2015 Fantasy Football: Tight End Busts

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Julius Thomas, Jags – Don’t confuse the Thomas from the last few seasons with this year’s version. He’s been a perennial top-3 TE when healthy as the beneficiary of being Peyton Manning‘s favored red zone target, but now he is the toiling away in the armpit of Florida catching passes from a guy who finished with the worst QBR among players with enough passes to qualify. If that wasn’t bad enough, Thomas is hurt again (broken hand) and while he is expected back by week 1, missing most of the preseason with a new team / QB isn’t going to help his chances of fantasy success this year. It would take a late 6th / early 7th round pick to get Thomas according to his ADP, which is way to risky for my taste.

Antonio Gates, Chargers – I feel bad including Gates on this list because he’s been good to me over the years, but the man is 35 years old. I’m close to the same age and I woke up sore after playing a few games of darts last night (I wish I was joking). Eventually father time will put an end to Gates’ string of productive seasons. If his age wasn’t enough of a red flag, he’s suspended for the first four games of the season. The Chargers also have a high-upside replacement in Ladarius Green, who may play well enough in his four starts to cut into Gates’ playing time when he returns from suspension. I could be wrong about Gates like I was last year, but the 9th round is just too early when guys like Dwayne Allen, Tyler Eifert, and Kyle Rudolph are going a few rounds later.

Coby Fleener, Colts – Finished 6th overall among fantasy TEs last year which is pretty impressive, but fellow Colts TE Dwayne Allen was banged up most of the season. When healthy Allen has historically been ahead of Fleener on the depth chart as well as a superior blocker, more explosive athlete, more reliable receiver, and most importantly one of Andrew Luck‘s favorite red zone targets. The Colts also added more receiving options this off-season in Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, who will both cut into Fleener’s targets. Best case for Fleener is that he splits targets with Allen, though most of his looks will be between the 20s. Of course if Allen gets hurt again, than Fleener could finish in the top 10, but a 10th round pick is too high for a player who will need an injury to match his 2014 production.

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Jared Cook, Rams – Cook is like a crazy ex-girlfriend. Years after the break-up, you run into her somewhere and she looks great, manages to appear relatively normal for 15 minutes or so, and you start wondering why you ever gave up on her. You selectively remember the good times (7 catches, 141 yards, 2 TDs in week 1 2013) and not the bad (zero TDs & a high of 45 yards the next 7 weeks). You forget about the embarrassing outbursts at work functions, the unfounded accusations, her even crazier mother, the time she attacked you with a hammer, etc, etc.

So you decide to give her another chance, things go well for a couple dates and then next thing you know you are in the bleachers with her enjoying a Cubs game until around the 5th inning when she just breaks into tears for no apparent reason, starts telling the drunk strangers around you in the bleachers that you are a jerk, and then all of a sudden people are dumping beers on you, challenging you to fights, and forcing you to go sit somewhere else. I’m not saying any of that stuff happened (it did), just that Cook is the fantasy equivalent of that girl.

On paper the measurables look great, Cook has all the physical tools to be a fantasy asset but there is just something not right in his head. Cook may have 1-2 good fantasy weeks early this season, but you will end up regretting giving him another chance and will drop him by week 6. Like that crazy ex-girlfriend, Cook has burned you before with his potential, but just don’t let it happen to you again.

¹ Rankings are based on default Yahoo settings plus .5 PPR

² Eagles OC Pat Shurmer declined to say if Ertz will be ready for week 1 (Rotoworld)

³ All keeper leagues should have at least one IR spot. Most leagues have small benches and owners shouldn’t have to make the decision on wasting a valuable bench spot on an injured keeper.

Next: 2015 Fantasy Football: Tight End Sleepers

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