The Tight End Quandry in Fantasy Football

This debate has gone on since the beginning of fantasy play as we know it. The tried and true method of TE drafting is  the late rounds. I am assuming a PPR serpentine draft.  Over the years the TE in some offenses has turned into an extension of the passing game. Whereas in the past it was more of a blocking position. A great modern day example of this is Jason Witten. His 2007 campaign consisted of 1145 yards, 96 catches, and 7 TDs. He declined in 2008 with 952 yards, 81 catches, and 4 TDs. He bounced back a touch with yards in 2009 but even less TDs – 1030 yards, 94 catches, and only 2 TDs.  Why the exercise in Witten stats? Because as the Cowboys transformed from a average team to a Superbowl ready team Witten got pulled back into protection. He is an ideal blocker and the franchise must protect Tony Romo. Witten is that rare example of a TE that can catch and block. I am leary of Witten in 2010 and will not reach into round 4 or 5 to draft him.  

I believe in 2 TE models. 1) Take the bonafide STUD in round four. 2) Ignore the position until late in the draft. I’m talking round 12 or later. Once the two studs are gone (Dallas Clark and Antonio Gates) the falloff between serviceable and scrub is minimal. There are just as many Millers (Zach and Heath) as there are Schefflers and Bransons. I would rather load up on strong upside WRs or RBs in rounds 4-12 then go for just a “serviceable” TE. So while all your league mates are panicking because TEs are going off the board you can stick to your plan and load up on talent. The only wild card is JerMichael Finley GB. I believe he will be an elite TE this year but until he puts his money where his mouth is I cannot justify taking him in round 4.

The average reader doesn’t know Branson and that is exactly my point. Every year there is a TE that you can grab off waivers and be successful with. Last year’s example is Vernon Davis who came on INCREDIBLY strong at the end of the year(78 receptions, 965 yards, and 13 TDs). Three year’s ago the example was Tony Scheffler (49 receptions, 549 yards, and 5 TDs). If you do a little homework and work the waivers you can always upgrade your TE during the season if your round 12 TE doesn’t work. 

My early TE’s that are showing promise are the following:

  1. Mercedes Lewis JAX  – I know we hear EVERY year this is going to be the year.
  2. Marquez Branson DEN- I read an www.fftoday.com article that said McDaniels is comparing him to Gates. With all the injuries in Denver a catching TE suddenly is worth drafting. It looks like they are going to use Graham as more of a blocker with all the RBs going down.
  3. Jermaine Gresham CIN – A rookie with tremendous upside. Carlson Palmer has been waiting for a check down TE. Just think if Ocho and TO starting killing each other a check down TE is exactly what the doctor ordered. He was only targeted once in the first preseason game but it is early.
  4. Tony Scheffler DET – Everyone thought Brandon Pettigrew was going to be the breakout TE in Detroit last year. Then he was injured. Detroit has recognized they need help in the pasing game and Scheffler is more what I would call a Wide Receiver style TE. Mark my words Scheffler will have a 2007 campaign.

If I was a betting man I grab Scheffler and Branson in round 14. At the bare minimum they are bye week replacements. Though my gut says they will be startable week 1.

On a sidenote if ya’all looking for a GREAT free drafting kit head on over to ffarmory: http://www.ffarmory.com/main_blogs/2010-ffarmory-com-draft-took-kit-volume-1 . They have a kickass site and the amount of information they have is endless.


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3 Responses to “The Tight End Quandry in Fantasy Football”

  1. A C Slater says:

    What do you thin about Dustin Keller I hear he is supposed to see a lot of Redzone oppertunities. Do you like Clay harbor or Fred Davis this year?

  2. The Fantasy Flukie says:

    According to Rex Ryan “Dustin Keller is going to be a fantasy star.” I would take Keller late in snake drafts and may bid $2 (on a $100 total) in a auction league.

    As for Fred Davis and Clay Harbor – I would pass on both.

  3. […] TE sleepers – Marques Branson and my previous post. […]

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