Preseason Upgrades and Downgrades - TEs
By Sigmund Bloom
September 1st, 2011

After three games, here are my thoughts on how some players are moving up and down the rankings.

Upgrades

  • Antonio Gates, SD - Gates entered the preseason as the #1 fantasy TE, but with a red injury flag. Now it is... orange. Maybe even tangerine. We could have had an MJD-esque non-playing preseason that kept us in the dark about Gates foot condition. Instead, Gates pushed himself to practice for up to a week straight and even play in the third preseason game. He admitted that he was testing the foot, so it ain't all sunny news, but so far, the results look good.

  • Owen Daniels, HOU - Really he shouldn't move up because you should have had him as the #6 TE who is very close to the top five all along. Now I think he is justified in the top five with the debacle that is the San Francisco pass offense, and he is the best value among the elite options at fantasy TE. He proved to be a focal point in the Texans passing game, including in the red zone.

  • Jimmy Graham, NO - We can conclude that the Saints are going to force Graham into a big role, and that alone is a reason to be content to take him as the next TE after the elite six are gone. Will Graham rise to the occasion? There have been plays that indicated he still has work to do, but if he can iron out the flaws in his game during the season, a finish as the #1 fantasy TE is not out of the question.

  • Greg Olsen, CAR - Olsen has gone from being a trophy on Mike Martz wall to being a player who can help you bring home the trophy in your fantasy league over the past month. He could lead the Panthers in catches with fellow TE from "The U" Rob Chudzinski calling the shots in the offense and no established option at wide receiver opposite Steve Smith. My favorite TE to target when I wait until every other team has taken one to grab mine.

  • Lance Kendricks, STL - Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski helped dispel the notion that rookies can't be relevant fantasy TEs and Kendricks should finally bury that idea this year. He has been featured in the preseason after having a great camp. He was handpicked by Josh McDaniels to mimic what the Patriots did with Hernandez last year, and it is not crazy to think that he could finish with 70 receptions and be a big part of the red zone passing offense. Another great target for folks who want to wait out the rest of the league at TE.

  • Evan Moore, CLE - Moore still appears to be injury-prone, but he dominated red zone drills at times in camp, and he retained his TE designation in fantasy sites even though he lined up out wide a high percentage of the time than any other TE last year. The Browns have an improved QB, a good offensive line, and an offensive that emphasizes the short and intermediate pass. If he can stay on the field, he could be a player who goes from the waiver wire to your starting lineup if you need help at TE.

  • Fred Davis, WAS - Chris Cooley will probably annoy all of us by being healthy enough to play and keep Davis as the #2 TE, but not being effective enough to have fantasy value himself. In the event that Cooley gets shut down or just gets benched because he lost a step that he couldn't afford to give up, Davis has top 10-12 upside. My gut says if Cooley can go week 1, holding onto Davis will be futile, but he's worth a very late pick in deep leagues to see if that happens.
  • Downgrades

  • Chris Cooley, WAS - Knee soreness for a guy who was already on the decline is enough to stay away except as a very late round pick to see what happens. It was a good run, Chris. We'll always have the memories of the picture of your junk and playbook, even though we don't want to.

  • Zach Miller, SEA - Rumors of the death of the fantasy stock of Miller, Sidney Rice, and Big Mike Williams were not exaggerated. If anything was blown out of proportion, it was the extremely remote chance that Tarvaris Jackson could be a serviceable QB this year. Miller is a top talent and he can be a top 10 fantasy TE again, but he's barely rosterable right now.

  • Tony Gonzalez, ATL - Gonzalez couldn't get any separation vs Pittsburgh, so much so that his touchdown catch was only created by offensive pass interference (and called back). He couldn't get much separation from the ground when he tried to leap for the ball in flight, and he already showed us that he had little run after catch ability left last year. He is a hall of famer and he helped many of us win championships, but he is only a bye week/injury "hope he scores a TD this week" fantasy commodity now.

  • Dustin Keller, NYJ - With so much uncertainty around the Jets wide receivers entering free agency, Keller seemed like a good breakout candidate, or at least a guy that could get a vote of confidence from his team by their relative inaction in the free agent passcatcher market. Instead, after locking down #1 Santonio Holmes, the Jets went and signed veteran band aids Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason. Perhaps Plax's lack of durability will keep Keller involved this year, but it's hard to feel good about his chances of building on his mediocre career numbers right now.
  • Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to bloom@footballguys.com.

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