Fantasy Clicks
BY JAY CLEMONS
Dare To Compare: Tight Ends
Vernon Davis: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Vernon Davis could be the most confounding elite tight end in football, the prototypical feast-or-famine fantasyland pick. Check out the numbers: He racked up at least six catches and/or 80 receiving yards in seven games last year, while tallying 13 touchdowns -- tops among all past-catchers (with Larry Fitzgerald/Randy Moss). On the flip side, though, he doesn't possess the track record (just 31 catches/2 TDs in 2008) of a guy who's preternaturally a lock for 80 catches/950 yards/10 TDs every season, unlike Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez or Dallas Clark. Even compared to other fledgling studs, like Philly's Brent Celek or Green Bay's Jermichael Finley, it's hard to gauge whether Davis (at just 26) has the greatest upside of the trio. What's more, who's to say his 2009 season (78 catches/965 catches/13 TDs) wasn't the favorable byproduct of Michael Crabtree's in-season holdout, Frank Gore's two game-absence or Alex Smith's surprising uptick. And maybe offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye plans to transform San Fran into a run-first, run-second operation this season, at the behest of head coach Mike Singletary? It's enough to make a fantasy owner's head spin, when trying to assess a reasonable marketplace for Davis on draft day.

The way I see it, you could make a case for the top-8 tight ends -- Clark, Witten, Davis, Celek, Gonzalez, Finley, Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates -- finishing in any random order, from 1 to 8, without much backlash. In fact, here are the early projections from four prominent publications:

Tight End Rankings
PlayerClarkGatesWittenFinleyCelekGonzalezWinslowDavis
ESPN.com 1 2 7 6 4 5 9 3
NFL.com 1 2 5 7 4 5 9 4
FoxSports.com 2 1 6 7 3 5 11 4
Fantasy Football Breakdown 1 3 4 11 7 6 9 2
Where Mountain Men Runneth, Catcheth

Here's a revised listing of MY top 25 tight ends for 2010:
1. Dallas Clark, Colts
2. Jason Witten, Cowboys
3. Vernon Davis, 49ers
4. Antonio Gates, Chargers
5. Brent Celek, Eagles
6. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
7. Kellen Winslow, Jr., Buccaneers
8. Jermichael Finley, Packers
9. Owen Daniels, Texans
10. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
11. Greg Olsen, Bears (the Martz Effect is just too daunting)
12. John Carlson, Seahawks
13. Dustin Keller, Jets
14. Zach Miller, Raiders
15. Tony Scheffler/Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (BP would be higher if no ACL recovery)
16. Fred Davis/Chris Cooley, Redskins
17. David Thomas/Jeremy Shockey, Saints
18. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
19. Todd Heap/Dennis Pitta, Ravens
20. Jared Cook, Titans
21. Brad Cottam, Chiefs
22. Heath Miller, Steelers
23. Aaron Hernandez/Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
24. Kevin Boss, Giants
25. Shawn Nelson, Bills

The Power Of ADP

The good people at Fantasy Football Calculator are already hard at work, trying to make mathematical sense of this year's top fantasy football prospects. In fact, this site represents the perfect one-stop shopping for mock drafts and the Average Draft Position tool (ADP) -- perhaps the best learning aid for NOT reaching during the August drafts. Speaking of ADP, here's a list of tight ends likely earmarked for Rounds 1-13 (12-team leagues):

Dallas Clark, Colts -- Round 4, Pick 5
Antonio Gates, Chargers -- Round 5, Pick 1
Vernon Davis, 49ers -- Round 5, Pick 4
Jermichael Finley, Packers -- Round 5, Pick 9
Jason Witten, Cowboys -- Round 5, Pick 12
Brent Celek, Eagles -- Round 6, Pick 4
Owen Daniels, Texans -- Round 7, Picks 2
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- Round 7, Pick 3
Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings -- Round 8, Pick 12
Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers -- Round 9, Pick 10
Chris Cooley, Redskins -- Round 10, Pick 10
Greg Olsen, Bears -- Round 12, Pick 9
Zach Miller, Raiders -- Round 12, Pick 10
John Carlson, Seahawks -- Round 13, Pick 3
Dustin Keller, Jets -- Round 13, Picks 4
Jeremy Shockey, Saints -- Round 13, Pick 8

With All Due Respect To Shockey ...

I wouldn't be surprised if these neglected tight ends post better numbers in standard leagues:
1. Fred Davis, Redskins
2. Heath Miller, Steelers
3. Tony Scheffler, Lions
4. Shawn Nelson, Bills
5. Jared Cook, Titans
6. Todd Heap, Ravens
7. Kevin Boss, Giants
8. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
9. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
10. Brad Cottam, Chiefs

Forgive The Tirade

We interrupt today's Clicks with a random, but oh-so-necessary rant, specifically targeting and Jets QB Mark Sanchez. In the last four weeks or so, while handling the NFL section at SI.com, it seems I've posted at least six or seven Sanchez fully practices at minicamp, or Sanchez vows to be ready for season, or Sanchez risks life and limb by throwing to receivers in shorts stories -- each one chronicling Sanchez's (ahem) amazing progress from routine offseason knee injury ... as if one could draw a correlation between him and Wes Welker (torn ACL in Weeky 17).

Maybe it's an anti-New York bias working here, but IF, in your final game from the previous year, you can leave the field without the assistance of multiple teammates, or a golf-cart ride to the X-ray room, I will ALWAYS ASSUME that you'll be healthy for Week 1 of the following season -- barring catastrophic injury during training camp or the preseason. Look, I realize Sanchez doesn't control the media, and New York writers can be a little starstruck over quarterbacks and second-string running backs (formerly of the Chargers), but he's obviously buying into the drama surrounding his knee, as if he's Joe Namath, circa 1972, and deserving of a medal for merely suiting up at practice everyday.

This, in a nutshell, is why I rarely discuss injuries when writing about fantasy football. Unless we're talking about bad hamstrings for running backs, torn ACLs for wide receivers or broken right thumbs for quarterbacks, it just doesn't matter. Especially in June.

Target Practice

A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (Targets). Here are the only 29 receivers to accrue 100 or more targets last season:

1. Andre Johnson, Texans (171 Targets)
2. Roddy White, Falcons (165 Targets)
3. Wes Welker, Patriots (162 Targets)
4. Steve Smith, Giants (157 Targets)
5. Brandon Marshall, Broncos -- now Dolphins (154 Targets)
6. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (153 Targets)
7. Reggie Wayne, Colts (149)
8. Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- now Jets (138)
9. Randy Moss, Patriots (138)
10. Hines Ward, Steelers (136)
11. Calvin Johnson, Lions (136)
12. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks (134)
13. Derrick Mason, Ravens (134)
14. Steve Smith, Panthers (129)
15. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals -- now Ravens (128)
16. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals (128)
17. Miles Austin, Cowboys (124)
18. Sidney Rice, Vikings (121)
19. Santana Moss, Redskins (120)
20. DeSean Jackson, Eagles (118)
21. Greg Jennings, Packers (118)
22. Davone Bess, Dolphins (113)
23. Donald Driver, Packers (112)
24. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars (111)
25. Terrell Owens, Bills -- now free agent (109)
26. Marques Colston, Saints (106)
27. Vincent Jackson, Chargers (106)
28. Nate Burleson, Seahawks -- now Lions (103)
29. Torry Holt, Jags -- now Patriots (103)

Take A Bow, King Richard

Here's one of the more substantial scheduling breakdowns in the industry, courtesy of CBSSports.com's Dave Richard, the eminent co-host of the best weekly football podcast in the biz (with Jamey Eisenberg). It goes without saying: Please print this sucker out and keep in a folder or magneted to your fridge for draft day in August.

Choose Your Quarterback
Matt Hasselbeck: Otto Greule, Jr./Getty Images

In this climate of 4,300-yard/30-plus TD passers, I could never endorse the notion of waiting until Rounds 11 and 12 to take Jason Campbell and Matt Hasselbeck as the 1-2 quarterbacks for any kind of scoring league. However, with major injuries being an unavoidable component of the NFL season, it's eminently possible that a Tom Brady/Philip Rivers/Matt Schaub owner might have to settle for the Hasselbeck-Campbell double play, due to unforeseen circumstances. So, on the off chance Hass and Soupy comprise the same fantasy roster in 2010, here's a week-to-week starting breakdown: (For what it's worth, the NFC West and AFC West play one another this season, adding to their attraction as priority QB2s.)

Week 1 -- Hasselbeck (vs. San Francisco) over Campbell (@ Tennessee)
Week 2 -- Campbell (vs. St. Louis) over Hasselbeck (@ Denver)
Week 3 -- Hasselbeck (vs. San Diego) over Campbell (@ Arizona)
Week 4 -- Hasselbeck (@ St. Louis) over Campbell (vs. Houston)
Week 5 -- Campbell (vs. San Diego) over Hasselbeck (BYE)
Week 6 -- Hasselbeck (@ Chicago) over Campbell (@ San Francisco)
Week 7 -- Campbell (@ Denver) over Hasselbeck (vs. Arizona) -- TOSS UP
Week 8 -- Campbell (vs. Seattle) over Hasselbeck (@ Oakland)
Week 9 -- Campbell (vs. Kansas City) over Hasselbeck (vs. N.Y. Giants)
Week 10 -- Hasselbeck (@ Arizona) over Campbell (BYE)
Week 11 -- Hasselbeck (@ New Orleans) over Campbell (@ Pittsburgh)
Week 12 -- Hasselbeck (vs. Kansas City) over Campbell (vs. Miami)
Week 13 -- Campbell (@ San Diego) over Hasselbeck (vs. Carolina) -- TOSS UP
Week 14 -- Campbell (@ Jacksonville) over Hasselbeck (@ San Francisco)
Week 15 -- Hasselbeck (vs. Atlanta) over Campbell (vs. Denver)
Week 16 -- Hasselbeck (@ Tampa Bay) over Campbell (vs. Indianapolis)
Week 17 -- Campbell (@ Kansas City) over Hasselbeck (vs. St. Louis) -- TOSS UP
Final Tally: Hasselbeck wins, 9-8

SI's Bout With Mock Madness

On July 8 (give or take a day or two), Sports Illustrated will debut its second fantasy football spectacular -- a 150-plus-page blowout singularly devoted to the most addictive fantasy sport of 'em all. Before the mag went to bed, SI conducted an Experts' Mock Draft -- a 16-round simulation built around the premise of standard-scoring leagues and a third flex starting spot for either RB/WR/TE. Here are my picks, Rounds 1 through 16:

Round 1 -- RB Michael Turner, Falcons (back to fighting weight, ready to dominate)
Round 2 -- WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (for the sake of balance, took my No. 2 overall WR)
Round 3 -- WR Greg Jennings, Packers (happily settled for Plan B after Knowshon Moreno)
Round 4 -- RB Matt Forte, Bears (if healthy, I'm guaranteeing 1,700 total yards/10 TDs)
Round 5 -- TE Jason Witten, Cowboys (excellent value for this standard-scoring/PPR monster)
Round 6 -- WR Chad Ochocinco, Bengals (my last shot at WR before going RB/QB crazy)
Round 7 -- RB Cadillac Williams, Bucs (will spend summer running -- not rehabbing)
Round 8 -- RB Clinton Portis, Redskins (the last workhorse back, Laurence Maroney aside)
Round 9 -- QB Donovan McNabb, Redskins (it's always great to land a top-12 QB in Round 9)
Round 10 -- WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets (safest pick among the three-headed WR monster)
Round 11 -- QB Matthew Stafford, Lions (reached one round too high ... but for good reason)
Round 12 -- WR Laurent Robinson, Rams (on the brink of a breakout -- let's hope it happens)
Round 13 -- WR Dexter McCluster, Chiefs (ALWAYS take "upside" this late in the draft)
Round 14 -- D/ST San Francisco 49ers (the best fantasy defense west of Baltimore, Md.)
Round 15 -- PK Mason Crosby, Packers (the best kicker not named Kaeding or Gostkowski)
Round 16 -- WR Brandon Tate, Patriots (Tom Brady believes in his down-the-field explosiveness -- that's good enough for me in Round 16)

Practice Makes Perfect

Sports Illustrated and SI.com should always be your primary source for voluminous information leading up to fantasy drafts ... but if you're in the mood to participate in a LIVE mock draft on the Web -- while learning NOT to reach for LaDainian Tomlinson before Round 8 -- here are the best destinations for real-time mocking:

**Mock Draft Central
**AntSports.com
**CBS Sports
**ESPN Mock Draft Lobby
**Fantasy Football Calculator

Tiers Of A Clown -- Quarterbacks

Quarterbacks are the make-or-break assets of fantasy football, but they're not all created equal. To wit, the QB tier system for fantasy drafts:
Tier 1 (4,350 total yards and/or 34 TDs)
Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Matt Schaub, Peyton Manning

Tier 2 (4,000 total yards and/or 30 TDs)
Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Brett Favre, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Kevin Kolb

Tier 3 (3,600 total yards and/or 27 TDs)
Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, Kyle Orton, Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford, Matt Cassel, Chad Henne, Matt Leinart

Tier 4 (3,250 yards and/or 23 TDs)
Alex Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman, Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, Matt Hasselbeck, Vince Young, David Garrard, Mark Sanchez

Tier 5 (2,850 yards and 17 TDs)
Trent Edwards, Sam Bradford, Jake Delhomme, Byron Leftwich

Tier 6 (Does it really matter how they perform?)
Bruce Gradkowski, Kerry Collins, Shaun Hill, Tarvaris Jackson, Derek Anderson, Tyler Thigpen, Chad Pennington, Luke McCown, David Carr, Jimmy Clausen, A.J. Feeley, Michael Vick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dan Orlovsky, Kyle Boller, Seneca Wallace, Rex Grossman, Tim Tebow, Caleb Henie

Toolbox Of Wonder

The eggheads at Fantasy Football Toolbox are off and running with unique takes on the upcoming season -- such as:
1. Running backs 29 or older
2. Positional fantasy studs
3. The most overused running backs
4. Fail-safe picks
5. Best bye-week running backs
6. Prime comeback candidates (author, Rob Warner)
7. IDP rankings -- starring the mullet-free Jared Allen

Paradoxically Speaking

**I cannot wait for the NFL preseason to start in 53 days ... and yet, I'll be bored silly by the first time NBC announcer Al Michaels utters his favorite three-dollar word: Alacrity.

**I'm not bothered by Brandon Marshall's spinning wheel of annual off-field distractions (this year it's hip surgery!) ... and yet, I have no interest in devoting a Round 6 or higher draft pick on Wes Welker, who's coming off the first and only major surgery (knee) of his collegiate and pro career.

**There's nothing more frustrating than having a non-bye-related revolving door at kicker or defense/special teams during a season ... and yet, I steadfastly refuse to grab a quality kicker or defense before the third-to-last round of any draft -- no matter the scoring system.

**Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco could hook up for six preseason touchdowns ... and yet, I would rather have the Matt Leinart/Larry Fitzgerald handcuff for the regular season.

**I plan on DVR'ing every single preseason game that's not on national TV (thanks to the NFL Network) ... and yet, I'll never see one millisecond of any second half (since there is NOTHING to be gleaned, fantasy-wise, from exhibition garbage time).

Adios, Big Jesus

Did you hear the devastating news out of Ohio? The Big Jesus statue near Middletown -- on the northbound side of I-75, approximately 20 minutes north of Cincinnati -- caught fire after getting struck by lightning on Monday and subsequently burned to the point of no recovery. In fact, only the original structure remains for all to see.

So, why am I bringing this up in a fantasy column? Well, every June, I make a week-long pilgrimage to Detroit (my hometown) for some R & R ... and every time, I look forward to seeing Le Grand Jesus in all his glory on the right-hand side of the road, a telltale sign that I'm only 3 1/2 hours away from my parents' doorstep. Plus, there isn't really much to see on the Ohio freeways between Cincy and Toledo. There's the Dayton Daily News building (home to one of the greatest baseball writers of our time, Hal McCoy), the Pioneer Sugar silos in Findlay, historic Flyers Arena in Dayton and Bowling Green State University's football stadium -- home to perhaps the most unlikely College Gameday broadcast in ESPN history (2003 -- No. 23 BG vs. No. 12 Northern Illinois, whose best player was current Falcons RB Michael Turner).

Yes, Big Jesus will be missed, but not so much for religious reasons as the following: When will I ever get a chance to mimic Elaine Benes saying "Jesus!" upon learning that her boyfriend, David Puddy, listens to Christian rock?

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