Fantasy Football 2015: Top 20 Tight Ends
#10 Delanie Walker / Tennessee Titans / Bye Week: 4
Nov 23, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 43-24. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
I’ll admit right off the bat that I’m not the most impartial when it comes to Delanie Walker. Last year with one of my teams I was the unfortunate owner who drafted a handful of early round busts and had a skid row of pass-catchers by the end of the year, but Delanie Walker was consistent for me. He didn’t reach the end zone much, tallying only four touchdowns, but he hauled in 63 receptions on a whopping 106 targets.
The Titans had abysmal quarterback play in 2014; the 16 starts were handled by the trio of Jake Locker, Zach Mettenberger and Charlie Whitehurst. Readers of this website know how that feels, Titan fans. Trust me, we’ve been thru something like that before.
Tennessee rectified that problem by drafting Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick, and they also added some more weapons around him. Free agency yielded Harry Douglas and Hakeem Nicks, and they also drafted wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
It’s not just Walker anymore, but I think he’ll benefit. He’s Ken Whisenhunt‘s guy and while he may not see 100+ targets again, he should get in the end zone more.
#9 Jason Witten / Dallas Cowboys / Bye Week: 6
Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) on the field before the game against the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Dallas beat Detroit 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
It doesn’t get any more old-school tough on this list than Jason Witten. Tony Romo‘s good buddy and most reliable target over the years is still going strong heading into what will be his 13th NFL campaign in 2015. In a run-first Cowboys offense in 2014, Witten still managed 64 receptions for 703 yards with five touchdowns.
Gone now from the Dallas backfield is leading rusher and workhorse, DeMarco Murray. In his stead the Cowboys look to be a running back by committee situation with less reliance on one guy. Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and the newly added annual fantasy headache Darren McFadden figure to share the load.
All of this for Witten should mean less in-line blocking and more work in the pass game. His 90 targets in 2014 were actually the lowest since 2006 with his average in the interim years at 127. He has missed only two starts in his last eleven years. He’s a throwback type of football player and a great fantasy value in round six or seven.
#8 Jordan Cameron / Miami Dolphins / Bye Week: 5
Oct 19, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) before the start of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
Another member of the all what-if team is former Cleveland Brown and current Miami Dolphin, Jordan Cameron. After an 80-catch effort in 2013 yielded 917 yards and seven touchdowns, Cameron was rewarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl and fantasy owners had themselves the next best thing at tight end.
I thought so, at least, and I like many others paid the price when I drafted him in 2014. Aside from a strong performance in week eight against the Steelers where he went for 102 yards and a score (on only three grabs), he was mostly quiet on the year and played in only 10 of the 16 games.
So what will be different for the oft-injured Cameron in Miami? For one, he has a better quarterback throwing him the ball in Ryan Tannehill. Cameron will also be surrounded by better weapons, allowing him to exploit mismatches and be more effective.
The injuries make me weary and I’ve been burnt by him before so for that reason I probably won’t take him, but if healthy he’s every bit worth a fifth round selection.
#7 Julius Thomas / Jacksonville Jaguars / Bye Week: 8
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Coming in at number seven is Julius Thomas who, like Jordan Cameron, also will be playing for a different team in 2015. Thomas left the cushy situation he had in Denver with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball and now he’ll be suiting up in football purgatory otherwise known as Jacksonville, FL.
From the penthouse to the outhouse it seems. At least he’s getting paid.
If I had to pick one bust candidate on this list, it would be Thomas. He has the ability to be a matchup nightmare and will get plenty of opportunities in Jacksonville, but it’s hard to imagine him being the same guy down in sunny Florida. He’s at #7 for me because of his ability and what he’s put up in recent years, but I’ll be steering clear of Thomas this season.
Next: Top 20 2015 Fantasy Tight Ends: 4-6