Over the last 10 seasons, the use of tight ends as productive offensive weapons has shifted significantly. As we approach draft day this summer, it's become easy to see why many owners are willing to be patient when filling the position. Let's roll back to 2000 and look at how the number of viable options have gradually increased to where it is today. For this piece, we'll focus on the number of tight ends to produce 100 or more fantasy points in a season in standard (10 yards = 1 point, TD = 6 points) scoring non-PPR leagues.
(3) - Tony Gonzalez
, Shannon Sharpe
and Freddie Jones
(2) - Gonzalez and Marcus Pollard
(3) - Todd Heap
, Gonzalez and Jeremy Shockey
(2) - Gonzalez and Sharpe
(6) - Antonio Gates
, Gonzalez, Jason Witten
, Alge Crumpler
, Randy McMichael
(8) - Gates, Shockey, Heap, Chris Cooley
, Crumpler, Witten, Ernest Wilford* and Gonzalez
(8) - Marques Colston
* Gates, Crumpler, Gonzalez, Heap, Cooley, Kellen Winslow
Jr. and Shockey
(6) - Witten, Gates, Gonzalez, Winslow, Dallas Clark
(5) - Gonzalez, Clark, Witten, Gates, Shiancoe
(10) - Vernon Davis
, Clark, Gates, Brent Celek
, Gonzalez, Shiancoe, Winslow, Witten, Zach Miller
, Greg Olsen
*denotes position eligibility was in question and varied depending on your league provider that season. I imagine there will be plenty of grandchildren 50 years from now hearing stories from gramps about Colston's TE-eligibility winning or losing a league.
It wouldn't be all that surprising to see 10 more 100-point seasons from the position in 2010, especially when you consider the possibility of Jermichael Finley
joining that club (probably replacing Olsen, who seems likely to regress thanks to Mike Martz's non-TE tendencies) and the return of a healthy Chris Cooley
paired with new quarterback Donovan McNabb
Initially, I thought that the increased points for tight ends would correlate with a drop-off in production from the pool of wide receivers. It doesn't seem as though a strong correlation (if any) exists:
Number of 100-point Wide Receivers by Year (TE in parenthesis)
- 34 (3)
- 35 (2)
- 44 (3)
- 33 (2)
- 33 (6)
- 35 (8)
- 37 (7)
- 38 (6)
- 35 (5)
- 38 (10)
Let's take a look at the ADP data for tight ends over the four weeks (from Mock Draft Central
For the most part, there aren't many surprises in the data. Daniels was having an excellent season before tearing his ACL in Week 8, but he hasn't practiced yet despite reportedly smooth progress with his rehab. Concern about Olsen's role in the Bears' offense seems to be reflected in his current ADP (13th TE off the board).
McNabb's presence in Washington has already made Santana Moss
intriguing to some and Devin Thomas
' name will appear on plenty of sleeper lists this summer. It seems to be somewhat overlooked, but having McNabb throwing passes his way this season should make Cooley a good bet to return to the 100-point club after recording three straight seasons there (2005-07). He didn't miss a start from 2005-08 before suffering a broken ankle against the Eagles in October. Even if Fred Davis
works his way onto the field to take away some of his targets, Cooley should be more of a threat in the red zone after finding paydirt just three times in his last 23 games.
The most notable absence from the Top 200 overall appears to be Seattle's John Carlson
. According to the RotoWire 2010 projections, Carlson is the 11th-best option at the position this season. While he may not have the athleticism of a Jermichael Finley
-type, he's in a good situation for Year 3 after back-to-back 50-catch seasons to begin his career along with 12 TD catches in his first 32 games. The lack of proven options in the receiving corps after T.J. Houshmandzadeh
should continue to open up red-zone targets for Carlson, and his value could increase even more if Matt Hasselbeck
stays healthy enough to remain under center for the Seahawks this season.
Put simply, I can't see how anyone would draft the likes of Marcedes Lewis
and Anthony Fasano
ahead of Carlson.
With the increasing depth at tight end, there are more viable options to go around than in the past. If you're playing in a shallow (10-team) league, there's really not much to separate a fringe top-five guy from a top-10 one. (There was less than a 10-point difference between Gonzalez at No.5 with 122.7 points and Zach Miller
at No. 9 with 114.9 last season).