Week 1 fantasy football player analysis: tight ends

by Ryan R. Bonini on September 3, 2008 @ 20:34:00 PDT

 


We introduce our positional player analysis for the 2008 season. In past years, KFFL always evaluated each game matchup to explore the value of players to make your life easier. This year, we are launching a new format that we feel will be easier for fantasy owners. Instead of having to view many different team report articles, you can come to a one-stop shop for your positional questions.

Editor's note: All statistics in this article are from Week 1 to Week 17 of the 2007 season, unless otherwise noted. Statistics appearing in each table are per-game averages.

Fantasy value: No. 1 tight ends

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
8.94
1.06
0.06
6.00
71.6
0.44
  • The Browns allowed 4.12 receptions, 45.2 receiving yards and 0.62 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends last season.
  • Depth at wide receiver is a problem right now due to injury problems, so Witten, who is a favorite of quarterback Tony Romo, may be relied upon even more right out of the gate.
  • In his last game versus Cleveland, he had six receptions for 82 yards.

Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins at New York Giants

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
6.75
1.19
0.19
4.12
49.1
0.50
  • The Giants allowed 3.94 receptions, 43.5 receiving yards and 0.44 receiving touchdowns per contest to the tight end position in 2007.
  • The Redskins are adjusting to head coach Jim Zorn's new West Coast offense, which figures to take some transition time. Cooley could become a quick outlet option for quarterback Jason Campbell while he learns the nuances of the new system.
  • He has averaged 3.67 receptions, 33.83 receiving yards and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game in his last six meetings with Washington.

Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
9.69
1.06
0.12
6.19
73.2
0.31
  • During the 2007 season, the Patriots allowed 4.12 receptions, 43.4 receiving yards and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends.
  • In his two games against the Patriots since 2004, Gonzalez has averaged 5.5 receptions and 74.5 receiving yards per game.

Kellen Winslow, Cleveland Browns vs. Dallas Cowboys

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
9.38
1.12
0.25
5.12
69.1
0.31
  • The Cowboys allowed an average of four receptions, 46.4 receiving yards and 0.19 touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends last season.
  • With wide receiver Braylon Edwards (foot) missing most of the preseason, his football legs may not be quite there yet, and that could lead to a bigger workload for Winslow.
  • The 3-4 defensive scheme is known to open seams and pockets underneath for tight ends to work in; look for Winslow to try to exploit that.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
3.88
1.12
0.19
2.94
35.4
0.44
  • The Texans were abused by tight ends last year, as they allowed an average of 5.31 receptions, 56.1 receiving yards and 0.50 touchdowns per game to the position. This should bode well for Miller, who knows how to find the open holes in the Texans' 3-4 defensive alignment.
  • Miller is coming off a career year in receptions (47), yardage (566) and touchdowns (seven)... he has become a favorite option of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
4.44
0.50
0.12
2.75
27.8
0.19
  • The Broncos had their share of problems against opposing tight ends a year ago. They gave up 4.12 receptions, 55.1 receiving yards and 0.50 receiving touchdowns per game.
  • Miller has already developed a strong chemistry with quarterback JaMarcus Russell and may have the best hands of anyone on the team. With the receivers struggling in the preseason, Russell may look Miller's way more often.
  • In his two previous games against Denver, he averaged three receptions, 38 yards receiving and 0.50 touchdowns per game.

Alge Crumpler, Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
5.07
0.86
0.14
3.00
31.7
0.36
  • The Jaguars allowed opposing tight ends to cause fits last year, as they gave up four receptions, 50.9 receiving yards and 0.50 receiving touchdowns per contest to the position.
  • Crumpler, who was added during the offseason, is expected to be one of the primary receiving options for quarterback Vince Young, as the team's receivers leave a lot to be desired.
  • He looks like the Crumpler of old and is also expected to be a force within the red zone.
  • In his last game versus Jacksonville (Week 2 last year), he had three receptions for 53 yards.

Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
6.93
1.53
0.40
3.87
41.1
0.73
  • The Bears allowed opposing tight ends 4.19 receptions, 48.9 receiving yards and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per game on average last season.
  • The Bears have a strong corps of linebackers, but Clark has deceiving ability to get down the seams in the field. Plus, if quarterback Peyton Manning (knee) is rusty, he could look Clark's way more often as a safety valve.
  • If wide receiver Marvin Harrison (knee) is truly healthy and back in form, defenses will likely have a hard time keeping up with all of the Colts' offensive weapons... opening room for Clark to work the field.

Donald Lee, Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
15
4.27
0.53
0.20
3.20
38.3
0.40
  • While the Vikings "D" was often a special one last year, opposing tight ends found some room to roam against them. They allowed 5.62 receptions, 55.8 receiving yards and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per game on average to the position a year ago.
  • In his last three games versus Minnesota, Lee has averaged 3.67 receptions, 44.7 receiving yards and 0.33 receiving touchdowns.
  • With inexperienced quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the helm, he may be looking for the safe passes early so Lee could be on his radar often this weekend as a check-down target.

Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
6
5.67
0.83
0.50
3.83
39.8
0.17
  • The Bengals gave up a healthy average of 4.81 receptions, 52.1 receiving yards and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per game to tight ends last season.
  • The Ravens are going with rookie quarterback Joe Flacco as their starter this weekend, so he may try to get rid of the ball quickly to underneath receiving options like Heap.
  • In his last six games against the Bengals, Heap has averaged 4.33 receptions, 49.2 receiving yards and 0.33 receiving touchdowns per game.

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers vs. Carolina Panthers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
7.31
1.44
0.31
4.69
61.5
0.56
  • The Panthers allowed opposing tight ends 4.38 receptions, 42.6 receiving yards and 0.44 receiving touchdowns per contest on average last season.
  • Gates (toe) missed most of training camp, as he is still recovering from a toe injury. While he is expected to play, he may not be at 100 percent for some time to come.

Kevin Boss, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
13
1.08
0.15
0.08
0.69
9.1
0.15
  • The Redskins allowed an average of 4.06 receptions, 41.6 receiving yards and 0.38 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends last season.
  • The Giants are expected to have their top receivers available this week, but many missed time in training camp and preseason games due to lingering injuries... that could lead to a healthier dose of looks for Boss early.
  • In his only game previously against the Redskins (Week 15 last year), he had two receptions, 31 yards and one receiving touchdown.

Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
6.93
0.79
0.14
4.07
44.2
0.21
  • The Buccaneers were fairly solid versus opposing tight ends last year, holding them to an average of 3.25 receptions, 32.9 receiving yards and 0.38 receiving touchdowns per game.
  • Shockey (leg) did not play at all during the preseason, as the team was being extra cautious while he returns from a broken leg suffered last year when he was with the New York Giants.
  • Chemistry with quarterback Drew Brees may not be established yet, but Brees is no stranger to working with elite tight ends... he, of course, played with Chargers tight end Antonio Gates in San Diego.

Fantasy value: No. 1 or flex tight ends

Benjamin Watson, New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
12
4.33
1.08
0.33
3.00
32.4
0.50
  • The Chiefs allowed opposing tight ends 3.81 receptions, 42.7 receiving yards and 0.12 receiving touchdowns per game on average last season.
  • Watson can be tough to rely on week-to-week, as the Patriots have a plethora of weapons at their disposal in the passing game.
  • Questions about quarterback Tom Brady's (foot) health are plentiful and if he isn't on his game the passing game will surely suffer.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
6.21
0.93
0.14
3.71
36.4
0.29
  • The Cardinals kept tight ends in check for the most part last year, allowing just 2.62 receptions, 26.9 receiving yards and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per contest to the position on average.
  • New offensive coordinator Mike Martz usually doesn't make tight ends a fantasy football force, but he has raved about Davis' athletic ability and downfield range all offseason.
  • Davis doesn't have a lot to brag about in his brief career, but he has done well versus Arizona. He has averaged 4.25 receptions, 44.3 receiving yards and 0.5 receiving touchdowns per game in his four previous contests against them.

Owen Daniels, Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
5.88
0.69
0.25
3.94
48.0
0.19
  • The Steelers were stingy versus opposing tight ends last year, allowing an average of 3.62 receptions, 36.2 receiving yards and 0.19 receiving touchdowns per game to the position.
  • Daniels had a strong preseason, catching six passes for 72 yards in limited play; with a healthy group of receivers, he may find himself open underneath often.
  • Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (hamstring) missed all of the preseason and may not be 100 percent, leaving more room for Owens to roam.

Fantasy value: Flex or bench fantasy tight ends

Nate Jackson, Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
6
0.67
0.33
0.17
0.50
5.7
0.17
  • The Raiders gave up an average of 3.56 receptions, 50.6 receiving yards and 0.19 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends last season.
  • The Broncos will be without suspended wide receiver Brandon Marshall this weekend, leaving more touches to go around.
  • However, the team is deep at the position, as tight ends Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler can rotate in at any time and vulture touches.

Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
1.38
0.31
0.00
0.88
8.9
0.06
  • The Jets, on average, gave up 4.19 receptions, 41.6 receiving yards and 0.31 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends last season.
  • The Dolphins are a work-in-progress, but new quarterback Chad Pennington loves taking what the defense gives him - Fasano could see a lot of underneath looks.

Randy McMichael, St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
16
4.19
0.44
0.12
2.44
26.8
0.19
  • The Eagles allowed opposing tight ends to average 3.94 receptions, 40 receiving yards and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game to the position last season.
  • With running back Steven Jackson holding out most of the preseason, he may not be ready for a heavy workload in Week 1 so the team may have to pass more.
  • Offensive coordinator Al Saunders loves to incorporate the tight end into the game plan, which is a definite positive for McMichael.

L.J. Smith, Philadelphia Eagles vs. St. Louis Rams

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
10
4.40
0.70
0.20
2.20
23.6
0.10
  • The Rams allowed 3.06 receptions, 27.8 receiving yards and 0.44 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends this past season.
  • The Eagles have some injury problems at wide receiver, which could make the team call Smith's number more often.
  • He and quarterback Donovan McNabb are healthy again and have proven to have good chemistry in the past.

Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
4.79
0.86
0.21
2.79
27.9
0.14
  • The Colts were fairly strong against opposing tight ends last year, allowing 4.5 receptions, 37.6 receiving yards and just 0.19 receiving touchdowns per game to the position.
  • Quarterback Kyle Orton is back in, and he's more apt to work the field underneath than go deep like quarterback Rex Grossman did. This can bode well for the team's tight ends, including Olsen.

Ben Utecht, Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

G
Pls
RZ Pls
IN5
Rec
Rec Yds
Rec TD
14
2.64
0.29
0.14
2.21
26.0
0.07
  • The Ravens were strong against opposing tight ends last year, allowing an average of 2.81 receptions, 31.6 receiving yards and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game to the position.
  • There is a lot of hype surrounding Utecht in fantasy circles this year, but the Bengals still need to prove they will use him with any level of consistency in the passing game.
  • With receivers Chad Ocho Cinco (shoulder) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (hamstring) dealing with lingering injuries and wideout Chris Henry suspended, it could lead to a larger role for Utecht early. Plus, with safety Ed Reed (shoulder, neck) likely out for Baltimore, Utecht may find more room to roam over the middle of the field.

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About Ryan R. Bonini

Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year by the FSWA, received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.

His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA, FSWA and FSTA.

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