Chris Wesseling

Dynasty Rankings

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Dynasty Ranks: Tight Ends

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This is the fourth in Rotoworld's four-part Dynasty ranks series to kick off the fantasy football offseason. Running backs and quarterbacks and wide receivers have already been posted.

Tier One

1. Jermichael Finley, Packers
2. Antonio Gates, Chargers
3. Vernon Davis, 49ers
4. Jason Witten, Cowboys
5. Dallas Clark, Colts

I'm tempted to leave Gates at No. 1, but he's heading into his age-31 season. Would you rather have a shot at 3-4 dominant seasons with Gates or a shot at 8-10 with Finley catching passes from Aaron Rodgers? I'll roll the dice with Finley. … Davis has finished first and third in fantasy points the past two seasons. He's as talented as any tight end in the league, but there's uncertainty heading into 2011 with a new offense and a question mark at QB. … In 11 games with Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee, Witten averaged 6.5 receptions, 66.5 yards, 0.73 TDs, and 11.0 fantasy points. In five games with Tony Romo, Witten averaged 4.6 receptions, 54 yards, 0.2 TDs, and 6.6 fantasy points. … Clark turns 32 next season, but he remains one of a handful of weekly difference-makers at the position.

Tier Two

6. Zach Miller, Raiders
7. Jimmy Graham, Saints
8. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
9. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
10. Owen Daniels, Texans
11. Dustin Keller, Jets
12. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars

This tier gave me more trouble than the rest combined. There are only a half-dozen sure-fire plug 'n' play tight ends heading into the 2011 season. Isn't it better to play a young lottery ticket like Hernandez, Gronkowski, or Graham, hoping they develop into a tier one difference-maker? … An interesting note: Miller has four years under his belt, and he's still just a year older than Jimmy Graham. If not for a painful plantar faschia injury, he would have finished as a top-five tight end in 2010. … The late-season fade obscures the fact that Hernandez exceeded expectations with a 45/563/6 line as the youngest player in the NFL. … Gronkowski looks like a young Todd Heap as Tom Brady's favorite red-zone weapon. … Expect the freakishly athletic Graham to play the same role for Drew Brees. … Keller's fast start last season hints at his potential, but consistency remains elusive. … Daniels recaptured his 2007-09 form over the final four weeks of the season, leading all tight ends in targets while averaging 5.5 receptions and 68 yards. Coach Gary Kubiak made it clear that re-signing Daniels is a high priority for the Texans this offseason. … Lewis is underrated as an NFL tight end, but he's going to be overvalued as a fantasy property coming off a 10-TD season.

Tier Three

13. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
14. Jared Cook, Titans
15. Chris Cooley, Redskins
16. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
17. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers
18. Brent Celek, Eagles
19. Heath Miller, Steelers
20. Greg Olsen, Bears

In 10 games started by Shaun Hill, Pettigrew averaged 5.6 receptions and 61.5 yards. In three games started by Matthew Stafford, Pettigrew averaged 2.0 receptions and 10.7 yards. … The Titans turned over the tight end position to Cook late in the season, and he responded by finishing 10th in fantasy points over the final five weeks and sixth in the final three weeks. He's a strong breakout candidate for 2011. … Gresham benefited from Carson Palmer's checkdown tendencies, but the majority of his rookie-year production came in garbage time with the Bengals in hurry-up mode. … The final numbers of Cooley and Winslow look decent, but fantasy owners spent the entire 2010 season looking for superior options at the position. Winslow, in particular, was boosted by a Week 16 outlier. … Celek is an interesting buy coming off a down season, but he's not going to reach the heights of 2009 with Michael Vick at QB. … Miller has the game to bounce back to top-10 production, but his fantasy production rests on the Steelers upgrading the pass blocking. … The Bears' surprisingly successful season saved Mike Martz's job, effectively killing Olsen's 2011 value.

Tier Four

21. Todd Heap, Ravens
22. Fred Davis, Redskins
23. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs
24. Ben Watson, Browns
25. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
26. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
27. Kevin Boss, Giants
28. John Carlson, Seahawks

Heap is the same age as Antonio Gates, and he proved in 2010 that he has plenty of game left. His 10-catch, 108-yard effort in the playoffs was one of the most impressive tight end games of the season. … Davis is entering a contract year, but his 2012 freedom hinges on the next CBA. … Moeaki showed plenty of promise as a rookie, but he's injury-prone with a relatively low fantasy ceiling. … Gonzalez has lost any semblance of playmaking ability at age 35. … Watson's 68/763/3 line was good for a career year, but he was a maddening fantasy play all year. … Shiancoe's value has plummeted with Brett Favre out of the picture. … Boss is mediocrity personified. … Carlson could end up losing snaps to Cameron Morrah if he doesn't snap out of his year-and-a-half tailspin.

Tier Five

29. Martellus Bennett, Cowboys
30. Ed Dickson, Ravens
31. Tony Scheffler, Lions
32. Jacob Tamme, Colts
33. Jeremy Shockey, Saints
34. Cameron Morrah, Seahawks
35. James Casey, Texans
36. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins
37. Joel Dreessen, Texans

Bennett is due to hit free agency after next season. … Dickson looks like the successor to Heap. … Scheffler was outplayed by Pettigrew. … Unless you're into handcuffing tight ends (I won't judge you), Tamme is practically valueless with Dallas Clark signed through 2013. … Shockey is about to take a backseat to Jimmy Graham. … Morrah can't block a lick, but his speed is intriguing as a "move" tight end. … Casey has been broken in slowly, but he still has a chance to be the tight end of the future in Houston. … About those tight end handcuffs, Dreessen may enter the season as the starter if Daniels gets away. … Fasano is a poor man's Kevin Boss.

Tier Six

38. Fendi Onobun, Rams
39. Gary Barnidge, Panthers
40. Evan Moore, Browns
41. Zach Miller, Jaguars
42. Michael Hoomanawanui, Rams
43. Shawn Nelson, Bills
44. Bo Scaife, UFA
45. Andrew Quarless, Packers
46. John Phillips, Cowboys
47. Dennis Pitta, Ravens
48. Chase Coffman, Bengals
49. Clay Harbor, Eagles
50. Travis Beckum, Giants

Onobun remains a project, but his measurables are off the charts. … Hoomanawanui's pass-catching ability is better than advertised, but his fantasy potential is capped by Josh McDaniels' offense. … Barnidge, Moore, and Miller are essentially souped-up wide receivers with impressive pass-catching ability, but they don't block well enough for consistent snaps. … Nelson still has his Dynasty league true believers, but he done nothing but miss games and underwhelm onlookers in two years. … Scaife is done as a fantasy factor. … Quarless is blocked by Jermichael Finley. … Phillips was coming on as an interesting backup before suffering a torn ACL last summer.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter.


Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
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