Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
2013 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2011 Draft Prep: Tight end tiers and strategies

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Dave Richard's Strategies and Tiers: QB | RB | WR | K & DST

Let's start here: Everyone's going to have a startable tight end to begin the Fantasy season. On Draft Day, everyone will not only wind up with a good pick, but they'll be happy about where they got him. There won't be an unhappy Fantasy owner in the world when it comes to this position.

How we feel about tight ends after the season remains to be seen. We're coming off a year where three of the most sought-after tight ends in Fantasy ended up on injured reserve and seven of the Top 15 finishers at the position were in-season waiver-wire pickups.

The new reality in the NFL is that offensive coordinators are constantly looking for mismatches on the field. Hand in hand with that is the rise of big-bodied athletes who can run fast and catch consistently. It used to be that teams that could find big targets who gained the confidence of their quarterback while providing headaches to opposing defenses were ahead of the game. Now you're way behind if you don't utilize the tight end.

End result? Everyone's got matchup-breaking tight ends in the Antonio Gates mold (minus the Antonio Gates ability in most cases, of course). For Fantasy owners, that means a grand array of players to choose from for the tight end slot in starting lineups. And with most people starting only one tight end, there's plenty of talent to go around.

If you reach, you lose

So because the supply of attractive tight end talent is deep and the demand for it is generally small, especially compared to other positions, no Fantasy owner should reach for a tight end in standard-scoring or PPR leagues. The drop-off last year from top-producing tight end Jason Witten to sixth-best Chris Cooley was 50 points (3.12 points per week) and the drop-off from Cooley to Todd Heap (14th-best) was 13 points (0.81 points per week). You can do better with a Top 40 or 50 pick -- don't draft a tight end until you recognize that you're getting a good value for him.

What constitutes a good value? Let's begin with the assumption that the first tight end taken in drafts, be it Gates or Dallas Clark or Witten, goes in Round 4. Any elite tight end that goes after Round 4 is good value. Any tight end in the second tier that goes in Rounds 6 or 7 is good value. Any tight end in the third tier that gets picked in Rounds 8 through 10 is good value.

And the longer you wait to take a tight end, the more likely you'll land a whopper. Most Fantasy owners don't draft a backup to their starter, so the talents available in the third tier will be around for a while and give your team a starter when most owners are drafting backups.

Elite Tier Very Good Tier
140+ FPTS 110+ FPTS
Round 5 Rounds 6-7
Antonio Gates Owen Daniels
Dallas Clark Jermichael Finley
Jason Witten Greg Olsen
Vernon Davis Kellen Winslow 
Upside Tier Sleepers
95+ FPTS  
Rounds 8-10 Rounds 11+
Rob Gronkowski Chris Cooley
Tony Gonzalez Zach Miller
Marcedes Lewis Brent Celek
Brandon Pettigrew  
Jimmy Graham  
 

They're predictable, too

If we know Gates, Clark and Witten are destined to be taken between 40th and 55th overall, we can pencil in Vernon Davis to come off draft boards no later than 65th overall. Jermichael Finley will probably end up in that range too. From there, expect Owen Daniels to land around the 80th pick and the rest of the tight end class to fall in line thereafter, albeit not at a break-neck pace.

Now then, if we know that there are lots of good tight ends and we know that four of five owners will commit to them early, it only makes sense that Fantasy owners pay attention to which of their rivals draft them. For example, if I'm in a 10-team league and my pick is coming up in Round 7, but the teams behind me already drafted tight ends, I know not to take one in Round 7. I'll wait until I'm up again in Round 8, assuming an attractive one is available (here's the example). Kind of sounds obvious, and if you're not paying attention in drafts you deserve to get whooped, but by simply tracking who's got a tight end and who doesn't you'll be able to pull off an even better steal.

Studs and duds

No one's getting any help here if we tell you that Antonio Gates is phenomenal or that Jason Witten is good. Let's focus on some players who could do well and some who might struggle this season.

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Football.

Jermichael Finley: Finley's an injury risk, so falling in love with him and drafting him within the Top 60 picks on Draft Day is a mistake. He already got off to a slow start in camp. That said, his upside is through the roof playing in a Packers offense that passes the ball quite a bit. We know Aaron Rodgers cannot wait to throw to him in games, but if Finley's knees don't cooperate, Fantasy owners will be left in a lurch.

Owen Daniels: Speaking of knee injuries, Daniels has battled back from his own torn ACL. He's healthy now, and if the end of last season means anything (22 catches, 271 yards, two touchdowns), he's ready to get back to where he was when he initially got hurt in 2009. The Texans have their big-play guy in Andre Johnson; Daniels could fill in as a No. 2 receiver of sorts. We know Matt Schaub has no problem targeting him.

Kellen Winslow: All K2 has done is catch 143 passes over the last two seasons, and he hasn't missed a game. He's kind of like Daniels in that he's on a team without an established No. 2 receiver, so he serves as the De facto No. 2 receiver. I like him in standard drafts, love him in PPR drafts, and he should easily be a solid Draft Day value choice. And FYI, he hasn't missed a single practice in training camp -- he's healthy.

Greg Olsen: Olsen has transcended sleeperdom (is that a word?) and has become the hot non-elite tier tight end of the season. He's an excellent receiver, he's the perfect kind of short-area target for Cam Newton to throw at and he's close with Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. Tack on the lack of reliable receivers in Carolina after Steve Smith and he's got a shot at over 60 catches. Fantasy owners are drafting Olsen to start and backing him up with another good tight end just in case he struggles, but so far this preseason the results have been excellent for him.

Rob Gronkowski: Gronkowski is a great all-around tight end, and he's a big guy. Several times last season we saw him "post up" like a basketball player at the goal line and fall into the end zone after making a catch. We also saw him break out when defenses couldn't find an answer for him (Week 10 last year ring a bell?). He's a good player, he's always going to be on the field and he'll always be a prime target for Tom Brady. Tough to stumble with those things going for you.

Marcedes Lewis: Many folks think Lewis will be a one-year wonder. But with minimal receiving threats for the Jaguars, Lewis is going to have to continue on as a primary target for David Garrard/Blaine Gabbert. He goes against everything you look for in a Fantasy option -- he just got paid, he's on a weak passing offense and he had been useless until last season. But the targets are going to be there, and if he's thrown at a lot, he'll put up some stats. He's another tight end to consider late; if he stinks early on you can cut him for someone else.

Jimmy Graham: Graham is like Gronkowski in that he'll be a dynamic red-zone threat on a strong passing offense. But there's no guarantee that he'll be on the field every down for the Saints like Gronkowski. Otherwise, he's your typical second-year stud tight end with Antonio Gates expectations. You could do worse.

Zach Miller: We're happy for Miller that he got paid for his hard work in Oakland by the Seahawks, but we can't stand his new quarterback. Moreover, the Seahawks' offensive line is not off to a good start this summer and Miller might be asked to block more and catch less (we hear that's called John Carlson-ed in the Pacific Northwest). Miller won't break out this season.

Lance Kendricks: If Olsen is a sleeper, then Kendricks is a deep sleeper; a guy we like but not enough to draft. Kendricks is already working with the Rams' first-team offense and is lining up in several spots on the field like Dallas Clark does with the Colts. You know that Josh McDaniels offenses put the ball up in the air a lot, and Kendricks is not a pure blocker and has even impressed teammates on seam routes. Here's a guy for everyone in dynasty/keeper leagues to drool over.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook . Do you have a question or a comment for our Fantasy staff? Drop us a line at dmfantasyfootball@cbs.com .

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
49ers shopping LaMichael James
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:06 pm ET) The 49ers are looking to trade running back LaMichael James in advance of next month's NFL Draft, reports the Sacramento Bee.

Meanwhile, James is aware of the trade rumors, apparently for a while now, since he tweeted Wednesday "when old news becomes new news" following the report.

James, a second-round pick in 2012, finds himself behind Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and perhaps Marcus Lattimore on the depth chart at running back this season. James served as the team's primary returner last year, but he wants a bigger role since he carried the ball just 12 times in 2013.


Joe Reitz stays with the Colts
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:11 pm ET) Offensive lineman Joe Reitz signed his restricted free agent tender offer on Thursday, giving him another year with the Colts. He started three games last season. 

Chris Johnson says arthritis reports 'not accurate'
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:10 pm ET) On a conference call with New York media, new Jets running back Chris Johnson said the report that he had arthritis in his knee was "not accurate," adding that he was "pretty sure I wouldn't have passed the physical" if he did have it. 

Earlier Thursday ESPN reported the Jets had "some concerns" about his knee

Johnson is expected to serve as part of a one-two punch at running back with Chris Ivory for the Jets. 


Vikings sign Kurt Coleman
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:31 am ET) The Vikings signed safety Kurt Coleman on Thursday. He spent the past four seasons with the Eagles and has seven career interceptions.

Coleman will try to make the final roster in Minnesota as a reserve defensive back and play on special teams.


Dwayne Bowe pleads guilty to amended charges
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:54 am ET) Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe pleaded guilty to amended charges relating to his Nov. 10 arrest for marijuana possession, the Kansas City Star reports. He paid $610 in fines and didn't get probation. It remains to be seen if he'll be subject to the NFL's substance abuse program. 

Report: Giants should consider dealing Ryan Nassib
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) Now that the Giants have signed Josh Freeman to a contract, does it mean that second-year quarterback Ryan Nassib will be off the roster soon? 

The Newark Star-Ledger believes the Giants should assess Nassib's value going into the draft considering the lack of great quarterback talent available. A team looking for a quarterback-of-the-future could make an offer. 

Nassib had 19 pass attempts during the preseason last August and wasn't active for a single regular-season game. 


Robert Griffin III looking like old self
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:43 am ET) A couple of members of the Redskins organization have started raving about how good quarterback Robert Griffin III looks this offseason, reports the Washington Post.

Receiver Santana Moss said via an ESPN podcast that Griffin "looks more comfortable because he don't have to worry about that brace. I think the brace was the big discomfort last year. You know, he’s a young guy with those fiery legs that want to do so much, and that brace probably gave him a little pinch in the behind because he couldn't do the things that he was normally accustomed to doing. You can already see, when we're out there in conditioning and stuff, he's running around, looking like the old Robert Griffin."

And former tight end Chris Cooley, currently one of the team's radio broadcasters, said "he's another person right now. I was like, 'you're running unbelievably well.' It was silly to watch. ... When you watch him run, you're like, 'You're a freak. You're seriously a freak.'"


Report: Jets have concerns over Chris Johnson's knees
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:33 am ET) Less than 24 hours after signing Chris Johnson to a two-year deal that might be worth as much as $9 million, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Jets have some concerns over the condition of his knee. Johnson apparently has some arthritis in it stemming from his torn meniscus in 2013 (which he played through). 

Johnson hasn't missed a game in five straight seasons. He's expected to form a one-two punch with Chris Ivory in the Jets' backfield this year. 


Brian Cushing says he's 100 percent
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:27 am ET) Posting a picture of himself with his son from a beach, Texans linebacker Brian Cushing said via Twitter that he's been cleared for football. Cushing missed the last nine games of last season with a knee injury. 

"Quick Trip to Pensacola with my lead blocker, better believe I'm 100% #beachday #cleared #fivesixback," he wrote. 


Could Peyton Manning throw less in 2014?
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:23 am ET) Peyton Manning might be asked to throw less so "the offense can be more," ESPN speculated on Thursday. Manning threw 659 passes last season, completing 450 of them (68.3 pct.) for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The yardage and touchdowns are NFL records. 

The thought process behind Manning being asked to throw less is that it would accentuate the run game and give the offense (read: Manning) more of an opportunity to build confidence in the running backs, namely Montee Ball.

No one on the Broncos has come out and suggested Manning will throw less. He still passed 583 times in 2012, seventh-most that year. Expect Manning to still throw plenty in 2014.


 
 
 
Rankings