Tight EndsKyle Rudolph
, Vikings - Owned in 43% of CBS leagues, 34% of Yahoo leagues.
As I mentioned earlier under Christian Ponder
, the Vikings offense offers sneaky fantasy appeal this year with a stud running back, the league’s most versatile weapon, and a potential stud tight end. Locked in as an every-down tight end in an offense seeking a No. 2 target in the passing game, Rudolph offers size, speed and athleticism on par with Rob Gronkowski
. Last year’s second-rounder dominated training camp while earning Ponder’s trust with an impressive catch radius in tight circles. There’s not a better breakout candidate at the position this year.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.Martellus Bennett
, Giants - Owned in 28% of CBS leagues, 20% of Yahoo leagues.
With prototypical size and athleticism, Bennett has been one of the NFL’s biggest underachievers since the Cowboys grabbed him in the second round of the 2008 draft. How much of that was due to limited opportunity behind Jason Witten
? We’re about to find out. Eli Manning
turned Kevin Boss
and Jake Ballard
, two players far more limited athletically, into fantasy starters. He could easily do the same for the Black Unicorn
Recommendation: Worth a look in 12-team leagues.Lance Kendricks
, Rams - Owned in 9% of CBS leagues, 3% of Yahoo leagues.
Kendricks appeared to be the next great tight end after a strong preseason a year ago, but fell flat on his face in the regular season. New OC Brian Schottenheimer is expected to feature the tight end prominently in his offense, and Kendricks has been a go-to receiver for Sam Bradford
in exhibition action. He’s back on the radar in 14- and 16-team leagues.
Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.Dallas Clark
, Buccaneers - Owned in 29% of CBS leagues, 29% of Yahoo leagues.
A healthy Clark has emerged as a bit of a bounce-back candidate after showing a good rapport with Josh Freeman
throughout training camp. His upside is capped, however, as a passing-down player in Greg Schiano’s run-first offense. At age 33 with 15 missed games over the past two years, Clark is more of a dice roll than a sure thing.
Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.Scott Chandler
, Bills - Owned in 15% of CBS leagues, 4% of Yahoo leagues.
Chandler made waves as the offense’s biggest playmaker during offseason practices, and continued to shine during training camp. Primarily a red-zone threat in 2011, Chandler could be in for a boost in targets between the 20s. I’d make him prove it first in 12-team leagues.
Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.Watch List: Joel Dreessen
, Zach Miller
, Rob Housler
, Dwayne Allen
, Jordan Cameron
The fantasy community arrived at a consensus months ago that Jacob Tamme
would be a top-10 tight end while Dreessen plays a supporting role. We have no idea if that will hold true or not. Dreessen has been every bit as involved in preseason action. … Miller returns to the No. 1 tight end role in Seattle with Kellen Winslow
out of the picture. … Housler, Allen and Cameron are talented young tight ends with breakout potential later in the season if their role in the passing game increases.Hold Off: Heath Miller
, Kellen Davis
, Chris Cooley
The Steelers talked up an increased role for Miller all offseason, but nothing changed in the preseason. The offensive line is still weak enough that Miller will have to stay in to block. … Forget the sleeper talk on Davis. Jay Cutler
isn’t looking at his tight ends in the passing game. … Cooley looks to be done as a fantasy asset.Cut Bait: Kellen WinslowDefense/Special Teams
If you plan to “stream” defenses off the waiver wire for 16 weeks, the least effective offenses entering the season appear to be the Jets, Browns, Dolphins, Cardinals and perhaps the Rams.
Seattle is owned in 75 percent of CBS leagues, but that number should be closer to 100. Buoyed by the league’s best secondary, a talented young linebacker corps and a fearsome front four, the Seahawks boast arguably the league’s fastest defense. The Week 1 matchup couldn’t be any better with Arizona’s NFL-worst offensive line on the docket.
Speaking of porous offensive line, the Steelers travel to Denver to square off against the pass-rushing duo of Von Miller
and Elvis Dumervil
. Left tackle Max Starks
is still working to return to form from ACL surgery, and neither of the Pittsburgh early-round rookies will help in pass protection before October.
Offensive line woes, part three. Philip Rivers
’ first-half struggles last year were directly related to poor pass protection, specifically at left tackle. It looks like more of the same this year, with overwhelmed undrafted free agent Mike Harris
guarding his blindside while Jared Gaither
(back) is sidelined. The Raiders’ underrated front four could have Rivers on the run all night on Monday.
Jacksonville’s best player is headed for a third-down role in his first game back from a lengthy holdout. The Vikings are worth a look as a spot start while testing Blaine Gabbert
’s preseason improvement in a quick-passing offense.