Week 1 TE Rankings and Start/Sit Advice

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The final array of WK1 rankings are here for your viewing pleasure, as we all gear up for tonight’s game between Green Bay and New Orleans—for a summary of tonight’s game, check out Greg Brosh’s breakdown.

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As with all the other rankings system, this piece will be constructed highlighting the Top 5 start candidates, along with a simple base cover of the remaining 27 available tight ends.


The Top Five

1. Antonio Gates – SD: The Vikings are going to have to feature more nickel type defensive packages against the Chargers passing game which bodes extremely well for Gates’ speed and size. While the added safety or DB is an upgrade in speed, it is a downgrade in size and tackling ability which means he’ll be money all day, especially in the red-zone.

2. Jermichael Finley – GB: If you are worried about Finley’s ankle; don’t be because he is a go for tonight’s game. The Packers are going to move him between the slot and flanked TE position which is going to wreak havoc on those Saints’ linebackers. Finley’s matchups should favor him all day long, and don’t be surprised if he hauls in two TDs tonight.

3. Vernon Davis – SF: The 49ers new WCO puts more emphasis on the TE and against a weak Seattle defense, there is nothing but upside here. Alex Smith doesn’t have much in the way at wide-out, and the Seattle defense may be heavily focusing on the backfield which should open up various lanes for Davis. If Smith wasn’t at QB, I would toy with raising him up a notch.

4. Jimmy Graham – NO: Graham will be the lone red-zone focal point, and the Packers struggled last year to cover the tight end in close quarters. But the Packers are going to have to figure out WHO they want to cover with three other receivers in the mix, and a host of running backs at New Orleans’ disposal. A win-win for Graham owners in my opinion.

5. Owen Daniels – HOU: If the Texans build a lead early and revert back to the ground game as expected, the TE position should also flourish in scoring situations as well. The Colts will have to key in on Johnson and Foster in close quarters, and that could leave Daniels as the unaccounted for man at times. This is a nice second-half fantasy player.

The Rest of the Crop

6. Jason Witten – DAL The Jets did rather well covering tight ends last year, and Romo will undoubtedly focus on his receivers early and often. He’s no better than 6th, but still a nice TE1 option.
7. Dallas Clark - IND Clark should see some additional targets with Collins under center, although he will be hampered just a bit thanks to that brace.
8. Kellen Winslow - TB Has a great matchup against Detroit, and is coming off the best camp of his career.
9. Jared Cook - TEN Love the guys upside. Also pegged him as a sleeper tight end.
10. Greg Olsen - CAR Who else are they gonna throw to?
11. Brandon Pettigrew - DET There is a slight injury worry with Pettigrew, but nothing that should keep him from starting. He’s a great TE2 option.
12. Fred Davis - WSH Cooley is not going to do squat, and Davis is a savvy pick.
13. Rob Gronkowski – NE He’ll be the every down TE, but Brady will be airing it out to the receivers first.
14. Tony Gonzalez - ATL Too many mouths to feed to rank him higher, but a nice start none-the-less.
15. Brent Celek - PHI Celek is being turned into a blocking TE, and that could again hurt his value in 2011.
16. Dustin Keller - NYJ I am tentative with Keller because of Mark Sanchez, but start him if you need him.
17. Todd Heap - ARI A nice matchup if you are out of options.
18. Visanthe Shiancoe - MIN Should have a modest day for a TE2.
19. Travis Beckum – NYG Beckum was slated to be the “move” TE in NY, but he’ll have to show more consistency to be a fantasy option.
20. Heath Miller - PIT Miller could be competing for targets with an upgraded receiver corp.
21. Leonard Pope - KC Pope could turn out to be a nice Waiver wire acquisition in time, but deserves to be sat this week.
22. Daniel Fells - DEN Not much to see here people.
23. Evan Moore - CLE I like Moore’s long-term value more than his WK 1 value.
24. Ben Watson - CLE Not much value with Moore in the mix.
25. Kyle Rudolph - MIN Rudolph should see some targets, but not much to “wow” anyone.
26. Lance Kendricks - STL Could be a nice start if you’re in a pinch, but nothing more.
27. Ed Dickson - BAL A bottom feeding TE right now.
28. Anthony Fasano - MIA Nice consideration, but not against New England.
29. Jermaine Gresham - CIN Injury concerns could even keep him out of the game. I would sit him if possible.
30. Kevin Boss - NYG He’ll be a situational TE only. Not a lot of value here.
31. Zach Miller - SEA Not enough support from the QB slot to be worth anything right now.
32. Chris Cooley - WSH He’s too much of a risk.