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Midseason Fantasy Report – TEs

While we still have a lot of football left to play, here is the early word on the tight end position: it was not as deep as many fantasy football know-it-alls had predicted. Although a few players have surprised us, the number of disappointments/busts has been high among the well-known names at the position, which is why productive, consistent tight ends have been in short supply.

Here is a breakdown of the receiving numbers for the Top 20 fantasy tight ends ranked by accumulated fantasy points (FP) in a standard scoring system (no points per reception). The FP totals were calculated using the following scoring system: one point for every 10 accumulated receiving yards (RYDS) and six points for each touchdown (TD). Targets (TAR) and receptions (REC) were not used in the calculations.

TOP 20 TIGHT ENDS  —  WEEKS 1-8  —  STANDARD SCORING

#

PLAYER

TM

G

TAR

REC

RYDS

TD

FP

1

Owen Daniels

HOU

8

59

40

519

5

81.90

2

Vernon Davis

SF

7

55

32

375

7

79.50

3

Dallas Clark

IND

7

58

46

584

3

76.40

4

Antonio Gates

SD

7

58

37

523

2

64.30

5

Brent Celek

PHI

7

51

37

447

3

62.70

6

Heath Miller

PIT

7

46

40

353

4

59.30

7

Tony Gonzalez

ATL

7

55

33

393

3

57.30

8

Visanthe Shiancoe

MIN

8

33

22

203

6

56.30

9

Jeremy Shockey

NO

7

40

31

376

3

55.60

10

Kellen Winslow

TB

7

52

31

295

4

53.30

11

Zach Miller

OAK

8

45

28

421

1

48.10

12

Ben Watson

NE

7

21

15

222

4

46.20

13

Chris Cooley

WAS

7

45

29

332

2

45.20

14

John Carlson

SEA

7

49

27

330

2

45.00

15

Dustin Keller

NYJ

8

50

23

289

2

40.90

16

Jason Witten

DAL

7

49

37

348

1

40.80

17

Todd Heap

BAL

7

40

27

278

2

39.80

18

Greg Olsen

CHI

7

45

22

215

3

39.50

19

Tony Scheffler

DEN

7

22

17

226

2

34.60

20

Daniel Fells

STL

8

24

13

160

3

34.00

The next table is a breakdown of the receiving numbers for the Top 20 fantasy tight ends ranked by accumulated fantasy points (FP) with PPR scoring. The FP totals were calculated using the following scoring system: one point per reception (REC), one point for every 10 accumulated receiving yards (RYDS) and six points for each touchdown (TD). Targets (TAR) were not used in the calculations.

TOP 20 TIGHT ENDS  —  WEEKS 1-8  —  PPR SCORING

#

PLAYER

TM

G

TAR

REC

RYDS

TD

FP

1

Dallas Clark

IND

7

58

46

584

3

122.40

2

Owen Daniels

HOU

8

59

40

519

5

121.90

3

Vernon Davis

SF

7

55

32

375

7

111.50

4

Antonio Gates

SD

7

58

37

523

2

101.30

5

Brent Celek

PHI

7

51

37

447

3

99.70

6

Heath Miller

PIT

7

46

40

353

4

99.30

7

Tony Gonzalez

ATL

7

55

33

393

3

90.30

8

Jeremy Shockey

NO

7

40

31

376

3

86.60

9

Kellen Winslow

TB

7

52

31

295

4

84.50

10

Visanthe Shiancoe

MIN

8

33

22

203

6

78.30

11

Jason Witten

DAL

7

49

37

348

1

77.80

12

Zach Miller

OAK

8

45

28

421

1

76.10

13

Chris Cooley

WAS

7

45

29

332

2

74.20

14

John Carlson

SEA

7

49

27

330

2

72.00

15

Todd Heap

BAL

7

40

27

278

2

66.80

16

Dustin Keller

NYJ

8

50

23

289

2

63.90

17

Greg Olsen

CHI

7

45

22

215

3

61.50

18

Ben Watson

NE

7

21

15

222

4

61.20

19

Tony Scheffler

DEN

7

22

17

226

2

51.60

20

Marcedes Lewis

JAX

7

31

16

217

2

49.70

In the standard scoring system table, the group of reliable starters is only nine deep. Owen Daniels (knee – Injured Reserve), Vernon Davis and Dallas Clark are clearly the top guys. Daniels was enjoying an outstanding season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. The next group, No. 4 through No. 9, is made up of the safe second-tier starters. I did not include Kellen Winslow in the second tier, because his production has been inconsistent. When you start at No. 11 and move down the list, you see either starters who rank as just matchup plays or disappointing elite starters.

It is essentially the same story in the PPR scoring table. Clark, Daniels and Davis make up the elite group, and the second tier includes just No. 4 through No. 8. As mentioned, Winslow has been too inconsistent to rely on as an every-week starter, but that could change with the promising rookie quarterback Josh Freeman under center. Visanthe Shiancoe is ranked behind Winslow, but Shiancoe is an every-week starter. Once you move past the disappointing Witten, you see either matchup plays or disappointing top starters.

BIGGEST SURPRISES:

1. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers – Davis was a complete joke just a season ago, but he has turned his career around thanks to the watchful disciplinary eye of Mike Singletary and thanks to playing in offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye’s tight-end friendly scheme. While Davis’ receiving numbers are lower compared to the other Top 10 starters, the fourth-year pro’s scoring obviously has boosted his value (touchdowns scored in four of seven games). However, I have doubts about whether Davis can remain productive through the second half of the season. Singletary would rather run the football 40 times per game than pass it 40 times, and the 49ers do not have a receiving threat that is capable of keeping opposing defenses from double-teaming Davis.

2. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers – If you drafted Miller as a TE2 or grabbed him off the waiver wire for roster depth, you have been enjoying some unexpected TE1 production from him most weeks. Miller is on pace to produce career-high numbers across the board, thanks to Pittsburgh’s newfound love for the passing game. Although Miller has turned in some dud games in the standard scoring format, he has been a great start almost every week in PPR leagues, catching at least five passes in six of seven games. Barring an injury to Ben Roethlisberger, Miller should continue his productive ways through the rest of the season.

3. Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles – It is debatable whether Celek is a genuine surprise. He did enjoy some productive playoff games last season, so seeing the third-year pro ranked as a Top 10 tight end in both scoring formats is not a total shock. Like Miller, Celek has been more consistent in PPR leagues, catching four or more passes in six of seven games. He also has amassed at least 58 receiving yards in five contests and has had only one bad game all season. Celek should continue to be productive for the pass-happy Eagles.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS:

1. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys – If you spent a third- or fourth-round draft pick on Witten, at this point you ended up with the No. 16 tight end in standard scoring formats or the No. 11 tight end in PPR scoring formats. Witten got off to a strong start (19 catches for 181 yards and one score compiled through Week 3), but his numbers have been pedestrian since then. Opposing defenses have been double-teaming Witten, and Tony Romo has been targeting Miles Austin and the other Dallas receivers more frequently. I think Witten is a rebound candidate in the second half, because opposing defenses are starting to clamp down on Austin.

2. Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears – Although the talented Olsen has shown signs of life in recent weeks, his production during the first half of the season was dismal overall. Remember all the preseason talk about Olsen becoming Jay Cutler’s go-to guy? Opposing defenses took note of it and have double-teamed Olsen almost non-stop. Although Olsen has caught three or more passes in five contests and scored three times (Week 1 through Week 8), he has not amassed more than 57 receiving yards in a contest. The Bears have had to throw frequently during the last three weeks because of a struggling rushing attack and a fading defense, which bodes well for Olsen’s future production.

3. John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks – The talented Carlson turned in a strong Week 1 performance (six grabs for 95 yards and two scores), but he has been a non-factor since then — even in PPR formats. Don’t blame Carlson’s disappointing showing on a sophomore slump. The Seahawks simply have many mouths to feed in the passing game, and Carlson has been the odd man out most weeks. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, as many predicted, is stealing a large number of the underneath targets that would have otherwise gone to Carlson. Barring some injuries to Seattle’s other receivers, I am not expecting a better second half from Carlson.

4. Dustin Keller, New York Jets – Keller posted strong games in Week 1 (four catches for 94 yards) and Week 7 (eight catches for 76 yards and one touchdown). Overall, however, he has left his owners scratching their heads. Many had expected rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to lean on Keller. Opposing defenses, however, have double-teamed Keller, and Sanchez has struggled to get the ball to him on occasion. In addition, the presence of Braylon Edwards is cutting into Keller’s looks. It is hard to expect overall improvement from Keller during the second half, although he will log a big game occasionally.

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