Stock Watch: Witten slides in TE ranks 

August, 16, 2012
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has been one of the most consistent, durable tight ends over the past eight seasons, but Wednesday's disconcerting news about him having a lacerated spleen and internal bleeding is scary, and enough to send fantasy owners looking elsewhere. Yes, it's possible Witten returns for Week 1 and performs as well as ever, but this situation isn't like that of San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews, who similarly could return from his broken clavicle for September games.

There just aren't enough reliable running backs for fantasy owners to count on this season, but that is not the case at tight end, where some of my favorite late-round sleepers reside. Plus, Mathews has first-round upside; Witten does not.

[+] EnlargeJason Witten
AP Photo/Greg TrottJason Witten (spleen) is expected to be sidelined the remainder of the preseason, and perhaps longer.
Witten's stock takes a considerably larger hit than Mathews' stock, for example, and this is certainly reflected in my updated rankings, where Witten went from a safe sixth-round pick to eighth among tight ends and barely top 100 overall. He's now behind Jermichael Finley and Tony Gonzalez (who I seem to be getting in all my drafts). It's nothing against Witten personally, of course, but we need to be realistic about his value.