Outside the elite tight ends, most tight ends will go once you hit double-digit rounds. When the season starts, unless it's an elite tight end, you don't think much of the position when you drop one and grab another. In other words we quickly forget about the second-tier player who didn't pan out. Let's try to stay away from the following tight ends to avoid that this year.
NOTE: ADP means average draft position, an average of where players go by position and overall using hundreds of drafts with the same scoring rules.
Chris Cooley, Redskins
Position ADP: 10
Overall ADP: 126 (Round 11 in a 12-team league)
Cooley, a seven-year veteran, has yet to practice or play this preseason. He had surgery on his knee in January, and it is either not healing properly or taking too long to heal. Either way, he has come out and said he's going to have to learn to manage the pain during the season.
Over his career he's averaging 60 receptions, 663 yards and five touchdowns, but in his first four seasons he was averaging 6.75 touchdowns per year. That's nearly two more a season. Never an elite fantasy tight end, always one of the top second-tier players. He was an acceptable pick after the elites because you could count on touchdowns. However, the last three years that TD production has dropped to an average of two per year. That's not acceptable.
No. 2 TE Fred Davis is having a solid camp and has shown he's a solid pass receiver. In 2009, when he saw 10 starts, he had 48 receptions, 509 yards and six touchdowns. I can see Cooley's knee limiting his play on the field and Davis seeing more time. Cooley's situation just tells me to avoid it when there are other options available.
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
Position ADP: 7
Overall ADP: 98 (Round Nine in a 12-team league)
There's nothing wrong with Gonzalez. A fantasy stalwart since 1999, he's in the final year of a contract, and players usually step it up a notch in a contract year. Gonzo steps it up every year, so can he take his game back up a notch? I think we're at a point of diminishing returns.
At 35 years old, playing a physical position and watching his numbers drop every year over the last four to last season's 70 receptions, 656 yards and six touchdowns, Gonzalez no longer qualifies as an elite tight end. He's no longer producing enough yardage to warrant elite status.
Also, factor in the continued maturation of Roddy White, adding rookie WR Julio Jones and even Harry Douglas is now 100 percent healthy. The team believes it's assembling a great receiving corps and wants to incorporate Jones and Douglas into the passing attack. Don't forget a little guy named Michael Turner; he's their featured back, so Gonzo may be a victim of the team's success.
I only say not to overvalue him because of his name. There are players with greater upside than Gonzo, but if you want a safe pick, no one will argue if you take him. I just believe his yardage number may continue to drop. I recommend taking someone with greater upside.
Zach Miller, Seahawks
Position ADP: 13
Overall ADP: 140 (Round 12 in a 12-team league)
For the last four seasons Miller has teased us as a Raider with the potential to break out every year. He never did, and now he's in Seattle. This year, Seattle's not a good fit. The team is learning a new offense, and the quarterbacks are not very good. Until that's resolved, Miller will be inconsistent. Long term, Miller will have greater value. This season they're rebuilding, and all receivers will suffer.
You also have to remember Miller has to learn a new offense and develop chemistry with the quarterback and team. This West Coast offense centers on the rushing attack, so he'll probably stay in to block more early on if the quarterbacks can't keep the defenses honest. I like his long-term value in the years to come but not right now. I say pass on him.