It's time for an unscientific study. I'm in seven leagues this year. I went through the rosters of the 14 championship contenders to see how many of them got away with a shaky tight end on their team.
"Shaky" is, of course, a ridiculously subjective term. Is"shaky," or is he just bad? Is "shaky," or are we forgiving his injury struggles? I'll be the first to tell you my list could be picked apart. But in the end, those 14 rosters employed eight tight ends. Of those, six are in our Week 16 top 10, and the other two have spent significant time there.
I did the same with quarterbacks, just out of curiosity. The same 14 rosters employ 10 quarterbacks. The bigger difference is, though, the tight ends are guys who are all prominent to one level or another, while the quarterbacks have a much wider range.
The following chart shows the players in question, with the number of rosters they appear on (if plural) in parentheses:
|Drew Brees (2)
Jay Cutler (2)
Ben Roethlisberger (2)
(Hilarious that neithernor popped up anywhere.)
The moral of this little story (such as it is; as I said, this is woefully unscientific): You could get by this season with a dodgy quarterback if you streamed at the right time. The bulk positions - running back and wide receiver - by their nature, allow for streaming. But this year, streaming tight ends? It just wasn't viable.
With the exception of the guy with Fleener (he started with Dennis Pitta), every championship contender in every league I'm in found a relevant tight end and made it work. The guys who are adding and dropping, Owen Daniels and on a week-to-week basis fell by the wayside some time ago.
It's tough to say whether this will hold true going into 2015. But conventional wisdom coming into this season said that you drafted one of Graham, Gronkowski or Thomas, or you waited deep into the draft, because you could get just about anyone. From what has happened this season, that might not have been correct. So you might need to take special care to draft your tight end next season. (This is also one heck of an argument in favor of Gronkowski as a 2015 first-rounder.)
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Now, on to the Week 16 rankings:
Tight end rankings, Week 16
(DK: Daniel Kelley; DC: Dan Ciarrocchi; JD: John Daigle; SK: Scott Kaliska)