Positional rankings: Tight ends
The tight end position has always been a dull position for fantasy football owners as very few have ever stood out from the crowd. But it is enjoying a rebirth at a time when point-per-reception leagues are all the rage, so it's the perfect storm for this position. It's time to give the tight ends a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Witten was a fantasy monster last year, setting franchise season records for a tight end with 96 catches and 1,145 yards, while adding seven TDs. He also became the sixth tight end in NFL history to record four straight 60-plus catch seasons. He had some big-time individual games last year (15 receptions one game, five or more receptions in 10 games) and is in an offense that will feature him more in 2008. He's primed for an equally excellent season this year, so expect 80-plus receptions, 1,000 yards and 7 TDs.
Gates was bothered by a back injury during the second half of last season and then suffered a toe injury in the playoffs that required off-season surgery, but he still finished with 75 catches for 984 yards and nine TDs. During his first five games, he had 40 catches for 489 yards and three TDs, but he limped to the finish line with the back injury. He will return healthier this year and will again top 80 receptions and 1,000 yards this year with nine TDs.
Winslow set career highs last year in receiving yards (1,106) and TDs (5), while catching 82 passes during a breakout season. He played hurt most of the season before finally limping to the finish line. He failed to catch at least five passes in his last five games, but before that he was unstoppable. If he can remain healthy this year -- never a given with Winslow -- he is primed to again top 80 catches and 1,000 yards for 6-7 TDs.
This 32-year-old future Hall of Famer had another solid season in '07, catching 99 passes for 1,172 yards and five TDs. He also passed
Cooley also had a solid season in '07, setting career highs in receiving yardage (786) and touchdowns (8), while adding 66 receptions. He caught TD passes in four of his first five games last year, but was shut out during his last six games. Still, he's a consistent target for the Redskins, who like to look for their tight ends. He belongs in the top tier at this position and will deliver 60-plus receptions, 800-plus yards and 6-7 TDs.
Heap suffered through the worst season of his career in '07, playing in only six games due to a torn hamstring. He was held to just 23 receptions for 239 yards and one TD as the Ravens struggled badly at the QB position without
After missing the Super Bowl run when he broke his leg in Week 15, Shockey reportedly has requested a trade out of New York, but the Giants aren't selling. They like his run-blocking skills too much to give up on him, even though last year he was limited to three TD catches on 57 receptions for 619 yards. At 28, it's time to realize that Shockey will never be one of the greats at TE, but he still has enough left in the tank for a 50-plus, 600-yard, 5-TD season, either with the Giants are somewhere else.
During his second season in Houston, Daniels emerged as a viable option, catching 63 passes for 768 yards and three TDs. He had at least four catches in a game nine times, but seemed to be a non-factor near the goal-line. If that changes at all in '08, Daniels could easily finish the season as one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL.
Davis has been a disappointment during his first two NFL seasons, but he showed enough promise last year to crack the top 10 at this position in offseason drafts. He stayed healthy for 14 games last year and caught 52 passes for 509 yards and four TDs, but the new
Miller ranked seventh among all tight ends last year as he set career highs with 47 catches for 566 yards and seven TDs. He's a strong red zone target for the Steelers as he caught TD passes in six different games. He's not an ideal pickup in point-per-reception leagues, but the TDs are a plus and makes him a worthy starting option in '08.
Lee was a pleasant surprise last year as he finished ninth among all tight ends in scoring, catching 48 passes for 575 yards and six TDs. He caught at least three passes in 12 of his 15 games and became a reliable target for
For whatever reason, Scheffler and QB
Crumpler had his worst season since his rookie campaign of '01, dropping to 15th in TE scoring and ultimately being phased out of the Falcons' plans. He signed a two-year deal with Tennessee and will now try to build a strong rapport with QB
Watson battled through an injury-plagued season for the third straight year and was basically a non-factor in the Patriots' incredible unbeaten regular season. He played in 12 games and was limited to 36 catches for 389 yards and six TDs. He underwent surgery on his left ankle in March and was still hobbled before training camp. He has great talent and a great QB, but the constant injuries makes him an iffy pick in '08.
Olsen endured a typically inconsistent rookie season for a TE as he finished with 39 catches for 291 yards and two TDs. The Bears' QB situation hasn't improved at all since last year, so it's hard to see how Olsen can finish with much better numbers. But expect him to be a bigger part of this offense as he steals playing time from
Olsen endured a typically inconsistent rookie season for a TE as he finished with 39 catches for 291 yards and two TDs. The Bears' QB situation hasn't improved at all since last year, so it's hard to see how Olsen can finish with much better numbers. But expect him to be a bigger part of this offense as he steals playing time from Desmond Clark, resulting in career best totals across the board.Despite missing six games last year with knee and rib injuries, the Eagles re-signed Smith to a one-year deal in April. He was limited to 10 games last year and finished with only 22 receptions for 236 yards and one TD. He topped three receptions in a game just twice and failed to surpass 50 yards receiving in a single game. He has talent, but the injuries are a red flag that makes Smith a backup in fantasy leagues this year.
Even with rookie
This rookie from Arizona State provided a spark for the Raiders last year as he caught 44 passes for 444 yards and three TDs. He caught at least three passes in 10 games, but topped 40 yards receiving only four times. He won't put up big numbers with
Baker set career highs last year with 41 catches for 409 yards and three TDs as he caught at least three passes in every game from Weeks 9 through 16. Still, the Jets used their first round pick on TE
After signing a three-year, $9 million deal with Cincinnati in March, Utecht will become the featured tight end for the Bengals in passing situations. Despite playing behind Dallas Clark last year, Utecht caught 31 passes for 364 yards and one TD. The Bengals have never featured the tight end in their passing attack under Carson Palmer, but Utecht could surprise some folks and create a new option for Palmer across the middle.
McMichael was a quiet additon last year in St. Louis as he finished with 39 catches for 429 yards and three TDs. This offense is built around the WRs and RB
Smith had surprising success last year as he finished fourth on the team in receptions (32), third in TDs (3) and ninth among all tight ends with a 12.0 yards per catch average. He missed two games with an ankle injury, but still set a career high with 385 receiving yards. He's a worthy backup TE who could fill in nicely during the bye weeks.
During his second season in Arizona, Pope finally showed some promise as he caught 14 passes for 143 yards and three TDs during the last five games. The 6-8 TE finished with only 23 catches, but that final stretch is encouraging. While the Cardinals won't feature Pope in this offense, he has enough talent to at least target as a backup TE for your fantasy team.
Keller led Purdue last year with 68 receptions for 881 yards and seven TDs last year and is built in the same mold as Dallas Clark. The Jets drafted him for his pass catching abilities and realize that he will never be a big run blocker with his 6-4, 240-pound frame. That's OK with fantasy leaguers, who will make him their backup TE this year and hope for future success as he expands his role with the Jets.
Lewis made great strides during his second season with the Jaguars last year, finishing with 37 catches for 391 yards and two TDs. At 6-6, he is a big target in the red zone who has great potential. The Jaguars have never featured the tight end before, but
Johnson was expected to add a new dimension to the Saints' passing game, but in the end he finished with only two TDs and rather mediocre numbers (48 catches for 378 yards). He was held to 30 receiving yards or fewer in 11 games. Still, the Saints re-signed him to a one-year contract in March. Expect more of the same from Johnson and the Saints in '08.
King had a 10-reception game in Week 8 against the Colts and finished the season with 46 catches for 406 yards and two TDs as he became a worthy free-agent pickup for some fantasy teams. He did this without
Davis will back up Chris Cooley in Washington, but he has the skills to make his presence felt in '08. Last year at USC, he caught 62 passes for 881 yards (14.2 avg) with eight TDs. He needs to work on his run-blocking skills, but in time he should be a solid, solid TE.
The Seahawks grabbed Carlson in the second round and hope to start him in '08. Last year at Notre Dame, he caught a pass in all 12 games and finished with 40 receptions for 372 yards and three TDs. Seattle hasn't featured the tight end since