By Derek of The Sportmeisters
Hello Football Fans! It’s June and that means OTA’s and minicamps are all but over and actual training camp is around the corner. Preseason games start on Aug. 13 and boy oh boy I can’t wait.
Now, what I am here to discuss today are my preseason, pre training camp Fantasy rankings for the Tight Ends. Obviously, my rankings are likely to change, but here are my first projections of the year.
1. Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – Projection: 90 Receptions 1000 Yards 8 TD
No more T.O. means that Witten is the new number one gun in Dallas. With Roy Williams on the outside, Witten should see more than his fair share of balls thrown his way.
He sorely missed Tony Romo when he was injured last year and his numbers suffered, but I expect him to have a 2007 like season and be the top Tight End taken in all fantasy drafts somewhere between rounds three and five.
2. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – Projection: 80 Receptions 950 Yards 8 TD
How do you consider a season with eight touchdowns a bust season? When you are an Antonio Gates owner and you were expecting the usual 75+ reception, 900+ yard season and you got 60 and 704.
Gates battled injuries last year, but looks to be fully healthy this year and I expect his usual numbers. Look for him to be right up there with Witten on draft day.
3. Dallas Clark – Indianapolis Colts – Projection: 80 Receptions 875 Yards 7 TD
Clark has been a top tier fantasy Tight End for the past two years. In 2007, he had 616 yards and 11 touchdowns and in 2008 he had 77 catches, 848 yards, and six touchdowns. Now, Marvin Harrison is gone and the Colts don’t have a third Wide Receiver as of yet.
I could see Clark being used in the slot much more frequently this year and he should post similar numbers to last year. Look for him to come off the board between rounds three and seven.
4. Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons – Projection: 80 Receptions 900 Yards 6 TD
Gonzalez posted his second consecutive 90+ catch 1000+-yard season last year and scored 10 touchdowns with a terrible Kansas City team with Tyler Thigpen at QB. Now, he moves to Atlanta, with Matt Ryan. The problem is that Atlanta is a run first team.
Expect TE1 numbers from Gonzo, but not near last year and look for him between rounds four and seven.
5. Greg Olsen – Chicago Bears – Projection: 70 Receptions 800 Yards 7 TD
Olsen had career highs last year in receptions, yards, and touchdowns with 54, 574, and five. Now, he has Jay Cutler at QB and is poised for a breakout season. They don’t have a real number one receiver and Cutler can throw the deep ball very well. Look for Olsen to put up new career highs and should be taken off the board between rounds five and eight.
6. Chris Cooley – Washington Redskins – Projection: 77 Receptions 800 Yards 5 TD
Cooley had career highs last year in receptions and yards with 83 and 948, but only scored one touchdown. It was the first time that he failed to score at least six touchdowns in a season. However, he was targeted 111 times. He should score more this year and will be taken in the middle rounds.
7. Owen Daniels – Houston Texans – Projection: 70 Receptions 825 Yards 5 TD
Daniels has been good for a few years now, but really broke out last year. He had 70 receptions for 862 yards, but only scored two touchdowns, just like his 2007 season where he caught 63 for 768 with only three touchdowns.
If QB Matt Schaub can stay healthy, he should be a top tier Tight End this year and will hopefully find the end zone more. Look for him in the middle rounds.
8. Kellen Winslow – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Projection: 70 Receptions 750 Yards 5 TD
You couldn’t say the word bust without mentioning Kellen Winslow last year. After breaking out in 2006 and 2007 with a combined 171 receptions for 1981 yards and eight touchdowns, he missed six games last year and regressed to 43 receptions for 428 yards and just three touchdowns.
Now, he was traded to Tampa Bay and will be the main target there, but they don’t have a real QB. If he can stay healthy, he should put up TE1 numbers, but watch out for the missed games due to injury. Look for him in the middle rounds.
9. Dustin Keller – New York Jets – Projection: 66 Receptions 675 Yards 5 TD
Keller was good in his rookie year, but not great. He was invisible in the first eight games, catching 13 balls for 147 yards and two touchdowns, but then exploded for 27 catches for 313 yards in the next four games, but just one touchdown and became invisible again for the last four games (8 catches for 75 yards).
With a new Head Coach, no Laveranues Coles, and a young QB, expect Keller to be a more prominent player in the Offense. Look for him in the later rounds and he could be a nice TE1 sleeper.
10. Zach Miller – Oakland Raiders – Projection: 62 Receptions 800 Yards 4 TD
If he didn’t play for Oakland, Miller might be in the top seven. However, he plays with an inexperienced QB behind a bad pass blocking O-Line. He had a great season despite those things, catching 56 balls for 778 yards, but only one touchdown.
If his QB can develop, he could breakout this year. You could grab him in the later rounds and may get TE1 numbers out of him.
11. John Carlson – Seattle Seahawks – Projection: 55 Receptions 625 Yards 5 TD
Carlson had a good rookie year, but I don’t expect much of a rise this year. Not because he doesn’t have talent because he definitely does, but because they signed TJ Houshmandzadeh and have Nate Burleson and Deion Branch back from injury.
Seattle may play more three wide receiver sets and Carlson’s numbers will suffer because of that. However, he will be a red zone target, so watch for him in the later rounds.
12. Jeremy Shockey – New Orleans Saints – Projection: 60 Receptions 625 Yards 4 TD
This is a bold statement, but I think Shockey is due for a bounce back year. He was poised to breakout last year, until he had issues with an ankle injury, a sports hernia, and QB Drew Brees.
Now, he appears to be fully healed and on the same page with his QB and still has the talent to improve in his 0 TD bust of 2008. He will last until the later rounds, so he could be a serious sleeper if you grab him and hope that he bounces back, but make sure to grab another decent TE, just in case.
13. Kevin Boss – New York Giants – Projection: 50 Receptions 525 Yards 6 TD
Boss was decent in his first full year as a full time player in the Offense. He was almost completely unused in the first six games, catching six passes for 84 yards and one touchdown, but picked it up after that, catching 27 balls for 300 yards and five touchdowns.
This year, the Giants drafted another TE, but Boss is till expected to be the No. 1 guy and should improve on his receiving totals. He will last until the later rounds, so you can feel free to draft him and expect borderline TE1/TE2 numbers.
14. Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers – Projection: 55 Receptions 505 Yards 4 TD
Miller was considered a bust last year. He only caught 48 balls for 514 yards and just three touchdowns after catching seven in 2007.
Now, he did miss two games and was used more for blocking last year, but he should bounce back this year if the O-Line can keep Big Ben on his feet. Miller will last until the later rounds and will give you TE1/TE2 numbers.
15. Tony Scheffler – Denver Broncos – Projection: 45 Receptions 525 Yards 4 TD
Scheffler has all sorts of problems in Denver right now. A new Head Coach who utilizes Tight Ends as blockers more than receivers, a rumor that he is on the trading block due to not fitting into the system, having two better blocking Tight Ends on the roster, and an injury history.
However, there is another rumor saying that the new Coach wants to utilize Scheffler in the passing game this year. If he can stay healthy and be utilized the right way, Scheffler could be one of the better fantasy Tight Ends, but I don’t see that happening.
Expect TE2 numbers from him and look for him in the later rounds.
There are my first projections for fantasy football. The TE position can be important to your fantasy team depending on which one you choose, so choose wisely. Any questions or concerns, email me at Derek@Sportmeisters.com.