Saturday, April 2, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Top Fantasy Prospects: The Tight Ends

Ask anyone who is familiar this year’s 2011 NFL Draft and they will tell you that the tight end group coming out isn’t as strong as it’s been in recent seasons. There is clearly little depth all the way through the group so it’s going to be slim pickings for NFL teams in the draft this year.

Right now, it doesn’t look like this draft is going to have many, if any, tight ends that you may want to pay attention to when your fantasy football draft comes up in a few months. The tight end position may not be one of the most productive fantasy positions in fantasy football but a good tight can help you win games and can sometimes help lead you to a big victory.

Rookie tight ends are overlooked considerably in a fantasy draft because they end up being the biggest “unknowns” when it comes to a fantasy draft. It’s hard to know what the team that drafts them is going to do with them when they come into the NFL. Are they going to use them as a pass catcher or a blocker? Will they start right away? Will they even make the team?

All of this makes it difficult for any fantasy owner to validate a pick for a rookie tight end. And in this year’s draft, with no clear cut and “solid” talent at the tight end position at the top fantasy owners might decide to forgo drafting one and wait to see what they do.

As mentioned, there are some factors that go into trying to figure out if there is a rookie tight end worth taking. The whole blocker versus pass catcher debate is one thing that you would have to consider when looking at a rookie tight end as you would the situation that they are going into. A team that utilizes its tight ends a lot in the passing game, such as the New England Patriots is the ideal spot for a rookie to land whereas looking at a tight end that may end up with the Chicago Bears could be a waste of valuable research time.

You must also look at the team that the player is going to and what their quarterback situation is and how often they pass the ball. As we discussed with the wide receivers, it’s important to now just what the tight end is walking into in terms of who the starting quarterback is, how well that quarterback has played and just how often he throws the ball to his tight ends. Obviously if it’s a tight friendly offense then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at situation and consider a late round flier on the prospect.

As mentioned, this draft isn’t going to feature a lot of depth and talent at the tight end position. The following is a list of the top six tight ends in the 2011 NFL Draft with the first one thought to go somewhere in the middle to late second round:

1. Kyle Rudolph-Notre Dame
2. Luke Stocker-Tennessee
3. Lance Kendricks-Wisconsin
4. Jordan Cameron-USC
5. D.J. Williams-Arkansas

Rudolph will easily be the first tight end selected and could be someone that you would want to keep an eye on in your fantasy draft depending on where he lands. But remember, he spent all of last season injured so he might be a risky prospect in your fantasy draft.

What is the best advice for drafting a rookie tight end this fantasy football season? Wait. With no clear cut standout appears to be coming out at the position in this draft so keep an eye on these guys as the season goes on and see if there is someone that you might want to pick up on waivers. It’s a great idea to let these guys play a couple games before putting one of them on your roster.

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