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
LaRon Landry dealing with 'soft-tissue' injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) Colts safety LaRon Landry missed voluntary workouts and mandatory minicamp with what the team called a "soft-tissue" injury, reports ESPN.com. He's coming off a disappointing first season in Indianapolis in which he made 87 tackles and no interceptions.

The website said the Colts need a big year from Landry after the departure of fellow safety Antoine Bethea.

"The thing with LaRon is and I know [coach] Chuck (Pagano) alluded to it, he's a guy that his throttle is always full-bore," general manager Ryan Grigson told the website. "He's out there in parts unknown working out. We trust him in the fact that we know he's going to go harder than anyone."


Marquise Goodwin ticketed for change-of-pace role
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) The Bills view speedy receiver Marquise Goodwin as a change-of-pace option behind Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Mike Williams, according to WGR550.com. A former track star, Goodwin averaged 23.6 yards on his 17 receptions last year, scoring three touchdowns.

Mike Williams expected to be No. 3 receiver
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods are projected as the Bills' top two receivers, with Mike Williams expected to see the field in three-receiver sets, reports WGR550.com. Still, coaches view Williams "as a potential instant contributor and someone who could help EJ Manuel in both the red zone and as a player with high-pointing ability on all areas of the field," the report said.

Kendall Wright working out with Robert Griffin III
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) Titans receiver Kendall Wright returned to Baylor to work out with his former college quarterback, the Redskins' Robert Griffin III, reports the Tennessean. Wright posted a picture of himself with Griffin and another former Baylor wideout, the Cowboys' Terrance Williams.

"Good grind session with my bros … where it all started at BU," wrote Wright, who caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards and two touchdowns last season.

Aaron Rodgers talks up tight end Richard Rodgers
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) The Packers are unsettled at tight end, which means rookie Richard Rodgers could emerge as an option. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers certainly liked throwing to the 6-4, 257-pounder in the spring, and Richard Rodgers could be the starter "sooner rather than later," reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"When we made the pick, some of the so-called experts on the draft channel said he was a late sixth-round pick ... which is pretty laughable when you watch the talent he's got and the ability," Aaron Rodgers said. "You have to be excited about his body type and the hands.

"He's made some incredible catches, makes it look easy. I think he's going to push for some playing time if he can transfer what he's done in the spring now to the fall and have the potential to be an impact player."

Richard Rodgers ran a 4.87 forty coming out of California, two-tenths of a second slower than Jermichael Finley ran back in 2008, and often lined up in the slot in college, the paper said.


Jermichael Finley still hoping to return to Packers
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) Free agent tight end Jermichael Finley told ESPN.com he's working as hard as he can to return to the Packers. While Finley said this is the best he's felt "during this entire crazy process," he has yet to be cleared by team doctors.

Finley underwent neck fusion surgery last fall.


Ryan Kerrigan planning to stay with Redskins long-term
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is under contract through 2015 after the team picked up his option. The 2011 first-round pick envisions staying in Washington beyond that.

"I’ve worked hard these past few years to be the best I can for the team and for the organization," he told the Muncie Star Press of Indiana. "I’m going to be a part of it for at least an additional year and hopefully after that, even longer."

Kerrigan has 24.5 sacks over his first three years.


Byron Bell, Nate Chandler competing for left tackle job
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) With Jordan Gross' retirement, the Panthers will have a new left tackle in 2014. The team's website says the competition is between Byron Bell, who started 14 games at right tackle last year, and Nate Chandler, who started six games at guard and two at right tackle.

Chandler is a converted defensive lineman who went undrafted out of UCLA in 2012.


Baylor coach wants to help Josh Gordon
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) Baylor coach Art Briles told Sirius XM NFL Radio he wants to help troubled Browns receiver Josh Gordon, a former Baylor standout who's staring at a long suspension by the NFL.

"Everybody’s different in the world and that’s what makes it so unique and everybody’s got special talents and gifts," Briles said. "Josh certainly has a tremendous amount of physical talent and intellectual gifts. We all just hope and pray that he’ll be able to get through everything and finally reach his full potential. The thing about Josh that’s so unique is he’s still young, he just turned 23. His future is ahead. He’s going to be judged by everything that’s happened, but he still has a great future ahead and that’s the way he needs to approach the situation. When you’re in our family, you’re always in so we’ll do whatever we can do to help him be successful in his life."


Shawn Lauvao trying to fit in with Redskins
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(7/9/2014) Redskins guard Shawn Lauvao is adjusting well to his new team, offensive line coach Chris Foerster said. Lavao came over from the Browns and is expected to start at left guard next to Trent Williams.

"He got better every day," Foerster said of Lauvao's work at mandatory minicamp and OTAs. "It was all new to him. He needs to get out there and play. He’s more of a practice guy; he needs to be out there doing it.

"Trent [Williams] can make a lot of guys look good when they play next to him. He’s doing a good job with Shawn teaching him how to do things and [Lauvao] made huge strides from voluntary minicamp."


 
 
 
Rankings