2011 Fantasy Rookie Rankings | Tight Ends
We’re wrapping up our post-draft fantasy rookie rankings with the tight end position, a fantasy position that really doesn’t get the respect it deserves. This rings especially true when some hapless fantasy owners look back to past years when their playoff runs were derailed by the likes of Antonio Gates or Dallas Clark going off for 10+ catches, 100+ yards and an insane three-touchdown game.
So, are there any solid tight end prospects that could make a splash in fantasy football immediately in 2011? Probably not on the level of a Gates or Clark, but there’s definitely still some talent to start following as we get closer to preparing for a (hopefully) 2011 fantasy football season.
Read on for our top 10 fantasy rookie tight end rankings:
1. Lance Kendricks (St. Louis Rams)
Kendricks is a nice, reliable target for the still young and developing Sam Bradford. The Rams’ offense is about to get a little more complex and explosive with Josh McDaniels in town, and the Rams won’t waste any time putting the athletic Kendricks to good use. He should compete to start immediately.
2. Virgil Green (Denver Broncos)
Denver traded away their best tight end in Tony Scheffler last year, so adding some talent at the position was a must going into 2011. On top of that, with Tim Tebow as the likely starter, the athletic Green will fight for the chance to see a lot of underneath action. Green has the overall talent to be a stud, while medical issues had him drop from a day two pick, all the way to the seventh round. As long as past injuries don’t hold Green back, he should content for the starting job from day one.
3. Robert Housler (Arizona Cardinals)
Is Housler the best tight end in this draft class? Absolutely not, but Arizona hasn’t had a viable tight end option in forever, and Housler’s athleticism and pass-catching ability are promising. He definitely has the talent to help as a receiver, while his mediocre blocking has him in question as an every down tight end. Still, he’ll compete for the starting gig, and could make a solid impact as a rookie if he gets the job.
4. Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)
Rudolph is an interesting first-year tight end, as he has great size, soft hands, and solid speed. He looks to be a solid fit for a new-loo, balanced Vikings offense, especially given the fact that the team is looking for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder to take over in 2011. If Ponder does start, it could mean extra looks underneath and over the middle for the rookie tight end. However, while Rudolph’s talent and potential in his first season is encouraging, fantasy owners will still have to keep in mind that 30+ year old tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is still on the roster, and will likely remain the starter for at least one more season.
5. Julius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
Denver’s “other” rookie tight end, Thomas came before Green (round 4), and is equally athletic, with outstanding size and strength. He’s extremely raw and needs a lot of work, but Thomas still comes in high on our pre-season rankings due to his talent and potential. Denver doesn’t have an answer at tight end yet, and if Green doesn’t take the job, Thomas could.
6. Jordan Cameron (Cleveland Browns)
He’s not a great blocker or overly physical, but Cameron has quite possibly the best combination of size, speed, and hands in this tight end class. The Browns could be looking for their fourth rounder to step in and beat-out Benjamin Watson and Evan Moore (if both return), but his extremely raw ability could make that difficult. Cameron is an exciting project for the future, but its unlikely he makes an immediate impact.
7. Richard Gordon (Oakland Raiders)
You know Gordon is athletic if the Raiders drafted him. Zach Miller might be headed out of Oakland, which could pave the way for Gordon to step in and garner solid numbers as a rookie. He’s very raw and doesn’t have great experience or college numbers, but his athleticism and a potentially big role give him solid fantasy value for the moment.
8. Luke Stocker (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
With Kellen Winslow firmly entrenched as the starter in Tampa Bay, Stocker has been added to compete to be paired with Winslow in two-tight end sets, while bringing depth at the position at the very worst. Stocker is a big, physical target with solid blocking-ability, but only an injury to Winslow could make him a star in 2011.
9. D.J. Williams (Green Bay Packers)
We could talk all day about Williams’ athleticism and versatility, but everyone knows the guy in Green Bay is Jermichael Finley. Even beyond Finley, Williams would need to beat-out Andrew Quarless for the top back-up job. He faces an uphill battle to provide much value in 2011, despite his talent and potential.
10. Charles Clay (Miami Dolphins)
Clay is big and versatile. His great size, strength, and pass-catching ability allow him to play either tight end or fullback. He’s not an elite athlete and he won’t make a ton of plays, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a useful tool in an offense. Miami currently doesn’t have their long-term answer at tight end on the roster, so Clay has a shot at competing for a decent role. His more natural position appears to be fullback, however, so expect some bumps in the road if he ends up working out of the tight end position.