2009 fantasy football is coming soon—a look back at 2008 tight ends and kickers

When you are drafting your fantasy football team, you’re picking running backs, receivers and quarterbacks first. Tight ends and kickers are usually taken in the mid-late rounds because their value isn’t as high, and, especially in the case of kickers, you can still get a decent one in the draft’s final round. Here is a look back at the 2008 leaders at the two positions and how we think those numbers will project to 2009:

TIGHT ENDS

1. Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City Chiefs—During a season in which he was kind of auditioning for other teams, Gonzalez had one of his best campaigns—96 catches for 1058 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those are, like, Torry Holt numbers. Gonzo is now with the Atlanta Falcons, where he should have the opportunity to put up similar numbers in 2009.

2. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers—Gates had a disappointing season overall, with zero 100 yard games. But he was hurt most of the year, so even when he played he was hobbling. Still, 704 yards and 8 scores is not too shabby. This season, Gates should top that by at least 50%.

3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts—Clark was injured to start the 2008 season, but he really came on strong toward the end of it, just like his Colts team did. Clark owners were treated to a 12-catch, 142-yard, 1 TD game in week 15, and overall he finished with 77 catches for 848 yards and 6 touchdowns. There is no good reason to expect any less in ’09.

4. Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota Vikings—Shiancoe made more headlines for inadvertently showing his bare ass on camera, but he finished the season with one huge game to pad his 2008 stats, too. That was in Week 16, known in the fantasy world as title week—so Shiancoe no doubt helped some of you win your league by catching 7 passes for 136 yards and 2 scores, giving him totals of 42-596-7 on the season. But dude is too streaky to consider drafting earlier than the 12th round or so.

5. Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins—Fasano was streaky but, like Shiancoe, he had a 2-TD game in Week 16, which boosted his season value. Fasano finished with 34 catches for 454 yards and 7 TDs, but I’d be surprised if he’s even drafted by 50% of you. I mean, Jason Witten didn’t even make this list due to being hurt most of ’08.

KICKERS

1. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots—The Patriots didn’t score as many TDs as they did in 2007 so Gostkowski only had 40 extra points as opposed to 74 the year before. That meant more field goal opps, and he converted 36 of 40 to lead all kickers with 148 points. He also had four field goals and five PATs in week 16 to help some win titles. With Tom Brady back, there is no reason to think Gostkowski’s numbers will dip much, but he may have more extra points in ’09.

2. David Akers, Philadelphia Eagles—He’s had a history of injuries, but when he’s in the lineup, Akers is one of the game’s most accurate kickers. Last season he had two 4-field goal games and three 3-field goal games. The Eagles are going to put points on the board, so Akers is draft material for sure.

3. John Carney, New York Giants—This was almost a fluke, as Carney had to fill in for the injured Lawrence Tynes. He did so well that he made the Pro Bowl, kicking 35 of 38 field goals and 38 of 38 on extra points. But with Tynes healthy, Carney is once again looking for work in ’09.

4. Matt Bryant, Tampa Bay Bucs—Bryant had to endure the death of his infant son a few games in, but he battled admirably. However, this is the Bucs we’re talking about, and they only allowed Bryant 36 PAT chances. Overall he had 32 of 38 field goals and 35 of the 36 extra points. But guys like Bryant are valuable because they play on teams that don’t score a lot of TDs, giving them more field goal chances. He should have similar numbers this season.

5. John Kasay, Carolina Panthers—Kasay had a 4-field goal game in week 1 and another in week 17, but only 20 field goals in the other 15 games. I’m just saying, I probably wouldn’t draft the guy.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2009 fantasy football is coming soon—a look back at 2008 WRs

Last week we looked at the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks from 2008 with a look toward 2009. This week, it’s about those who catch passes. Wide receivers have become almost as valuable as running backs, so it’s important not to overlook that when you’re preparing for your fantasy draft. And you are preparing, right? Or will you cram on Labor Day weekend? If you’re like me, you’re reading this stuff now because these long months without football suck. So, about those receivers….and keep in mind this Top 10 is based on scoring from one of my own fantasy leagues, and stats may differ from league to league:

1. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals—There should be no question remaining as to who has the best hands in football. In fact, I’ll just say it — that Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver in football, and one of the best since the days of (dare I say it) Jerry Rice, or Lynn Swann. Yeah, he’s that good, and he’s just getting started. In ’08, Fitzgerald had 96 catches for 1431 yards and 12 touchdowns….and that’s with Kurt Warner having two other legitimate targets in Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

2. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions—This poor bastard put up huge numbers last year for an 0-16 team—78 receptions for 1331 yards and 12 scores. It’s difficult to draft anyone on the Lions, though.

3. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans—This guy is just a beast. I mean, a freaking beast. Johnson had SIX games of over 130 receiving yards, and wound up with 115 catches for 1575 yards and 8 TDs…all usually with two guys covering him. Like I said, a beast. Now what would he do with a real QB?

4. Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals—Q wants the ball, and he may not get it in Arizona this season. But his numbers and skills have every other GM salivating. Last year, despite missing four games with injuries, Boldin caught 89 passes for 1038 yards and 11 scores. He even rushed 9 times for 67 yards.

5. Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers—Jennings has been on the verge of fantasy superstardom for a few years now, and I think the next two seasons may be peak years for him — especially with Aaron Rodgers coming into his own and Donald Driver losing a step or two. His 2008 numbers? 80 catches for 1292 yards and 8 touchdowns. This year, I’m saying 100-1500-12.

6. Randy Moss, New England Patriots—The fact that Moss still had a 1000-yard season catching passes from the yet-unproven Matt Cassel says a lot about Moss. Dude is a sick receiver. He had just four 100-yard games, but was consistent over the season with 69 receptions for 1008 yards and 11 TDs. He gets his boy Brady back in 2009, so look for 2007-ish numbers again.

7. Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys—He had one game over 200 yards, one more over 100, and every other game below 100. Owens managed 1052 yards on 69 catches with 10 scores, but by his standards the season was a bust. In Buffalo, I can’t imagine his numbers will be much better.

8. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints—Marques Colston was never quite right after coming back from an injury, but Drew Brees kept throwing the ball to this guy, to the tune of 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns—with three 100-yard games.

9. Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers—He was suspended for the first two games in 2008, but still racked up 1421 yards on 78 catches with 6 scores…and a whopping eight 100-yard games. Steve Smith is just money, and he should be a Top 5 receiver in every fantasy league.

10. Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Bucs—Bryant had his best season as a pro last year after missing the entire 2007 campaign, catching 83 passes for 1248 yards and 7 TDs…and he gets bonus points for doing it with the Tampa Bay Bucs!

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