Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fantasy Football Talk With Gary McClune- TE Edition

2 Man Weave Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

1. Antonio Gates 2. Jermichael Finley 3. Jason Witten 4. Vernon Davis 5. Dallas Clark 6. Jimmy Graham 7. Owen Daniels 8. Greg Olsen 9. Aaron Hernandez 10. Kellen Winslow 11. Rob Gronkowski 12. Jared Cook 13. Marcedes Lewis 14. Lance Kendricks 15. Zach Miller 16. Chris Cooley 17. Dustin Keller 18. Heath Miller 19. Brent Celek 20. Tony Gonzalez 21. Visanthe Shiancoe 22. Ben Watson 23. Jermaine Gresham 24. Kevin Boss 25. Todd Heap

Q. How has the balance of power shifted between Hernandez and Gronk in N.E? Would you advise owners to draft one over the other, both, or neither?

A. Hern (again with these awful nicknames) without question has to go over Gronk (9/10, ideal tight end nickname). It wouldn't shock me in the slightest to see Hernandez finish second on that team in catches, right behind Welker. He was everywhere in the preseason. Literally. Lining out wide, in the slot, as a fullback in I-form sets, two tight end formations, you name it, he was there. Essentially, he's just a really big wide receiver, and looked every bit of the part this preseason and a majority of last year. Gronk will take away looks in the red zone, but Hernandez is one of those rare tight ends who can score any distance from the goal.

Q. What happens now to Marcedes Lewis and Dallas Clark's fantasy value?

They drop like hot rocks, that's what. Lewis finally broke out in his 5th NFL season last year, scoring 10 touchdowns to go along with 700 yards. With the release of David Garrard, so goes a good chunk of Lewis' fantasy value. It's no knock on Lewis' talent, but with 30 year old journeyman Luke McCown behind center, I don't see him putting up numbers similar to last year (dropped him from #8 to #13 with Garrards departure). If Blaine Gabbert every gets a shot at the starting gig (so, let's say, week 3?) give Lewis a slight bump, maybe a match-up play if you have a top 8 guy with a not-so-favorable opposing defense.

I feel like Clark is in the same boat, however don't expect a complete fall from grace. Clark claims his wrist injury from last year is showing no lasting effects, protective brace be damned. I moved him from #4 to #5 in my latest rankings, still keeping elite company. With Manning healthy, he's arguably the #1 tight end in fantasy land, but who knows when, or if, that happens this year. Kerry Collins threw for 1800 yards and had a TD/INT ratio of 14/8 in 10 games, showing he can still be a serviceable quarterback, even as he creeps closer to 40.

Q. Is this the year Finley surpasses Gates as the Alpha Dog of fantasy tight ends?

A. Not as long as Gates stays healthy. Both are their respective quarterback's favorite targets (sorry, V-Jax and Jennings owners) and both are extremely athletic. However, Gates foot injuries worry me. He's 31 years old and coming off a season where he dealt with Plantar Fasciitis all season, as well as a sprained toe. Am I willing to risk a 4th round pick (I've seen him go in the 3rd) on a 31 year old tight end with a heavy workload and a serious foot injury? Not likely. Give me Finley, who's being taken off the board as the 3rd or 4th tight end, at least a round later. Realistically, how many games can you expect from Gates? 11? 12? If you think he's a lock for 14+ games, you take him, no question. I understand Finley is coming off major reconstructive knee surgery and comes with his own risk, but give me a guy who is 7 years younger and undoubtedly more athletically gifted, with an injury that won't affect him if he is "fully" healed.

Gary McClune is a staff writer for "The 2 Man Weave". Check out his Quarterback Preview, Running Back Preview, Wide Receiver Preview and catch his weekly podcast "I Ain't Even Mad" on itunes, or by clicking here.

-fresh (@danye33)

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