A Fantasy Perspective
Very few tight ends or kickers have made a splash in free agency
over the years, with only a limited number of success stories
coming to mind. Shannon Sharpe left his longtime home Denver in
2000 for the Ravens. That year Sharpe helped raise the production
level of Baltimores passing game with 810 yards receiving
and five touchdowns, and aided in their postseason dominance and
eventual NFL championship. Thought by many to be finished at the
age of 42, kicker Morten Andersen found a second wind when he
was signed by offensive juggernaut Kansas City in 2002. Andersen
has proven to be a reliable kicker for both the Chiefs and fantasy
owners, maintaining an 80% completion rate over the past two years.
An equal amount of disappointments can be found in the tight
end/kicker free agency pool. In 1996 kicker Chris Boniol, then
one of the most reliable legs in the NFL, left the Dallas Cowboys
in favor of division rival Philadelphia for what would be one
of the largest contracts ever awarded to a kicker. Unfortunately
for the Eagles, Boniol forgot to pack his accuracy when he made
the move east, and wound up out of the league just two years later.
In 2002, The Arizona Cardinals snatched up one of the more promising
young tight ends through free agency from the San Diego Chargers.
Whether it has been due to his own shortcomings or the lack of
talent on the Cardinal roster, two years have now passed and Freddie
Jones has yet to develop into one of the top flight tight ends
in this league.
This offseason has not seen any notable stars make the move to
a new team, but we shouldnt be too quick to dismiss the
potential for some lesser names to emerge with their new clubs
in 2004. Do not make the mistake of overlooking the free agent
tight ends and kickers of this past offseason without first taking
some time to understand the playing situation that each one is
Jed Weaver/O.J. Santiago/Byron Chamberlain
It will be a difficult task for any of these three newcomers to
fill the void left by future Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. All
have shown sparks of potential throughout their respective careers,
but none have elevated their game to a level of consistency that
would solidify a starting position elsewhere. O.J. Santiago has
bounced from team to team throughout his career, continually finding
work because of the potential that lies in his size and strength.
Byron Chamberlain had been tabbed as Daunte Culpeppers main
man in the redzone, but was supplanted by a tougher and more consistent
Jim Kleinsasser. That leaves Jed Weaver, who has been mentioned
in reports out of minicamp as the favorite to start on opening
day. It doesnt hurt that Weaver also makes the most money
of the three. Last year Jake Plummer relied in Sharpe heavily
in the redzone, and fantasy owners hope that he will continue
that relationship with this years starter. Keep an eye on
the tight end competition in Denver and consider selecting whomever
is named to the first team.
From DET to NYJ
Ricks showed the potential while in Detroit to be a very good
tight end in the NFL, and you have to wonder why the Lions would
want to release him when he had one of the highest receiving totals
on last years team. Now with the Jets, it is too early to
tell if Ricks will share time with Anthony Becht or replace him
as the outright starter. If Ricks does take over the starting
position, you should consider drafting what would be a huge target
for Chad Pennington over the middle of the field this season.
From TB to JAX
Last season there were too many tight ends in Tampa to count,
but somehow the name Todd Yoder (hold all Amish jokes) emerged
on the Sportscenter highlights. In limited action Yoder proved
to be a very reliable redzone target for Brad Johnson, and he
will now come into competition with the Jaguars Kyle Brady, whos
production over the past few seasons has been a disappointment.
Monitor Jacksonvilles training camp reports, and hopefully
on draft day the name Yoder can be called out with confidence
as your starting tight end in larger fantasy leagues.
From BUF to TB
Moore enters a very congested situation in Tampa, where two of
the six tight ends on the current roster are Ken Dilger and Rickey
Dudley. The promise of consistent playing time has not come from
coach Jon Gruden for any of these three, and for that reason fantasy
owners should look elsewhere for their tight end needs on draft
From NO to WAS
After seeing little action last season as a reserve for the New
Orleans Saints, Walter Rasby will have an opportunity to play
this season for Washington, but the position wont be handed
to him. Rasby will compete with Fred Baxter, Brian Koslowski and
Robert Royal throughout training camp for the starting position.
Fantasy owners may want to keep an eye on who emerges from this
group during camp. Joe Gibbs had his heart set on choosing Kellen
Winslow Jr. in this years draft and utilizing the tight
end position in the Redskin offense, but made a concession to
the rest of his staff by selecting Sean Taylor.
From PIT to HOU
Never utilized as much more than a blocking end while in Pittsburgh,
Bruener will be lucky to see limited time on offense this season
with the Houston Texans. Barring an incredible display of talent
in August training camp, Bruener will be on the third team behind
Billy Miller and Ben Joppru.
From MIN to CAR
Much like Bruener in Houston, Jermaine Wiggins will join his new
team with little chance of starting for the Vikings. After Jim
Kleinsassers emergence last year as a favored target of
Daunte Culpeppers, Wiggins will instead be challenged to
secure the backup spot from virtual unknowns Rich Angulo, Sean
Berton and Ben Steele.
From AZ to NYG
The younger brother of maniacal Martin will always be known as
the kicker who tore his ACL while jumping in the air to celebrate
a kick. He will battle Giants kicker Matt Bryant for the right
to stand on the New York sideline while their offense struggles
once again this year.
From SF to JAX
Chandler failed to convert easy kicks on a consistent basis while
with San Francisco, so God only knows why the Jaguars would invite
him to play on their team. Seth Marler will return as the Jaguars
kicker from last season and face a battle in training camp that
includes both Jeff Chandler and rookie Josh Scobee. Stay away
fantasy owners, far away.