There is still a lot to cover in this final edition of my chance to ramble on about one of my passions–fantasy football. This week I’m going to rank the tight end class in 2014 (and it’s far from impressive), explain my thoughts on kickers and defenses and share who wound up being my projected top 50 point-getters for the upcoming NFL season.
First, why don’t I share my thoughts on what I believe will amount to a pretty lousy season for tight ends. I have a pretty easy philosophy for me this year as far as tight ends and the draft. Either take Jimmy Graham at about the eighth pic of the draft or later or don’t take a tight end until much later in the draft. A lot of people might think it is worth a shot to throw a rope around Gronk early or to waste a second, third or fourth round pick on a guy like Julius Thomas or Vernon Davis, but I don’t think that is so. If I don’t wind up taking Graham in the late first round or second round, I’m most likely not taking a tight end until everyone else has, or it’s past round seven or so.
Well, having said that, here are my rankings for tight ends in 2014:
1. Jimmy Graham (Saints) Well duh. He’s clearly the top guy, and having him is like having an extra wide receiver, but remember that drafting him where he will go (likely the first round) is also giving up a potential stud running back or top of the line receiver too. That being said, I think he’ll average around 17 points per game, which is a full three points more than any other tight end in my estimation.
2. Julius Thomas (Broncos) Any of the next several tight ends could easily encapsulate the second spot, but I picked Thomas mainly because of who he has throwing to him, one Peyton Manning. I expect he should average a shade below 14 points per week this season. 3. Jordan Cameron (Browns) Despite the quarterback controversy, I think Jordan Cameron will have a solid season. I wouldn’t draft him before the seventh or eighth round, but he should average a little more than 13 points a game. He should still get work, no matter who’s at quarterback.
4. Jason Witten (Cowboys) Old reliable Jason Witten can be counted on even at age 32. Tony Gonzalez made the mold for older, craftier tight ends, and Witten is a big dude with great hands, and should follow along Gonzalez’s mold. I expect that he gets around 13 points per week.
5. Kyle Rudolph (Vikings) A big, physical pass-catching threat who should be counted on in the Norv Turner-led offense of Minnesota. Rudolph is primed for a career year, and should be on the radar no matter his quarterback. He should score around 12 points per week, and if he’s available in round 9 or later, scoop him up.
6. Vernon Davis
7. Rob Gronkowski
8. Greg Olsen
9. Dennis Pitta
10. Charles Clay
With tight ends rated out, readers would expect I would go on to rank kickers and defenses. That is not so.
As far as kickers go, there is little to no rhyme or reason as to which kicker is the best in a given season. Even when one is the highest scoring it usually is not by a whole lot. Kickers rarely (if ever, of this I’m not sure) have back-to-back seasons at the top. Therefore my advice is to take a kicker in the last round.
While also very difficult to predict, and deviation is often slim, defenses are slightly more important. However, I still don’t think taking one of the top defenses (Kansas City or Seattle for instance) is worth giving up the chance at a fourth or five receiver or back that could potentially have a break out year, or even just help out on bye weeks. Generally in the past, and I am going to advocate again, the process of streaming. In the second to last pick of the draft, find the defense that has the juiciest match up in week one (probably whoever is playing against Cleveland or some equally not great quarterback) and draft them. Each week do the same thing and play the match up game, dropping and picking up defenses based on the team (or quarterback) they go up against. Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a team that has a string of easy match ups. I’m not against taking a defense and sticking with them week in and week out, but I feel that streaming gives me my best odds to win, and that’s what I want to accomplish.
The last thing that I’ll leave everyone with is a list of the top 50 players in order that I projected based on PPR scoring. This is list is NOT where I think these players should be drafted. It is based strictly on how many points I think they will score this season. There are a lot of quarterbacks on the list, and a lot near the top, but that is because the quarterback position inherently scores more points these days.
1. Aaron Rodgers 2. Drew Brees 3. Nick Foles 4. Matt Forte 5. Adrian Peterson 6. Peyton Manning 7. Matt Ryan 8. Calvin Johnson 9. Jamaal Charles 10. Lesean McCoy 11. Andrew Luck 12. Dez Bryant 13. Jay Cutler 14. Brandon Marshall 15. Cam Newton 16. Pierre Garcon 17. Arian Foster 18. Tony Romo 19. Demaryius Thomas 20. Gio Bernard 21. Le’Veon Bell 22. A.J. Green 23. Matt Stafford 24. Antonio Brown 25. Randall Cobb 26. C.J. Spiller 27. Roddy White 28. Kendall Wright 29. Russell Wilson 30. Jimmy Graham 31. Cordarelle Patterson 32. Andy Dalton 33. Philip Rivers 34. Alshon Jeffrey 35. Julio Jones 36. Vincent Jackson 37. Ben Roethlisberger 38. Montee Ball 39. Eddie Lacy 40. Jordy Nelson 41. Tom Brady 42. Jeremy Maclin 43. Percy Harvin 44. Reggie Bush 45. Rashad Jennings 46. T.Y. Hilton 47. Keenan Allen 48. Larry Fitzgerald 49. Wes Welker 50. Ben Tate.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps or has helped everyone in their drafts this year.