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    Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    [size=18px]Team TE rankings: Titans lead [/size]
    Posted: 4 hours ago

    Team rankings: TE

    My off-season fantasy football caravan continues this week with a review of the oft-overlooked tight end position.
    It was a position left to the wayside several years ago because of a lack of viable fantasy candidates at the position. Other than Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe, tight ends failed to spark much attention on draft day.

    The perception of the tight end position has changed in recent years as offenses have embraced shorter passing routes. Virtually all teams now have at least one viable receiver at the position, and some are stocked with two or more. Today's rankings include some thought about the offensive system and available personnel that surround the tight end as well as the viability of their backups. Therefore, the San Diego Chargers aren't rising to No. 1 on the strength of Antonio Gates on this list. Rather, that honor goes to the trio in Tennessee.

    1. Tennessee Titans
    Perhaps no team utilized the tight end position more effectively in 2005 than the Titans. Ben Troupe, Erron Kinney and Bo Scaife combined for 147 receptions for 1,346 yards and eight touchdowns. The addition of David Givens to complement Drew Bennett will remove some of those looks in 2006, as will the continued development of the trio of 2005 draft picks. The tight end trio becomes infinitely more important if the reins are handed over to rookie Vince Young at any time this year.

    2. New England Patriots
    The Patriots utilize the tight end position as well as anyone in the game. Last year, New England tight ends were the recipients of 12 of the 28 touchdown passes thrown by Tom Brady and Matt Cassel.
    Rising star Ben Watson led the pack with 29 receptions for 441 yards and four scores, while Daniel Graham added 16 receptions for 235 yards and three scores in just seven games. Of course, Bill Belichick also throws wrinkles into his goal-line sets with defensive stalwarts Mike Vrabel (three touchdowns) and Richard Seymour getting in on the fun.

    New England added another playmaker in the draft with the selection of 6-foot-3 target David Thomas from Texas. With the need for playmakers in the receiving corps behind Deion Branch, Thomas figures to factor into the Patriots playbook early.

    3. Dallas Cowboys
    The Cowboys made a huge splash by adding controversial wideout Terrell Owens to the mix. He and Terry Glenn will cause fits for defensive coordinators, leaving tight ends Jason Witten and draft pick Anthony Fasano to wreak havoc in the middle of the field. Bill Parcells has spoken about his affinity for the two-tight end set and will seek to utilize that formation in 2006.

    Witten saw his receptions and receiving yards dip last year, but he remained a force in the red zone. Naturally, some of the quantity of looks to the tight end position will be swiped by Owens as Drew Bledsoe tries to make his new teammate happy, but the quality of the looks for Witten and Fasano will improve.

    4. Washington Redskins
    The Redskins relied primarily on Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley for much of their regular season success in 2005. Cooley caught 71 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns in his second NFL season. His reception total was more than double that of the third leading receiver for the Redskins last year (Clinton Portis with 30). The next leading wide receiver was David Patten with 22 receptions. Washington opened the wallet this off-season to add Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El. While that doesn't bode well for Cooley's overall receiving numbers, his role in the red zone will not be compromised.

    Veteran Christian Fauria joins the team after four years with the Patriots. He has specialized as a red-zone threat the last two seasons, ceding looks to younger options Ben Watson and Daniel Graham.

    5. Green Bay Packers
    The Packers were hit from all sides by injuries in the offense last year. In addition to the loss of Javon Walker and a series of running backs, top tight end Bubba Franks missed nine games last year. David Martin and Donald Lee offered tremendous efforts among a sea of wide receivers to make up for Franks' absence. They combined for 60 receptions, 518 receiving yards and five touchdowns and stood as two of the positive performances in a lost season for the Packers. Green Bay enters training camp with all three players on the roster this season. They rank highly as a unit with three capable players, but the split workload mitigates their fantasy value.

    6. Seattle Seahawks
    Jerramy Stevens made a huge step in his performance last year, giving Seattle the big target they expected when he was selected in the first round. Stevens caught 45 balls for 554 yards and five scores last year, but fans and fantasy owners will no doubt remember him for some timely drops as well. His role grew as the season progressed and he will no doubt be counted on heavily this season again. The Seahawks lost red-zone target Joe Jurevicius to Cleveland this off-season, which indicates that Stevens' looks in close should rise as well.

    Veteran Itula Mili played in only two games last year, giving Stevens room to grow. He'll return to the field this year primarily to aid in blocking schemes for Shaun Alexander, but he can be a bigger factor if Stevens' drops continue.

    7. Baltimore Ravens
    Todd Heap struggled early in the year coming off of an ankle injury, but came on strong in the second half of the season to rank among the game's elite once again. Heap saved his best performance for a fantasy playoff week thrashing of the Packers on Monday night. He finished with 75 receptions for 855 yards and seven touchdowns despite the struggles of Kyle Boller. The possible acquisition of Steve McNair would not impact his status on this squad, as McNair is certainly accustomed to utilizing the tight end position.

    Daniel Wilcox offers a solid second option in two tight-end sets. Primarily used as a blocker, Wilcox has caught 45 passes for 373 yards and two scores in two years with the Ravens.

    8. San Diego Chargers
    Antonio Gates remains the leader at the position after posting his second consecutive double-digit touchdown season. Gates caught 89 passes for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdowns while missing the season opener following a contract squabble. He figures to remain a huge factor in the San Diego offense this season as Philip Rivers takes the reins from the departed Drew Brees.

    The Chargers shored up the position behind Gates by adding two solid possession receivers in Aaron Shea (18 catches, 153 yards and one touchdown) and Brandon Manumaleuna. Marty Schottenheimer figures to work the short passing game with this trio and running back LaDainian Tomlinson as Rivers gains his footing. This will, in turn, open up things downfield for Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker.

    9. Kansas City Chiefs
    In a "down" season, Tony Gonzalez still piled up numbers for the Chiefs in 2005. Gonzalez caught 78 passes for 905 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He was forced to stay in to block because of injuries on the offensive line and one needs only look to the huge touchdown total of Larry Johnson to know why his receiving touchdown total was down. The Chiefs line returns for 2006, and barring injury, so will Gonzalez's ability to get back into pass patterns in the red zone.

    The other tight ends on the roster, Jason Dunn and Kris Wilson, combined for eight receptions for 86 yards last year. Former second-round pick Wilson is one to watch this year with the departure of former red zone threat Marc Boerigter. Wilson offers an athletic 6-foot-2 frame to complement Gonzalez in the corners.

    10. Miami Dolphins
    Randy McMichael has become entrenched as the No. 2 receiving option behind Chris Chambers in the Dolphins offense. McMichael snagged 60 balls last year for 582 receiving yards and five touchdowns (touchdowns in four straight games to start the year). He caught three of more passes in 12 of his 15 games played.

    The Dolphins added former Chargers tight end Justin Peelle this off-season. He'll be used primarily as a blocker for Ronnie Brown.

    11. New York Giants
    Despite a nagging ankle injury, Jeremy Shockey improved his receiving totals again in 2005. He improved his reception and touchdown totals marginally, but saw his average reception length improve by almost three full yards. Shockey stands as the second option to Plaxico Burress for third-year quarterback Eli Manning. With the continued development of Manning, Shockey should boost his totals yet again in 2006, perhaps approaching double-digit touchdowns for the first time in his career.

    Visanthe Shiancoe remains the second option to Shockey, but barely rates on the scale. In three seasons, he's totaled 23 receptions for 172 yards with three touchdowns.

    12. Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers used their first-round selection in 2005 on Virginia tight end Heath Miller and the 6-foot-5 rookie immediately became one of Ben Roethlisberger's favorite targets. Miller was second only to Hines Ward in receptions (39) and touchdown catches (six). His role figures to expand as the Steelers open up the offense more in 2006 with the continued growth of Roethlisberger and the return of coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

    Jerame Tuman remains on the roster as a blocker for Willie Parker and occasional pass receiver in two tight-end sets.

    13. Philadelphia Eagles
    Injuries to quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and that little issue with Terrell Owens thrust L.J. Smith into a top role in the Eagles offense. Smith tied Westbrook for the team lead with 61 receptions last year. He became less of a factor in the offense once McNabb opted for season-ending surgery. Look for him to be among the leaders at the position this year as Philadelphia begins life post-T.O.
    Former Bengals tight end Matt Schobel (18 receptions, 193 receiving yards and one touchdown) will run alongside Smith in two tight-end sets.

    14. Atlanta Falcons
    Alge Crumpler has been Michael Vick's No. 1 target for several seasons, but the off-season work of Vick and his young wide receivers Michael Jenkins and Roddy White figures to cut into the ample looks afforded Crumpler in the past. Additionally, Atlanta will continue its efforts to control the clock with Warrick Dunn and either T.J. Duckett or rookie Jarious Norwood. Crumpler posted career highs in 2005 with 65 receptions and 877 receiving yards.

    Dwayne Blakley and Eric Beverly will be on the roster, but figure to see little action in the way of looks.

    15. Minnesota Vikings
    Jermaine Wiggins became a huge factor for the Vikings in a rocky 2005 season. Wiggins's 69 receptions led the team by a wide margin over Travis Taylor and his 568 receiving yards finished just 36 shy of Taylor.

    Unfortunately, Wiggins couldn't find the end zone for all of his receptions, accounting for only one touchdown reception last year. He'll remain a frequent target for Brad Johnson this season, and I suspect that his touchdown total will rise markedly to 6-8.

    The Vikings will also bring back Jim Kleinsasser this year. Kleinsasser caught 22 passes for 171 yards last year. He was a red-zone threat for the Vikings as late as 2003 and would be a serviceable option if Wiggins were to get hurt.

    16. San Francisco 49ers
    The 49ers worked to find help for second-year quarterback Alex Smith this off-season. Trent Dilfer was brought home to mentor the young quarterback. Antonio Bryant offers a tall, athletic receiving option. They drafted a physical marvel in the first round in tight end Vernon Davis. And, former top receiver for the 49ers, Eric Johnson, returns from a foot injury. Johnson caught 82 passes for 825 yards in 2004. He would have certainly been helpful to Smith in his rookie struggles.

    This receiving duo should allow Smith to improve immensely entering his second season.

    17. New Orleans Saints
    The Saints lost Boo Williams to injury early in the season, and it wasn't until late in the campaign that Aaron Brooks and Todd Bouman discovered the playmaking ability of Zachary Hilton. Hilton caught 30 passes in the final seven weeks of the year and was targeted an average of seven times per game during that stretch. The signing of Drew Brees serves Hilton well, as the short, efficient passing game featuring the tight end is what made Brees a star.

    Veteran Ernie Conwell remains a solid blocker and occasional pass target. He'll be the No. 2 tight end behind Hilton.

    18. Indianapolis Colts
    The departure of Marcus Pollard was expected to boost the stats of Dallas Clark through the roof in 2005. The heavy workload afforded former No. 1 back Edgerrin James and strong wide receiver set certainly contributed to the average totals (37 receptions, 488 receiving yards and four touchdowns) put forth by Clark. He remains a factor, but the number of looks afforded Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne will keep his workload down.

    Additionally, Clark has battled injuries the past two seasons, leaving opportunities for teammates Bryan Fletcher and Ben Hartsock. Fletcher caught 18 passes last season for 202 yards and three scores. While Hartsock didn't factor prominently in 2005, he's expected to see more reps in 2006.

    19. Houston Texans
    The Texans obtained Jeb Putzier in free agency to offer another sure-handed receiver for David Carr. Putzier had caught 73 passes in Gary Kubiak's Denver attack over the past two years. He offers an immediate upgrade over leading 2005 tight end option Marcellus Rivers (24 receptions, 168 receiving yards and zero touchdowns). Mark Bruener remains on the roster as a blocker for Domanick Davis.

    The addition of receiver Eric Moulds to complement Andre Johnson will create space in the middle of the field for Putzier to operate. Putzier stands 6-foot-4 and will create mismatches downfield.

    20. Detroit Lions
    Marcus Pollard left Indianapolis for Detroit and finished last season with the most receptions of any Lions receiver with 46. He ranked second on the team behind Roy Williams in receiving yards (516) and touchdowns (three). It will be interesting to see how he will be utilized in Mike Martz's offense. Given the injury histories of the wide receivers on the roster, similar numbers and perhaps a couple extra red zone looks and touchdowns will be in order for Pollard.

    Dan Campbell and Casey FitzSimmons combined to catch 13 balls for 69 yards and one score last year. They will serve as blockers for Kevin Jones in this offense.

    21. Jacksonville Jaguars
    Marcedes Lewis was selected by the Jaguars in the first round to offer Byron Leftwich another playmaker downfield. The 6-foot-6 tight end from UCLA offers tremendous leaping ability and will create match-up problems downfield and become a red-zone threat. The departure of Jimmy Smith means that 10 more pass attempts will be spread around to Jaguars receivers on a weekly basis.

    Veteran Kyle Brady will serve as a mentor to Lewis and another steady receiving option for Leftwich. Brady has caught fewer than 30 passes in three straight seasons with a single touchdown in each of the last three years. George Wrighster was a non-factor much of the year in 2005, finishing with 13 receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

    22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Jon Gruden has long been a fan of the tight end. He found a solid option in the third round of last year's draft in Alex Smith from Stanford. Smith was the second-leading receiver behind Joey Galloway for the Buccaneers last season, finishing with 41 receptions, 367 yards and two touchdowns (both in Week 1). He figured to become a larger component of the offense this year with Chris Simms under center.

    Veteran Anthony Becht had been a factor with the Jets as late as 2003 with 40 receptions and four touchdowns.

    23. Cleveland Browns
    The Browns are banking on their No. 1 pick from 2004 to finally contribute this year. Kellen Winslow, Jr. played in two games as a rookie before breaking his leg. He hasn't seen the field since. From all reports, Winslow, Jr. is in shape and ready to participate in training camp.

    Steve Heiden played well in his absence last year and offered a great safety valve for Trent Dilfer and Charlie Frye. Twenty of Heiden's 43 receptions went for first downs, and he ranked fourth on the team with 401 receiving yards. He will take a backseat if Winslow, Jr. is ready to play, but will also see time in double tight end sets.

    24. St. Louis Rams
    New coach Scott Linehan promises to boost the workload of Steven Jackson this season. He also appears to be ready to pull back some of the high flying deep throws that were such a part of Mike Martz's attack. In the 2006 draft, Linehan and the Rams drafted two playmaking tight ends, Joe Klopfenstein of Colorado and Dominique Byrd of USC. They'll both factor into the red zone offense, but with the talented quartet of Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald still in tow, looks may be scarce early on.

    25. Arizona Cardinals
    The Cardinals added the last piece of the offensive puzzle (on paper, anyway) with the selection of Leonard Pope in April's draft. The rookie out of Georgia stands 6-foot-8, which will cause match-up problems for even the best defensive backs. Once Pope learns the NFL game, he will be a frequent target in the red zone. However, the addition of Edgerrin James to the dynamic duo of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald leaves few looks and touches for other players to start the year.

    Eric Edwards and Adam Bergen round out the tight end options for Kurt Warner. Bergen figures to split time with Pope as the Cardinals attempt to accelerate his learning curve. Edwards and Bergen combined for 40 receptions, 403 yards and two scores last season.

    26. New York Jets
    The Jets offense was decimated by injuries and ineffective play at quarterback last year. As a result, the statistics of all wide receivers suffered. Jets tight ends combined for 47 catches for 593 yards and two touchdowns.

    The contribution of Jets tight ends varied greatly throughout the season. Both Doug Jolley and Chris Baker turned in one 100-yard game last season. Those efforts accounted for nearly 40 percent of their total yardage production for the season.

    Stability at the quarterback position in 2006 should help to boost their combined production this season.

    27. Denver Broncos
    The tight end position slipped on the radar in Denver after the departure of Shannon Sharpe. Players at tight end account for roughly 20 percent of all Jake Plummer completions each season. Denver tight ends combined for only two touchdowns in 2005. He relies heavily on first option Rod Smith, and most of the other opportunities will now be tossed in the direction of off-season acquisition Javon Walker.

    The Broncos lost their leading receiver at the position, Jeb Putzier, to departed coordinator Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans this off-season. Former Pro Bowl player Stephen Alexander (21 receptions, 170 receiving yards, one touchdown) leads a three-player unit which includes two prime red zone targets who each stand six-foot-five. Second-year player Wesley Duke caught two passes for 22 yards and one touchdown. He'll compete for the backup role with 2006 draft selection Tony Scheffler. Scheffler showed great hands and leaping ability with 57 receptions, 670 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for Western Michigan last year.

    28. Oakland Raiders
    The depth at wide receiver and the reliance of LaMont Jordan in the passing game leaves few chances for tight ends in Oakland. Courtney Anderson opened the season with several big efforts, but faded in the second half before missing the final three games of the year. He finished with 24 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns (two came in Week 1). Anderson returns unopposed for the starting position this season, but again, the group of Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry will see virtually all of the action from Aaron Brooks.

    Rookie James Adkisson from South Carolina has struggled thus far in mini-camp. The Raiders love his 6-foot-5 frame, but Adkisson has had problems adjusting to coverages early on.

    29. Carolina Panthers
    Jake Delhomme looked primarily to his wide receivers and running backs last season with few glances at his tight ends. That number figures to become more skewed this year with the addition of Keyshawn Johnson to the offense. Johnson averaged nearly 8.5 looks per game last year, and top Carolina receiver Steve Smith averaged 9.75. When you subtract those efforts from Delhomme's average number of attempts, there aren't many looks available for the remaining options.

    Kris Mangum and Michael Gaines combined for 35 receptions, 357 receiving yards and four touchdowns last year. I suspect that they'll combine for similar numbers this season with a slight up-tick for Mangum this year because of the presence of Johnson as a secondary option.

    30. Chicago Bears
    The Chicago offense relied heavily on the running game in 2005 with rookie Kyle Orton under center. The playbook figures to expand this season with Rex Grossman or Brian Griese at quarterback. However, the majority of those looks figure to go to Muhsin Muhammad and the young receiving corps (Bernard Berrian, Mark Bradley and Justin Gage).

    The Bears tight ends combined for 28 catches, 250 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Desmond Clark was the primary option with 24 receptions. He figures to be the top option of the returning trio with John Gilmore and Gabe Reid offering marginal contributions.

    31. Buffalo Bills
    The two returning tight ends for Buffalo in 2006, Robert Royal and Tim Euhus, caught a combined 21 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. The Buffalo passing game struggled as a whole, but this part of the unit was a non-factor altogether. Royal was a red-zone force in 2004, catching four touchdown passes in his eight receptions. He can be a roll of the dice play in a given week if Kelly Holcomb, J.P. Losman or Craig Nall is able to get the Bills offense in gear. However, don't expect heavy reception totals out of this duo, as the offense will be predicated on the legs of Willis McGahee.

    32. Cincinnati Bengals
    The tight end position in Cincinnati receives very little attention as a result of a heavy workload turned in by Rudi Johnson and a strong complement of wide receivers. The returning tight ends on the roster, Reggie Kelly and Tony Stewart, combined to catch 19 passes for 116 yards and zero touchdowns in 2005. Should Palmer miss any portion of the regular season, they may be counted on slightly more with Anthony Wright under center, but not enough for fantasy consideration.

    The next stop on my off-season tour takes us to the other side of the ball. Next time, we'll begin the breakdown of defensive units. fantasy contributor Mike Harmon would welcome your comments and feedback. You can also learn more about him by reading "Welcome to my world."

    Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    purpleFavreEaters's Avatar
    purpleFavreEaters is offline Coordinator
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    Re: Team TE rankings: Titans lead


  3. #3
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    Re: Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    I agree, and between jimmy & wiggy, i think we could be a little higher (like .... 10-12)

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    Re: Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    How did the Pukers get in the top 5???

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    Perch56's Avatar
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    Re: Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    bull crap, should be in the top 10 not 15, wiggins is amazing and jimmy k was a good TE until he was moved to FB

  6. #6
    singersp's Avatar
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    Re: Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    "Perch56" wrote:
    bull crap, should be in the top 10 not 15, wiggins is amazing and jimmy k was a good TE until he was moved to FB
    :scratch: You've got that bass ackwards. Jimmy was used as a FB who they moved to TE.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

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    Re: Team TE rankings: Titans lead

    idk about wiggins being amazing......hes got graet hands but, hes not the fastest, hes a good quality te and im glad we have him but, not amazing
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