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Early Season Tight End Talk

We continue our early season discussion, talking about rankings, sleepers, and busts.  To review, I have been in quite a few drafts already, and I also had the opportunity to participate in a video draft guide talking about the current state of things.  In order to expand a bit upon the short sound bites I provided, I thought it’d be a good idea to share and expand upon some of my thoughts here.  Since it is a little early, we’ll only go thru my top five at each position (I know, I know, probably not revealing much!), but I’ll also throw in some players that I think could surprise from lower down on your cheatsheet.  We’ll crank these articles out one at a time by position, then we’ll talk about some sleepers, as well as some players that I’m already seeing being drafted too high.  As always, your thoughts, comments, and reaction is welcome!

Jason Witten (Dal)

Antonio Gates (SD)

Kellen Winslow (Cle)

I had a real hard time coming up with a ranking for these guys, and as you can tell from how this is being written, I was unable to make a decision.  I know, weak, but it’s early enough that I’ve got some more time to make a formal decision.  What is clear to me, is that Witten, Gates, and Winslow should be selected as 1-2-3 in some order on draft day and I believe these three are on a level above the rest of the competition. 

Witten will no longer be a surprise on draft day, given the tremendous 2007 numbers he put up.  As discussed in previous articles, the Cowboys offense has firepower at all positions, and tight end is no exception.  Gates will continue to be one of the best at his position.  The perennial top tight end, you wouldn’t get much of an argument from me if you wanted to put him at the top of your tight end list.  He has been, and will continue to be, the lone threat the Chargers have that isn’t named Tomlinson.  Winslow is finally, albeit belatedly, living up to his draft day hype.  Cleveland is also a team we’ve previously discussed, and like Dallas, they have fantasy studs at every position so Winslow should continue to find openings and put up great numbers. 

Tony Gonzalez (KC)

Just a shade below the top three is the ever present Gonzalez.  After passing the torch onto Antonion Gates as the top tight end, Gonzalez has continued to perform very well on a bad Kansas City team.  Very quietly in 2007 he went for nearly 100 catches and over 1000 yards.  Look for that to continue in 2008 despite the Chiefs team struggles. 

Chris Cooley (Was)

Cooley will continue to have a significant role in the Redskins offense.  Last year he set career highs by going for 8 TDs and nearly 800 yards.  Look for similar numbers in 2008 as Cooley rounds out the top five fantasy tight ends. 

Not able to get any of the top five on draft day?  Not to worry, there are a few TEs that will be drafted later on that should outperform their draft day ranking…

Owen Daniels (Hou)

Daniels had a very nice season in 2007 where he caught over 700 yards worth of passes.  Andre Johnson should be back and the Texans offense should rebound from a bit of a disappointing season last year.  Look for Daniels to improve upon his 2007 totals. 

Donald Lee (GB)

Lee took advantage of the injury to Bubba Franks where he was splitting time 50-50 and established himself as the starter and full time tight end for the Packers.  Though they’ll have a new quarterback (or will they??  A discussion for another place and time!), Green Bay has signed him to a long term contract and cleared the roster of any other competition he might have in 2008.  Lee should easily be able to improve upon his 2007 numbers and even have a chance to sneak into the top 5 fantasy players at his position. 

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