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Tight Ends With The Lowest Fantasy Football Ceilings

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates

Dec 23, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) runs for a touchdown after catching a pass from San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the second half at MetLIfe Stadium. Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football owners are a safe lot, bent on making the most conservative selections early in drafts, hoping not to submarine their season with a dud of a first rounder.

I get that. I do that, in fact. It’s when this uber-conservative approach is applied to late-round picks that I wince in pain for your fantasy future.

Why, when you’re investing almost nothing in a player, would you not roll the proverbial dice on upside, rather than a known commodity that likely won’t outperform is average draft position by much?

And why would you burn a mid-round pick on a guy with a crushingly low fantasy floor?

We’ve already experimented with which late-round quarterbacks have the highest and lowest fantasy ceilings, using rotoViz’s handy little similarity score app. Below each player I’ve listed their projected weekly points, as generated by the sim score machine.

Here are tight ends – and potential streaming options – I’m avoiding this season.

Antonio Gates, SD (ADP 7.10)
Low: 3.6 fantasy points per week
Median: 4.1
High: 6.1

This, in short, is disastrous, and a harbinger of fantasy apocalypse for anyone who drafts Gates at his current ADP. I think the sim score’s hatred of Gates indicates a few things: Gates did precious little with ample opportunity last season, his fantasy production has seen a startling drop-off over the past two years, and NFL players don’t typically have a turnaround season at age 32. Gates is the seventh tight end off the board today. Stay away, unless you hate yourself.

Brandon Myers, NYG (ADP 9.02)
Low: 5.5 fantasy points per week
Median: 6.5
High: 7.5

Myers, the prince of garbage time in 2012, was the beneficiary of Carson Palmer’s incessant dump-offs while the Raiders trailed by three scores in the fourth quarter – every fourth quarter. Myers, I think, is the definition of “just a guy” in real and fantasy circles, and has quickly become one of the game’s most over-drafted tight ends. Taking away Myers’ fluky 130 yards and a touchdown (on 15 targets) against the Browns in Week 13, his high sim score becomes a Gates-like 6.2 points per week. Myers, per Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus, posted 20 percent of his total yardage and half of his touchdowns when Oakland trailed by more than 15 points in the second half. That’s a red flag slapping you in the chops.

Brandon Pettigrew, DET (ADP 12.12)
Low: 4.1 fantasy points per game
Median: 5.6
High: 6.4

The Detroit Lions targeted tight ends more than any team in the NFL last season not named the New England Patriots, and Pettigrew posted just five games of at least 60 receiving yards. Dismal stuff, indeed. Drafting Pettigrew isn’t nearly the season-killer that investing in Gates might be, but I think he’s easily avoidable for other late-round options like Rob Housler, Fred Davis, and Ed Dickson, who could be a low-end TE1 if he inherits Dennis Pitta’s route running role.

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