Fantasy football undervalued players: Tight ends

by Cory J. Bonini and Tim Heaney on September 9, 2010 @ 14:48:00 PDT's analysis of fantasy football undervalued players for the 2010 season will be updated weekly throughout the offseason. We have separated our sleepers and undervalued players this year, so be sure not to confuse the two.

Sleepers are also undervalued players in some cases, but the latter usually comes in the way of a proven player that isn't being shown the appropriate amount of love in drafts. No one likes doing the dirty work, so let do it for you! Be sure to check for weekly updates.

Note: All average draft position (ADP) figures are based on 12-team, non-PPR leagues unless specified otherwise.

Tight ends

Kellen Winslow | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | ADP: 9th round

Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Kellen Winslow
Worth the risk

Last year, Winslow's first with the Bucs, was a very good year - the second best statistical season of his career, in fact. He logged 77 receptions for 864 yards and scored five times. He's coming off his sixth knee surgery - what is believed to be a scar tissue clean-up procedure. This is likely what is causing his ADP to be so low. There is always a risk of injury with Winslow, but he has learned how to play through pain.

The Buccaneers' offense isn't rich with experienced playmakers, and the veteran tight end should be the top target for quarterback Josh Freeman (thumb), who enters his first full season as a starter. Two rookie receivers may start for Tampa Bay, so you know Winslow will be called on early and often. At 27 years old when the season begins, he's still in his prime. While injuries may have shaved a little bit off his overall ability, he's still arguably a top-five talent.

Fantasy value: While we understand the risk that comes with drafting Winslow, the reward should outweigh it. He is going, on average, as the 11th tight end off the board. There is as much risk in several of the tight ends going before him, just in differing ways. We're not worried about the knee surgery, and you should capitalize on other owners' fears. Draft him no earlier than the beginning of the ninth round, but we've seen Winslow slide in some drafts.

Heath Miller | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: 16th round

For starters, Miller won't catch 76 passes for 789 yards and six touchdowns again - well, maybe the scores are doable. That doesn't mean he is void of fantasy value, as his ADP suggests.

Miller will have to deal with Dennis Dixon as the starting quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger serves his four-game suspension. Dixon's inexperience means Miller could be utilized a lot early on. Don't expect his yards-per-reception average (10.4 last year) to increase much. The loss of Santonio Holmes (Jets) could open up more looks for Miller, too.

The biggest concern with Miller is the potential for blocking more with the season-ending injury to Willie Colon (Achilles').

Fantasy value: Miller can be had in the final round of most drafts and still serve as a low-end No. 1 if you chose to focus what could have been an early tight end pick on value elsewhere.

Dustin Keller | New York Jets | ADP: 19th round

Entering his third year, Keller has the tools to step up his game. Athletically gifted, the former Purdue Boilermaker has been very consistent through his first two campaigns. We expect him to make the leap to the next level in 2010.

The Jets added wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who will miss four games due to suspension and isn't a big threat to take away from Keller's touches immediately upon his return. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson could scarf a few looks out of the backfield. However, the Jets completed a total of 28 passes to their running backs last year. Leon Washington was on pace for 34 catches, so it's not a lock that LT will steal all too many looks. 

Quarterback Mark Sanchez is growing into the position, but he still will rely on a safety blanket, which should be Keller more often than not.

Fantasy value: Look for Keller to be more involved in the red zone this season. His receptions may not spike greatly, but the Jets have two receivers in Braylon Edwards and Holmes who can stretch the field to open up underneath routes for Keller. Keller is a low-end No. 1 with upside to produce better than the backup tight end fantasy owners are selecting him as.

Jeremy Shockey | New Orleans Saints | ADP: 21st round

Maybe drafters are scared off by his health or his declining reception totals since '06. Yes, the Super Bowl champs spread the ball around a bunch, leaving Shockey wanting more in the reception and touchdown columns. Shockey, however, tied for 15th among tight ends with 48 receptions last season and ranked 19th in tight end looks.

He tallied at least four catches in nine of his 14 games in '09 - not bad for consistency in the middle to bottom tier of tight ends. Sure, the Saints use David Thomas occasionally, but they mostly do that when he's at H-back; there's no real risk of taking Shockey out of his position frequently.

Fantasy value: Drafting 50 receptions from the tight end spot, especially if you're waiting awhile on the position or need a stable No. 2, won't hurt you. At least you know Shockey is a stable option in a potent, throw-happy offense that doesn't ignore the position. Can you say all that about some of the other No. 2 tight ends?

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Also See:
Sleepers: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT
Busts: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT
Undervalued players: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT
Overvalued players: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT

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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