Trust Me... TE will be one of the toughest positions to handle properly this year.
Summer typically brings two things, the colorful array of Fireworks and the influx of Fantasy Football Guides and cheatsheets at your local bookstore. For years, nothing was more enjoyable as opening that crisp new magazine to see who the legions of fantasy rankers said were the best players in the upcoming season’s draft. Just like every other fantasy analyst during the preseason, I sit down and decide where I think each player should be placed in order of value. However, there’s important question I ask when I decide who I draft. Do I really want this player on my team? Just because I consider a player better than another from a ranking perspective, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I want him on my team this year, for a variety of reasons. Here’s the list of players who I feel confident in drafting on my team and those who I will likely pass over on the draft board. For me it comes down to one question, “Who can you trust”?
Jake Ballard, NE. I am a believer than Ballard could be the next Aaron Hernandez, minus the alleged murderer thing. However, I can also see him finishing the season in fantasy irrelevance. But at this point I think there’s a ton of upside and you should be able to get him in the late rounds of your draft. For this reason, I completely trust him as low risk, high reward option. Tom Brady will need to throw to someone and chances are without a deep receiving core, we may be seeing a lot of short passes from the New England offense which puts Ballard in a great position.
Vernon Davis, SFO. I know this isn’t really a stretch, as he will be a Top Five TE pick in most leagues, but I with Michael Crabtree out, he becomes a big target for Colin Kapernick. Early reports from training camp also have him lining up in the slot position which means he could be in line for more receptions in 2013.
Antonio Gates, SD. If you look up “Tight End” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Antonio Gates. Statistical he is one of the best TEs ever, but it looks like his career is winding down. He’s experienced lagging injuries the last four seasons and there are consistency concerns from a fantasy owner’s perspective. That being said, even at 80% he’s still better the most TEs in the league. He had seven TDs last season, in what would be described an “off’ year for Gates and QB Philip Rivers. I consider him the 6th or 7th best TE on the draft board currently.
Greg Olsen, CAR. If kept track of the amount of times I’ve added and dropped players, Greg Olsen would probably be top on my list. When I think Olsen is going to explode, he doesn’t. When he is firmly on my bench or waiver wire, he has a big touchdown game. The upside is that he gets targeted. Only twice last year was he targeted less than five times in a game, but he delivered less than 5 fantasy points in half his games last year in standard leagues. He’s more viable in PPR leagues. He going to go Top 10 in either format, but I’m staying away.
Brent Celek, PHI. Have you heard of Brent Celek? Probably. That’s also the only reason you’re going to draft him. Celek was solid TE a few seasons ago, but last season he had one TD and only three games were he produced over 50 years receiving. That’s down from five TDs in 2011. The expectations should be low this year as well, even with the injury to Jeremy Maclin.