KFFL.com's analysis of fantasy
football sleepers and undervalued players for the 2009 season will be updated
weekly this offseason. We have released the evaluations earlier than ever before!
Our friends at MockDraftCentral.com can be thanked for the average draft
placement (ADP), and each of these figures will also be current to provide you
the most accurate information available. According to Mock
Draft Central, the following information is from performance leagues without
point-per-reception scoring and has been updated weekly.
Cooley | Washington Redskins | Average draft placement:
84.4 | Last week: 85.6
Expect Cooley to score more in '09
six, eight ... one - that's the amount of touchdowns scored in a season by the
Cool one from his rookie year to 2008. Why are fantasy owners thinking that he
can't improve on that? Cooley still proved his worth by catching 83 passes for
849 yards, both career bests, though those might go down a bit if the offense
opens up more via quarterback Jason Campbell and
possibly wideout Devin Thomas. Cooley is durable,
having never missed a game in his career; that should be worth more when talking
about elite-level tight ends.
Fantasy value: The outspoken 'Skin
has fallen on average in the late seventh/early eighth round of 12-team processes,
frequently after riskier options such as the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers' Kellen Winslow and the Chicago
Bears' Greg Olsen. Don't be scared; his touchdowns
are all but assured of increasing over a full season's work. Passing on him after
the first four tight ends go would be almost as embarrassing as doing your homework
naked. Wait a minute....
| Oakland Raiders | Average draft placement: 118.3
| Last week: 118.9
Miller (groin) probably wouldn't be on this list
had he scored more than once last year. Reviewing his sophomore stat line of 56-778-1
takes you on a mental rollercoaster that begins with "ah" peaks at "ooh" and disappoints
at "eww." His only touchdown came from 63 yards out. Miller is recovering from
surgery that repaired a sports hernia, which is furthering his undervalued status.
If the Raiders can muster quarterback play that is
even slightly better than last year, look for an increase in touchdowns scored.
Miller checked in tied three-way for 12th in most red zone utilizations by a tight
end with 11.
Fantasy value: Miller is being drafted, on average,
in the middle of the 10th round, which is fair considering he is currently the
10th tight end to come off the board. If he can find the end zone more often in
2009 than he did a year ago, you may be looking at top-five tight end statistics
at a bargain price. Consider Miller a low-end No. 1 tight end; look for him after
all of the common names come off the board.
Celek | Philadelphia Eagles | Average draft placement:
188.2 | Last week: 185.4
The third-year former Cincinnati Bearcat caught
27 passes for 318 yards and scored one touchdown in 16 games (seven starts) last
year, but he really made his money in the playoffs. In Celek's seven regular season
starts, he caught 19 passes. In just three playoff games, the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder
caught as many balls. Celek also scored three times in the playoffs. Philly's
offense isn't afraid to utilize the position, but the only major fear is that
Celek could get lost in the shuffle with so many potential pass catchers at quarterback
Donovan McNabb's disposal.
If you're looking for a No. 2 tight end in deep leagues, Celek is a worthy option
in the final round of your draft (16 rounds or larger).
NEW - Jermichael Finley | Green Bay Packers | Average draft placement: 202.5 | Last week: N/A
An athletic but immature rookie last year, Finley caught just six passes for 74 yards during his first season in the NFL. One year later, though, and he has been one of the breakout players during the Packers' preseason. He has snagged nine passes for 92 yards, not earth-shattering numbers, but two of those catches have come in the end zone. With his speed, size and jumping ability, he's a tough matchup for linebackers or cornerbacks, especially around the goal line. He has shown a rapport with quarterback Aaron Rodgers this preseason, too.
Fantasy value: Draft Finley as a No. 2 tight end with high upside. He still doesn't have the starter's job - that belongs to Donald Lee - but Finley should be in on plenty of passing downs this year.
Randy McMichael | St. Louis Rams | Average draft placement: 209.2 | Last week: 209.1
The Rams' West Coast offense slated to be instituted by new OC Pat Shurmur gives the tight end ample chances to contribute. McMichael might - might - serve as a vital piece of an offense that expects to revolve around running back Steven Jackson. A trip to Injured Reserve stopped McMichael from building on similar hype last season.
Fantasy value: McMichael isn't draft-worthy in most formats, but a return to his 2005-07 stretch in which he caught at least 60 passes each season would make him a low-end No. 2 option. Though you shouldn't bank on it, in theory this system presents that possibility. If your draft roster allows you to call a second tight end, you could wait to take a chance on Mac if you have an elite starter.
Rucker | Cleveland Browns | Average draft placement:
N/A | Last week: N/A
Someone has to catch the passes that Kellen
Winslow leaves behind after being dealt to the Tampa
Bay Buccaneers, and we feel Rucker has a strong chance to be that guy. Our
main fear with Rucker is his supposed lack of work ethic. For example, he recently
didn't run out a penalty lap in practice. It may not be a big deal to some, including
head coach Eric Mangini, but it says something
about his attitude and the team's culture. At any rate, if he wins out as the
starting tight end and Brady Quinn indeed earns
the starting quarterback gig, the short passing game in Cleveland could be run
through the tight end position. Keep in mind: Robert
Royal is currently listed as the starting tight end, but Rucker will probably
be the pass-catching option.
Fantasy value: Rucker isn't draftable
in standard formats, but keep an eye on him as the offseason moves along. He is
more of a No. 3 tight end in that rare format deep enough to sustain a third player
at the position.
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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