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Keller`s ADP makes him the ideal target at TE
Keller`s ADP makes him the ideal target at TE

Better to be sorry than safe at TE

by Geoffrey Stein on August 11 2009
In my recent Friday afternoon draft, I made the following statement: "I love TEs this year. Strongest I can ever remember the position."

After the initial jokes about my first sentence, many drafting along with me agreed.

There`s no doubt that the top tier of TEs which includes Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys, Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers of the San Diego Chargers and Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons is worth their weight in gold.

The next tier, however, is severely overrated.

While there is no denying the talent and potential of many in this tier, it`s the talent and potential of the next tier that makes the middle one over valued.

There`s a good chance that Dallas Clark of the Indianapolis Colts and Kellen Winslow of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to outperform Dustin Keller of the New York Jets and Brent Celek of the Philadelphia Eagles, yes, but will the difference be enough to justify the six- or seven-round difference in Average Draft Position (ADP)?

To me, the answer is no.

And the reason why is pretty simple: a fifth- or sixth-round QB, RB or WR is going to far outperform an 11th- or 13th-round QB, RB or WR -- enough so to make the difference between TEs nearly irrelevant.

The key to making things work is to draft enough talent at QB, RB and WR before the double-digit rounds hit; that way it isn`t a big deal to use two selections on a TE.

If Keller or Celek doesn`t work out, there`s always the backup option which could or couldn`t be from a talented group of TEs with an ADP higher than 150 that includes Visanthe Shiancoe of the Minnesota Vikings, Kevin Boss of the New York Giants, Tony Scheffler of the Denver Broncos, Heath Miller of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Anthony Fasano of the Miami Dolphins and Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers.

Add in a talented rookie crop that includes Jared Cook of the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Pettigrew of the Detroit Lions, Chase Coffman of the Cincinnati Bengals and Shawn Nelson of the Buffalo Bills, and there`s a good chance that even most waiver wires are going to have plenty of viable starting options, as well.

At the end of the day, it`s safe to assume that a TE isn`t going to win or lose a league. The player that could`ve been selected instead of a TE, however, is a different story.

All the proof needed came last year with Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ADP: 83.29), who single-handedly carried many teams to championships.

TEs selected ahead of Williams included Jeremy Shockey of the New Orleans Saints (ADP: 72.14), Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins (ADP: 72.71) and Clark (ADP: 78.00).

Hindsight is always 20/20, but it`s obvious that risk at other positions is far more valuable than "security" at TE -- draft accordingly.

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