It seems like the strength of no position fluctuates more on an annual basis than tight end. Some years there seems to be a list of solid college fantasy football big targets that's longer than a class attendance sheet at an underfunded high school. This is not one of those years.
With Jermaine Gresham and Rob Gronkowski you can be certain that two guys in your league will have a tight end disguised as a very big and talented wide receiver. Because the odds are you won't get one of the two, then you'll have to get creative. And this is hopefully where we can help.
As with other positions we do have our favorites and those whom we question heading into 2009. And we present these guys to you in the form of our last positional roundtable.
Quibbling with the Top 5:
My personal ranking of the top five tight ends:
1. Jermaine Gresham
2. Rob Gronkowski
3. Dennis Pitta
4. Cody Slate
5. Mike McNeill
Some players that I'll have my eye on for waiver-wire moves: Vance McDonald and Taylor Wardlow at Rice -- potential James Casey replacements. Jimmy Scheidler at Bowling Green -- will he continue to be a TD vulture with a new coaching staff? Andrew George at BYU -- he may benefit from defensive attention towards Dennis Pitta.
The Big 10 injury squad:
Nick Tow-Arnett (Minnesota), Kyle Adams (Purdue) and Tony Moeaki (Iowa) have all intrigued us as fantasy prospects in past years. They have also each missed significant time to injury. Adams missed the entire 2008 season, Tow-Arnett was injured in the first week and Moeaki has struggled with multiple injuries over the years. One of these guys is due for a breakout year.
You'll draw some ridicule for drafting a tight end early, but The Gronk and Gresham provide a significant projected point differential from the group of tight ends below them. Get your quarterback, get your running back and then make sure you have one of these two tight ends in your back pocket, otherwise you'll be playing from behind. Yes, I just advised drafting a tight end in the third round.
Be Wary of Michigan State:
In total the Spartans will have one of the top scoring tight end groups in the country. However the additions of Brian Linthicum and the uber-talented Dion Sims means balls will be spread around.
Rated too High:
The tight ends from Mizzou. We've been spoiled with Chase Coffman and Martin Rucker. Andrew Jones and Michael Egnew come highly regarded, but are unproven and the Tigers are breaking in a new quarterback.
This year's D.J. Williams?
Kyle Nelson had a similar spring as D.J. Williams had last year. I should also mention it was also a spring similar to Adrien Robinson's of a year ago.
Rated Too High:
I'm always a bit suspicious whenever a player displays an exceptional ability to turn his catches into touchdowns. Suddenly "law of averages" pops into my head, and I question if it will happen again. Last year Mike McNeill caught 32 balls with six of them going for scores. I think he's a very nice player, though his high ranking is primarily a result of a very thin fantasy tight end crop for 2009. I know Bo Pelini has brought a different style of offense to Lincoln, but the Huskers don't have an overwhelming history of tossing it to the big fellas.
Rated Too Low:
Maybe I'm just too enamored with the thought of a tight end taking snaps at quarterback, but I really believe Greg Boone is in for a very nice 2009, and I don't think there are 32 best college fantasy football tight ends better than him. Tyrod Taylor will need a security blanket and red zone target, and I'll reach in my draft for Greg Boone.
Rated Too Low:
Doesn't the brand new TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis bring visions of beautiful football Saturdays, spiked apple cider and Nick Tow-Arnett raising hell? The Gopher program has produced some very nice college fantasy football tight ends over the years, and while Eric Decker, Brandon Green and Hayo Carpenter are drawing their fair share of attention, our boy Nick will be running down the middle of the field, football in hand.
If You're Going to Draft One Cyclone:
Make it Collin Franklin. Something tells me new OC Tom Herman isn't going to completely forget what James Casey did for him at Rice last season.
You Can't Say it, but it Catches Pretty Good:
It seems that Illinois enters 2009 as one of the chosen offensive units, and because I'm on board with the Zooker I'll go ahead and tell you to take a shot on Michael Hoomanawanui. He can move, and it's my hope that the improved depth among Illinois' receivers will mean more opportunities for Michael H.
Oregon's Ed Dickson in our ultra-serious, hardcore BCS league. I have a feeling about this big Duck.