- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
Taking all recent player moves and news into account, here are my latest pre-NFL draft fantasy tight end rankings.
1. Antonio Gates: Clearly the class of the weakest position in fantasy football. Philip Rivers was a success in his first year as a starter, quieting concerns that Gates would see a significant drop in production with a new quarterback.
2. Tony Gonzalez: It appears his best years are now behind him, especially in the touchdown department, but he's still productive enough to rank among the elite at his position.
3. Alge Crumpler: If he was more consistent, he could easily be ahead of Gonzalez in the rankings. He can have a big game at any time and be a major key to victory. More help from his wide receivers could certainly mean less defensive attention and better overall production.
4. Jeremy Shockey: He certainly has the pure ability to be better than anyone at the position other than Gates. He has to stay healthy, and his best years could be ahead as Eli Manning continues to evolve.
5. Chris Cooley: He's a regular scoring threat for the Redskins, and Jason Campbell is going to lean on him a lot as a safety valve, not just in the red zone.
6. Vernon Davis: He's on the brink of fantasy stardom and, if he can put in a full season in 2007, Davis will rise towards the top of this position. He'll be inconsistent next season, but he's going to start coming through with some impressive outings.
7. Kellen Winslow: His health continues to be an issue, and he has quarterback concerns, but he played through physical problems last season and can tough it out to deliver solid overall production in 2007.
8. Todd Heap: The arrival of Steve McNair didn't boost his production as hoped last year. Heap is overrated and was a big disappointment during the second half of the 2006 season.
9. Randy McMichael: Look for him to revive his career in St. Louis. McMicahel will finally play with a starting quarterback this season and, as a result, he'll become a solid fantasy starter again.
10. L.J. Smith: He wasn't dependable last season, but if Donovan McNabb can stay healthy, that can only boost Smith's production, as he will be targeted often in the red zone.
11. Daniel Graham: He is expected to become a more integral part of the passing game with his new team this upcoming season. Graham has some definite upside now that he has moved to Denver.
12. Heath Miller: He was a big disappointment last season, but a healthy Ben Roethlisberger could help him start to realize his considerable potential in 2007.
13. Dallas Clark: He has yet to become a reliable starter, but the promise is still there for him to effectively become Peyton Manning's third receiver.
14. Benjamin Watson: He has the pure ability to be one of the better players at the position, but he might not get the ball enough to be a reliable starter.
15. Desmond Clark: He certainly isn't consistent, but Rex Grossman trusts him and Clark will still have the occasional good day. Chicago could angle to pick a tight end early in the draft.
16. Marcus Pollard: The tight end plays an important role in Seattle's passing game, but Pollard is 35 years old and can't be the ideal starter the Seahawks need at the position.
17. Tony Scheffler: His value takes an obvious hit with the acquisition of Graham, but he could still get a lot of frequent looks in goal-line situations.
18. David Thomas: He's a sleeper candidate for 2007. The Patriots seem to think he has a lot of promise and could be frequently useful when the team employs two tight ends.
19. Owen Daniels: He was a somewhat pleasant surprise at times in his rookie year, and Matt Schaub could make good use of Daniels in some pressure situations.
20. Jermaine Wiggins: The Jaguars could feature him more as a pass-catcher this season. Wiggins could re-emerge as a quality fantasy player with Jacksonville.
21. Jerramy Stevens: Off-field issues have apparently ended his tenure in Seattle, but he could still produce decent numbers with another team that will give him a chance.
22. Alex Smith: He has some upside, and Smith could start to produce better if Jeff Garcia starts to look his way often in 2007.
23. Robert Royal: If J.P. Losman does continue to improve, Royal should be one of his favorite touchdown targets.
24. Chris Baker: He will catch the occasional touchdown pass.
25. Dan Campbell: Not a great option, but Jon Kitna does seem to have some faith in him.
26. Eric Johnson:
27. Jason Witten
28. Bo Scaife
29. Ben Troupe
30. Leonard Pope
31. David Martin
32. Jim Kleinsasser
33. Courtney Anderson
34. Ben Utecht
35. Marcedes Lewis
Scott Engel discusses his early tight end rankings.