Finding the Tight End Who Gets Red Zone Targets

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IAugust 16, 2009

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 30: Chris Cooley #47 of the Washington Redskins practices during drills on opening day of training camp July 30, 2009 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

I have been stressing that there are a plethora of tight ends this season and unless you are snagging Jason Witten, Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzalez in the fifth or sixth round it’s not worth reaching for one.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should not be the one to start the run on TEs in your fantasy football draft if it is at a good value. Your assumptions of 900 yards and 7-8 TDs from the top three tight ends should catapult these players to the level of WR2s. 

What do I mean by that? Witten, Gonzalez, and Gates will put up those numbers along the likes of WRs Dwayne Bowe, Hines Ward, and DeSean Jackson, among others.

Now, while there is talent up and down the TE totem pole (from Gonzalez to Brent Celek), unless you grab one of the big three you should always find out which of these guys were aimed at most inside the Red Zone?

While Jason Witten posted only four TD’s, he had 120 targets throughout the season. He also was only targeted six times in the Cowboys’ Red Zone in 2008.

If that number so much as doubles in ‘09 (which still wouldn’t touch Tony Gonzalez’s 22 RZ targets, or Dallas Clark’s 21), he will be looking at an 8-10 TD campaign. This is why I keep emphasizing the point that targets are such important assets to your fantasy football squad.


I’m expecting Chris Cooley to throw himself back into the pack and make you think between him and Dallas Clark as the fourth-best TE in Fantasy Football.

While Clark obviously has a better QB and should be drafted ahead of Cooley, I think Jason Campbell will need to rely on Cooley this season. I’m expecting a huge bounce-back season from the Cooley who is a fantasy football buff himself.

Lerman’s 2009 Projection: 850 yards and 7 TDs

While I was a big John Carlson supporter in 2008, I’m not sure that he is able to repeat his past season. Yes, 627 yards and 5 TD’s are not astronomical (and I do believe he has the talent to post better numbers), but I don’t think it will happen in 2009.

The share of RZ targets will probably be going to T.J. Houshmandzadeh; and Carlson figures to be left in the dust inside the 5-yard-line with Houshmandzadeh name-twin T.J. Duckett stealing valuable touches.

Lerman’s 2009 Projection: 600 yards and 3 TD’s


In deeper leagues (14-16 team), TE’s drop off significantly after the top 10-12. If you are one who waits until the end to snag a TE, I would target Heath Miller, Brent Celek and Ben Watson if you are looking for a TE who could exceed expectations.


Finding The Tight End Who Gets Red Zone Targets