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No Passing Fancy
Joe Levit
November 1, 2006

Two weeks ago, I had a caller on a fantasy football radio show ask me whether he should jettison tight end Alge Crumpler for some other player off the waiver wire. I advised against it, but he seemed determined to make a move. Not surprising, considering Crumpler had only 194 yards and one touchdown at that point. Not surprising, but also not a brilliant idea. In the two games since, Crumpler has crushed the competition, gaining 189 yards and four scores.

In the last two weeks, there has been a resurgence of fantasy sorts at the tight end position. After a slow start, during which only Todd Heap, Kellen Winslow and Jeremy Shockey were worth much, owners may now notice a number of tight ends doing some real scoring. If you haven’t already, it is time to take advantage of this trend. I advise doing so by trying out a strategy not generally hyped in fantasy circles. The QB/TE combo.

For years, fantasy owners have thought about using the QB/WR combination. For that tactic, you acquire a quarterback and wide receiver from the same team to start at the same time. The big pro in favor of this method is obvious – You can score points in a hurry each time the wide receiver scores. The con is that when that battery’s offense has a bad day, you likely have a loss. Such combinations today would include duos like Jake Delhomme/Steve Smith, Carson Palmer/Chad Johnson (but maybe actually Housh?) and Marc Bulger/Torry Holt.

The quarterback/tight end combination can be so effective because it includes a position (TE) that is not normally expected to carry a fantasy squad. And, it is safer. You have wide receivers from other teams to get you points if your quarterback and his team make multiple mistakes on a given Sunday.

When employing a quarterback/tight end combo, make certain that both players are above average from a fantasy standpoint. For instance, though there are some other big-name tight ends out there scoring well right now – Tony Gonzalez and Kellen Winslow leap to mind – I don’t rate their respective quarterbacks worth trying in a fantasy tandem. For Gonzalez and Winslow that would be Damon Huard and Charlie Frye.

Here is how a few tight ends have been coming on like gangbusters of late:

Tight End Most Recent Game Game Before
Alge Crumpler 4 receptions, 72 yards, TD 6 receptions, 117 yards, 3 TDs
Ben Watson 7 receptions, 95 yards, TD 5 receptions, 60 yards
Desmond Clark 6 receptions, 86 yards, 2 TDs 4 receptions, 61 yards
Dallas Clark 6 receptions, 68 yards 2 receptions, 41 yards, TD
Jason Witten 6 receptions, 80 yards, TD 4 receptions, 72 yards
Jeremy Shockey* 3 receptions, 15 yards 2 receptions, 23 yards, TD
Antonio Gates 5 receptions, 66 yards 9 receptions, 63 yards, TD

*Shockey’s most recent game doesn’t look that impressive, especially considering that every other tight end on the list gained at least 41 or a touchdown, unless you remember that he scored two touchdowns a week before that. Gates also scored a week before.

So with the above table in mind, here are the hot QB/TE combos right now in the NFL. Create one if you can, and enjoy some productive fantasy afternoons.

Michael Vick & Alge Crumpler – Crumpler has always been Vick’s favorite target in the passing game, but if Vick can maintain his recent flurry of fantasy activity, it will continue to benefit both of them. This duo is hot, and scoring well for their owners.

Rex Grossman & Desmond Clark – Both Clark and Grossman have been pleasant surprises this season. Grossman because he has avoided injury and exceeded the potential seen during the intermittent flashes of his health for the last few years. Clark has been a constant in the fantasy realm. He is putting up points each week, something that can’t be said for Bernard Berrian or Mushin Muhammad.

Tom Brady and Ben Watson – Watson was listed by many as a breakout player this year. He and Brady both got off to a relatively slow start. That sluggish beginning was due in part to a dearth of production at the wide receiver position, and the strong running game was also partly responsible. Suddenly, both Doug Gabriel and Reche Caldwell seem up to speed in the Patriots’ complex offense, and that is opening things up for Watson. Imagine what could happen if rookie Chad Jackson gets involved.

Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates – It was uncertain whether Gates would have a season up to his standards with Rivers in the pocket. After a mediocre few opening weeks, the pair is beginning to produce. Watch Rivers realize more often where his bread is buttered in the passing game as the season continues.

Eli Manning to Jeremy Shockey – Manning has a good on-field rapport with Shockey, even though he also looks often for Plaxico Burress. This is the kind of solid combination that can give your fantasy team a shot to win even when your running backs and receivers have down weeks.

Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark – The sudden difference here is that Clark is once again getting the majority of the tight end reception opportunities. For awhile Manning was connecting with all the team’s tight ends, watering down Clark’s statistics. As long as Clark can stay healthy, this can continue to be a good QB/TE tandem, as you know Manning will be behind center.

Tony Romo and Jason Witten – It definitely is premature to name Romo an above-average fantasy quarterback, but he did look good distributing the ball last weekend. You can’t go too wrong with a quarterback throwing to Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn, who both are capable of huge plays down the field. Witten has been a much better fantasy play the last two weeks, especially once Romo took over.

Joe Levit provides fantasy football presentations for corporate outings or client appreciation events. Go to and find out what this service is all about. Joe can be reached at