Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
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 .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Patriots running back Stevan Ridley: 'I have something to prove'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is expected to become a free agent in the coming weeks and he is ready for the experience.

"I'm excited about it," Ridley told Sirius XM Radio Friday. "As a player coming into the league, you get there and your first contract you kind of have to establish yourself and see what you can do. Everybody is a good player if you get to make it to the NFL, but there is something to be said if you get to that second contract."

Ridley has rushed for 2,817 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league with the Patriots.

"Where I'll be playing, and who I'll be playing for, is still unknown, but I know I've come in and done my job up to this point and now I have to put it in my agent's hands to get me on another team, or stay where I'm at, and make sure I’m in pads playing ball somewhere next year. I know if you think about it too much it will worry you sick."

Ridley has played in 20 of a possible 32 games the last two seasons, starting in just 11 of them.

"I take it personal to any team or anybody that says I can't be a very productive player on whatever team I land on," he said. "I've been playing ball my whole life, I'm going to come in and be a leader, and I'm going to be a guy that comes in and busts his butt in the weight room and busts his butt on the field. I'm a good teammate, I have fun with my guys, but when the lights come on Sundays, it's all business and I plan on going out there and making plays."


Patriots' Aaron Dobson doing well in rehab of hamstring injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson is still recovering from a hamstring injury that ended his season in 2014. Trainer Brett Fischer said Friday he thinks Dobson is going to turn heads when he heads back to Foxboro for training camp, according to the Boston Herald.

"He was talking about, 'When I go up there (to Foxboro) and they see me again, I want to make sure they know I'm in the best shape of my life.' He is really determined," Fischer said. "That is the underlying theme every day: 'Hey, I've got to be ready when April comes, be ready as far as the best shape of my life.' It's frustrating with two years of freaky-type stuff."

Dobson finished a disappointing 2014 season with three catches for 38 yards.

"He is doing great," Fischer said. "I'm really excited for him. He has put the time and effort into it, comes in early, gets all his work in and he is hungry. There are a few specific things we found, minor little things we're working on, that make his program a little bit unique to everybody else's. Nothing major."


Report: Should be a 'very active market' for Broncos' Julius Thomas
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Broncos tight end Julius Thomas turned down a five-year, $40 million contract for a reason. That's because it's believed he will have a "very active market" when the new league year begins on March 10, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. 

Two teams that are expected to target Thomas in free agency are the Raiders and Jaguars, both of which need to upgrade considerably at their skill positions to help out their young quarterbacks. The expectation is for Broncos general manager John Elway to let Thomas test the waters in free agency to see what he's offered. 

The Falcons have also reportedly been interested, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. 

Injuries slowed what was an otherwise fast start to his 2014 season. Thomas' season ended with 489 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Report: Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be on the way out of Cleveland
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) With the signing of Josh McCown Friday, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer could be looking elsewhere for employment. Coach Mike Pettine called Hoyer to inform him the team was signing McCown and Hoyer appears ready to move on, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Hoyer played in 14 games for the Browns in 2014, throwing for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He lost his starting position to Johnny Manziel in Week 15, but was forced back into action after Manziel suffered a season-ending injury.


Quarterback Josh McCown agrees to terms with Browns
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Free agent quarterback Josh McCown has agreed to terms with the Browns on a contract, according to his agent Mike McCartney. The team later confirmed the report. The deal is reportedly set to have McCown on the Browns for three seasons, according to ESPN.

McCown, who will turn 36 before the season begins, previously visited with the Bills before signing with the Browns. McCown threw for 2,206 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2014 with the Buccaneers.


Jets WR Percy Harvin will not accept pay cut
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Jets receiver Percy Harvin will not agree to a reduction in his 2015 salary, reports CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. 

Harvin is slated to earn $10.5 million this season, something the Jets cannot afford. Teams around the league are interested signing Harvin to a short-term deal. With his expensive contract, though, the Jets will be hard-pressed to find a suitor interested in trading Harvin. 

The Seahawks traded Harvin to the Jets for a conditional pick during the 2014 season. 


Report: Colts' Wayne undergoes triceps surgery, mulling retirement
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne underwent surgery Friday to repair his injured triceps, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Wayne, 36, is beginning rehab for the injury and is reportedly considering retirement, according to Rapoport.

Wayne played in 15 regular season games for the Colts in 2014, totaling 779 yards on 64 catches with two touchdowns.


Dolphins WR Mike Wallace interested in return to Steelers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though the Dolphins are shopping Mike Wallace to prospective suitors, there is one team that is of interest to the speedy receiver. 

According to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Wallace has interest in potentially returning to the Steelers. Of course, the Steelers would have to decide if they'd be willing to take on a contract that's going to have a $12.1 million cap figure for 2015. 

Wallace has underperformed in relation to the five-year, $60 million contract he signed before the 2013 season. He's failed to reach 1,000 yards with the Dolphins in either season after recording that mark twice with the Steelers in his first four NFL seasons. 


Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson not accepting pay cut for 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is likely to remain with Tampa Bay this offseason, but he is not willing to accept a pay cut, according to CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora.

Jackson, who was shopped by the team before the trade deadline, is set to make $10 million in base salary and has a $12.2 million cap hit. He totaled 70 catches for 1,002 yards and two touchdowns in 2014.


Falcons' Dan Quinn wants to re-sign Sean Weatherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though Sean Weatherspoon missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries, Falcons coach Dan Quinn is hopeful the franchise can re-sign the standout inside linebacker to a new contract before he hits the free agent market on March 10. 

"With him, it's that toughness and the speed that he can play with so, yes, definitely someone that we're talking to," Quinn said via ESPN.com. "I know he's got that kind of attitude. And you know me, just from watching our style of defense, it's fast and physical. And that's what Sean is. So, we're certainly hoping that he can be a big part of it moving forward."

Weatherspoon played in only seven games during the 2013 season due to a Lisfranc sprain in his foot. He missed all of 2014 due to an Achilles tear. 

Weatherspoon was the Falcons' first-round pick in the 2010 draft. He's totaled 290 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions during his career. 


 
 
 
Rankings