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2004 Player Statistics and Analysis: Tight End
Updated: August 27, 2004
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Stephen Alexander DET HT 6' 4" WT 250 AGE 28 EXP 7
2001 WAS 3 9 85 9.4 0      
2002 SD 12 45 510 11.3 1      
2003 SD 2 0 0 0 0      
  Avg 6 18 198 11 0      
Alexander has always been a receiving tight end with good potential and he has always fallen well short of realizing any skills due to injury. Last season he sustained a groin injury that eventually required surgery and cancelled his second year with the Chargers. Alexander is 6’4” and 250 pounds which is slightly smaller than most tight ends but gives him marginally better speed. Doesn’t really matter though since no one is fast in the trainer’s room or on injured reserve. The Lions have finally soured on Mikhael Ricks and while they like the rookie Casey Fitzsimmons, another veteran can only help the equation. Mariucci does not feature a tight end in his offense and now has far better players in the other skill positions. Consider this just another stop for Alexander and if he manages to secure any meaningful role, history says he will not hold it for long due to injury.
Anthony Becht NYJ HT 6'5'' WT 272 AGE 27 EXP 5
2001 NYJ 15 36 321 8.9 5      
2002 NYJ 16 28 243 8.7 5      
2003 NYJ 16 40 356 8.9 4      
  Avg 16 35 307 8.8 5      
After five seasons, Becht has been very consistent year to year, gaining around 300 yards and scoring 4 or 5 times. There is no reason to expect more and none to really think there will be less. Anthony only scored in three games last season and one once in the seven games that Pennington had returned in 2003. His main fantasy value is that he turns in about half his games with 3 or 4 catches and around 30 yards and his downside is that he rarely ever goes much higher. Last season his best was 63 yards and in 2002, it was 36 yards. Becht makes a good, cheap fantasy backup tight end because he almost always gets you something (30 yards) but never is more valuable since he doesn’t have big games in that offense.
Kyle Brady JAX HT 6'6'' WT 277 AGE 32 EXP 10
2001 JAX 14 36 386 10.7 2      
2002 JAX 15 43 461 10.7 4      
2003 JAX 16 29 281 9.7 1      
  Avg 15 36 376 10.4 2      
Brady is on the downside of his career and while he should continue to be the primary receiving tight end, second-year player George Wrighster was becoming more active at the end of last season for one or two catches a game. 2003 was Brady’s worst season since 1997 and most important, his mere 29 catches shows how the new offense has de-emphasized the role of the tight end. Brady only had one touchdown last year and yet the rookie Wrighster had two. This season Brady likely has no more upside than meeting last season’s numbers with a chance that Wrighster continues to develop and take time away. Brady makes only a marginal fantasy backup at best.
Mark Campbell BUF HT 6'6'' WT 260 AGE 29 EXP 5
2002 CLE 15 25 179 7.2 3      
2003 BUF 15 34 339 10 1      
  Avg 15 30 259 8.8 2      
Campbell is the primary tight end for the Bills but that has not meant much in the fantasy world. His main value has been that he caught at least one pass in all but three games last season but he only managed crest 30 yards in five games in 2003 and scored only once. This season it is unlikely much more will happen for Campbell. The receivers have been upgraded and are healthy and most notably, the Bills drafted Tim Euhus out of Oregon State. Euhus is considered a shabby blocker but a very good receiver who could be used in an H-back role or as the receiving tight end. Campbell remains as merely filler on fantasy rosters and once Euhus develops, he will not be worth that much.
Byron Chamberlain DEN HT 6'1'' WT 242 AGE 33 EXP 10
2001 MIN 15 57 666 11.7 3      
2002 MIN 13 34 389 11.4 0      
2003 WAS 2 4 29 7.3 0      
  Avg 10 32 361 11.4 1      
Chamberlain returns to the Broncos where he played from 1995 to 2000. His career best was in 2001 in his first season with the Vikings when he totaled 666 yards and three scores. After a big drop in 2002, he was cut by the Vikings early last season after testing positive for ephredra and being suspended. He landed with the Redskins where tight ends go to disappear. He did. Chamberlain is back but his best season in Denver was only 488 yards and two scores in 1999. His biggest shot at starting there was in 2000 when he did the time share with Dwayne Carswell and Desmond Clark and of the three, his 283 yards was the lowest. Chamberlain should see some playing time and being familiar and practiced in the scheme, he makes the most obvious competitor to Weaver but he had the chance as a younger player and was unable to take advantage of it. He is now 33 years old and not likely to have a rebirth of his career.
Dallas Clark IND HT 6'3'' WT 257 AGE 25 EXP 2
2003 IND 10 29 340 11.7 1      
  Avg 10 29 340 11.7 1      
Clark was the first tight end drafted in 2003 and was on his way to a great rookie season before being sidelined for two games with a hamstring strain and later missing the final four games due to a fractured fibula sustained in the NE game in week 13. The Colts have always been one of the most productive offenses for tight end use and the use of their first round pick on Clark over all other available tight ends signals the value the Colts believe he has. Important too was that Clark was learning the offense and once Pollard was out in week 11, Clark turned in a 100 yard effort in the Jets game. Rookie injuries – particularly hamstring – are nothing new and not particularly a cause for alarm. His broken leg was just one of those plays. Consider Clark due to big upgrade in numbers this season and for many to come.
Desmond Clark CHI HT 6'3'' WT 255 AGE 27 EXP 6
2001 DEN 14 51 566 11.1 6      
2002 MIA 9 2 42 21 0      
2003 CHI 15 43 433 10.1 2      
  Avg 13 32 347 10.8 3      
Clark left Denver after suffering a broken arm and in Miami, Randy McMichael caught fire and left Desmond as an afterthought. Once in Chicago, the coaches were excited with his potential before realizing that they were unable to actually throw the ball with Kordell Stewart as the quarterback. Clark still managed to place 12 th in yardage for tight ends last season. This year brings in a new offense under OC Terry Shea who will install a similar scheme to the one he left in Kansas City. Unlike many west coast variants, the Chiefs have opted to feature the tight end with great success thanks to Tony Gonzalez. While Clark is not the high-powered brand of Gonzalez, he should see more opportunities this season and he already had the 10 th best receptions for a tight end last season. Nice upside here but inside a new offense with a young quarterback, it will require some time to all come together.
Chris Cooley WAS HT 6' 3" WT 265 AGE 23 EXP R
ROOKIE WAS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
The Redskins brought back Walter Rasby as the primary starter but his role will be almost entirely blocking like the previous nine years of his career. The Skins will be using not only the traditional blocking tight end, but also an H-back which will call on the skills of the other tight ends – Robert Royal, Kevin Ware, Leonard Stephens and, of course, Chris Cooley. Even fullback Mike Sellers may play some H-Back. Cooley was the third round pick by the Redskins and the most likely candidate for a Redskin tight end posting any decent fantasy numbers in 2003 – if it even happens. The Redskins did not spend their valuable second pick on the draft for another blocker because Cooley’s legacy at Utah State was his receiving. He had 62 catches in 2003 and 96 for his college career – both school records. His spot on the rotation will be determined during training camp, but if you have to have a Redskin tight end, Cooley is clearly the one with the most upside. He is an interesting pick deep in a dynasty draft if you have roster room as well.
Alge Crumpler ATL HT 6'2'' WT 264 AGE 27 EXP 4
2001 ATL 13 25 330 13.2 3      
2002 ATL 16 36 455 12.6 5      
2003 ATL 16 44 552 12.5 3      
  Avg 15 35 446 12.7 4      
Crumpler has increased his totals each of the last three years, with the exception of TDs which went down to three during the burning of Atlanta last season. He ranked 5 th for tight ends in yardage and there is an excellent chance he could improve that this season. New OC Greg Knapp has been redesigning the offense and intends on using Crumpler more as a receiver and less as a blocker this season. Hunter Goodwin will take over the blocking duties while Crumpler will often be moved away from the line to gain better match-ups and take advantage of his size and flypaper hands. While the Falcons will have better receivers this season all around, Crumpler will offer a tremendous target for Vick and should be one of the starting tight ends in any fantasy league. Crumpler is not quite as big as many tight ends, but with a reduced blocking role, his speed becomes more a factor.
Ken Dilger TB HT 6'5'' WT 255 AGE 33 EXP 10
2001 IND 14 32 343 10.7 1      
2002 TB 14 34 329 9.7 2      
2003 TB 13 22 244 11.1 1      
  Avg 14 29 305 10.4 1      
Dilger was the most productive tight end for the Buccaneers last season, but on a weekly basis you could just as easily substitute his name on the depth chart with Dave Moore, Ricky Dudley or Will Heller. The Tampa Bay offense makes minimal use of any individual tight end and in 2003 there were four different ends that scored a touchdown. Only Todd Yoder had two scores (in the same game) and he’s now with JAX. Dilger was cut in the spring but re-signed. During the season, there will be games that have Dilger look promising and others that Dudley may do well. Warren Sapp even makes the occasional foray to the position. In fantasy terms, Dilger is the most utilized tight end but that does not equate to draft value. Of his 244 yards last season, almost half of them came in only two games (114). Dave Moore likely has more upside this year but that still does not equate to fantasy relevance. The addition of Galloway and particularly Charlie Garner and Michael Clayton will depress the tight end numbers even more this season.
Christian Fauria NE HT 6'4'' WT 245 AGE 33 EXP 10
2001 SEA 12 21 188 9 1      
2002 NE 15 27 253 9.4 7      
2003 NE 15 28 285 10.2 2      
  Avg 14 25 242 9.6 3      
Fauria had one big hurrah as a Patriot in 2002 when he caught seven touchdowns but fell to only two last year even though he had the same number of receptions. At the age of 33, Fauria’s career is winding down and was already in jeopardy with Daniel Graham around. The Patriots burned their first round pick in 2003 in order to acquire Ben Watson. They took Graham with their first rounder in 2002. This is not a particularly favorable sign that Fauria has a future with New England. Graham had ten more catches that Fauria last year even though he played in two less games. Consider Fauria as the veteran on the team that will still provide some action in the diverse Patriot offense, but not enough to warrant a fantasy pick. His numbers are certain to decline again this year.
Casey Fitzsimmons DET HT 6'3'' WT 250 AGE 24 EXP 2
2003 DET 11 23 160 7 2      
  Avg 11 23 160 7 2      
Fitzsimmons enters his second season after minimal use as a rookie. He is worthwhile to keep an eye on as he was constantly impressive in practice last season and used as a starter on two occasions. It is notable that his two touchdowns in 2003 came during his final two games. Mikhael Ricks was a disappointment last season and accused of dropping catchable passes. If Ricks continues to be considered a liability, expect that Fitzsimmons will take the starting role. In this offense, it is not likely to add up to much anyway. Casey is a training camp watch and added risk to owning Ricks on your fantasy team.
Bubba Franks GB HT 6'6'' WT 260 AGE 26 EXP 5
2001 GB 15 36 322 8.9 9      
2002 GB 16 54 442 8.2 7      
2003 GB 14 30 241 8 4      
  Avg 15 40 335 8.4 7      
Franks has always been known as a poor-yardage, top touchdown player but after his big nine touchdown 2001 season, he has dropped the last two seasons to only four scores in 2003. After spending the previous two seasons as a top 10 tight end, he fell to around 18 th in most fantasy scoring leagues which considering the position equates to a final round pick. Franks does not have the speed to do much after the catch and only his 6’6” height makes him a prime target in the endzone. The Packers used David Martin for two touchdowns last season and even Wesley Walls had one during his limited play. In touchdown-only leagues, Franks still maintains some value given the position scores so poorly, but his reducing catches and yards along with fewer scores realistically makes him borderline backup tight end material. With Favre throwing the ball and in an offense that has used the tight more in the past, he has upside compared to last season’s results but likely has a bigger name than numbers again in 2004.
Antonio Gates SD HT 6'4'' WT 260 AGE 24 EXP 2
2003 SD 6 24 389 8.9 2      
  Avg 6 10 154 15.4 2      
Like so many other Charger offensive players, Gates was an undrafted rookie signed by the Chargers last season. Thanks to continual injuries to the tight ends, he started the final eight games of 2003 and led all tight ends with 389 yards and two touchdowns. He logged a 117 yard game against the Packers, the first time in 15 years a Charger rookie had managed the feat. Had Gates played all 16 games, he had a pace set for over 700 yards and four touchdowns which would have placed him as the 3 rd highest yardage for the position in the NFL. His 14 catches over the final four games is outstanding for a tight end. Gates took over from Josh Norman when he was suffered a calf injury last year but the roles are not cemented as to starters yet. Norman, of course, is an undrafted rookie from 2002. Gates was easily the most productive tight end and the Chargers threw a total of 81 passes and 46 completions to the position in 2003. With a talent-poor wideout squad and a rookie quarterback looking for the biggest, closest target, Gates has definite upside this season.
Tony Gonzalez KC HT 6'4'' WT 248 AGE 28 EXP 8
2001 KC 16 73 917 12.6 6      
2002 KC 16 63 773 12.3 7      
2003 KC 16 71 915 12.9 10      
  Avg 16 69 868 12.6 8      
In a position that rarely yields impact players, Gonzalez yet again was the most valuable fantasy tight end in 2003, gaining 915 yards and ten touchdowns. It was his third highest yardage, third highest receptions and his second best touchdown year. There is simply no other tight end that carries the impact and guarantee that Gonzalez does. The offense is designed to find him open and he typically is the leading receiver for the Chiefs unless Priest Holmes nudges ahead of him. There’s no reason to justify it after seven seasons. His contemporaries – Todd Heap and Jeremy Shockey – have never approached the amount of scoring that Gonzalez has for a standard and neither enter the season with a quarterback nearly as good as Trent Green.
Daniel Graham NE HT 6'3'' WT 253 AGE 26 EXP 3
2002 NE 11 15 150 10 1      
2003 NE 13 38 409 10.8 4      
  Avg 12 27 280 10.5 3      
Perhaps New England is waiting to unveil a secret two-tight end scheme. That is perhaps a better answer to the perplexing question why they used yet another first round pick on Ben Watson this season when they already took Daniel Graham in the first round of 2002. Graham had four scores last year – solid for a tight end – and actually logged a 110 yard game against the Browns in week eight. He will develop this season knowing that Watson is working beside him in practice which should light a fire. Graham is almost certainly safe this season since Watson has not been impressive in mini-camp with dropped passes, wrong routes and a slowness to pick up the complex offense. Watson’s development should be tracked during training camp to ensure he doesn’t suddenly “get it”, but even Graham only managed 15 catches for 150 yards in his rookie season. Daniel still has the opportunity; he just is no longer alone in the quest to become the next Ben Coates.
Todd Heap BAL HT 6'5'' WT 252 AGE 24 EXP 4
2001 BAL 8 16 206 12.9 1      
2002 BAL 16 68 836 12.3 6      
2003 BAL 16 57 693 12.2 3 3 21 0
2003 Avg 13 47 578 12.3 3 3 21 0
Since Shannon Sharpe left the Ravens, Heap has been a top three fantasy tight end the past two seasons with little reason to expect that to change. Last year he led all ends with 109 passes thrown to him, but only managed to snare 57 (3 rd best) thanks in no small part to Boller throwing it at him instead of to him. To his benefit, Jamal Lewis is a constant concern for linebackers and allows him better match-ups against smaller defensive backs. His lack of touchdowns is the only aspect that limits his fantasy value. With Boller now more seasoned, he has an excellent shot at getting back to his 2002 range of 800/6 and bringing in a better receiver in Kevin Johnson should only help open up the field more. In leagues rewarding reception points, he will challenge Gonzalez and Shockey for the top spot. Heap will use this season to build on the chemistry between he and Boller since he was on pace for a 70 catch/800 yard season when Boller went down to injury.
Eric Johnson SF HT 6'3'' WT 256 AGE 25 EXP 3
2001 SF 14 40 362 9.1 3      
2002 SF 12 36 321 8.9 0      
  Avg 13 38 341 3 1.5 0 0 0
Johnson was consistent his first two seasons with the 49ers but last summer broke his collarbone. While it never required surgery, the needed calcification of the bone took so long that Johnson was placed on injured reserve and Jed Weaver was signed instead. Weaver had 35 catches for 437 yards in 2003, a better showing that Weaver had managed in previous seasons. Since the 49ers were intent on keeping no talent in the receiving game, Weaver left for the Broncos and Johnson again takes the start. The new offense under HC Dennis Erickson threw 43 passes to the tight end position last year but with so many new players, the ratio is hard to gauge for 2004. There is a chance that Weaver could get more work with the inexperienced wideouts other than Conway and the 49ers will likely need to throw no less than last year given the chance they will be behind has increased. But Weaver has not shown to be worthy of a fantasy role yet and if the 49ers do trail in many games, they likelihood is that they resort to multiple receiver sets without a tight end.
Teyo Johnson OAK HT 6'6'' WT 255 AGE 23 EXP 2
2003 OAK 9 14 128 9.1 1      
  Avg 9 14 128 9.1 1      

Johnson was a fairly highly touted rookie last season with plans for use in the endzone to take advantage of his 6’6” height. That use never materialized and Johnson scored only one time while having catches in only nine games. His best yardage of the season was only 30 yards. Johnson is still young and has more development to undergo but has not yet distinguished himself from Doug Jolley in any way. New HC Norv Turner considers them both as equals after mini-camps and the optimism that Teyo generated when he converted from receiver to tight end is now tempered with the reality that the fruit of that change has yet to be seen nor even suggested. Teyo has already missed some time in the spring with a sprained ankle and so far has not made up any ground. With a new coaching staff in place, it does not really matter that he was a second round pick last year or that Jolley was a second rounder from 2002. The situation bear tracking during training camp as Turner has always liked using a receiving tight end.

08/06/04 - The converted wideout has looked sharp in his second training camp and Norv Turner's offense loves a receiving tight end. And this is the one.

Doug Jolley OAK HT 6'4'' WT 246 AGE 25 EXP 3
2002 OAK 13 32 409 12.8 2      
2003 OAK 12 31 258 8.3 1      
  Avg 13 32 334 10.6 2      
Jolley came off a promising rookie season in 2002 and was rewarded by the Raiders using yet another second round pick to draft Teyo Johnson who they converted from being a huge wide receiver to becoming a merely a tall tight end with not enough weight to block well. Though Teyo never did overtake Jolley last season, he was given some starts and produced nothing special. By the end of the season, it was announced formally that Oakland would have no actual starting tight end and would instead platoon Johnson, Jolly and even O.J. Santiago. While HC Turner likes to use tight ends, neither Johnson nor Jolley have proven to be up to the task. Unless big strides are made by Johnson in training camp, expect Jolley to turn in the better numbers since he is the superior blocker and will be on the field more.
Freddie Jones ARI HT 6'5'' WT 270 AGE 30 EXP 8
2001 SD 12 35 388 11.1 4      
2002 ARI 16 44 358 8.1 1      
2003 ARI 16 55 517 9.4 3      
  Avg 15 45 421 9.4 3      

Freddie Jones posted respectable numbers last season, enough to just eke into the top ten for tight ends in most fantasy scoring. What was disappointing was that the Cardinals had a huge need for receivers to step up last season and Jones improved his 2002 totals. He had the 4 th most passes thrown to him of any tight end (89) and while he ranked fourth in receptions (55), he came in 8 th in yardage and only scored three times the entire season. This season he is more likely to fall in production than rise, given the increased weapons at wideout this year and the newer offensive scheme by Denny Green is more likely to focus on Boldin and Fitzgerald than the tight end. Jones should be an average fantasy starter this season, meaning he will make no difference for your team and will be an equivalent to about a dozen other tight ends.

08/20/04 - With the continuing injury woes for the Cardinals wideouts, Jones should figure in well this year and HC Denny Green says Jones is going to the Pro Bowl. He may not get there, but he gets a bump up with a coach talking big about a tight end.

Erron Kinney TEN HT 6'5'' WT 280 AGE 27 EXP 5
2001 TEN 11 25 263 10.5 1      
2002 TEN 13 13 173 13.3 0      
2003 TEN 16 41 393 9.6 3      
  Avg 13 26 276 10.5 1      
Kinney has already taken over the lead tight end position as of last year when he had 393 yards compared to Wycheck’s 165 yards during an injury shortened season. Kinney had catches in every game but true to the position he only topped 40 yards in three games and never reached even 50 yards for the week. The Titans drafted Ben Troupe as the tight end of the future but the position will likely be too demanding in his first year to challenge Kinney. Both Shad Meier and Troupe will figure in during the season but unless Troupe shows dramatic steps forward, his receiving skills are more likely to be showcased in 2005 and beyond. Kinney comes with some risk thanks to the Troupe draft pick, but as the veteran tight end on the team he will get work regardless in an offense that has always made good use of the tight end.
Jim Kleinsasser MIN HT 6'3'' WT 274 AGE 27 EXP 6
2001 MIN 11 24 184 7.7 0 23 72 1
2002 MIN 14 37 393 10.6 1      
2003 MIN 16 46 401 8.7 4 2 15 0
2003 Avg 15 42 397 9.6 3 2 15 0
Kleinsasser re-signed with the Vikings to a $15 million, five-year contract and was the hottest free agent tight end until reeled back. The Vikings made him their #1 priority in free agency. He ended with 46 receptions in 2003 and ranked 3rd among NFL tight ends with four receiving scores. He suffered an abdominal injury early in the season and yet still produced 401 yards. The Vikings have perhaps their best crew of receivers since back in the Moss/Carter days and that could affect Kleinsasser’s numbers but likely not. He turned in three efforts over 60 yards in the final half of the season and always had at least one catch since their week six bye. Given the amount of weapons that Culpepper has, Kleinsasser will never become a top receiving tight end but will make for an excellent fantasy back-up and even a decent starter in almost half his games. Jermaine Wiggins was also acquired in the off-season.
Chad Lewis PHI HT 6'6'' WT 252 AGE 33 EXP 7
2001 PHI 14 41 422 10.3 6      
2002 PHI 16 42 398 9.5 3      
2003 PHI 14 23 293 12.7 1      
  Avg 15 35 371 10.5 3      
At the age of 33, Lewis is on his way out and the Eagles brought L.J. Smith in last season to start that process. His numbers have declined every year since 2000 and last season he managed only 48 total yards in the two games that Smith was out. Expect even lower numbers this season as Lewis slowly fades from all fantasy cheatsheets and rides off into the sunset. While Smith was gaining in favor from McNabb in 2003, Lewis just continued with his standard one or two catches a game. Even if Smith is injured, there is no reason to jump back on the Lewis bandwagon. Time to cut bait even in dynasty leagues.
Brandon Manumaleuna STL HT 6'2'' WT 288 AGE 24 EXP 4
2001 STL 2 1 1 1 1      
2002 STL 13 8 106 13.3 1      
2003 STL 15 29 238 8.2 2 4 15 0
2003 Avg 10 13 115 7.5 1 1 5 0
The Rams use many receivers in their scheme and they threw to the tight end in every game. They just don’t do it enough to matter in fantasy terms. Brandon had his first season as a starter along with Marc Bulger and the result was only two scores and 238 yards. He only exceeded 30 yards in two games all season and even managed to turn in negative yardage in week 14. That’ll tax your scoring rules. While the Rams have a very potent offense and Manumaleuna did have catches in all but two games, his production is so low that he merits only being a deep tight end backup unless your league awards points for being on the Rams.
Randy McMichael MIA HT 6'3'' WT 245 AGE 25 EXP 3
2002 MIA 15 39 485 12.4 4      
2003 MIA 16 49 598 12.2 2      
  Avg 16 44 542 12.3 3      

After a surprisingly good rookie season, McMichael saw many fantasy owners sour on him last season as he fell off the map in production after week seven. Until that point, he had been averaging 47 yards a game and after week seven, it fell to only 32 yards per game which included four games below 20 yards. Sophomore slump? Not really. His production mirrored that of the Dolphin offense. Coincidentally, his best games were up until Fiedler went out injured starting in week eight. Had he maintained his pace before the injury to Fiedler, he could have ended as the third or second best yardage for a tight end in 2003. Entering his third season, look for McMichael to continue to build on a solid start and discount his slide during the second half of 2003 as being a team-wide event. McMichael is a definite fantasy starter and his upside is far bigger than any risk.

Update 08/11/04: The loss of the running game in Miami, coupled with the injury to David Boston means that Chris Chambers will have an entourage following him around on most plays. McMichael may be the only Dolphin player that sees better numbers from all that has happened there.

Itula Mili SEA HT 6'4'' WT 258 AGE 31 EXP 7
2001 SEA 5 8 98 12.3 2      
2002 SEA 14 43 508 11.8 2      
2003 SEA 16 46 492 10.7 4      
  Avg 12 32 366 11.3 3      
Mili turned in the 7 th best tight performance in 2003, gaining 493 yards and scoring four times. In the high-powered passing attack of the Seahawks, Mili was a target at least five times in six of the last seven games and in week 8 had two touchdowns and 80 yards as his season high. Mili’s role was similar to last season and his numbers almost mirror 2002. So far in the off-season, Mili has skipped mini-camps as he holds out for a new contract. He is due to make $725,000 this season in the final year of his contract and wants more after two solid years of production. The Seahawks drafted Jerramy Stevens with the 28 th overall pick in the 2002 draft but he has not developed into a starter yet. His failure to compete for the position has made Mili more valuable and now he wants to be paid commensurate with his role. This could clear up by training camp or could end up as another disgruntled player using his final contract year to build a resume for the next season. His risk in this is that the Seahawks still believe Stevens has potential and would like to see him step up into the role instead of 31 year old Mili. Keep an eye on this situation as the Seahawk starting tight end should prove a top ten fantasy scorer.
Billy Miller HOU HT 6'3'' WT 225 AGE 27 EXP 5
2002 HOU 14 51 613 12 3      
2003 HOU 16 40 355 8.9 3      
  Avg 15 46 484 10.6 3      
Miller came off a big 2002 campaign when he gained 613 yards and was the most effective receiver for the Texans in their inaugural season. His production that season was largely a function of the lack of other credible receivers and the Texans recognized that themselves by spending their 2.09 pick in the 2003 draft for Bennie Joppru out of Michigan, the second tight end taken that year. Since Joppru developed pelvic problems and groin pain during that spring, he was never used in 2003 and the Titans never saw what a 6’5”, 270 pound tight end could do in their system. Instead, Miller continued to take the starting role and provide catches in all but one game. In over half his games, Miller failed to gain even 20 yards. Miller goes into training camp as the starter again, but keep an eye on the return of Joppru in case he is able to start his expected NFL career. Miller will provide only marginal numbers as a fantasy tight end and as such makes only for a fantasy backup. Joppru is much more intriguing but obviously an unknown and a non-factor thus far.
Marcus Pollard IND HT 6'3'' WT 248 AGE 32 EXP 10
2001 IND 16 47 739 15.7 8      
2002 IND 15 43 478 11.1 6      
2003 IND 13 40 541 13.5 3      
  Avg 15 43 586 13.5 6      
At 32 years of age, Marcus Pollard is not getting any younger and in the past three seasons, he is not getting any better either. After his career-best 2001 season when he ended as the #2 fantasy tight end behind Gonzalez, his production dipped the two successive seasons though in a position as scant in difference makers – he still was a top ten tight end. Last season the Colts used their #1 pick to take Dallas Clark as the first tight end drafted. Both Clark and Pollard became receiving options but as a sign of the seasons to come, Pollard did not do anything more during the six games that Clark missed last season. He was a solid tight end and had five games over 40 yards but himself missed a few games with a sprained knee ligament. Consider Pollard as a safe tight end to take but unlikely to remain in the top 10 this season thanks to the emergence of Dallas Clark. He will continue to figure into the offense, but will likely never again be the big piece as he was in prior seasons.
Jay Riemersma PIT HT 6'5'' WT 252 AGE 31 EXP 8
2001 BUF 15 53 590 11.1 3      
2002 BUF 16 32 350 10.9 0      
2003 PIT 7 10 138 13.8 1      
  Avg 13 32 359 11.3 1      
After his big 2001 season, fantasy fans have remembered the 590 yards season that Riemersma had for the Bills. It’s time to forget that blip on the radar. He had injury problems last year with a bruised sternum, a knee sprain, a shoulder sprain and an Achilles injury. He only played in seven games and only had ten catches. The important note here is that while he was out, both Jerame Tuman and Mark Bruener (since cut) collectively only had 13 catches all season. When an offense uses three tight ends to produce only 23 passes to the tight ends, it’s time to hone blocking skills which is exactly what Riemersma is doing. With the Steelers one of the worst teams at using tight ends, Riemersma is not a fantasy option in any league.
Matt Schobel CIN HT 6'5'' WT 260 AGE 26 EXP 3
2002 CIN 15 27 212 7.9 2      
2003 CIN 12 24 332 13.8 2      
  Avg 14 26 272 10.7 2      
Schobel comes off his sophomore season with essentially the same numbers as the previous season but missed much time last season with a hamstring pull that continually nagged him much of the season. His value this season will depend much on the development of Carson Palmer but at 6’5”, he will make a very big target when his number is called. Schobel was only one of three tight ends for the Bengals last season but the only one that had any meaningful fantasy performances. His first week of the season had 97 yards and after struggling and then missing a few games, he returned against Baltimore to catch one score and gain 62 yards. The rest of his season was more standard fare for an NFL tight end. On a fantasy team he is at best only capable of a few good games a season and offers little consistency compared to other tight ends.
Mike Seidman CAR HT 6' 5" WT 258 AGE 24 EXP 2
2003 CAR 5 5 35 7 0      
  Avg 6 18 198 11 0      
Seidman was taken by the Panthers with their 3.12 pick in the 2003 NFL draft. At UCLA, Seidman a total of 989 yards on 61 catches with seven touchdowns. That’s a 16.2 yard average per catch and exactly why the Panthers drafted him. He had a 4.7/40 at the NFL combine which is pretty good for a tight end his size and helped his draft stock. In 2003, Seidman looked encouraging during training camp and the Panthers Kris Mangum is little more than a blocker. He was obviously brought along slowly during the season but suffered a torn ACL last December which ended his season early. He is still recovering and was held out of mini-camps, but expects to be available this season. The Panther offense does not feature a tight end much in their scheme but if they ever do start throwing to the tight end, it will likely be Seidman who is the lone tight end with decent receiving skills. He is not worth drafting right now, but could develop during the season if his knee continues to improve.
Jeremy Shockey NYG HT 6'5'' WT 255 AGE 24 EXP 3
2002 NYG 15 74 894 12.1 2      
2003 NYG 9 48 535 11.1 2      
  Avg 12 61 715 11.7 2      
Shockey was on pace for 950 yards and 85 receptions before his injury in week 10. Both those marks would have been NFL-leading if accomplished. Shockey is a mainstay for the top three tight ends in the league because he has been used more per game than any other. Problem is that there has not yet been 16 of them to a season. Shockey’s style welcomes injuries to both himself and those who dare get in his way. It will always be a reality with him that he may not make the entire season but while he is playing, he will be a yardage and reception powerhouse at a position that typically offers little more than fantasy filler. So far his brash style has not been evident in the off-season and there have been no problems with his new HC Tom Coughlin, a noted disciplinarian and somewhat opposite to how Shockey likes to operate. Shockey is a workout warrior with good work ethic. And so far, he has not offended any large group of people nor insulted any NFL coaches. Shockey underwent surgery on his foot in late June and is expected to miss at least the first two weeks of training camp but be ready to play in the season opener on September 12 th. A great fantasy pick with the continued asterisk – “if he stays healthy”.
L.J. Smith PHI HT 6'3'' WT 258 AGE 24 EXP 2
2003 PHI 14 27 320 11.9 1      
  Avg 14 27 320 11.9 1      
Smith was acquired with the 2.29 pick in the 2003 NFL draft and became an almost immediate starter. With Chad Lewis on the decline the past four years and nearing his mid-thirties, Smith is the heir to the throne in an offense that will use receiving tight ends. His best game was against Atlanta where he had six catches for 97 yards and his 11.9 yard average is strong, particularly for a rookie. Smith saw limited time in the mini-camp because his back was acting up, but he's had a nice off-season. He’ll be ready for training camp and now that Terrell Owens is on the roster, there will be more than just Smith going over the middle. He has very good hands and better than average speed for a tight end. The Eagles passing game should be more exciting this season than in a long time and Smith will benefit. In a dynasty league, Smith is likely already taken but should provide increased production for many years.
Jerramy Stevens SEA HT 6'7'' WT 265 AGE 25 EXP 3
2002 SEA 12 26 252 9.7 3      
2003 SEA 13 6 72 12 0      
  Avg 13 16 162 10.1 2      

Stevens was acquired with the 28 th overall pick in the 2002 draft as the tight end of the future but after two seasons, he has never proven to be the tight end “of now”. He has only four starts in two seasons and rarely catches more than one pass a game. In fact, he rarely catches any passes, even when they are thrown to him. With Mili holding out this spring, Stevens has had increased reps with the first team and has been described as looking “phenomenal”. How much of that proves true and how much of that is “Hey – Mili” remains to be seen. He was the third tight end taken in 2002 behind only Jeremy Shockey and Daniel Graham and Stevens is considered athletically gifted. It just has not transferred to the NFL yet. Stevens could be a dark horse sleeper this year if Mili continues to demand that a 31 year-old tight end deserves a lot more money and if Stevens manages to get his act together as hints indicate he might. He has been so bad the first two years that it will be a very dramatic turnaround if it happens. Watch this situation in training camp for better clues what will transpire but the safest bet is that Mili continues as the primary tight end in 2003.

08/16/04 - Stevens has finally looked sharp in camp this summer and seems to have finally gained progress and maturity that might meet his expectations. The Seahawks will feature both Mili and Stevens, but the youngster is making definite inroads to being the primary.

08/27/04 - Stevens was named the most improved player at the close of training camp this year.

Ben Troupe TEN HT 6' 4" WT 262 AGE 22 EXP R
ROOKIE TEN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

The Titans wasted little time to hunt for the next great Titan tight end. With the retirement of Frank Wycheck, they grabbed the Georgia product with their 2.08 pick which was the first they had to spend. Troupe was the third end taken in the draft and he enters the NFL considered to have “Shannon Sharpe”-type receiving skills. Troupe has good receiving skills and his 4.55/40 speed will potentially allow the Titans to line him up as a receiver on occasion. Troupe is considered only an average blocker but an excellent pass catcher but will likely see him being more eased into the role. The Titans still have Erron Kinney, so temper expectations for this season from Troupe. He will figure in this year but there is no need to rush his development. He already had some problems in mini-camp with routes but it is still obviously very early to make an assessment. His training camp should give a better glimpse of his potential for this season. As a highly drafted rookie, he’ll likely be drafted too early in often this summer in spite of the time most tight ends require to learn the offense and contribute.

08/26/04 - Troupe has struggled this preseason and appears not likely to have an impact for 2004.

Jed Weaver DEN HT 6'4'' WT 258 AGE 28 EXP 6
2001 MIA 13 18 215 11.9 2      
2002 MIA 11 6 75 12.5 3      
2003 SF 16 35 437 12.5 1      
  Avg 13 20 242 12.3 2      
Weaver comes off a nice 437 yard season with the 49ers thanks to the lost season by Eric Johnson. As a reward, he was shipped off the Denver where he signed a three year contract for almost $3 million. With Dwayne Carswell moved to offensive tackle and Shannon Sharpe finding a new way to never be quiet, the tight end spot is wide open for competition. The other competitors include Byron Chamberlain, Patrick Hape, O.J. Santiago and Jeb Putzier. All but Putzier are working on a one year contract. The contract and money spent never assures anything in the NFL but it is a good indicator of player value. The void left by Shannon Sharpe is not going to be filled by one person and may not be filled by all tight ends combined for Denver. But the offense obviously has always had a heavy use of tight ends, even when Sharpe was gone to Baltimore. Weaver has the lead right now but the real competition starts in training camp and may never be over if Shanahan resorts to a TE-by-committee as he did when Sharpe was gone.
Jason Witten DAL HT 6'5'' WT 257 AGE 22 EXP 2
2003 DAL 16 35 347 9.9 1      
  Avg 16 35 347 9.9 1      
Jason Witten was selected in the third round of the 2003 draft, behind three other receivers but having the last laugh meant gaining more yardage than those others and making the NFL All-Rookie team. As only a rookie, Witten improved as the season progressed and had fans rekindling memories of Jay Novacek. Starting in week 11, Witten gained at least 35 yards in all but one of the next six games. His production did not come at the expense of starter Dan Campbell who was consistently good for around 20 yards every other game; it came in addition to what Campbell did. This season is considered very promising for Witten since Bill Parcells has always preferred to make the tight end a big component of the passing game. Witten got better the more experience he gained and has the favor of both coaches and fans. Witten makes a very nice pick-up in a dynasty league and should exceed expectations this season as well. He has great upside for a tight end and should be available deeply in most drafts this summer.
Boo Williams NO HT 6'4'' WT 245 AGE 25 EXP 4
2001 NO 9 20 202 10.1 3      
2002 NO 14 13 143 11 2      
2003 NO 14 41 436 10.6 5      
  Avg 12 25 260 10.6 3      
Williams signed a three-year contract with the Saints during the off-season. Williams started the last six games of 2003 and led the team in catches with 29 for 347 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, he had a career-high 41 receptions for 436 yards and five TDs, the highest totals for a Saints tight end since 1998. Williams was just a very big split end while at Arkansas and his shift to tight end has paid big dividends. He has gained 20 pounds from his draft weight of 225 to handle the required blocking duties but he still is essentially just an over-sized wideout. He was a practice squad player in 2001 that was converted from an undrafted receiver to the most productive Saint tight end that season. New Orleans tried David Sloan in 2002 and Ernie Conwell in 2003 as the starter but Boo has spent the last three years stepping up and outshining those who supposedly were better. This season he gets to start as the #1 and after five touchdowns and a 100 yard game in only limited play last season, 2004 will provide the ex-wideout with his best chance yet to make a difference.
Kellen Winslow Jr. CLE HT 6' 4" WT 243 AGE 20 EXP R
ROOKIE CLE 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Winslow is fully expected to join Shockey, Heap and Gonzalez at being just an oversized wide receiver and a gem for a fantasy team needing a tight end. The Browns moved up to the 1.06 to get him and at 6’4” and 250 lbs., he already has Cleveland offensive coaches salivating about how to use him. With Jeff Garcia throwing to him, Winslow takes his pedigree to a great opportunity. In a dynasty league that drafts only rookies, he should be a top five pick if tight ends are required. He was not a touchdown machine by any stretch at Miami, but he was their leading receiver last season with 60 catches for 603 yards. In a position that has so few impact players (in fantasy terms), Winslow is a great pick once Heap, Gonzalez and Shockey are gone. If Winslow meets even half his hype he should rank 4 th in tight ends this season.

Update: Winslow is now holding out even though Cleveland has offered the biggest contract to a tight end in history, even bigger than Tony Gonzalez. The Poston brothers are the agents and this might take a while that could be better spent practicing with the team.

Update 08/11/04: Finally signed, we can see what all the hype is about. If he turns in half what he thinks he can, he is still a bargain for afantasy TE.