Resolving Unresolved Tight End Depth Charts
There are quite a few teams with unresolved tight end depth charts. We will try to determine who will be the TE to own on each respective team in 2014, or if one player offers more fantasy upside (since some TEs are limited to blocking duties). If a team is expected to use multiple tight ends, they will be excluded from this article (ie Bengals and Chargers.) This will help you determine which TE to target in your fantasy draft and which TEs aren't worth a second glance.
Things are looking bleak for Rob Housler in Arizona. Head coach Bruce Arians has come out and said, "I don't want a guy that's really a wide receiver and your only hope to run the football is if they put a nickel in there and he can block him and in base defense, not going to block anybody. My experience (is) its always been a detriment rather than guys who can do both." Since the start of the 2013 season, the Cards have added three large, multi-talented TEs. They brought in 6-foot-6, 275-pound Jake Ballard last season. They also added 6-foot-5, 248-pound John Carlson in free agency, and drafted 6-foot-6, 270-pound Troy Niklas in May.
Housler is an impressive athlete who has been a huge disappointment for fantasy owners. Last season, he was discussed in a very similar fashion as Jordan Cameron. While Cameron flourished, Housler flopped. He caught just 39 passes for 454 yards and a TD. Things have only become worse over the last year. It looks like his opportunities will decrease further, making him a fantasy afterthought.
Ballard and Niklas are both big, tough blockers that have the athleticism to get downfield and catch passes. While their coaches are absolutely thrilled with both of them, they have been more impressed with John Carlson. Carlson has been spectacular in minicamp. He reportedly has picked up the offense extremely fast. He has shown great quickness and fantastic hands. The former Seahawk plays very hard. While he's not a great blocker, he is more than sufficient.
Fantasy Analysis: We have heard this before in Arizona. It appears Carlson is supposed to be what we expected out of Housler last season. While Carlson is the TE to own, it seems as if the Cardinals will deploy multiple TEs this year. If you feel strongly about Carlson, draft him as a backup (or better yet, don't draft him at all). There's too much depth at the position to take a chance on someone who has done so little throughout their career.
Green Bay Packers
If undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla can get his mind right, he has the potential to be a monster at tight end. While he possesses all the potential in the world, the former Oregon Ducks TE has been described as more of an athlete than a football player and at times lacks effort when blocking. Last season, Lyerla was suspended by the Ducks then quit the team. He was later arrested on drug charges and went undrafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. His upside is tremendous, but his game will need time to develop. Though the Packers have high hopes for Lyerla, he did not show enough in minicamp to earn a starting job yet.
Second year TE Brandon Bostick is also in the mix. He is more likely fighting for a roster spot than a starting job. It would be a major surprise if he was awarded the starting role. Bostick is a dark horse candidate at best; nevertheless, he cannot be completely ruled out.
The TE1 job in Green Bay is looking more likely a two-horse race between rookie Richard Rodgers and veteran Andrew Quarless. While Quarless has been sitting out with an undisclosed injury, Rodgers has been making a major impression during minicamp. Rodgers surpassed Quarless and is now the front-runner for the starting job. He is a younger and more dynamic receiver than Quarless. Quarless did not exactly blow anybody away last season while he was filling in for an injured Jermichael Finley. In 10 starts, he caught a meager 28 passes for 284 yards and scored two TDs. Not mind-blowing numbers by any extent. Quarless left the door wide open for Rodgers, and he walked right through it.
Fantasy Analysis: While it looks like Rodgers is currently winning the position battle, we must wait and see how Quarless performs when he's fully healthy. As of now Rodgers is the TE to draft. Although, Lyerla's talent should not be ignored and he deserves serious consideration in dynasty leagues.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs' TE battle is between Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano. Sean McGrath is in the mix, but not a realistic option to win the starting job. Fasano is a veteran who never really lived up to expectations after being drafted by the Cowboys in 2006. The former Notre Dame alum missed almost half of 2013 and didn't impress when he was healthy. He had 23 receptions, 200 yards and three TDs (which, believe it or not, was actually a career best pace, considering he only played nine games). The Chiefs are really hoping Kelce comes back 100-percent healthy after missing all of 2013 and wins the position battle. He's a versatile TE that could provide a serious boost to the Kansas City offense. They hope to line him up in a handful of different spots and use him to create matchup issues. The Chiefs have high hopes for the former Bearcat.
Fantasy Analysis: Kelce is a high-risk pick outside of dynasty leagues and the reward isn't exactly outstanding. You may want to stay away from the Chiefs' TEs altogether; though, if you are going to draft one, take Kelce. He has upside. We already know what Fasano is and it is not very good.
New York Giants
Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells are predominantly blockers. They may make the roster, but neither will hold significant fantasy value. The Giants also really like Larry Donnell's athleticism and he will be given an opportunity to compete; although, he may be fighting a losing battle. He is beginning to look like the second horse in a one-horse race. His competition is gaining momentum and may never look back. Donnell is competing with Adrien Robinson.
Robinson was a fourth-round pick in 2012. Coming out of a run-heavy offense, he is an extremely raw talent. During his senior season, he only caught 12 passes (a career high), but his physical attributes are just too tremendous to overlook. Robinson has unbelievable size (6-foot-4, 267 lbs) for a man that runs a 4.51 40-yard dash. He also recorded a 39.5-inch vertical jump and an 113-inch broad jump. New Giants offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo is expected to use Robinson much like the Packers used their tight ends when McAdoo was the TE coach there. His coaches proclaim Robinson has "sky is the limit potential." It seems Robinson will be given every opportunity to be the Giants' top TE this season. He is also a dynamic blocker, an ability many young tight ends lack. It will undoubtedly escalate his playing time. If he can reach his full potential, he could be a superstar in the making. That's been his M.O. for going on three seasons, eventually he must make the most of his talents.
Fantasy Analysis: No other TE on the Giants is worth a look. Unless something dramatic changes, it will stay that way. If you're in a deeper league, take a chance on Robinson as a backup. His situation and background is eerily similar to Julius Thomas was last season. He most likely won't put up numbers as gaudy as Thomas; however, the possibility is there. He is well worth the risk and may make you look like a genius, if that's something you're looking to accomplish.
This may be the most intriguing of all the TE battles this offseason. It boils down to David Ausberry versus Mychal Rivera. The Raiders had high hopes for Ausberry last season, unfortunately he suffered a serious shoulder injury in the first preseason game and missed the entire season. He was a seventh-round pick in 2011. He's a converted WR that has taken time to develop. He has added 25 pounds since college and has soft hands from his receiving days. The Oakland coaches love this guy, and to say they want him to succeed would be an understatement.
Rivera stepped in during Ausberry's absence and showed a lot of potential as a rookie. He had 38 receptions, 407 yards and four TDs. He played better as the season progressed. He is currently in a dead heat with Ausberry for the No. 1 TE spot on the depth chart. The coaches really like this kid and will give him a fair shot to compete for a starting job.
Fantasy Analysis: It appears Ausberry is the favorite to win the job. Rivera isn't a guy that should just be overlooked though. The Raiders coaches really like both players and will likely try to find creative ways to add more two-TE sets. It is tough to say right now and this preseason maybe one truly rises above the other. Keep a close eye on this position battle, but the arrow is pointing slightly in favor of Ausberry as of now.
Zach Miller and Luke Willson will be fighting for the starting job, while Anthony McCoy and Travis Beckum will be battling to make the Seahawks' roster. Coaches would prefer if Willson continues to progress and develops into a long-term starter. Miller will turn 29 this season and his numbers have drastically declined since leaving the Raiders in 2010 (due to Seattle's preference to use him as an in-line blocker). Neither option was particularly productive last season. Miller caught 33 passes and Willson caught 20, respectively. Rumors have circulated that the Seahawks are very interested in former Packers TE Jermichael Finley. If they were to sign the free agent, he would immediately be the top TE on the Seahawks' fantasy depth chart. This would be the best-case scenario for fantasy owners. Until then, this TE battle is still very much up for grabs.
Fantasy Analysis: Unless the Seahawks do in fact sign Finley, they will most likely go with a rotation of TEs. If that is the case, there is almost no fantasy value to be found at the TE position in Seattle. There's very little fantasy value even if Willson or Miller do win the starting job. Stay away from the Seahawks TEs, they are not worth drafting.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs drafted rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round to be their long-term option at TE. He has not been up to speed due to injuries so far in camp and is looking like he'll be taking a backseat in the immediate future. It's starting to look like Tim Wright and Brandon Myers will be dueling it out for the top spot on the Bucs' depth chart.
Last season in New York, Myers had 47 receptions, 522 yards and four TDs. His competition [Wright] accumulated 54 catches, 571 yards and five TDs. Their stats are close and there's no clear-cut favorite. We most likely won't know who the starter is until deep in to the preseason. You would think the Bucs would stick with second-year man Wright. He had a very strong rookie season with Tampa and looked to have a lot of potential. The Bucs rewarded him by drafting another TE in the second round and bringing in veterans to compete with him. The Bucs are clearly not satisfied with Wright as their TE. This probably boils down to the arrival of new head coach Lovie Smith and he wants to bring in his own sort of guys.
Fantasy Analysis: Regardless of who wins this job, they will have fantasy value. Each option is more than serviceable. So keep a close eye on this situation as we get closer to the season. In dynasty leagues, Seferian-Jenkins is by far the best and most obvious option. If you're trying to win now, be advised to lean toward Tim Wright until there is more positive news regarding ASJ's ascent. Myers, who will turn 29-years-old this summer, feels more like an insurance addition for depth. Don't rule out ASJ severely cutting into both their touches as early as mid-season.
Keep up to date by bookmarking our TIGHT END RANKINGS, which will be updated every week!
Also, our Fantasy Depth Charts will keep you up to date on each team's situation as we see them.