Tight End Position Deeper Than Ever

Only ten years ago the tight end position was rather non existent. There were stars at the position and the rest were situational pass catching targets but mainly blocking specialists. Ben Coates, Frank Wycheck, and Shannon Sharpe were the rare serious threat tight ends to have on your fantasy football roster. Drafting a tight end was like picking a kicker for fantasy owners. Now rankings are not clear cut and can actually shift on a week to week basis. Call it a vast improvement from five to seven years ago, as tight ends are catching more balls then ever and sometimes even considered the number one pass catching target on teams. For guys like Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow, Todd Heap, Alge Crumpler, and Antonio Gates that is a definite fact.

Since Antonio Gates transcended the position with his dominance in 2005, more teams have caught on to utilize the tight end more. Instead of the tight end position having six or seven strong candidates for fantasy owners, there is enough talent to consider drafting a backup tight end for sleeper consideration. That’s how advanced and deep the position has become. All the worries of having to jump on a tight end do not have to happen anymore. Notjustagame.com analyzes some tight ends that you can get late in drafts after owners have snatched up the first tier. Times change quickly when teams see quick advances. There are a viable twenty tight ends to stick on your draft cheat sheets.

An average legitimate figure to predict from the first tier of tight ends is numbers of 900 yards receiving and six touchdowns. We have considered nine tight ends in our first tier, with a specialization category asterisk on the names of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. As they will likely have a slighter edge in both yards and touchdowns from the other first tier tight ends. Who follows Gonzalez and Gates are (by no specific ranked order) are Chris Cooley, Jeremy Shockey, Jason Witten, Alge Crumpler Vernon Davis, Kellen Winslow, and Todd Heap. The trend amongst them is that they all are growing substantially in their teams offensive plans and their great athletes. Numbers from them will be steady or better from their prior seasons. Even with Alge Crumpler who is going to be without Vick but does not change the fact that he is a big target and knows how to get open. He’s done it without any wideouts supporting him and now he has Joe Horn to spread it out for him.

Behind the mentioned nine tight ends above are tight ends that can sneak into the bottom ten in ranking. Tight ends making our second tier are Benjamin Watson, LJ Smith, Dallas Clark, Heath Miller, Eric Johnson, Daniel Graham, and Randy McMichael. For the most part these guys all have strong offenses that love to pile up the yardage and scoring numbers. Getting away with snatching one of these guys as a starting tight end might not be as bad as owners may think. Most owners do not draft back up tight ends and certainly will not do it rounds after getting a tier one tight end.

That means you can holdout extra rounds to build on other areas without worrying about who your tight end is going to be. In other areas when quarterbacks and receivers start getting snared is when you see a dominoes affect begin from owners. With the likelihood of more tight ends having decent years like last season smiling and adding that extra back or getting a top defense can be done while tight ends get snatched.

For the first time there is even a third tier of tight ends. Not any of these tight ends should be drafted but maybe the second tier tight end you draft as your starter does not work out. Then scrambling on the waiver wire must be done and these third tier guys will be there. Marcus Pollard in Seattle has a chance to be a strong sleeper. Jerramy Stevens may have never filled the tight end role but Pollard has the veteran skills to do so. He has reliable hands that the Seahawks are not use to (Led the league in drops 06), and should have his fair share of decent games.

Over in Chicago, Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark as a duo is a twist that keeps both of these athletes in the third tier. We’ll have to see how the Bears figure both in the offense to bump either or in tier rankings. Last but not least David Martin in Miami creeps on the radar. He is a newcomer but the quarterback of the Dolphins is not at throwing to tight ends. Trent Green has the automatic wandering eyes to the middle of the field from throwing to Tony Gonzalez for the last five years. Miami always seemed tight at involving Randy McMichael more but you can bet Green’s instinctual heavy reliance on a tight end will make Martin involved.