Tuesday, August 5, 2008

2008 tight end rankings

Let's kick off our 2008 football rankings with a sometimes overlooked position - tight end. The position's gotten a lot deeper in the past few years, and though there are now a handful of elite guys at the top, they're followed by a much bigger pool of decent options.

Here's the top 30, including my top sleeper and top bust:

1. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: Expect more fine numbers, provided his big toe is all healed. But be warned - others are challenging him for the top spot as fantasy’s best tight end.

2. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: Country boy has demonstrated an uncanny chemistry with buddy Tony Romo, and he’s the No. 2 receiving option on what could be the league’s best offense.

3. Kellen Winslow Jr., Cleveland Browns: He stuck a cork in the critics with last year’s breakout season. No more jokes - this Browns offense is good.

4. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts: Signed a big deal in the offseason, meaning Peyton Manning can count on finding him in the end zone with regularity again (11 TDs last year).

5. Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs: Enjoyed his best season since 2004 despite working with skittish Brodie Croyle majority of last year. One of the safest choices you can make in a draft.

6. Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins: It’s unclear what new coach Jim Zorn’s offense will look like exactly, but you have to figure consistent Cooley will play a big role

7. Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints: The clean slate and reunion with Sean Payton, his onetime offensive coordinator, could place the Shockster in the upper tier of TEs, as long as that fibula’s fully healed.

8. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: Miller’s not a yardage machine like some of his peers, but he gets the job done in the red zone (career-high seven TDs last year).

9. Tony Scheffler, Denver Broncos: Part of an improving corps of offensive skill players, under-the-radar Scheffler should make a great tag-team with QB Jay Cutler

10. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: Time for Davis to turn those physical gifts into actual production. Are QB Alex Smith and new offensive coordinator Mike Martz the right men for the job? We’ll see.


11. Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens. It’s due to no fault of his own, but Heap is a huge injury risk after missing 10 games last year, plus his QB situation isn‘t very enticing. Heap’s a top-tier talent, but I can’t justify ranking him in the top 10 as in years past when there are safer options available.

12. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans.
13. Alge Crumpler, Tennessee Titans.
14. Donald Lee, Green Bay Packers.
15. Benjamin Watson, New England Patriots.
16. LJ Smith, Philadelphia Eagles.
17. Kevin Boss, New York Giants.
18. Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears.
19. Randy McMichael, St. Louis Rams.
20. Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars.


21. Ben Utecht, Cincinnati Bengals. When was the last time you had a Bengals tight end on your fantasy team? Utecht caught 68 balls in the past two seasons as Clark’s backup in Indianapolis and now gets starting role. There’s some upside here.

22. Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders.
23. Dustin Keller, New York Jets.
24. John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks.
25. Alex Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
26. Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins.
27. Jeff King, Carolina Panthers.
28. Leonard Pope, Arizona Cardinals.
29. Desmond Clark, Chicago Bears.
30. Martrez Milner, Atlanta Falcons.

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