Tony Gonzalez was 59 points better than the second-best TE with a group of quarterbacks who won't make you think of Joe Montana.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In this year's preseason, I did a study of tight ends in the early 1990s versus the current era of tight ends in a piece named "The changing of the tight end position."
It explained how San Francisco tight end Brent Jones led all tight ends that season with 56 catches for 747 yards and three scores. That the difference between Jones and the 10th-best tight end was just two points per week which was typical for that era.
It also explained how with the more wide open offenses currently in vogue and the athletic tight ends like Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates the gap had widened between the best and the worse.
But even I couldn't have foreseen how good Gonzalez would be in 2008 compared to the rest of the league. The future Hall-of-Famer (2008 - 1,058 yards, 10 TDs) was 123 points better than the 10th-best TE, 96 points better than the "average" TE and 59 points better than the second-best TE. He did this with a group of quarterbacks who won't make you think of Joe Montana (Tyler Thigpen, Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle and Quinn Gray).
Tony Gonzalez, Owen Daniels, Visanthe Shiancoe, John Carlson
While Gonzalez was a great value as the fourth overall tight end selected in your draft, Shiancoe (42-596-7) and Carlson (55-627-5) both finished way up this list despite barely being on anyone's radar.
How could you have picked a Vikings tight end to succeed given that his quarterback was going to be Tarvaris Jackson and the team had brought in Bernard Berrian to be the primary target? Shiancoe's seven-catch, 136-yard and two scores effort during Championship Week might have been the difference in a title for some owners. Carlson showed his stuff when the opportunity to be the Seattle Seahawks' main receiver presented itself due to injuries at their wideout position.
Fair Market Value
Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, Chris Cooley
The surprising points gap between Gonzalez and Witten was less so when you consider that Witten had just eight catches for 52 yards and no scores when Brad Johnson took over as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback for games No.7-9. Still, the four touchdowns for the entire season was a little disappointing even if the yards total (952) was acceptable. Dallas Clark is the best "security blanket" a quarterback could have, but his TD total did drop from 11 in 2007 to six in 2008.
Tony Scheffler, Greg Olsen, Heath Miller, Kevin Boss
Olsen was being touted as the next "star-in-the-making," but it never materialized. At 6'5" 252 pounds he has the physical tools, but his best day all season was a six-catch, 74-yard and one score afternoon against Minnesota. Miller also has the talent, but the Steelers always under-utilize their tight ends.
Kellen Winslow, Jeremy Shockey, Vernon Davis, Todd Heap
Winslow probably has as much talent as his Hall-of-Fame father, but he certainly didn't play like him in 2008. He seemed to be fighting the Browns' management more than the opposition. Injuries, quarterback problems and attitude left fantasy owners in tears as his numbers dropped from 82 catches, 1,106 yards, 5 TDs in 2007 to 43-428-3 this season. Shockey and Heap were hampered by injuries all season and Davis was hampered by a bad attitude.