Fantasy Football Breakdown 2009: AFC Tight Ends


AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens:

Todd Heap – 35 rec. 403 yds. 3 TDs:

Todd Heap is no longer an elite tight end, as his production is steadily declining, and his role in the offense diminishing. The Ravens even brought in Philadelphia cast-off L.J. Smith to compete for the starting job. The Ravens rely heavily on the running game, and when they do pass, it is usually deep down the field, which leaves few opportunities for their tight ends.

Cincinnati Bengals:

Ben Utecht – 16 rec. 123 yds. 0 TD

Reggie Kelly – 31 rec. 207yds. 0 TD

Chase Coffman (rookie)

Utecht was a big time fantasy bust last season, and fooled a lot of people (myself included), who thought he was a sleeper. The return of Carson Palmer probably means that one of these three will put up some nice numbers. My guess is that it will be between Coffman and Utecht, with the edge going to Utecht. Coffman was a stud pass catcher in college, so he could end up unseating Utecht as the season progresses.

Cleveland Browns:

Robert Royal – 33 rec. 351 yds. 1 TD (w/ Bills):

Royal will go undrafted in all leagues, and should only be picked up as an emergency starter. Royal may get some looks in the red zone, but the Browns are going to be a basement team this year, which means most of their starters should be avoided.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

Heath Miller – 48 rec. 514 yds. 3 TDs

Miller gets a lot of hype, and not undeservedly, but he is not a great starting option from a fantasy standpoint. He will put up solid stats, but his touchdown numbers are less than impressive, and he figures to lose even more red zone looks to Matt Spaeth who has incredible size and hands, and may be a sleeper in his own right.

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills:

Shawn Nelson (Rookie):

Bills stole him in the fourth round, and he could become a contributor right away in their offense. Is a very good pass catching tight end who also showed the ability to block Senior Bowl Week. One problem may be that their just isn’t enough balls to go around with TO now in the mix.

Miami Dolphins:

Anthony Fasano – 34 rec. 454 yds. 7 TDs:

Emerged last season as a solid red zone target with 7 scores. Could be on the verge of becoming elite as his position, but I just don’t see it. He is a solid, but unspectacular player who just doesn’t have the physical attributes to be dominant.

New England Patriots:

Benjamin Watson – 22 rec. 209 yds. 2 TDs:

Watson has been an enigma for the Pats, and he is blessed with all the physical tools, but has just not been able to keep up a level of consistency. A borderline fantasy starter, may get some more looks with the return of Brady. However, the Patriots run a 3 receiver base offense, and with the addition of Chris Baker, Watson may not get as many looks in the red zone.

New York Jets:

Dustin Keller – 48 rec. 535 yds. 3 TDs:

Came on very strong down the stretch, and is poised for an even better sophomore season. Although, holding him back is the possibility of having a rookie QB throwing it to him, as well as the lack of quality wideouts to open things up for him over the middle and down the seam. Monitor the Jets QB situation closely, and even if Sanchez does win the starting role, Keller could turn into his safety valve, which in turn would mean lots of touches.

AFC South:

Houston Texans:

Owen Daniels – 70 rec. 862 yds. 2 TDs:

Daniels made his first Pro Bowl, but fantasy owners would like to see a spike in his TDs in order to consider him in the upper echelon of TEs. Daniels should continue to put up solid numbers, however the Texans added two tight ends in the draft including stellar pass catcher, James Casey, from Rice, that may affect Daniels looks.

Indianapolis Colts:

Dallas Clark – 77 rec. 848 yds. 6 TDs

Clark is one of the best receiving tight ends in the game, and has very good chemistry with Peyton Manning. He is a legitimate top 5 fantasy TE this season, maybe even number one. Look for a similar statistical season, which is excellent production as far as tight ends are concerned.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

Marcedes Lewis – 41 rec. 489 yds. 2 TDs

Lewis finally started playing up to his first round billing this season, and looks to improve even more this year. Lewis will need better play from his quarterback to put up the type of numbers he is capable of, and Garrad should be a lot better with improved protection. Lewis is still relatively unknown to the public, which makes him a borderline sleeper, who is more than worth a look in the mid to late rounds.

Tennessee Titans:

Bo Scaife – 58 rec. 561 yds. 2 TDs

Alge Crumpler – 24 rec. 257 yds. 1 TD

Jared Cook (rookie)

The Titans are stacked at tight end, but only Scaife is worth a look in fantasy drafts. Crumpler was vastly overrated going into last season, and showed why the Falcons deemed him expendable, although he is a solid blocker. Cook is the unknown here, as he dropped scouts jaws at the combine with his athleticism, although reminiscent of Vernon Davis. As of now, though, he is a one dimensional in that he cannot block whatsoever, which will hinder his opportunities to get onto the field.

AFC West:

Denver Broncos:

Tony Scheffler – 40 rec. 645 yds. 3 TDs

Daniel Graham – 32 rec. 389 yds. 4 TDs

Scheffler was a favourite target of Cutler, and is a very good receiver, but I guess McDaniels was unimpressed with his ability to block, hence he tried to trade him, unsuccessfully however. Both of these players should be considered fantasy reserves, but in choosing between them, I would give the edge to Graham as Scheffler is seemingly not in his coach’s plans for this season. Draft pick Richard Quinn may be a sleeper as he was almost solely used as a blocker in college, yet the Broncos believe he has the athleticism to be a quality receiver as well.

Kansas City Chiefs:

Brad Cottam – 7 rec. 63 yds. 0 TDs:

The trade of Gonzalez meant the end of an era in Kansas City, as well as left them with virtually nothing proven at tight end. Cottam is more known for his blocking, but is a big target with okay hands. Don’t expect Cottam, or any of the Chiefs’ tight ends to put up any sort of numbers at all this season.

Oakland Raiders:

Zach Miller – 56 rec. 778 yds. 1TD:

Miller was the lone standout in an otherwise brutal year for the Raiders offense. He looks poised to have a big year, and may be ready to make the jump into an elite pass catching tight end. His TD numbers are suspect, but if Russell improves than this stat should only increase. Miller is definitely a starting caliber fantasy TE.

San Diego Chargers:

Antonio Gates – 60 rec. 704 yds. 8 TDs:

Gates struggled with some injury issues last year, but still put up excellent numbers, just not as good as we’re used to seeing from him. He is supposedly back to full strength now, which makes him worth a look as early as the fourth or fifth round. His TD numbers are what separates him from other tight ends, and he could very well be the first one off the board in many leagues.

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