Fantasy Football: Tight End Rankings—Forgotten Position Key to Title
Conventional fantasy wisdom tells you that drafting tight ends is something that should be done in later rounds, after you’ve already selected your important players.
If you like losing money to your buddies every year, then you should definitely stick to conventional wisdom.
In today’s NFL, an elite tight end is basically a wide receiver. I’d be willing to bet all of the money in my couch right now that whoever won your league last season had a top-five tight end on their roster.
Still not buying it? Fine—ponder this. Last season Colts tight end Dallas Clark scored enough fantasy points (PPR format) to finish the season as the seventh best receiver in league, outscoring guys like Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, Vincent Jackson, and Sidney Rice.
The good news is most people wait to draft a tight end, so you should be able to grab a top-tier guy if you act fast. The bad news is the huge drop-off in value outside of the top seven. You don’t want to find yourself on the back end of a tight end picking trend; you want to be the one who starts it.
Here are my top 20 for this season.
1. Dallas Clark
Dallas and Peyton Manning are pretty much BFFs. He's like having an extra No. 1 receiver in your lineup every week.
2. Antonio Gates
Antonio is remarkably consistent. With Vincent Jackson missing at least three games this season, and possibly more, Gates figures to be Philip Rivers' favorite target.
It's hard to believe because of his past success, but Antonio may be poised to have his best season ever.
3. Vernon Davis
If it weren't for Miles Austin's amazing season, Vernon Davis would've been last year's waiver wire pickup of the year. We've always known he had the tools to be one of the best in the league. It would appear as if he's learned how to use them.
4. Brent Celek
Last season Celek looked good when Donovan McNabb was throwing him the ball—but he looked great when Kevin Kolb was his QB. A good tight end is every young QB's best friend. Expect an even better follow-up to his stellar season last year.
5. Jason Witten
Don't let last year's uncharacteristically low touchdown total scare you off. Jason Witten is still one of the top fantasy tight ends you can have.
All of the attention opposing defenses will be paying to the Cowboys' receiving corps just might free things up a little for Witten this year. Expect a nice bounce-back season.
6. Jermichael Finley
What is that old saying? Oh yeah—out with the Donald Lee, in with the new.
Jermichael should see a ton of looks this year from Aaron Rodgers. He'll be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, who already have enough to worry about with Green Bay's dangerous receivers.
7. Tony Gonzalez
We keep waiting for Tony's age to catch up with him on the field, and one day it might. But for now, he's still Tony Gonzalez, and he's still good.
8. Kellen Winslow
This is where things go downhill fast, so hopefully you have your starting tight end selected by now. Kellen may be a soldier, but he's a soldier in a really crappy army. Plus, he played in all 16 games last season, so he's long overdue to go down with some sort of serious injury.
9. Owen Daniels
Owen Daniels owners were devastated last season when he went down in Week Eight with an ACL tear, which I'm told is somewhere between a stubbed toe and death. He's a top-tier talent, but it will most likely take him a season to get back to being the player he was.
10. Zach Miller
Miller put up solid numbers last year despite having the worst quarterback to have ever thrown a football. This year he has Jason Campbell—still not great, but a definite upgrade.
11. Chris Cooley
Cooley is typically a top-10 guy. However, an injury last season, plus the emergence of Fred Davis as a decent receiving option, lowers his value a little. He will benefit somewhat from having McNabb under center.
12. Visanthe Shiancoe
Somehow Shiancoe managed 11 touchdowns last season, though he only caught eight passes. Really it was 56, which means he'll need to score to be an asset to your team. Fine if he does, but really bad if he doesn't.
13. Dustin Keller
Did Dustin even play last year? He followed up a promising rookie season in '08 by all but disappearing completely. He should see an increase in production from last year as Mark Sanchez progresses, but he still shouldn't be your starter.
14. John Carlson
I had Carlson pegged as a top-five tight end going into last season. I missed with my pegs. It's not totally his fault. Seattle just couldn't seem to get it together last year. I'm guessing they'll still have some issues to work out.
15. Jeremy Shockey
Shockey will post decent numbers when he plays. But he has never played 16 games in a season. He's a backup who needs a backup at this point in his career.
16. Heath Miller
Miller should be a quality fantasy tight end for the end of the fantasy regular season and throughout the fantasy playoffs. That's about the time greasy frat boy QB Ben Roethlisberger will be returning to form.
17. Kevin Boss
Boss would be ranked higher if he weren't dealing with nagging ankle and hamstring injuries. But he's dealing with nagging ankle and hamstring injuries. Facts are facts.
18. Greg Olsen
Word on the street is Mike Martz doesn't believe in throwing footballs to tight ends. Don't worry, Greg Olsen owners; Martz will have a new home next season. He always does.
19. Benjamin Watson
This is getting out of hand. Don't draft Benjamin Watson.
20. Marcedes Lewis
And definitely don't draft Marcedes Lewis. In fact, I don't think he even deserves a picture. So here's one of LeBron James.