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Rookie Watch: Coffman should be Bengals' top pass-catching TE


The John Mackey Award winner was selected in the third round by a team in desperate need of more targets in the passing game. Having caught passes from Heisman contender Chase Daniel at the University of Missouri, Coffman will now work with one of the NFL's best passers -- Carson Palmer.

Dissecting the depth chart: This is why fantasy owners may want to fall in love with Coffman; in Cincinnati he'll jump to the front of the pack as the team's top pass-catching tight end. Think about the last great tight end the Bengals had. Dan Ross, anyone? The selection of Coffman is evidence this team is serious about giving Palmer a security blanket in the passing game, and fantasy owners should also be reminded that the team's depleted receiving corps will only give Coffman more opportunity to succeed immediately.

Just the stats: At Missouri, Coffman paired with Martin Rucker to form the nation's finest tight end duo of 2007. The two combined to catch 136 passes and 15 touchdowns that season. During his four years as a Tiger, Coffman caught 247 passes (47 as a freshman). His finest season was 2008 when he caught 90 passes for 987 yards and 10 touchdowns. Coffman also posted double-digit receptions in four of the 12 games in which he played last season.

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2008 rookie comparison: Seattle second round pick John Carlson could be the model fantasy owners use when sizing up Coffman. Carlson led the Seahawks in receptions (55), receiving yards (627) and touchdown receptions (five) as a rookie. In a trip to Dallas he posted his best game of 2008: six catches for 105 yards. While fantasy owners may not be able to count on Coffman to record 50-plus catches, there is a good chance he'll lead all rookie tight ends in the category in 2009.

Interesting fact that won't help you: Coffman's father, Paul, caught 339 passes during a 10-year NFL career, most of which was spent as Green Bay's starting tight end. In 1983, he caught 54 passes, including 11 touchdowns, and earned his second of three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.

What he's worth: Look, Coffman is a gamble for fantasy owners, even as a late round pick. He was the fourth tight end selected in the NFL Draft, and few players at his position offer fantasy owners much value in their first NFL season. But there is reason to believe Coffman could be different. For one, of all the tight ends drafted in April, he inherited the best environment to succeed in. Also, the reason he drifted in the draft (pegged by scouts to be a one-dimensional tight end) has little to do with his fantasy value; he proved at Missouri that he can catch passes, and his success as a freshman might suggest he is capable of making a quick transition.

Fantasy owners in traditional leagues can afford to risk ranking Coffman in the 18-25 range among tight end prospects with the hope that he will make a splash as big as Carlson did last year.