in the 80 region, his yardage taking a little dip, and his TDs to increase.
Tony Gonzalez – The Godfather of the Big Dog TEs. I thought Gonzo would take a dip last year, but he went strong. He led all TEs with 1172 yards and 99 receptions. He added 5 TDs. He’s 32 years old so a fall could happen any year now. Just don’t count on it.
2nd Tier TEs
These TEs are still good, but won’t be score like a #2 WR like the BDTEs.
Chris Cooley - He’s perhaps one of the coolest guys in the league as evidenced by his fantasy football play. He’s topped the 700 yard mark three straight years. I can easily see him doing that again, and perhaps even moving into 800 yard territory. He added an impressive 8 TDs.
Dallas Clark – Clark’s 11 TDs were tops among Tight Ends last year. With Marvin Harrison back and Anthony Gonzalez likely to have a bigger role, I fear a dip in Clark’s production.
Owen Daniels – He’s the least-renowned of the TEs profiled thus far, but could have an even bigger breakout year in ’08. He snared 63 passes for 768 yards and 3 TEs.
Jeremy Shockey - Has his mouth finally wore out its welcome in NYC? Maybe. He’s been rumored to be on the block since the G-Men won the Super Bowl without him. You know the drill though. If he’s healthy and getting P.T., he’ll produce. Last year he had 57 catches for 619 yards and 3 TDs despite missing a couple of games.
Update: Now that Shockey has landed in New Orleans, I move him up a couple of notches. He’s a borderline Big Dog now. He’s in a better Offense with a better QB and more weapons to keep teams honest. His QB has a track record with TEs. If he can stay healthy and not become a distraction in New Orleans, Shockey could have a monster season.
Heath Miller – Heath had a nice little season last year for Pittsburgh grabbing 47 passes for 566 yards and 7 TDs. Not too bad for a TE that probably went in late rounds or undrafted in most leagues.
Todd Heap – He didn’t have the numbers last year (23 catches, 239 yards, 1 TD), but he was great the previous two seasons with over 70 catches, 750 yards, and 6 TDs each year. He’ll need to play more than the six he did last year.
Tony Scheffler – Denver’s Scheffler could be in line for a breakout year as Denver’s wideouts (outside of Brandon Marshall) and their Running Backs don’t appear to be as strong this year either. That could mean Tony is busy on Sundays.
Vernon Davis – San Francisco’s Davis has finally began to live up to the hype last year with 52 catches for 509 yards and 4 TDs. He missed a couple of games, which hopefully isn’t a trend for him as he missed 6 his rookie year. He has freakish athletic ability, and SF will likely be more pass-happy this year. He could be the best value of any TE this year.
We move on to the backup TEs now in most fantasy leagues.
Greg Olsen – The Bears have nothing going on Offense. Olsen had a decent enough rookie year (39 catches, 391 yards, 2 TDs) despite missing a couple of games. I think the Stiffler look-alike will have a breakout season with at least 600 yards and 5 TDs.
Benjamin Watson – Watson got into the Boston TD Party last year with 6 TD receptions. With all of their weapons, he remains the least venomous option so that TD number may not take that big of a dip. He added 36 receptions for 389 yards. I don’t see those numbers moving much in either direction.
Alge Crumpler – Perhaps a change of scenery will do wonders for Alge as he was clearly unhappy in the ATL last year. He saw his yardage virtually sawed in half last year. If he becomes Vince Young’s security blanket in Tennessee, he can return to fantasy relevance.
L.J. Smith – L.J. got hit by the injury bug last year resulting in a sub-par 22 catches for 236 yards and a score. He had 50+ receptions and 600+ yards the previous two years. If he’s healthy this year, he’ll produce closer to those numbers than his lowly 2007 numbers.
Zach Miller – Zach had a decent rookie year catching 44 passes for 444 yards and 3 TDs. He finished strong with career highs of 8 catches for 84 yars in his final game last year. He’ll likely be a security blanket for JaMarcus Russell and a TE that you use when the matchups are right.
These are TEs that come in cases marked “Break Glass in Emergency”. They are you bye week/injury plays.
Randy McMichael – He saw a pretty big dip in his reception and yardage numbers last year in his first year in St. Louis. The Rams in general saw their offensive production slide so he could be in for a little rebound.
Desmond Clark – The Bears wideouts are so bad that he could get his play again. I’m just not banking on another 44 catch, 545 yard, 4 TD season out of Clark as long as Olsen is healthy.
Leonard Pope – Pope is huge (6’8″) and a red zone target (5 TDs). He only had 23 catches though for 238 yards. Use with caution.
Chris Baker – He had a decent year for the Jets in 2007 with 1 catches for 409 yards and 3 TDs. I don’t see much more than that from him.
Alex Smith – Smith had 32 catches for 385 yards and 3 TDs. He’s produced virtually the same numbers his three years in the league so I wouldn’t expect much more than that.
Donald Lee – Lee had a fine year for Green Bay last year with 48 catches for 575 yards and 6 TDs. What scares me is the departure of Brett Favre. If he can jive with Aaron Rodgers, he’ll be fine. If not more mediocre seasons are in the future for Mr. Lee.
Mercedes Lewis – Lewis was decent at times for Jacksonville tallying 37 catches for 391 yards, and 2 TDs in his second year. I can see him becoming more fantasy relevant in ’08.
Jeff King – King had a decent year with Carolina last year, but the additon of D.J. Hackett and the return of Muhsin Muhammad should quell any thoughts of increased production out of King.