Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play 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
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
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
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
 
 
 

2013 Draft Prep: Tight end tiers and strategies

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Tiers by position: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | K/DSTs

Kind of a quiet offseason for tight ends, no?

I mean besides the infected forearms, surgically-repaired backs, hurt wrists, torn-up knees, unretirements and franchise-shocking releases.And dislocated hips too.

Tight ends haven't exactly been set aside in the news cycle, nor have they been forgotten about by Fantasy owners either. Not by a longshot. A see-saw trend over the last six years saw tight end numbers rise one year, fall the next. Said trend continued last year but the drop-off in stats from 2011 to 2012 was minimal: Only three fewer tight ends had over 100 Fantasy points while the number of tight ends with at least 120 Fantasy points stayed level at four. It's safe to expect those numbers to stay the same in 2013, meaning the position will be top heavy but with a lot of talented threats getting close to that 100 point threshhold.

FREE Draft Kits!
Mike Tolbert
Get everything you need to dominate on Draft Day in one convenient place with our Downloadable Draft Kit, complete with projections, rankings and outlooks for 2013!
Download your Draft Kit now!

It's the biggest threat of them all that has Fantasy owners nervous.

What to do with Gronk?

Rob Gronkowski -- Fantasy's favorite red-zone dominator -- missed all of training camp and all of the preseason on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If he's still on the list come Aug. 31, he'll be out for at least the first six games of the season, a debilitating blow not only for the Patriots but also to the owners who draft him. If the timetable laid out following mid-June back surgery is precise, he'll be ready for football on Sept. 10, two days after the Pats' Week 1 game against the Bills. There's a belief that Gronkowski, who is reportedly rehabbing diligently with the Patriots, will not be on the list come Aug. 31 but could still miss a couple of games to kick off the year. There's also the risk of him re-injuring himself like he did last season when he came back too soon from the first time he cracked his forearm, so there's no push to rush him back.

But the upside in a player like Gronkowski has to be taken into consideration, too. The guy has 38 touchdowns in 43 regular-season games with a 62-yard-per-game average. He had 10 or more Fantasy points in eight of 11 games last year, making him the most consistent player among tight ends and wide receivers. Gronkowski's only 24 and still is a tough mismatch for opposing defenses given his athleticism and toughness.

You'll see and read reports about Gronkowski leading up to your draft. Until you hear something that suggests he will start the season on the PUP list, it should be your goal to pick Gronkowski in Round 4 or 5 assuming you did not draft Jimmy Graham in Round 2 (which is where he'll end up going in most leagues). Putting it simply, Gronk's potential as a fountain of statistical dominance is too rich to pass up with a pick in the 40s. You can't do it.

Does drafting Gronk mean "handcuffing" him to another tight end? I don't think it does. You can actually get away with putting off having a second tight end on your roster until days before your Week 1 lineup is due. There are a number of tight ends that will go undrafted in your league that could have been picked and could easily replace Gronkowski if he's inactive for the start of the year. I love the Week 1 matchups for Fred Davis, Coby Fleener, Martellus Bennett, Tyler Eifert, Owen Daniels and whoever looks to be the top tight end in Philly. Most of those guys will be on waivers. Patriots rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld is another logical player to slide onto rosters.

Prioritizing tight ends

One of the decisions you'll make before drafting is figuring out just how important tight ends are to you. If you're looking for a difference-maker you'll have to spend an early pick on Graham or Gronkowski. If you miss on those guys, or if you just don't want to dedicate a Top 5 Round pick, you should follow this one simple piece of advice on tight ends:

You reach, you lose.

Check out our Fantasy Football podcast!
There is no better source for entertaining Fantasy advice than our Fantasy Football Today podcast. Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Adam Aizer will help you pass the time as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe today!

Yes, it's the same piece of advice I gave last year. Yes, I'm recycling material (would you rather "don't reach or don't whine like a baby?"). But the same theory holds true -- there are just enough tight ends to go around and pulling the trigger for one when you could still draft a potential stud is a mistake. There will always be a good value at tight end on Draft Day. Wait for yours.

The quarterback-tight end dynamic

Because it's a new year, there's a second issue at play that ties into how you draft tight ends, particularly within the first few rounds. It should be considered a mistake to take a quarterback and a tight end within your first four or five selections in a typical snake draft. Both positions are super deep and offer great value while running backs and receivers will run dry. If you dedicate two choices to those spots and neglect starters at running back and receiver you're going to be disappointed when the draft is over.

If you take a tight end early, wait for a quarterback. If you take a quarterback early, wait for a tight end.

It's also not a bad idea to wait for both a quarterback and a tight end. But unless you can stash seven-plus players on your bench, don't take two quarterbacks and two tight ends unless all four players are Top 10 options. It's fine to start a season with one tight end and one quarterback, much less two of one and one of the other.

Four bargains

I'm hitting up Jimmy Graham in Round 2 assuming I land a running back in Round 1 in all of my drafts. But if I can't get my paws on him, these are the tight ends I'm looking for this summer.

Jared Cook, Rams: In Tennessee, Cook wasn't used to the fullest as the Titans leaned toward a seemingly stable ground game for years. This season's St. Louis Rams squad has anything but a stable rushing attack, opening the door for Sam Bradford to be more aggressive in the passing game. Cook fits in there and was paid receiver dough. Sounds like he'll be presented as a mismatch problem along the lines of Jimmy Graham. He should be able to succeed and his late July draft average of about 100th overall makes him a really good low-risk, high-reward Fantasy tight end. Cook will be on several of my teams.
I'm drafting him: Round 8-9

Jordan Cameron, Browns: Take a look at the track record of tight ends under Norv Turner and, by extension, Rob Chudzinski. While not every single guy they've had has produced mammoth numbers, many have caught around or above 50 passes and been otherwise involved in the offense. Cameron gave everyone a taste of how involved he'll be in the offense when he scored two touchdowns against the Lions in the Browns' second preseason game. Everything points to the Browns offense opening up in 2013 and Cameron should be a big part of it -- the simple facts that it will be more vertical and involve the tight end play to Cameron greatly.
I'm drafting him: Round 10

Tyler Eifert, Bengals: I'm drafting Eifert late in all of the leagues I can't get Graham, Gronk, Cook or Cameron in. The guy plays a lot like Rob Gronkowski -- at least he did in college -- and should be in line to be a popular part of the Bengals' offense this season. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden raved over Eifert and compared him to Jimmy Graham -- that's some high praise. The Bengals can become creative with their formations thanks to Eifert and the potential for him to be a fierce red-zone threat is impossible to ignore.
I'm drafting him: Round 13

Zach Sudfeld, Patriots: If there was no Cameron and no Eifert this year, I'd be intrigued by Sudfeld. He developed the chops to play in a pass-happy offense in Nevada, spending six seasons there ... and missing two because of injuries. In fact he had six surgeries in a five-year period. That's risky business but there's no denying his athleticism. He can hit the seam and block fairly well. Save for a fumble against the Lions in a preseason game he's been impressive. Will he stay that way once Rob Gronkowski returns? There's a chance his playing time doesn't decrease much, it'll depend on how well he does and how well other receivers do in the Patriots offense. He's also a fine low-risk late-round sleeper.
I'm drafting him: Round 13

Tight end tiers

Elite Tier Excellent Tier Great Tier Good Tier
1,000+ yards, 10+ TDs 850+ yards, 7+ TDs 750+ yards, 6+ TDs  
Jimmy Graham Tony Gonzalez Jared Cook Greg Olsen
Rob Gronkowski Jason Witten Antonio Gates Kyle Rudolph
  Vernon Davis Jermichael Finley Jordan Cameron
    Kyle Rudolph Tyler Eifert

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 .

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
Ladarius Green limited in practice
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) Chargers tight end Ladarius Green was limited in practice Wednesday. 

Green did not play Week 4 against the Jaguars. He's dealing with a hamstring injury. Green was limited in practice last Thursday, and did not practice last Friday due to the issue. 


Dwight Freeney limited in practice Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:35 pm ET) Chargers linebacker Dwight Freeney was limited in practice Wednesday.

Freeney is dealing with a knee injury. Freeney was probable Week 4 due to non-injury reasons. Freeney started the game, but was seen receiving treatment from trainers during the second half of the contest. 


Colts involving their wide receivers more
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:26 pm ET) While running back Ahmad Bradshaw's role in the passing game has diminished the last two weeks, wide receivers Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton have both been more involved. Each had his best performance of the season Week 4 against Tennessee, with Wayne catching eight passes for 119 yards and a touchdown and Hilton catching 10 passes for 105 yards.

Hilton seems to be the more reliable of the two -- he's had double-digit targets in three of the Colts' first four games -- but Wayne's best games have been better. Both figure to remain involved in Week 5. The Colts, who have relied much more on their passing game this year, recognizing the limitations of their running game, have every incentive to stay the course against Baltimore. The Ravens rank seventh against the run, allowing 82.5 yards per game, but 24th against the pass, allowing 260.3 yards per game. They've given up the ninth-most Fantasy points per game to wide receivers this season.

Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard both seem to prefer Wayne to Hilton this week -- especially Dave, who ranks him 18 spots ahead -- but they're about on equal terms for me. I'd treat them as low-end No. 2 wide receivers, which means I'd be starting them unless I was just loaded at the position.


Texans bring in Charles James, Kendall James
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) The Texans have signed cornerbacks Charles James and Kendall James to the practice squad. 

Charles James was undrafted, but did make an appearance with the Giants in 2013. He recorded two tackles and induced a fumble. Kendall James was drafted by the Vikings this year, but did not make the 53-man roster. 


No sense choosing between Colts tight end duo
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:16 pm ET) Torn between Colts tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener? It's easy to see why. Both scored a touchdown for the second straight game Week 4 against the Titans, but neither stands out between the 20s. Allen had 64 receiving yards in Week 1, but otherwise, neither has topped 50 in a game.

Well, the good news is that in Week 5 against the Ravens, you probably don't want either. Through four games, the Ravens have allowed the fewest Fantasy points per game to tight ends and have yet to have one score on them.

Maybe one of Allen and Fleener reverses the trend this week, but which one? And what happens if he doesn't? I don't know about you, but I don't like the thought of getting two measly points from my tight end spot.

Owners in 12-team leagues can do better. With the emergence of Larry Donnell, Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce, Heath Miller and even Clay Harbor, tight ends aren't exactly in short supply.


Andre Ellington limited in practice Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:10 pm ET) Cardinals running back Andre Ellington was limited in practice Wednesday.

Ellington has been dealing with a foot injury all year, but has managed to play through it. With the team on a bye last week, Ellington should be a bit healthier entering Week 5. 


Status quo for Trent Richardson
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(7:07 pm ET) Prior to Week 4, you probably weren't the least bit excited about starting Trent Richardson in Fantasy. But then he scored a touchdown, which, combined with an uncharacteristic 52 receiving yards, led to a 15-point showing in standard CBSSports.com leagues.

But here's what he still didn't do against the Titans: run the ball effectively, which is saying something considering they rank 22nd against the run, allowing 127.0 yards per game. On a daring 20 carries, Richardson picked up only 47 yards for an average of 2.4 yards per carry.

I don't see him doing any better against the Ravens in Week 7. They rank seventh against the run, allowing 82.5 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

No one can predict whether or not Richardson will get a carry at the goal line -- for some reason, the Colts keep going back to him -- but if he doesn't, just like the first three weeks, you won't like what he does for your Fantasy team.


Time to shy away from Ahmad Bradshaw?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(6:59 pm ET) Fantasy owners who had been relying on Ahmad Bradshaw since his two-touchdown effort against the Eagles in Week 2 lucked out when he found the end zone on a 15-yard pass from Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter Week 4 against the Titans. He hadn't played much of a role up to that point, finishing the game with just 11 touches.

Looking back, even when he seemed like such a find those first two weeks, he wasn't getting all that many touches. His value was largely a function of him playing a bigger-than-expected role in the passing game, but he has just two catches in each of his last two games.

Bottom line: I'm getting nervous about using Bradshaw in Fantasy. He played only 36 percent of the Colts' snaps in Week 4, down from about 60 percent the first two weeks. The Colts seem content with the plodding Trent Richardson carrying the load, using Bradshaw as just a change-of-pace guy.

Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard still like him for Week 5 at Baltimore, ranking him among their top 20 running backs, but I think his luck finally runs out. The Ravens rank seventh against the run, allowing 82.5 yards per game, and have given up the seventh-fewest Fantasy points to running backs this season.


Report: Mychal Kendricks unlikely to go Week 5
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:57 pm ET) Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks is unlikely to play Week 5, according to 94 WIP.

Kendricks has already missed two games due to a calf injury, and it appears he'll miss another Sunday. Kendricks has 10 tackles and one sack through two games. 


Cam Newton hoping to run soon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:46 pm ET) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton expressed that he may run more soon, according to the team's website.

Newton is still dealing with the effects of offseason ankle surgery. A rib injury during the preseason has also impacted his ability to use his legs more. Newton stressed that he's looking to be more of a pocket passer, though, even when he's fully healthy. "I look at myself as a pocket passer with the ability to run," Newton said. He added, however, that he's feeling healthier and might be able to show off his running skills soon. "Hopefully I will be able to display my running talents soon," he added.


 
 
 
Rankings