Notable TE’s on the move- Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron, Charles Clay, Owen Daniels, Scott Chandler, Jacob Tamme, Tony Moeaki, Kellen Davis.
Early- This one is too obvious. Julius Thomas in a landslide. Last year, Blake Bortles proved his worth as the third overall pick, and gave the Jaguar faithful hope at the Quarterback position for the first time since Mark Brunell. However, Bortles is still only 23 years old, and while his experience last season was invaluable, it will still only be his second year. What is the best way to avoid a “sophomore slump? I’m glad I asked. The answer is a security blanket. Julius Thomas will be exactly that, a 6’5 250 lb, freakishly athletic security blanket. With their leading receiver Cecil Shorts gone to Houston, and one of the most inexperienced supporting casts in football around him, Thomas figures to see more balls than any tight end in the game this season. Jacksonville added wideouts Allen Robinson and Rashad Greene from a very deep draft class, to pair Ace Sanders, and create a young, but talented WR corps. Don’t let that, or the fact that he will be the focal point of every Defensive Coordinator’s gameplan let you make the mistake of missing out on him. Thomas is simply too athletic, and too hard to cover to not make a splash in Jacksonville. I think he has as good a chance as any to be the #1 overall tight end in the game.
Mid-Rounds- Charles Clay. Coming up from Miami to rescue his former division-rival Buffalo Bills from a lifetime of Tight End (and frankly, overall) mediocrity, Clay provides value as a late mid-round pick. He replaces Scott Chandler, who bolted to New England as part of an apparent AFC East Tight End merry-go-round. Clay is the most talented athlete that the Bills have ever had at the position, and figures to be a significant part of what I would consider a top-five collection of skill position players in the league. Two main factors impact his overall fantasy value. The first being the aforementioned talent around him. LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins will be the focal points of the offense, while Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, and Fred Jackson among others will all see significant action on a weekly basis. There are only so many balls to go around. The second reason is that the Bills still need to establish who is going to distribute these touches, as none of their signal-callers could exactly be called world-beaters at this point. If you miss out on a top-tier tight end, hold off for a bit and see if you can grab a near-equal talent at a lesser price. You’ll be taking a leap of faith that one of the three guys vying for the Quarterback spot can be adequate–here’s looking at you, Tyrod Taylor–but if one is, the return could be huge.
Late Rounds- Owen Daniels- With Julius Thomas out of the picture, Denver scrambled to pick up veteran Tight End Owen Daniels. After spending eight seasons with the Houston Texans, Daniels signed last year with the Ravens, and is now on his third team in three years. Daniels has never been flashy, but is consistent, strong, and smart. Although he is now a little long in the tooth, he showed last year he still had some left in the tank, grabbing 48 balls for 527 yards and 4 TD’s. He is now the top tight end on a team led by Peyton Manning. Manning can outsmart a defense into getting Daniels open, and he has shown he can make the plays with the chances he is given. Daniels will have some competition for the spot, as Virgil Greene remains with the team, and James Casey, Daniels’ former teammate, rejoins him in Denver. Ultimately, Daniels’ red-zone presence will get him on the field more in optimal fantasy football situations, and last time I checked, that Manning guy talked about was still going to be throwing the ball. Steal him as your TE2, and plug and play as needed.