Chris Wesseling

Draft Analysis

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Down with ADP: WRs & TEs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tight Ends

Fourth-Fifth Round ADP

Antonio Gates, 4.01
Jermichael Finley, 4.08
Dallas Clark, 5.06
Jason Witten, 5.07
Vernon Davis, 5.12

Gates averaged nearly a touchdown more per week than any other tight end as the first-half fantasy MVP last season before foot injuries stopped him cold. He entered training camp still battling plantar fasciitis, though recent signs suggest he's improving steadily. Taking Gates in the early fourth-round is a matter of risk tolerance, but I would never want to discourage a Rotoworld reader from drafting a weekly difference-maker as long as you're comfortable with the risk.

Finley may be the biggest mismatch for opposing defenses in the NFL. There's a bit of a health risk here, too, but he's a good bet for 85 receptions and 1,000 yards if he stays healthy. His ceiling is even higher. … Clark's 100/1,106/10 season in 2009 was an outlier. He's fine to draft as a top-three tight end; just don't expect that production again at age 32 coming off a wrist injury. … Witten owes a great deal of his 2010 success to Tony Romo's injury, increasing his fantasy points by almost five per week with Jon Kitna. There's no way he'll repeat as the top fantasy tight end with Romo and Dez Bryant healthy. … Davis would reasonably be pushing for the No. 2 spot on this list if not for the possibility of Colin Kaepernick taking over at QB coming out of the Week 7 bye. Other than Gates, he remains the best bet for double-digit scores.

Sixth-Seventh Round ADP

Owen Daniels, 6.11
Jimmy Graham, 7.02
Tony Gonzalez, 7.11

Finally over knee and hamstring injuries by December, Daniels led NFL tight ends in targets while averaging 5.5 receptions and 68 yards over the final four weeks of the 2010 season. … Conservatively listed at 6'6/260, former power forward Graham looks like Cleatus the FOX Football Robot. If Sunday's game was any indication, the Saints will move Graham around like the Packers use Finley to take advantage of mismatches. Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson believes Graham could end up leading the Saints in receptions. He's also one of the best red-zone weapons in the game. … Anyone taking Gonzalez in the seventh round hasn't watched a Falcons game since the 2009 season. The future first ballot Hall of Famer can no longer elude defenders after the catch, as evidenced by his disturbingly low 9.4 yards per reception last season. Julio Jones and Harry Douglas will steal targets, leaving Gonzalez will zero upside as a fantasy tight end.

Ninth-Twelfth Round ADP

Marcedes Lewis, 9.03
Rob Gronkowski, 9.11
Kellen Winslow, 10.10
Zach Miller, 11.06
Brent Celek, 11.11
Brandon Pettigrew, 12.02
Visanthe Shiancoe, 12.03
Greg Olsen, 12.04
Aaron Hernandez, 12.10

Lewis is legitimately one of the best all-around tight ends in the game, but he's not going to repeat last season's touchdowns numbers with Blaine Gabbert threatening to take over for David Garrard by mid-season. … Gronkowski, unguardable in training camp, is the better bet to repeat that touchdown total with Tom Brady under center. … Winslow lost a step last season, but training camp reports suggest he may have regained it after avoiding his annual surgery this year. … Miller is a Seahawk, which makes him an untouchable on my cheat sheet. … Celek may have had a chance of fulfilling Michael Vick's expectations for a bounce-back year before Jeremy Maclin (illness) returned and Steve Smith signed. That's no longer the case. … Shiancoe has been held back by a hamstring injury since camp opened. He may be losing ground to Kyle Rudolph. Regardless, don't draft him.

In 10 games started by Shaun Hill last season, 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. … Olsen is a legit breakout candidate after leaving Mike Martz's death-to-tight-ends offense. He could threaten for the team lead in receptions as Cam Newton's safety blanket.

Don't be mislead by Hernandez's listing as a tight end behind Gronkowski. More accurately, he plays the receiver-tight end hybrid role in New England's offense. The Patriots defense hasn't stopped him in training camp practices, so it's no surprise that he's been constantly open against other teams in preseason action. Between the 20s, he's the most dangerous weapon Tom Brady has at his disposal. Rotoworld ranks Hernandez as a TE1. He's a steal at this ADP.

Thirteenth-Fourteenth Round ADP

Jared Cook, 13.10
Dustin Keller, 13.11
Chris Cooley, 14.02
Lance Kendricks, 14.04

Cook and Keller are better breakout candidates than the majority of the tight ends in the previous tier. Consider both borderline TE1s. … It's nice to see Cooley's ADP falling. We wouldn't touch him this year after his slow recovery from offseason knee surgery. Fred Davis is lurking in the shadows as an early-season waiver star. … Kendricks has been one of the most impressive rookies even going back to player-organized workouts. Josh McDaniels is using him like old boss Belichick uses Hernandez. It's hard to trust a rookie tight end, but Kendricks has the ability to be an impact player right off the bat.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter.

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