With the trade of Kellen Winslow, the AFC North tight ends lack firepower, although Winslow was a huge disappointment last year, but they still possess a few every week fantasy starters at the top of the list.
1. Todd Heap
This is a tough call because injuries have derailed a once-promising career, but after scouring the AFC North landscape, there’s no one who warrants this ranking more than Heap.
In 2008, playing mostly banged up and with a rookie QB, he managed just 35 catches for 403 yards and three TDs.
This year, with the expected improvement of Joe Flacco, look for Heap to be a focal point in Cam Cameron’s offense and to improve his numbers to between 50-60 catches, for over 600 yards and between five and seven TDs.
2. Heath Miller
Miller is a very talented TE who’s stuck in an offense that looks at their receivers first, backs and tight ends second. In 2008, he still caught nearly 50 passes for over 500 yards and three TDs.
This year, both Holmes and Ward, and possibly Sweed, will be given their looks ahead of Miller once again, so expect another five hundred season with three and five TDs.
3. Chase Coffman
The Bengals’ leading TE last year was 11-year veteran, Reggie Kelly, but we think Cincinnati invested its third-round selection in Coffman to use him right from the start.
Playing with Carson Palmer, he instantly becomes this division’s fantasy sleeper pick late in the draft.
With Houshmandzadeh defecting to Seattle, the Bengals are short on targets. so look for Coffman to receive his opportunities and haul in between 400 and 500 yards with three to five TDs.
4. Steve Heiden
With the off-season trade of Kellen Winslow, the Browns are exceptionally thin on both talent and bodies at the TE position, but look for Heiden to step forward and assume that role once the season begins.
In 2008, having to deal with all of the problems the Browns offense was faced with, and as a No. 2, Heiden caught 23 passes for 249 yards.
This year, look for up to 400 yards and a few goal-line scores.
Heap and Miller are similar fantasy players although the Ravens have a more TE friendly offense, so look for Heap to hear his name called first sometime after round eight.
Miller will follow shortly thereafter while Coffman, a bit of an unknown, could be a great late-round pick and be a surprise starter.
Heiden’s not worthy of being drafted but keep an eye on the waiver wire as he could be a potential roster fill-in.