Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Tight ends to avoid

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

A good tight end can go a long way, but a bad one can really hold you back for several reasons. Here are a few guys that probably shouldn't wind up on your team.

There are a lot of ways to draft a fantasy football team, but it's always been about value. Tight end is a very strange position this year since there is one great guy, then a bunch of question marks. Jimmy Graham is head and shoulders better than any other tight end, and it's not a bad idea to get him in the second round. That's an argument for another day, though.

If you're not able to get Graham, then it's really just better to wait. In the middle rounds of standard leagues, the importance to get depth at receiver and running back cannot be overstated. It's not easy to field a total of six skill guys -- three receivers, two backs and a flex -- so using a sixth- or seventh-round pick on a tight end can be costly. What's more, there are a couple breakout candidates that can go off the board later. Although, the secret is out on JC boys. Jared Cook and Jordan Cameron have seen their ADPs go up tremendously, so it'll be tougher to get them later, but I digress.

Here are five guys I won't be targeting:

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 68.3

Tony Gone almost retired this offseason, so it's going to be tough to count on a guy that's so close to calling it a career. Of course, TG is probably the best tight end ever, so he's not exactly someone that should be measured by conventional standards.

He had a productive year in his fourth season with the Falcons, catching eight TDs on his 93 receptions. The Falcons did shore up their offensive weapons in the passing game now that they have Steven Jackson. S-Jax is an adept pass catcher, so that will give Matt Ryan another hot read and may cut down on Gonzalez's 124 targets from last season.

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 95.5

He ain't what he used to be. Gates failed to top 65 receptions for the third year in a row, finishing with 49 catches, seven TDs and 538 receiving yards in his 15 outings. The Chargers are getting worse and the lack of talent at receiver suggests that Gates is going to see a lot of double teams.

While he's one of the best bets for end-zone looks, the concern of the team not being able to score much may cut down on his chances. The Chargers also have a horrible offensive line and Gates may have to stay in more to block than he's used to.

His ADP is slipping, but there's just little reason to take a guy that is clearly declining.

Jermichael Finley Green Bay Pacers, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 73.6

He's in a contract year and the Packers are really trying to get him the ball. However, he had two really bad drops with Aaron Rodgers at the helm in Week 3 of the preseason. J-Mike remarkably only caught two TDs last year, which is even more shocking considering how many injuries the Packers had at receiver.

He needs to have a big year, but there just hasn't been enough performance out of the Texas product. Even with Jordan Cameron's ADP surge, he's still a better value in the next round or two.

Kyle RudolphMinnesota Vikings, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 102.3

Christian Ponder didn't have any TDs from 20 yards away from the end zone last season. Obviously, he's not really capable of stretching the field. Despite that lack of ability at the QB spot, Rudolph still caught nine TDs. He did see 93 targets from Ponder, but reeled in just 53 of them. By comparison, Rob Gronkowski caught 55 of Tom Brady's 77 targets while also posting a yards-per-catch average 5.1 greater than Rudolph's.

The Vikings are all about Adrian Peterson, but they did add some weapons in their passing game. Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson should see some looks in the red zone, so don't expect Rudolph to be near his nine scores from last season.

Owen Daniels, Houston Texans, Average Draft Position (FF Calculator): 129.2

The Texans have a strong offense and they ranked seventh in yards and eighth in scoring. They also boast one of the league's best receivers in Andre Johnson. One thing they've lacked has been a second receiver. That lack of an option helped Owen Daniels become one of the better tight end over the years.

However, their search is over. DeAndre Hopkins was selected in the first round and if his training camp is any indicator, he's going to be the real deal. Hopkins has the skills to run all sorts of routes, plus his big-play ability can allow Andre Johnson to stay more shallow on the field.

OD will likely see his targets go down and he's not a reliable TE1. There are much better players with higher upsides. For instance, Jared Cook is going in the same round.


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