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Overvalued TEs

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

Jason Witten - DAL ADP: 72 overall, TE 7 5 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Surely Witten's ADP has fallen since he suffered a lacerated spleen, but has it fallen far enough? He's still not worth a seventh-round pick with a condition that could still be ruled serious enough for surgery. Witten is not really "out of the woods" until September, so fixing your tight end hopes on him before them could backfire unless you reserve a pick for a high-upside backup tight end.

Jeff Haseley - The spleen injury is one thing - a big thing. Another shot to the ribs could make things worse in a hurry. The team says he doesn't need surgery, which is good, but there's always that risk of re-injury. Is he healthy enough to play effectively or healthy enough just to play? In addition to injury risk, Witten could find himself in more of a pass protection role, if the offensive line continues to struggle. It all points to a decrease in production. I'm staying away.

Ryan Hester - Witten is coming off his worst statistical season since 2006 after notching just 79 receptions, 942 yards, and five touchdowns. Typically, when a nine-year veteran begins decline, it's difficult to turn around. Witten only received an average of 5.8 targets per game in the second half of 2011 -- a sharp decline from his 8.9 targets per game average in the first half. Witten will also continue to share the field with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, who will be ideally be healthier than last season where they both missed games and played with some injuries. I'd rather roll the dice with later picks like Jermichael Finley (59) and Brandon Pettigrew (73).

Aaron Rudnicki - The tight end position is very deep this year so you can likely afford to wait and find a decent starter late on draft day. Witten is an elite player when healthy but the spleen injury is a huge concern and could potentially end his season. Best to avoid him and look at someone in the next tier or two.

Mark Wimer - Witten suffered a serious (though not emergency-surgery-is-immediately-required) spleen injury in the second preseason game. Estimates of his required rehabilitation time range from 6-8 weeks, with knowledgable people I respect saying eight weeks is the more realistic number. He'll miss at least a third of the fantasy season in that scenario, and then Witten will be out of game shape and having missed a ton of reps with Tony Romo. I'd rather draft John Phillips this season, to be honest. Phillips is definitely the better play for the month of September, at least.

Jared Cook - TEN ADP: 137 overall, TE 15 3 votes

Steve Holloway - Entering his fourth season, Cook caught a career high 49 passes for 759 yards and 3 TDs last season. The Titans however, return Kenny Britt and have added Kendall Wright as a receiving option this year. They have also turned the keys to the offense over to second year quarterback, Jake Locker. I think that the offense will feature a heavy dose of Chris Johnson. That together with a young quarterback with multiple receiving options will minimize Cook's opportunity to improve his production.

Matt Waldman - Mikhael Ricks and Ben Troupe were promising prospects at one time and I think Cook falls into this spectrum of players with enough athletic talent to do good things, but lacking the consistency to make the jump from role player to star. Craig Stevens is arguably the best blocking tight end in football, so Cook won't be playing in single tight end sets in clear running situations. And unless Kenny Britt gets hurt, he'll be behind Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, Chris Johnson, and perhaps Damien Williams in the pecking order as a player split away from the formation. He's Titan-sized fantasy tease.

Jason Wood - I generally profess patience with tight ends. As rookies, even the best tight ends in history often struggled. But fool me thrice, shame on me. Cook has improved in each of his three seasons, but I haven't seen a level of consistency and discipline that gives me confidence he'll ever become a top tier player. There are far too many alternatives on draft day. While other people draft Cook as their starter, I'll be grabbing my TE2 who, I'm betting, will outperform Cook on a weekly basis.

Vernon Davis - SF ADP: 57 overall, TE 5 2 votes

Andy Hicks - Vernon Davis is one of the best tight ends in the game. He excels as a receiver, but also excels as a blocker. With the addition of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and A.J Jenkins, he may have to do more of the latter. The run game will also be prominent, so his opportunities as a receiver should diminish. He will have excellent games, but not often enough for those expecting elite numbers.

Marc Levin - The issue with drafting Davis at his current ADP is not whether he might be able to match his 2011 numbers. Instead, it is that there has been a "rising of the waters" at the position. He can be counted on for around 70 catches, a little less than 1,000 yards, and 7, maybe 8, touchdowns. However, that is not going to be enough to distinguish him from the tight ends drafted a rounds to two rounds later (Brandon Pettigrew at 79th overall, Fred Davis at 84th overall, and Tony Gonzales at 92nd overall). For those hoping to land Davis as their starting tight end, he will need to be selected at the top of that tight end tier. If you can get similar production from a tight end selected two rounds later, Davis becomes an overvalued player.

Jermichael Finley - GB ADP: 63 overall, TE 6 2 votes

Jeff Pasquino - Finley has missed significant playing time in his young career and he has already admitted to "chemistry" issues with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have lots of targets in the passing game and his issues with drops (he led the league in drop rate with 13 of 103 chances, about one of every eight targets) could frustrate many fantasy team owners counting on him to be their weekly starter. I think he does have Top 10 potential but his ADP leaves almost no room for upside against plenty of downside.

Mark Wimer - Finley dropped a lot of passes late in the year for Green Bay, and he seemed to lose Aaron Rodgers' confidence/trust as a result of his poor hands during the run into the playoffs. The team gave him what amounts to a one-year, prove-it type of contract in the offseason - hardly a big vote of confidence. He's missed most of training camp due to a quad injury and a concussion issue - not exactly a situation in which he can rebuild rapport with Rodgers. I'm passing on Finley in my fantasy drafts this year.

Brandon Pettigrew - DET ADP: 83 overall, TE 8 2 votes

Sigmund Bloom - Sure, Pettigrew will be in the top 15-20 tight ends most weeks, but he'll rarely be in the top five at his position. He'll give you baseline production and keep you from losing, but rarely give you the nudge to help you win. You're better off taking Fred Davis a round or more later, or waiting until the 10th and beyond to take tight ends with more upside like Brent Celek and Kyle Rudolph

Jeff Pasquino - Detroit had next to no running game last year once Jahvid Best was sidelined, so they turned to a short passing game to their tight end as a replacement for a ground attack. Matthew Stafford targeted Pettigrew a whopping 125 times, second most for any tight end last year - yet he was barely in the Top 12 in fantasy. Why? Under 10 yards per reception and just five touchdowns. Pettigrew is overrated, especially if the Lions get a ground game going this year.

Jacob Tamme - DEN ADP: 105 overall, TE 11 2 votes

Marc Levin - I can see the argument in favor of Jacob Tamme at this spot. I just don't buy it. "Peyton Manning has always used his tight end," proponents will argue. Yes, and he had a top-notch talent named Dallas Clark at tight end and a top-notch pass blocking offensive line in front of him when he did it. Denver currently has neither. Do I believe Manning will drastically improve the 58 targets and 27 catches Denver tight ends had in 2011? Yes. But, counting on Manning creating a top-12 tight end on this particular team is a stretch. There are other tight ends drafted later with just as much, or more, upside -- namely Jared Cook, Jermaine Gresham, and Owen Daniels a round or two later.

Jason Wood - Tamme has one notable season to his name. In 2010 he caught 67 receptions for 631 yards and four touchdowns in place of an injured Dallas Clark. In his other three seasons he's caught 25 receptions. Yet, because he followed Peyton Manning to Denver, people are proclaiming Tamme a value pick. I'm just not seeing it. I think he's an average talent that was in the perfect place at the perfect time. Meanwhile, the TE position has evolved to where 50 receptions for 600 yards and 4 TDs would make him no more than a low end fantasy starter.

Fred Davis - WAS ADP: 92 overall, TE 10 1 vote

Steve Holloway - Fred Davis had a career year in 2011 with 59 catches for 796 yards, but scored only 3 TDs in 12 games as the primary receiving weapon for the Redskins. Davis missed the final four games, suspended for allegedly using marijuana. Chris Cooley should return this year and the team shifted Niles Paul, previously a WR to the TE position. The quarterback play should definitely be improved with Robert Griffin starting, but the team also added Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan at wide receiver. Santana Moss is supposedly trimmed down and looking quick and efficient in pre-season activity. Davis will definitely have several talented folks competing for his targets this year.

Antonio Gates - SD ADP: 43 overall, TE 3 1 vote

Mark Wimer - Antonio Gates is reportedly back to 100% healthy despite his chronic foot problems, but I'm not willing to expend a top pick to get a guy who has only managed to play (mostly part-time) in 23 of the last 32 games for San Diego. He's too risky for my taste at 32 years old, even though he does (finally) appear healthy through the second preseason game.

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