In my third installment of the fantasy football strength of schedule series we will be analyzing the tight end position. Every year owners struggle with when to draft a tight end in fantasy football. Do you take one of the big three around the third round, or wait for middle of the road kind of guy?
Many times this decision can make or break a team. For instance, this season when you are sitting there and are thinking about taking Antonio Gates instead of waiting a few rounds to take a tight end, you could be dooming yourself.
This year, Gates will have some of his toughest match ups of his career. Do you want to look back at your fantasy draft and see that you passed up on drafting his Chargers teammate Philip Rivers or say, Jonathan Stewart? I wouldn’t and thats why taking a look at the upcoming season’s schedules will come in to play.
1. Chris Cooley (Washington Redskins)
Backup tight end Fred Davis is making a very strong push for the starting job this season, however, it is still Cooley’s job to lose. With that being said, this upcoming season looks to be very fortuitous for Cooley.
Donovan McNabb has always been good to his tight ends and his schedule is very tight end-friendly. Coming off of a season ended early from a broken ankle, this is a make or break season for Cooley.
With games against the NFC East, the worst against tight ends last season, and the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.
2. Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
Tony Romo’s best friend actually had a down year last year, based on his own usual stats. His yards were actually higher than in 2008, but he only managed to record two touchdowns.
His best season was with Terrell Owens as the primary receiver, but with the emergence of Miles Austin along with the addition of Dez Bryant, this could end up being a great year for Witten.
He does have a favorable schedule playing against the NFC East, and like Cooley, will play games agains the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans.
3. Jermichael Finley (Green Bay Packers)
Near the end of the 2009 fantasy season, Finley really started to play up to his expectations. Four of his five touchdowns came in the final five games of the regular season and he recorded 159 yards in his lone playoff appearance.
Two games against the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, as well as a game against the Atlanta Falcons mean Finley should continue his hot streak through the entire 2010 season.
4. Brandon Pettigrew/Tony Scheffler (Detroit Lions)
There is a good chance Pettigrew could lose his starting job to Tony Scheffler. If he doesn’t lose it before the season however, he might not lose it all. Pettigrew could be the Lions bright spot on offense this year, playing in a tough division and facing the NFC East.
Both of those divisions are weak versus the tight end and a strong season from Matthew Stafford could end up putting Pettigrew in to the top-15.
5. Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers)
Last season’s best tight end will likely have another great statistical season. This isn’t exactly the world’s craziest bet, but it should hold, thanks to as easy of a schedule as Davis had in 2009.
Davis will make his high fantasy draft position worth it to his owners, thanks to games versus the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.
6. Visanthe Shiancoe (Minnesota Vikings)
He was Brett Favre’s best friend in the red-zone last season, recording the second most touchdowns at his position. The Vikings targeted their tight ends in the red-zone more than any other position when they were near the end-zone, and if they can get back at the same frequency this season Shiancoe will have another good season for his fantasy owners.
7. Brent Celek (Philadelphia Eagles)
Jason Witten may not be the dominant tight end in the NFC East anymore after the emergence of Brent Celek as a dynamic receiving target for the Eagles last year.
Kevin Kolb’s first year could be tumultuous and if he is feeling the heat too often, it is likely he will have to check down to Celek. This makes Brent Celek another great fantasy choice, and likely at a bargain price.
8. Kevin Boss (New York Giants)
The NFC East quarterbacks and tight ends are obviously going to have good seasons in 2010, and Kevin Boss is no different. There is a big drop off from the top-five tight ends to the 15th spot, where Boss ended the season last year.
He might not be worthy of a third, fourth or even a fifth round pick, but if you realize halfway through the draft you forgot a tight end then Boss could be your best bet.
9. Donte Rosario/Jeff King (Carolina Panthers)
Rosario also ended the season as the 28th best tight end in fantasy football, hardly worth consideration. Even with his favorable schedule ahead, this trend shouldn’t end.
Rosario is a great addition if you do get stuck with a subpar tight end and want a favorable matchup… say, against the Giants, Browns or Falcons? Jeff King is a lesser talent at tight end, but worth noting due to the soft schedule.
10. Greg Olsen (Chicago Bears)
Olsen is another tight end that has rumors swirling about a demotion despite having a decent season in 2009. Olsen was very streaky however, having four games where he only posted one point or less.
This upcoming season might not be the 100-point season he had last year, however, thanks to a Mike Martz offense that isn’t known for utilizing the tight end.
5. Owen Daniels (Houston Texans)
Daniels had a great season considering he only played the first eight games due to a knee injury. This season he will try to bounce back and it wont be as easy as he hopes, considering the Indianapolis Colts are the best team versus tight ends and he faces them twice.
4. Leonard Pope (Kansas City Chiefs)
The AFC West was great defending against tight ends last season, now throw in games against the AFC South and the Bills. Besides, Pope isn’t much to talk about in fantasy to begin with.
3. Benjamin Watson (Cleveland Browns)
Watson never really turned it on like some had hoped when he was with the New England Patriots. Now he will have a question at the quarterback position and will be knocking on the door to turn 30.
2. Daniel Graham (Denver Broncos)
Another older tight end with a quarterback carousel. The season is already tough enough for Graham having to face the AFC West, let alone the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets.
1. Antonio Gates (San Diego Chargers)
Gates always has a stellar season if he can stay healthy, but it will be hard for him to stay off of the medic table this season though. Games against the AFC West, AFC South and then games against the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots sprinkled in will only make Gates owners pull their hair out.