Since the unveiling of our first offseason Dynasty rankings back in May, spring practices have seen several players gaining momentum while others are losing steam. Here’s a brief look at the tight end movement:
1. Greg Olsen – Easily the Bears' best red-zone threat, the athletic Olsen is expected to exploit mismatches this season by lining up anywhere in the offense. Following the addition of Jay Cutler, FoxSports.com's John Czarnecki is predicting that Olsen will "double his production from 2008." We won't go quite that far, but we do forecast a 67/790/6 line this season.
2. Jermichael Finley – Finley spent his rookie season showcasing major knucklehead potential, but he must be doing a 180 this offseason. Both his quarterback and his coordinator have praised his progress, and he has a very real chance to unseat Donald Lee as the starter this summer.
3. Brent Celek – Celek has started just a dozen games in his NFL career, yet he already owns the franchise tight end record for yards in a game and receptions in a playoff game. Andy Reid confirmed that Celek has improved his blocking, and OC Marty Morninweg spoke glowingly of the tight end's progress in announcing that he will have a more significant role this year.
4. Vernon Davis – While admitting that it wouldn't be a popular viewpoint, Evan Silva thoroughly covered Davis' offseason rise shortly after we released the Dynasty rankings in late May. An every-down tight end who has proven to be a fantasy asset in the past, Davis is primed to catch far more passes than last season.
5. Jared Cook – By all accounts, Cook was the most impressive rookie at Titans OTAs. He may already be a "total mismatch" for opposing defenses, and coach Jeff Fisher expects him to be a playmaker. Blessed with freakish athletic ability, Cook has the most fantasy upside of all rookie tight ends. He could be starting as soon as 2010 with Bo Scaife signed to a one-year deal.
Honorable Mention: Dustin Keller, Zach Miller, Martellus Bennett, Randy McMichael, Martin Rucker
1. Tony Gonzalez – First-half numbers: 40/369/3. Second-half numbers out of the Chiefs' pistol spread offense: 56/689/7. Gonzalez won't have benefit of the spread offense this season, and Falcons OC Mike Mularkey has made it clear that the future Hall of Famer will be asked to do more blocking in the run-oriented offense. Expect numbers closer to the first-half of last season rather than the second-half.
2. Bo Scaife – Coming off a career season, Scaife missed his opportunity to cash in on a long-term deal. Instead the Titans franchised him for one year while selecting his 2010 replacement in the draft. Kerry Collins figures to use his wideouts more this season, which will bring Scaife's numbers more in line with career norms.
3. Donald Lee – Lee entered the offseason as nothing more than a TE2 with low upside, but he's now entering training camp in a dogfight to keep his job. Even if he holds off Finley as the nominal starter for another year, the two would cancel out each other's fantasy value.
4. Visanthe Shiancoe – Silva already knocked this one out of the ballpark in late May. Shiancoe's production was situation dependent in 2008, he'll be forced to block more often, and he'll lose targets to Percy Harvin.
5. Owen Daniels? – The question mark is there simply because there's nothing in Owens' play that merits a downgrade, but the Texans' actions suggest a willingness to play hardball on a long-term deal. After locking up backup Joel Dreessen in February, they drafted potential pass-catching stud James Casey and blocking stud Anthony Hill. Meanwhile, the team fined Daniels for missing mandatory minicamp and showed no inclination to extend his contract. His value isn't dropping yet, but it sure seems like the Texans are preparing for a future without him.