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
 
 
 

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 all offseason as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe via iTunes

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 .

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:53 pm ET) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


Chris Johnson excited for 'fresh start'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:48 pm ET) New Jets running back Chris Johnson's two-year deal is worth $8 million with another $1 million in incentives, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson was scheduled to make $8 million for the Titans in 2014 alone before he was released.

Meanwhile, Johnson told the Tennessean that he's looking forward to this opportunity with the Jets.

"I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me."


Bengals sign punter T.J. Conley
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4:21 pm ET) The Bengals signed free agent punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. 

Conley punted in 16 games for the Jets in 2011. He averaged 42.7 yards on 92 punts, and his 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history. He had 32 inside-20 kicks with just six touchbacks, and his plus-26 differential on inside-20s to touchbacks ranked tied for third in the NFL.

Conley did not play in the 2012 or 2013 regular seasons. He was with the Jets in the 2012 preseason and with Cleveland in the 2013 preseason.

Conley will challenge incumbent Kevin Huber for the starting job, but most likely he won't make the final roster.


Chris Johnson signs two-year deal with the Jets
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:19 pm ET) The Jets have signed running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday he was taking free agency one day at a time and added that he had other visits planned, but the Jets must have made him an improved offer to lock up the one-time 2,000-yard running back. 

Johnson has totaled at least 1,400 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Titans since running for 2,006 yards in 2009. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 2013 (four receiving). 


Clay Matthews says it's thumbs up for training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:37 pm ET) Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said he's diligently rehabbing his injured thumb, comparing it to a torn ACL rather than a typical bone break. As part of the injury he also had surgery on his forearm, which got damaged when he re-injured the thumb late last season. But he told USA Today that he'll be ready for the start of training camp, though he'll miss offseason workouts. 

Mike James resumes running and cutting
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:28 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Mike James is working his way back into football shape after breaking his left ankle last season. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he's been running and cutting and is aiming to get back to full strength and speed. Asked if he would be ready for the team's April minicamp, James said he and the team are "taking everything day by day." 

Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:33 pm ET) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 pm ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


Haloti Ngata turned down extension with Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:10 am ET) Looking to free up cap space earlier this offseason, the Ravens offered a "lucrative, long-term" deal with defensive lineman Haloti Ngata so that he wouldn't cost $16 million in cap space. Ngata, 30 years old with two years left on his current deal, wasn't willing to take the extension, NFL Network reports. 

Report: Ravens planning to add two running backs
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:47 am ET) The Ravens are aware of what's been going on with Ray Rice this offseason but were planning to add a pair of running backs this offseason anyway. NFL Network reports that they now believe that one of those two might have to start depending on what happens with Rice. 

The veteran running back had a horrible 2013 season (under 1,000 total yards) and then was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge when he struck his then-fiancee and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino. 


 
 
 
Rankings