Introduction • QB: [under] [over]  • RB: [under] [over]  • WR: [under] [over]  • TE: [under] [over]

Undervalued TEs

Read the introduction to this series if you haven't yet.

Greg Olsen - CAR ADP: 164 overall, TE 18 8 votes

Will Grant - Will Grant - Olsen has several causes for an optimistic projection. Criminally underused for several years by ex-CHI OC Mike Martz, he is a size/speed specimen with the talent and athleticism to have once been a national Gatorade Player of the Year finalist as a prep. He will have a full off-season and training camp in Carolina, doubly disrupted in 2011 by the labor dispute and a late-July trade. Most hopefully, he is the second best receiving weapon on the team after dangerous deep threat WR Steve Smith, and could be a frequent intermediate target for emerging star QB Cam Newton, coming off one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, at any position.

Bruce Hammond - Olsen has an ADP of TE18, right about where he finished statistically in 2011. Looking deeper though, he started strong (#6 through 8 weeks) but fell off after midseason as nagging injuries took their toll and Jeremy Shockey got more involved. Again healthy and with Shockey now gone, I think Olsen rebounds and Cam Newton looks for him again as he did early last year. There appears to be no other tight end on the roster to take much of the load and I expect most of the tight end targets to go to Olsen.

Jeff Haseley - Carolina totaled 82 receptions to Greg Olsen (45) and Jeremy Shockey (37) last year. Currently, Jeremy Shockey remains unsigned, thus leaving Olsen as the team's primary receiving TE threat. If the roster stays as it is, Olsen could be in store for a dramatic improvement in production in 2012. FB Mike Tolbert and TE Gary Barnidge will fill some of the void left by Shockey, but Olsen has the opportunity to see the biggest increase and could finish as a Top 10 tight end.

Dave Larkin - It appears that the short-lived marriage between Carolina and Jeremy Shockey has come to an end, making way for Greg Olsen to have a breakout season with the Panthers. Olsen has an unobstructed path to securing the bulk of the playing time at tight end, although the team may use Gary Barnidge in two-tight end sets. Olsen should see around 95 targets with the possibility of a 60 reception, 7 touchdown campaign when all is said and done. At his current ADP, Olsen is a tremendous value in a Carolina offense that may even be better than it was in 2011.

Bob Magaw - Olsen has several causes for an optimistic projection. Criminally underused for several years by ex-CHI OC Mike Martz, he is a size/speed specimen with the talent and athleticism to have once been a national Gatorade Player of the Year finalist as a prep. He will have a full off-season and training camp in Carolina, doubly disrupted in 2011 by the labor dispute and a late-July trade. Most hopefully, he is the second best receiving weapon on the team after dangerous deep threat WR Steve Smith, and could be a frequent intermediate target for emerging star QB Cam Newton, coming off one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history, at any position.

Aaron Rudnicki - Jeremy Shockey saw a lot of time in 2-TE packages with the Panthers last year and caught 37 passes. He's no longer around and the guys expected to fill his role are primarily known for their blocking. This should mean that Olsen a slew of additional passing targets for Olsen in 2012 and a potential top-10 season. Tight end is a very deep position this year so if you don't get one of the top-2, I think waiting for a player like Olsen makes a lot of sense.

Matt Waldman - Now that Jeremy Shockey is no longer in the picture and no other comparable tight end to replace him on the Carolina roster, I expect Olsen to have a crack at a nice share of the production that Shockey earned and at the same time limited Olsen's fantasy totals. There was evidence of a nice rapport with Olsen and Cam Newton and I expect that relationship on the field to grow. The former Bears tight end has borderline elite athleticism. He adjusts well to the football, stretches the field, and has good skills after the catch. I wouldn't be surprised if the more recently heralded Coby Fleener can only hope to aspire to Olsen's skill level. I'll take Olsen over Fleener this year and you can probably add another five names ahead of him as players I'll pass on to grab the Panthers tight end late, if I didn't take one early in the draft.

Jason Wood - It wasn't that long ago when 45 receptions for 540 yards and 5 TDs would be enough to rank as a top 10 fantasy tight end. But the position has evolved into a focal point of the passing game, and thus Greg Olsen's 2011 numbers ranked him as the 18th best tight end. That said, Olsen is capable of much more and Cam Newton continues to need reliable targets beyond Steve Smith. Olsen could easily finish in the top 10 with just one or two more touchdown grabs.

Dustin Keller - NYJ ADP: 143 overall, TE 17 5 votes

Steve Holloway - Keller's number of targets and receptions have increased in each of his four years in the NFL with the Jets. He has finished as the #9 tight end each of the last two seasons and suddenly has an ADP of TE 17, probably because of the Sanchez/Tebow situation. I believe that Keller will be targeted often regardless who is playing quarterback for the Jets.

Jeff Pasquino - The New York Jets love to run the ball, but they still throw it to keep a balanced offense going. Keller was the most targeted receiver last season, topping even Santonio Holmes with 113 passes thrown towards the young tight end. Keller very quietly finished in the Top 10 among tight ends last year and he could easily find himself back at that level again this season.

Mark Wimer - Dustin Keller had career highs in targets (115), receptions (65), yards receiving (815) and touchdowns (five) last year. I expect Mark Sanchez to continue to improve for the Jets this year, and a rising tide should also lift Keller into the top-ten at his position, well more than his current #17 ADP would suggest.

Jason Wood - I wouldn't say I'm a Dustin Keller fan. He seems to disappear down the stretch and doesn't dominate in the red zone. But he is a fluid athlete with good hands, and the Jets continue to have questionable options at the wide receiver position. Keller is virtually guaranteed to be among the most targeted tight ends in the AFC, and he remains in his prime. At TE17, Keller is being treated like an end game backup that's barely above replacement level. Yet, Keller has ranked as the 9th best fantasy tight end in EACH of the last two years. Take advantage of the arbitrage value.

David Yudkin - The Jets have seen their wide receiving corps go from a strength to a potential weakness in just a few short years. They also did very little to improve their running game. Between the two, Dustin Keller looks like he will be targeted now more than ever. He's being drafted as the 17th tight end this year so far, even though he ranked in the Top 10 the past two seasons and his targets have increasing from 78 to 82 to 101 to 115.

Tony Gonzalez - ATL ADP: 98 overall, TE 10 4 votes

Marc Levin - I know there is a glut of talented tight ends in the league right now, and Gonzalez is most certainly on the downside of his career as he heads into his 15th season. Even so, Gonzalez finished as the 4th best fantasy tight end last year with 122 targets. He has not finished below TE8 (higher in PPR leagues) since 1998! What has changed in his situation for 2012? Absolutely nothing. With a floor of TE8, drafting him at TE10 in the 8th round sounds like great value drafting.

Jeff Tefertiller - Coming off TE6 and TE4 seasons respectively the last two years, it is amazing Tony Gonzalez is drafted as TE9 this season. While he has slowed in his "old" age, Gonzalez is still a stable contributor in the Atlanta Falcon offense. He is not as fast or as quick as in years past, but the venerable All Pro knows how to get open and rarely drops a pass. If you miss out on the top three tight ends this year, wait and take Gonzalez in the eighth round while stockpiling the other positions.

Matt Waldman - Age is one my favorite factors to use against my competition when I'm looking for talent likely to perform against the grain of conventional ADP-think. Gonzalez was a top-five tight end last year despite the fact that he's ancient by NFL standards at the position. That's okay, the guy takes better care of himself than 99 percent of the players in the league because he understands what to eat. He may not be the stud athlete he was in Kansas City, but he's still the most reliable third-down option in the short and intermediate passing game that the Falcons have and his savvy in the red zone is unparalleled. As the 10th tight end off the board, I'd gladly take him over Brandon Pettigrew, Fred Davis, and perhaps the inconsistent Jermichael Finley. Maybe what I'm saying doesn't sound like Gonzalez will "radically outperform his ADP," but higher a player ascends within the upper tiers of a positional ranking, the more intense of a change it can have. So in this case, I think the pick qualifies.

David Yudkin - Gonzalez may be getting long in the tooth, but the last time he ranked as low as tenth was in 1998 (his current ADP). That was also the last time he scored fewer than 100 fantasy points (0 PPR). In his three years with the Falcons, he's averaged 120 targets a year. Wide receivers getting selected near him at the 98th pick don't see the ball that often.

Owen Daniels - HOU ADP: 133 overall, TE 15 3 votes

Ryan Hester - Daniels seems to be routinely forgotten in discussions of the league's truly gifted tight ends. He's very athletic and can challenge defenses down the field. He can be a mismatch for linebackers and safeties. And this season, primary backup Joel Dreessen is no longer with the team -- most likely giving Daniels a bigger share of the wealth among Houston tight ends. James Casey figures to receive an increase in targets as well, but he's also the team's primary fullback. Daniels could sneak into the top-10 of fantasy TEs, but he's being drafted outside of it.

Jeff Pasquino - Owen Daniels comes back to Houston after an injury last year, and he will once again be the unquestioned starter. Matt Schaub loves his big target over the middle, especially in the Red Zone, and the Texans do not have a legit WR2. That means plenty of targets, catches, yards and touchdowns for Daniels who is undervalued right now in all formats. Daniels is a cheap pickup late in fantasy drafts that has definite Top 10 tight end upside.

Maurile Tremblay - After a couple of top-ten seasons in 2007 and 2008, Owen Daniels was among the league's best tight ends in 2009 before tearing his ACL midway through the season. In eight games that season, he was on pace to equal Antonio Gates' production as a top three fantasy TE. He wasn't the same in 2010, but bounced back somewhat in 2011, and should play a big role in the offense in 2012. He should be a low-end TE1 if he can stay healthy.

Fred Davis - WAS ADP: 86 overall, TE 8 2 votes

Heath Cummings - Only an injury last season prevented Fred Davis from being a top 4 tight end. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is going to need a safety valve at times, and Davis has shown an ability to pick up yards after the catch. Chris Cooley should not be a concern, as even he admits he hasn't regained his speed from pre-2011.

Chris Smith - Fred Davis is a very special football player just coming into his own. He averaged 5 receptions a game and over 13 yards a reception last year and will be a wonderful first option for a rookie quarterback learning his craft on the fly this year. I fully expect him to make a push for 80 receptions, 1000 yards, 6 touchdowns and a leap into the top five this season.

Jermaine Gresham - CIN ADP: 124 overall, TE 14 2 votes

Steve Holloway - Gresham, the former first round pick from Oklahoma has improved his production in each of his two seasons with the Bengals. I anticipate continued improvement for Gresham, as well as Andy Dalton in his second season quarterbacking the team. Gresham finished 13th a year ago while missing two games.

Chris Smith - Entering his third year in the NFL, Gresham is poised to make the jump from good fantasy option to great one this season. He missed two games last year and still finished as the 13th best fantasy tight end. With a good, young quarterback to go along with Gresham's wonderful blend of abilities, there is no reason to believe he cannot elevate to 70+ receptions, 840+ yards and 6+ touchdowns in 2012.

Brandon Pettigrew - DET ADP: 87 overall, TE 9 2 votes

Steve Holloway - Pettigrew finished as the #6 tight end a year ago and had the third most receptions. He only scored 5 TDs and that number is likely to increase somewhat. He also had a career low 9.4 ypc, which should easily jump back over 10 ypc.

Mark Wimer - Brandon Pettigrew plays for a powerful offense and is a trusted target for Matthew Stafford. I can see him catching 100+ passes this year, which should make him a monster in PPR leagues - Pettigrew should outperform his current #9 ADP fairly easily, in my opinion.

Jason Witten - DAL ADP: 67 overall, TE 6 2 votes

Heath Cummings - It seems no matter what he does, Witten is overshadowed as a premier tight end in the NFL. Early in his career he was in the shadows of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, and last year Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham stole the spotlight. Through it all, Witten has been a stud tight end, especially in PPR formats. I suspect at the end of 2012, he'll again be near the top in targets and catches. Grab him in the fourth round and you won't regret it.

Andy Hicks - After Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham there is a big drop to the next group of Tight Ends. Jason Witten should be at the top of that queue, but is flling a round further than the likes of Gates and Hernandez. This is a mistake. Witten is a vital ingredient in the Dallas passing game and the departure of Laurent Robinson gives Witten more of an opportunity for touchdowns.

Brent Celek - PHI ADP: 116 overall, TE 12 1 vote

Jeff Pasquino - Brent Celek was banged up most of last year, yet he came on down the stretch with five or more receptions in 6 out of the last 10 Philadelphia contests. Celek played through injuries to his hip and also with a sports hernia yet still produced as a Top 10 tight end for the year. Celek had surgery to repair the issues and is a great sleeper tight end for this year as he comes very cheaply late in drafts but has huge upside in that prolific Eagles passing game.

Jared Cook - TEN ADP: 123 overall, TE 13 1 vote

Mike Brown - Cook was well on his way to a completely forgettable 2011 season when a funny thing happened. The Titans put Jake Locker under center, and Cook exploded over the season's final three weeks and led many a team to a fantasy title with 21 receptions for 335 yards and a touchdown during that time. Cook looks poised to really break out in a big way this year and join the ranks of the elite tight ends in the league. Talent has never been the issue for Cook, who is arguably as talented a receiver as any tight end in the league. But now that he's added an opportunity to his ledger, the sky is the limit in 2012.

Jermichael Finley - GB ADP: 68 overall, TE 7 1 vote

Andy Hicks - It's a crazy world where Jermichael Finley had his best season to date and he starts dropping down peoples draft lists. Sure there are many great options in the Packers passing game, but Finley is right up there with the best of them. Until the Packers show an interest in running the ball, Finley can only improve even further. Donald Driver is slowing down, James Jones is inconsistent and defenses will primarily focus on Nelson and Jennings.

Antonio Gates - SD ADP: 56 overall, TE 3 1 vote

Marc Levin - Normally, the TE3 should not represent value. This year, two tight ends will go off the board in the first two rounds. Many owners are not willing to pay that high a price, but they may be willing to select a TE in the 4th or 5th round, which is the current ADP of the TE3 to TE7. To have a chance to compete against the early round tight ends, the owner needs the player who is most likely to perform like them on a given day and who has the upside potential to leave the remaining tight ends far behind. The one most likely to do so is the one who was elite for seven years prior to last year, and had elite "per game" numbers last year. If you can get Gates before one of your league-mates snags him, you received value for your pick.

Jimmy Graham - NO ADP: 17 overall, TE 2 1 vote

Heath Cummings - In PPR formats I really like Graham as the #1 tight end and a solid mid-first round pick. Last year was a game changer in terms of the fantasy value of elite tight ends, and there are none more elite than Graham. His combination of size and athleticism is nearly unstoppable. The combination of Drew Brees and having nearly 2/3 of his games indoors reduces the chance for down weeks, making Graham one of the more reliable fantasy producers at any position.

Aaron Hernandez - NE ADP: 59 overall, TE 4 1 vote

Heath Cummings - It wasn't too long ago that we all thought Hernandez was going to be the best tight end in New England. I don't think he surpasses Gronkowski this season, but I do think the extra attention given to Gronkowski will mean a lot more targets for Hernandez. Don't discount what that Patriots showed late last year with Hernandez in the backfield; he could become the Percy Harvin of tight ends.

Jacob Tamme - DEN ADP: 115 overall, TE 11 1 vote

Ryan Hester - Rapport between quarterbacks and their pass-catchers is very important, and Tamme has that with Peyton Manning dating back to their days in Indianapolis -- especially in the 2010 season in which Dallas Clark was lost for the year in the early-going. Denver also brought in Joel Dreessen, but he's been a #2 TE for the entirety of his career and will likely fall into that role again in Denver. Tamme is being drafted 11th among tight ends but could perform as a top-7 option at the position.

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