2011 NFL Playoffs: Ranking the Top 14 Fantasy Tight Ends

Nick Caron@@nicholascaronAnalyst IJanuary 4, 2011

2011 NFL Playoffs: Ranking the Top 14 Fantasy Tight Ends

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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons is tackled as he makes a catch by Roman Harper #41 of the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on September 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Playing fantasy football during the NFL playoffs might be a new concept to some, but speaking as a person who plays in a separate league for the playoffs, let me tell you—it’s a blast.

    In fact, it can oftentimes be more dramatic and exciting than playing in the regular season, as you find yourself truly cheering for teams along with your individual players.

    View the rest of the 2011 fantasy football playoff rankings:

    Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers | Tight Ends

    Playoff fantasy football can be an thrilling way to shorten the already prolonged offseason if you’re one of the millions who is addicted to fantasy football.

    In the league I play in, we will draft a team that must consist of each of the following:

    • One Quarterback
    • Two Running Backs
    • Three Wide Receivers
    • One Tight End
    • One Kicker
    • One Defense / Special Teams Unit

    If you have filled up your roster with each of these, you are free to draft six more players at any position. This often means that some teams have two quarterbacks, two or more kickers or defenses, etc.

    The scoring system is simple: total points on your fantasy roster throughout the entirety of the playoffs.

    This means that you do not set a “starting lineup” each week. Every player on your roster is automatically in your lineup until his team is eliminated from the playoffs.

    (Note: Because kickers and defenses are almost guaranteed to accrue at least some points in every game, they are often selected earlier in the playoff system than they would be in your standard preseason fantasy draft.)

    With a limited talent pool in the playoffs, this means that selecting players who you believe will be on a team that will make it the furthest in the playoffs is of the utmost importance.

    It also can mean slightly downgrading players on teams that have a first round bye, as they will have one less opportunity to gain points than the players on teams that do play in the Wild Card Round.

    With the basics out of the way, let’s move on to ranking the tight ends for this season’s playoffs!

14. Andrew Quarless, TE, Green Bay Packers

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 21:  Wide receiver Andrew Quarless #81 of the Green Bay Packers looks on during warmups prior to the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on August 21, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Imag
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    With Jermichael Finley out, the Packers turned to rookie tight end Andrew Quarless in Week 4. Quarless failed to respond, however, catching just 21 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown on the season.

    Finley significantly outscored Quarless’ season total in just the four games he played, catching 21 passes of his own for 301 yards and a touchdown.

    Needless to say, Quarless is not anywhere near the talent that Finley is and should be rated that way by fantasy owners going into the playoffs.

    At this point, he’s pretty much a body on the field wearing a Packers jersey. He may sneak in for a touchdown in the playoffs, but don’t expect it.

13. John Carlson, TE, Seattle Seahawks

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    SEATTLE - OCTOBER 24:  Tight end John Carlson #89 of the Seattle Seahawks is driven out of bounds by linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals at Qwest Field on October 24, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    John Carlson’s fantasy season was a major disappointment to those who pegged him as a potential breakout candidate coming into the year.

    With only 31 catches for 318 yards and one touchdown on the year, Carlson had a massive fall from grace and can barely be considered a fantasy option at all going into the playoffs.

    Carlson caught only five passes from Weeks 13 through 17 and does not seem to have a great connection with Matt Hasselbeck any longer. His numbers have actually seen a slight increase when Charlie Whitehurst has been behind center, which may be a glimmer of hope for those who draft him.

12. Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints

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    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10:  Tight end Jeremy Shockey #88 of the New Orleans Saints runs with the football for a 11 yard reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 10, 20
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    With only seven total fantasy points in the past seven weeks combined, Jeremy Shockey seems to have been surpassed by rookie tight end Jimmy Graham, who was able to equal that number in Week 17 alone.

    Shockey has missed time with a groin injury and doesn’t appear to be as big of a part in the New Orleans offense as he was during the Super Bowl run last season.

11. Tony Moeaki, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

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    SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 28:  Tight end Tony Moeaki #81 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on November 28, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Another rookie tight end that made a splash this season was the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tony Moeaki. Moeaki made the most of his chances in his team’s run-first offense, catching 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns.

    His fantasy point totals weren’t extraordinary, but he did have over 40 yards receiving in half of his games this season, which is something that can’t be said about the players ranked below him.

10. Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago Bears

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    CHICAGO - DECEMBER 12: Greg Olsen #82 of the Chicago Bears waits on the sidelines for the final seconds of a game against the New England Patriots at Soldier Field on December 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Patriots defeated the Bears 36-7. (Photo by
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    With only four fantasy points in the past five weeks, Greg Olsen has become as irrelevant to the Chicago Bears offense as many experts predicted he would be when Mike Martz took over the offense.

    Olsen has the talent to be an elite tight end in this league, but he simply isn’t given enough of an opportunity. Olsen has become a better blocker and should see more playing time due to that, but his receiving abilities are still likely to be vastly underused by the Martz offensive scheme.

9. Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 28:  Brent Celek #87 of the Philadelphia Eagles in action against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 28, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Many considered Brent Celek one of the elite—or at least close to elite—tight ends going into the season, making him one of the biggest busts of the year.

    Celek disappointed fantasy owners with only 42 receptions for 511 yards and four touchdowns on the year after a breakout season in 2009 where he nearly doubled all of those statistics.

    Still, Celek is only two weeks removed from a 10-catch, 97-yard performance against the Vikings and could see more balls coming his way after that big game.

8. Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 12: Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets against the Miami Dolphins at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 12, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    One of the more quietly productive tight ends in the NFL this season, Dustin Keller caught multiple passes in every game he played in this season other than the irrelevant Week 17 game against the Bills.

    Keller hasn’t broken into double-digit fantasy points since Week 4, but he is getting more work than the guys ranked below him, and he is on a team that has a real chance to make a run at the Super Bowl if they can just avoid mistakes.

7. Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Aaron Hernandez #85 of the New England Patriots scores a 1-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The second of the Patriots' rookie tight ends, Aaron Hernandez also made himself fantasy-relevant this season.

    He missed the final two weeks of the season with a hip injury, but Hernandez is expected to be back by the time the Patriots play in round two of the playoffs. Prior to his injury, Hernandez had been on a streak where he caught six touchdown passes in a seven-week span.

    He is the lower-ranked tight end in New England, but the Patriots have shown that they are more than willing to get him the ball if the situation fits.

6. Todd Heap, TE, Baltimore Ravens

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 21:  Todd Heap #86 of the Baltimore Ravens against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Veteran tight end Todd Heap missed nearly four entire games with a pulled hamstring but returned in Week 17 as he contributed 53 yards receiving on three catches.

    Prior to his injury Heap had caught five touchdown receptions in the previous five games and was looking to be well on his way to a top 10 season at tight end.

5. Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Heath Miller #83 of the Pittsburgh Steelers greets fans during the start of the game  against the Carolina Panthers on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    He struggled without Ben Roethlisberger and missed time after a bad concussion, but Heath Miller remains one of the Steelers’ favorite options in the passing game.

    After returning from his concussion, Miller caught nine passes for 128 yards and a touchdown in the final two weeks of the season. He’s not the superstar that other tight ends may be, but Miller’s consistency makes him a valuable fantasy tight end.

4. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints

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    ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 27:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham #80 in the second half during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    His season started off slow with only five total receptions in the first half of the season, but rookie tight end Jimmy Graham really came on late in the season when the Saints were pushing for the playoffs.

    He caught 26 passes in the second half of the year, including five touchdowns, four of which came in the final three weeks of the season.

    Graham left Week 17’s game with an ankle injury, and there are no updates as of yet on the severity of the injury. Hopefully he’s healthy enough to keep up this hot streak, but we’ll have to keep an eye on it before any playoff drafts.

3. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

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    DETROIT - NOVEMBER 25: Ron Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates a first down catch during the fourth of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 25, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. New England defeated Detroit 45-24.  (Phot
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    One of two standout rookie tight ends for the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski finished fifth in the league in fantasy points at his position. Gronkowski ended the season with four touchdowns in his final four games with 10 total on the year—tied for best in the league.

    It does seem that the Patriots go back and forth on whether they’re throwing to him or Aaron Hernandez, but both players have been fantasy-relevant all season.

2. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers at Georgia Dome on January 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The NFL’s all-time leading tight end, Tony Gonzalez has continued extending his records by catching multiple passes in every game this season, including six touchdowns.

    Gonzalez was second on the team in every receiving category, only behind the league’s leading pass catcher, Roddy White.

    While his numbers were among the worst of his career, the Falcons will need Gonzalez’s leadership, as they are in large part a young group of players with little or no playoff experience.

1. Jacob Tamme, TE, Indianapolis Colts

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    OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Jacob Tamme #84 of the Indianapolis Colts runs after a catch past Mike Mitchell #34 of the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacob
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Despite not playing in the first six games of the season, Jacob Tamme finished in the top 15 of the players at his position and has to be considered the top tight end going into the playoffs.

    Tamme has four or more receptions in every game he has played in and has at least three fantasy points in all of them.

    Peyton Manning seems to trust him almost as much as he trusts Dallas Clark—and we all know how well that worked out for him.