2011 Dynasty Rankings | Tight Ends
A consistently productive fantasy tight end is tough to come by, as not all of us are lucky enough to come away with someone like Antonio Gates or Vernon Davis.
So, you need to be well prepared. We at NFL Soup are committed to ensuring that you are well enough equipped to deal with any twists and turns that the fantasy football season can bring.
How are tight ends shaping up heading into the 2011 season?
1. Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers)
Despite being stuck with the likes of Alex Smith for most of his young career, Davis has become one of the most dynamic pass-catching tight ends in the league. Over the last two seasons, Davis has caught a total of 134 passes for 1,879 yards and 20 touchdowns. At 27, he’ll be a beast for years to come.
2. Antonio Gates (San Diego Chargers)
The 31-year-old Gates has historically been extremely healthy, but last season he was bothered by nagging foot injuries. Still, though, despite playing in just 10 games, Gates finished the season with 50 catches for 782 yards and 10 touchdowns.
3. Jermichael Finley (Green Bay Packers)
Finley has never truly broken out, but his 2010 season was cut short after just five games due to a knee injury. He has all the talent in the world, and in that Aaron Rodgers-led Packers offense, the sky is the limit for Finley going forward.
4. Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
Witten has been in the league since 2003, but he’s still just 28-years-old. He’s recorded three 1,000 yard seasons in the last four years, and picked up a career-high nine touchdowns in 2010. No reason to believe he’ll be slowing down any time soon.
5. Marcedes Lewis (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Lewis’ career got off to a less-than-spectacular start, but he emerged last season as a real force for the Jaguars. He tied for the league lead with 10 touchdown catches as a tight end, and was an incredibly reliable target for David Garrard in the red zone. He was just assigned Jacksonville’s franchise tag, so expect another productive season in 2011.
6. Dallas Clark (Indianapolis Colts)
Clark is another guy whose season was hampered by injuries, but he’s arguably Peyton Manning’s favorite target when healthy. At 31, Clark may not have as much long-term value as some of the other guys on this list, but consistency is the key. He has just one 1,000 yard season, but he’s a touchdown machine. As long as Manning is the quarterback, Clark will be a factor.
7. Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)
Most expected fellow rookie Aaron Hernandez to be the Patriots’ most dangerous tight end last season, but it was the lesser-known Gronkowski that proved to be the more consistent player. He scored 10 touchdowns last year, and Tom Brady trusts him in the red zone. Those are pretty good odds, I’d say.
8. Dustin Keller (New York Jets)
Keller was a fantasy surprise at the beginning of last season, but his production tailed off upon the return of Santonio Holmes from suspension after four games. In fact, Keller didn’t score a single touchdown during the regular season after week four. However, with Braylon Edwards seemingly on his way out, Keller’s targets should jump back up.
9. Chris Cooley (Washington Redskins)
Cooley finished last season with 77 catches for 849 yards, but didn’t get over 91 yards in any single game. He’s a very good PPR option, obviously, and his TD numbers should go back up next season (just three in 2010) with a new passer in the fold.
10. Zach Miller (Oakland Raiders)
Miller has had the misfortune of playing with below-average quarterbacks through the first four years of his career, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance once he has actually gotten the ball in his hands. There’s plenty of upside here, assuming he can stay healthy, and the Raiders can get a QB with a pulse.
11. Jimmy Graham (New Orleans Saints)
With the Saints having parted ways with the disappointing Jeremy Shockey, it looks as through Graham will be thrust into the spotlight next season. Graham scored four touchdowns in the last three games of the season, and looks to be a potential big-play threat. In that offense, there’s tons of potential for him.
12. Brandon Pettigrew (Detroit Lions)
Matthew Stafford remaining healthy enough to play through an entire season would help, but even if he can’t, Pettigrew is another solid, young tight end. He was sharing catches with Tony Scheffler for most of the beginning of the season, but seemed to take over as the year went on.
13. Brent Celek (Philadelphia Eagles)
Celek was the odd-man out in the Eagles offense last season, as it appeared as though Michael Vick was able to develop more of a rapport with the likes of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Still, though, Celek would have his moments every now and then, and, with Vick heading into next season as the starter, maybe the two can get their act in order.
14. Kellen Winslow (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
For all the talent he has, Winslow has never really had a truly fantastic individual season. He tied a career-high with five touchdowns last season, and really came on strong in the second half of the year.
15. Aaron Hernandez (New England Patriots)
Hernandez lived in the shadow of Rob Gronkowski for much of last season, but still put up decent numbers, catching 45 passes for 563 yards and six touchdowns. He’s about as athletic as a tight end can be, so expect Tom Brady to begin to utilize him with a bit more regularity.
16. Owen Daniels (Houston Texans)
Daniels was never able to fully recover from an ACL tear suffered midway through the 2009 season, and was extremely limited last season as a result. However, the team must feel fine about his longterm prognosis, as he was inked to a four-year, $22 million deal in early March. He should be productive again in 2011.
17. Jermaine Gresham (Cincinnati Bengals)
With the Bengals’ passing game facing a serious overhaul, it would seem as though Gresham stands to become more involved regularly in the offense next season. Good news for the former Oklahoma standout.
18. Tony Moeaki (Kansas City Chiefs)
Moeaki didn’t put up huge numbers last season, but he was good for about three catches per game. He’s still extremely raw, but is a tremendous athlete for a tight end. With one full season under his belt, expect his involvement in the offense to increase.
19. Jacob Tamme (Indianapolis Colts)
Tamme became the default replacement for Dallas Clark when he went down last season, and really didn’t look all that much different. The 26-year-old Tamme finished with 67 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns in just 10 games. He’s got big-time potential.
20. Greg Olsen (Chicago Bears)
Olsen has plenty of ability, but his fantasy value fluctuates with the inconsistent play of Jay Cutler. He seems like more of a guy that you’d pick up as a week-to-week fill-in rather than your weekly starter.
21. Kevin Boss (New York Giants)
Boss’ numbers look quite a bit like Olsen’s. With a fairly inconsistent quarterback, three young and talented receivers and a dynamic running games, Boss often gets lost in the shuffle.
22. Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta Falcons)
Gonzo is still a serviceable fantasy tight end, but he’s clearly slowing down a bit. There have been recent whispers about a possible retirement, but if he sticks around for another season, he should be decently productive, once again. It’s not like the Falcons’ offense is teeming with tons of great pass-catchers, either.
23. Jared Cook (Tennessee Titans)
Cook is a real sleeper heading into next season. He came on late last year as a viable option for Kerry Collins, and, with the Bo Scaife era seemingly over, should be able to enjoy a full season as the go-to tight end. Keep an eye on him, for sure.
24. Benjamin Watson (Cleveland Browns)
Watson is a solid PPR, possession tight end that won’t really blow you away in any area. He’s very steady with his production, and seemed to have solid chemistry with rookie quarterback Colt McCoy last year. You can do much worse.
25. John Carlson (Seattle Seahawks)
Carlson is young and talented, but throwing to the tight end has never really been an integral part of Matt Hasselbeck’s routine. Carlson’s value may rise upon Hasselbeck’s retirement in a few years, but that doesn’t mean you take that risk now. He scored just one touchdown last season.
26. Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)
Rudolph isn’t a lock to do much in 2011, but he’s going to be the successor to Shiancoe (below) soon enough, and his talent speaks for itself. As long as Christian Ponder needs a big, reliable target to throw to (and he always will), Rudolph will have solid fantasy value.
27. Heath Miller (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Miller found the end zone just twice last season, but he’s always been one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets. There’s definitely a ceiling here, but he can be serviceable at times.
28. Visanthe Shiancoe (Minnesota Vikings)
Shiancoe thrived two years ago during Brett Favre’s magical season, but struggled along with the rest of the Vikings offense last year. Even if Minnesota is able to bring in a veteran quarterback, there are too many other explosive pieces on this offense to make Shiancoe a major weapon.
29. Lance Kendricks (St. Louis Rams)
Kendricks might have a good shot at taking over as the starting tight end for the Rams right away in 2011, and if he does, he might shoot up these rankings. Until that happens, though this athletic and potential-ridden tight end at least has a bright future within a rising offense.
30. Ed Dickson (Baltimore Ravens)
Todd Heap is 31, and it seems like the Ravens believe Dickson is the heir apparent as the pass-catching tight end. He didn’t do much in limited time as a rookie last season, but has good size and speed for the position.
31. Fred Davis (Washington Redskins)
With Cooley in the fold, Davis’ impact is limited. However, he’s still just 25, and scored in each of the last two games last season. Cooley will still be the guy, but Davis is far from a total spare.
32. Virgil Green (Denver Broncos)
Some will put Julius Thomas here first, but Green has more talent and potential. He might not make a major impact in 2011, but his long-term value could be staggering. Denver doesn’t have anything at tight end, so there will be an opportunity early for Green to break-out.
33. Andrew Quarless (Green Bay Packers)
Quarless has elite athleticism and good size and speed for his position, but his hands and rout-running were extremely suspect in 2010. Even when Jermichael Finley went down, Quarless still couldn’t take advantage of a golden opportunity. That doesn’t mean he’ll never progress, though, as his potential alone still has Green Bay salivating. On the flip side, with two tight ends drafted in gthe 2011 NFL Draft, the Packers won’t wait forever for him to develop, either. He’s got to get it together fast, but he’s still got a bright future if he can start to make it happen.
34. Anthony Fasano (Miami Dolphins)
Nobody really thrived as a pass-catcher in Miami in 2010, but Fasano did manage to still score four times on just 39 total receptions. The entire Dolphins offense seems ready for a complete overhaul, and hopefully Fasano is right in the thick of things.
35. Jordan Cameron (Cleveland Browns)
Cameron is very raw and isn’t the best blocker in the world, but he’s an excellent athlete at the tight end position and could have a bright future in Cleveland’s West Coast Offense. Cameron has the speed and play-making ability to be something special, so keep tabs on him.