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
2015 Draft Prep Guide
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
 
 
 

Offseason Extra: TE tiers for 2014

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Early Tiers for 2014: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

Early, middle, late. These are your options for when you'll draft your tight end, presuming you're in a typical Fantasy league that starts only one.

And these straightforward options come with straightforward players. You're going to know who you're going to get based on how soon (or how late) you take one.

If you go early then the marquee name is Jimmy Graham, who is not just an early-round pick but more of a Top 10 (Top 5 in PPR?) pick. The reasons are obvious: He dominates at his position and is truly a difference maker compared to his peers. As the top tight end last season he averaged 2.8 more points per week than second-best tight end Vernon Davis. That difference isn't as much as Jamaal Charles had over LeSean McCoy or Peyton Manning over Drew Brees, but you get the idea. Graham would have also finished as the fourth-best receiver in Fantasy had he counted as a wideout and sixth if he were a running back. Plus he's consistent -- Graham had 10-plus Fantasy points in 12 of 16 games last season, a big improvement from last year's injury-plagued session.

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!

If you miss him you can still spend an early pick (albeit not a first-round pick) on Vernon Davis, Julius Thomas or Rob Gronkowski. Davis and Thomas finished second and third, respectively, at the tight end spot last season. Both were quite consistent and both should be in a position to keep thriving. Gronkowski was awfully consistent in the time he actually played last year -- injury concerns keep him grounded as a potential value steal around 30th overall.

After the first four

Once you get past the above players you'll have to make a decision about just how important the tight end position is to you. Is it so important that you'll want to find a reputable player at what will turn out to be a good value? Or, since you passed on the first four, is the position so watered down with good-to-mediocre talent that basically anyone you get will do?

Before you decide, know this: The average Fantasy point total per week of the tight ends ranked fifth through 10th last season was 6.6 Fantasy points per game. The average Fantasy point total per week of the tight ends ranked 11th through 16th last season was 4.8 Fantasy points per game. So effectively the difference between the two groups was roughly 1.8 Fantasy points per week.

I don't know about you, but if all I am losing is 1.8 points per game then I might as well wait and pick up quality players at other positions before grabbing a tight end.

If you wait until, say, Rounds 7 through 9 to target a tight end, then you'll be happy. This is around the time when you should see Jordan Cameron, Jason Witten, Dennis Pitta, Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen start to come off the draft board. True, none of these guys are of the caliber of Graham/Davis/Thomas/Gronk, but they're the next best thing. They'll disappoint more often than the first four names but they can also get beyond eight Fantasy points. They also have the potential to finish the year as a borderline top-tier tight end. So there's that appeal.

But the drop off from those tight ends to the rest of the group is volatile. Not necessarily bad, but something that can cause headaches. You're basically committing to playing tight end roulette until you find a tight end you're comfortable starting.

What you'll see available is a list of names with all sorts of potential and upside -- and doubt and downside. So if you're at this point, aim young. That's where there's a lot of intrigue.

Kyle Rudolph is a perfect example. A big-bodied tight end who has played a ton, Rudolph's consistency hasn't been horrible (eight- plus points in 11 of 24 career games), and that's with him catching passes from inferior quarterbacks in offenses that ask him to block a lot. The arrival of tight end developer Norv Turner to run the offense should put him in prime position to finally break out. Coming back from a broken foot could be problematic, or he could have had enough time to heal up.

Another pair of tight ends I like a lot are Dwayne Allen of the Colts and Zach Ertz of the Eagles. Assume both will play plenty while working in a number of two-tight end formations, but with Coby Fleener flaming out for the second year in a row with Indianapolis and Brent Celek a potential cap casualty and older player for Philadelphia, both players could see extended looks with the offense.

Other young tight ends like Ladarius Green, Joseph Fauria and Timothy Wright share space with long-standing veterans like Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker and Antonio Gates. A rookie named Eric Ebron, from North Carolina, could also catch some attention in drafts this summer. In deeper leagues you might need to pick from this crew for a starting tight end. It also might mean you'll begin the season with one of these guys and go through five more before the year's over without the promise of hitting it big more than, say, three times over the first 13 weeks of the year.

Strategy talk

Because the position is so thin it is recommended to aim for one of the first tier tight ends. Graham is the premium choice but it will mean a premium pick -- assume no lower than a first-round pick. If you're into running backs you understandably won't take him over one of the elite choices. And that means you won't get him on your team. That leaves Thomas, Davis and Gronkowski as potential fits and they all will go around the same time in drafts -- between 30th and 45th overall. The later you can get one of them, the better it helps you out. While getting Graham would be nice, these guys aren't considered too far off and you can get a couple of difference makers at other positions first.

In the event I do not take one of these four tight ends then I buy a one-way ticket to Valuetown. I won't take a tight end unless it's at an incredibly good value. In a recent mock I picked Jason Witten in early Round 7. That seemed like a solid pick. The last tight end in my rankings I feel good about drafting for value is Rudolph -- everyone after him is basically a late-round flier who I won't have any long-term commitment to.

Say you get toward the end of your draft and there's nothing left at running back and receiver but there's a sleeper at tight end. Is it worth it to get two tight ends on your roster? Assuming we're talking about getting a real sleeper and not a veteran with modest expectations, I'm all for it. Had you done that last season you might have taken Julius Thomas, who was the hot breakout in the early going. Owners were trading Thomas for a quality starter at another position as soon as the Sunday of Week 1 -- that kind of return on your late pick tight end investment is rare but obviously possible. There isn't an argument against taking two tight ends, so long as you don't cost yourself a running back or receiver with great potential in the process.

Rankings in tier form

I'm able to lay out the basic example of what to expect from tight ends on Draft Day pretty easily, but even so, listing the players in tiers should be helpful. Remember that the point of making tiers in the first place is to recognize when a certain level of expectation is getting thin within a position, then reacting accordingly in the draft.

Elite Tier Second Tier Third Tier Fourth Tier
1,000+ yards, 9+ TDs 850+ yards, 6+ TDs 700+ yards, 6+ TDs  
Jimmy Graham Jason Witten Kyle Rudolph Delanie Walker
Julius Thomas Jordan Cameron Dwayne Allen Ladarius Green
Vernon Davis Dennis Pitta Zach Ertz Joseph Fauria
Rob Gronkowski Jordan Reed Martellus Bennett Timothy Wright
  Greg Olsen   Antonio Gates

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
Bills awarded waiver claim for QB Matt Simms
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(8:28 pm ET) The quarterback situation in Buffalo has gotten a little more complicated on Friday. The Bills were awarded their waiver claim on QB Matt Simms, who was released by the Jets on Thursday, according to the team's official website. 

Simms has played just four games and has completed 19 of 39 passes for 195 yards, with a touchdown and an interception in his career.


Falcons waive LB Prince Shembo due to animal cruelty charges
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:55 pm ET) The Falcons have decided to waive linebacker Prince Shembo on Friday after he was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, per nfl.com.

"We are aware of the charges that have been filed against Prince Shembo," the team said in a statement. "We are extremely disappointed that one of our players is involved in something like this. Accordingly, we have decided to waive Prince Shembo."

Shembo recorded 59 tackles in 16 games for the Falcons last season.


Rams RB Trey Watts suspended four games
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:08 pm ET) Rams running back Trey Watts has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, according to profootballtalk.com.

Watts, who made the team in 2014 as an undrafted free agent, played in 14 games last season and rushed for 30 yards on seven carries.

Watts is eligible to return for Week 5 against the Packers.


Falcons LB Prince Shembo charged with cruelty to animals
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:57 pm ET) Falcons linebacker Prince Shembo is being accused of killing his ex-girlfriend's dog and has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Police said Denicia Williams, Shembo's ex-girlfriend, reported on April 19 that Shembo had killed her Yorkie.

Williams took the dog to Shembo's residence and left them unattended at some point. When she returned, the dog was unresponsive.

Shembo recorded 59 tackles in 16 games for the Falcons last season.


Seahawks' Kam Chancellor: 'This is the strongest offseason I've had'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(2:56 pm ET) Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor feels good. He should, he's finally healthy.

Chancellor, who has become accustomed to rehabbing nagging injuries during the offseason, is practicing with the team during organized team activities for the first time in a while, per The News Tribune.

“I feel great. Back to football form. Feel fast. Feel strong. I just feel good out there," Chancellor said. "I think this is the strongest offseason I’ve had since I’ve been in the league. I’ve been actually able to train in the offseason instead of having surgeries.”

Chancellor recorded 78 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in 14 games last season.


Cardinals RB coach: David Johnson 'reminds me a lot of Matt Forte'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(2:44 pm ET) Cardinals rookie runningback David Johnson received a huge compliment from his position coach, per nfl.com.

Running backs coach Stump Mitchell said the third-round pick reminds him of a Pro Bowl running back.

"He reminds me a lot of Matt Forte," Mitchell said. "You can put him outside and use him as a receiver and he's a good runner."

Mitchell sees the comparison between the two when it comes to Johnson's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, something Forte has excelled at throughout his career.

"He has excellent hands and he's a bigger target to throw the ball to," Mitchell said. "He's going to be a big piece of the puzzle before this season is said and done."

Johnson rushed for 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior at Northern Iowa last year.


Patriots Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler absent at OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:30 pm ET) Patriots cornerback and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler was noticeably absent from organized team activities on Friday, per nesn.com. It's unclear why Butler was not at practice.

Butler recorded 15 tackles in 11 games last season, but most noticeably came up with a game-clinching interception in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLIX.


Cowboys excited and cautious with return of LB Sean Lee
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:22 pm ET) Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee tore his ACL during organized team activities last year. This year, he has been limited to individual drills during non-padded parctices, per The Dallas Morning News.

Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said the team is happy to have Lee back but that they will pace him along slowly.

"He's a ball of energy and excitement and that represents who we are," Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "He's moving well. We're just being smart as we get him ready to go. But he's got a lot of good quality work in."


Chiefs' Jeremy Maclin getting work in as a punt returner
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:59 pm ET) Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was the Chiefs' prized free-agent pickup this offseason, which makes it that much more intriguing that he lined up to return punts during practice on Thursday, per ESPN.com.

Maclin, who signed a five-year, $55 million deal with the Chiefs, was a premier punt returner in college and played the role sparingly -- with little success -- with the Eagles.

Coach Andy Reid said the team is preparing Maclin just in case he's needed to return punts or kicks because of injuries.

We just want to make sure he is ready,’’ Reid said. “You have limited numbers that you can dress on game day, so you don’t know what rotation you are going to have there with the receivers and returners. So it gives you an opportunity to keep him fresh. We don’t work him every day like the other guys. It’s kind of an every other day deal, so just to make sure that he’s okay and can still do that, but he’s not going to be the primary guy doing it right now.”


Eagles CB Byron Maxwell guarantees trip to Super Bowl 50
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:40 pm ET) Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell knows what it takes to make a Super Bowl run, he's appeared in two straight as a key member of the vaunted Seahawks defense.

Now, Maxwell is confident the Eagles will make a run to the big game and he will make his third consecutive appearance, per NFL.com.

"Because I've been there before," Maxwell said. "Knowing what it's like if we go that far. Because we're gonna go that far this year, meaning the playoffs and the Super Bowl. We're gonna go that far. Hopefully that experience I already had, I can help them."

The Eagles haven't made a Super Bowl since their 24-21 loss to the Patriots in 2004, but Maxwell didn't backtrack with his comments.

"You can take that as a guarantee," he said. "That's just me believing in my team and the product we're going to put out there on the field. I really do believe that. I have no choice but to think that way."

Maxwell, who signed a six-year, $60 million deal with the Eagles this offseason, recorded 39 tackles and two interceptions in 13 games last season.


 
 
 
Rankings