One of the more recent tools created to help in that quest for a fantasy league championship are fantasy points allowed (FPA) ratings. It's a statistical look at how an NFL team performed against each of the six major fantasy positions (quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, defense/special teams) the previous season. Using a Rotisserie-style formula, we have created a fantasy-focused rating for every team in 2010.
Each defensive unit was assigned a point value per position from 1-32, based on how it performed last season. Keep in mind, this rating has nothing to do with how a team finished in passing or rushing defense. Take into consideration the Buccaneers, who were ranked sixth in receiving yards allowed last season but still surrendered the 10th-most fantasy points to tight ends. The Giants gave up the most fantasy points (10.9 PPG) to the position, so each tight end facing them received one point. If a tight end plays the Colts, who surrendered the fewest points (4.0 PPG), he received 32 points. The lower the point total, the better the rating.
Of course, we all know that there is no fool-proof way to figure out which fantasy players will succeed and which ones will fail. Rosters and coaching personnel change, defenses will improve or falter from one season to the next, and the unpredictable nature of the NFL will continue to frustrate and excite us.
But these FPA ratings can still be very useful when picking between players with similar value and looking for those ever-elusive sleepers that can help lead you to that ultimate goal –- a fantasy title.
1. Chris Cooley, Redskins: Cooley missed a good portion of last season with an injured ankle, but he's back at 100 percent. He could turn into a tremendous draft value, as he will play 12 of his 16 games against teams that allowed 7.2 or more fantasy PPG to tight ends in 2009. That's also good news for Fred Davis.
2. Jason Witten, Cowboys: Had it not been for a lack of touchdown catches, Witten might have finished in the top five in fantasy points among tight ends last season. Based on a favorable schedule that includes games against the Giants (2), Eagles (2), Bears, Lions, Vikings and Cardinals, Witten should find the end zone more frequently in 2010.
3. Jermichael Finley, Packers:Fantasy leaguers looking for a breakout candidate at the tight end position should look no further than Finley. He showed tremendous upside last season, and a schedule that includes games against the Bears (2), Lions (2), Vikings (2), Eagles, Giants and Falcons makes him even more attractive as a No. 1 fantasy tight end.
4. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions: Pettigrew's value is all dependant on his healthy return from reconstructive knee surgery. If he is able to come back in time for Week 1, he'll have some great matchups against the Bears (2), Vikings (2), Eagles, Rams and Buccaneers. The addition of Tony Scheffler hurts his fantasy outlook, though.
5. Greg Olsen, Bears: Notice a trend with NFC North tight ends? Olsen is the third player from the division in the top five based on games against the Lions (2), Vikings (2), Eagles, Giants and Dolphins. Of course, the fact that no tight end has ever caught 40 passes in a Mike Martz offense makes Olsen less attractive despite the favorable schedule.
6. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings: The fourth and final NFC North tight end in the top six, Shiancoe is coming off a season with 11 touchdowns. As long as Brett Favre is back, it's not outlandish to predict continued success for him in 2010 based on a schedule that includes games against the Bears (2), Lions (2), Giants, Eagles, Cardinals and Dolphins.
7. Brent Celek, Eagles: Celek became one of the top tight ends in fantasy football last season, and his slate of games in 2010 makes him even more attractive as a top-notch option on draft day. The veteran should produce solid numbers based on very favorable matchups against the Giants (2), Bears, Vikings, Lions, Falcons, Texans and Titans.
8. Jeff King, Panthers: Let's not kid each other - I'm not drafting King, and neither are you. But it is worth noting that he faces a favorable schedule that includes games against the Buccaneers (2), Cardinals, Rams, Browns, Giants and Bears. At best, Rosario could be a matchup-based option or bye-week replacement in larger leagues.
9. Jeremy Shockey, Saints: Shockey was a very productive option for fantasy owners to start last season, but his numbers tumbled down the stretch. While he's now more of a No. 2 fantasy option, it does help that Shockey faces the Falcons (2), Buccaneers (2), Rams, Browns, Vikings and Cardinals. That's also good news for teammate David Thomas.
10. Kevin Boss, Giants: Boss is the fourth and final tight end from the NFC East ranked in our top 10 based on FPA rating. He has very favorable matchups against the Eagles (2), Bears, Lions, Vikings, Titans and Texans. Those games will help make Boss a more attractive No. 2 fantasy option and matchup-based starter across the board.
11. Vernon Davis, 49ers: Davis came out of nowhere to become the top-scoring tight end in fantasy football last season. Though it's hard to imagine him duplicating the 13 touchdowns he scored, Davis is still a top option at his position. A schedule that includes games against the Cardinals (2), Rams (2), Buccaneers, Falcons and Eagles is also favorable.
12. Dustin Keller, Jets: Keller has lost some of his luster this offseason, as the Jets added Santonio Holmes to a core of receivers that also includes Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. Keller does have the advantage of a favorable schedule, however, as he will square off against teams like the Dolphins (2), Vikings, Texans, Bears and Lions.
13. John Carlson, Seahawks: Carlson, a viable sleeper in fantasy circles, should see a prominent role under new coach Pete Carroll next season. Carroll liked to use tight ends in his previous stops in the NFL, so Carlson is well worth a look. He also has some favorable matchups against the Cardinals (2), Rams (2), Falcons, Buccaneers, Bears and Giants.
14. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars: Lewis did post a career-best 518 yards last season, but he's simply never been consistent enough across the board to warrant serious fantasy consideration. On a positive note, he does have favorable matchups on the slate against teams like the Texans (2), Titans (2), Eagles, Giants and Dolphins. Still, Lewis has limited draft appeal.
15. Dallas Clark, Colts: The top fantasy tight end on NFL.com, Clark had career bests in receptions (100) and yards (1,106) to go along with his 10 touchdown catches last season. In 2010, he has a relatviely favorable slate of games against the Texans (2), Titans (2), Chargers, Giants and Eagles. Clark will be one of the first tight ends taken in drafts.
17. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons: One of the greatest tight ends of all time, both on the field and in fantasy circles, Gonzalez will be one of the first players taken at his position regardless of the schedule. The veteran faces some favorable matchups, including games against the Buccaneers (2), Cardinals, Rams, Browns and Eagles.
18. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots: The Patriots signed veteran Alge Crumpler during the offseason and also drafted Rob Gronkowski, but fellow rookie Hernandez has the most (though limited) fantasy potential for the 2010 season. This trio faces the Dolphins (2), Browns, Vikings, Bears and Lions among the team's more favorable matchups.
19. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers: Winslow should see a ton of targets in a Buccaneers offense that lacks even one legitimate playmaker at the wide receiver position, so the schedule won't greatly affect his status as a No. 1 fantasy tight end. Some of his more attractive matchups in 2010 include games against the Falcons (2), Rams, Browns, Lions and Cardinals.
20. Todd Heap, Ravens: Heap, once a top-five fantasy tight end, is coming off his best statistical season since 2006. However, it's still hard to promote him as more than a No. 2 fantasy tight end based on a recent lack of consistent production. Heap also has tough matchups against the Bengals (2), Steelers (2), Patriots, Broncos and Panthers.
21. Michael Hoomanawanui, Rams: Hoomanawanui has turned some heads in the preseason, but he isn't going to make a major impact for fantasy owners this season. That won't change in 2010, even without Randy McMichael in the mix. He'll also have a tough schedule that includes games against the 49ers (2), Saints, Panthers, Redskins, and Raiders.
22. Ben Patrick, Cardinals: Whether it's Patrick, Anthony Becht or Stephen Spach, the Cardinals don't have a single tight end on their roster that warrants fantasy consideration. Even if one of them saw more work as a pass catcher, which isn't likely, a schedule that includes games against the 49ers (2), Saints, Panthers and Raiders isn't favorable.
23. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals: Greshan, a rookie out of Oklahoma, will open next season as the team's best pass-catching tight end. He does have very good upside, but the Bengals haven't used the tight end in their offense in recent seasons. The fact that he faces tough games against the Ravens (2), Steelers (2), Patriots, Saints, Jets and Panthers doesn't help his cause.
24. Zach Miller, Raiders: Miller is one of the most underrated tight ends in the league, and his value will only rise with Jason Campbell under center for the Silver & Black. While he is now a low-end No. 1 fantasy option in leagues with 12-plus teams, Miller does have a very tough schedule that includes games against the Broncos (2), Colts, Bengals, 49ers and Saints.
25. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins: Fasano didn't do much to endear himself to fantasy owners last season, posting a mere 339 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games. With Brandon Marshall now in the mix and a schedule that includes tough games against the Bills (2), Jets (2), Patriots (2), Ravens, Bengals, Steelers and Raiders, Fasano's value won't rise.
26. Bo Scaife, Titans: Scaife has had some low-end value in PPR leagues in recent seasons, but his lack of touchdown production makes him worth no more than a reserve spot in fantasy leagues. The veteran out of Texas won't receive any edge from the schedule, as he'll face the Colts (2), Broncos, Raiders, 49ers, Steelers and Redskins in 2010.
27. Heath Miller, Steelers: Miller has a strange tendancy to produce better numbers in odd-numbered years than in even-numbered ones. That doesn't make him a bust candidate, but it's something to remember on draft day. Also keep in mind that games against the Bengals (2), Ravens (2), Patriots, Jets, Panthers, Raiders, Saints and Dolphins are tough.
28. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs: Leonard Pope signed with the Chiefs during the offseason and will be re-united with coach Todd Haley, his former coordinator in Arizona. However, the rookie Moeaki will have the best chance at fantasy relevance in 2010. The schedule won't help him, though, as Moeaki faces tough matchups against the Broncos (2), Raiders (2), 49ers, Bills and Colts.
29. Owen Daniels, Texans: Daniels led all tight ends in fantasy points last season before tearing up his knee and missing the final eight games. While he does have a chance to be a great draft value in 2010, it bears noting that Daniels has a number of tough matchups on the slate against the Colts (2), Broncos, Raiders, Redskins, Patriots, Ravens and Jets.
30. Daniel Graham, Broncos: Graham is in line to see more work for coach Josh McDaniels after the trade of Scheffler. However, that alone won't make him worth a look on draft day, especially in an offense that uses tight ends as blockers more than pass catchers. Graham also faces tough teams like the Raiders (2), Colts, Jets, Ravens and 49ers.
31. Benjamin Watson, Browns: Watson was once a low-end fantasy option at the tight end position, but he's rarely been consistent enough to be a regular starter. Now in Cleveland, he'll have to go up against the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers a combined six times along with other tough matchups against the Jets, Patriots, Dolphins, Bills and Saints.
32. Antonio Gates, Chargers: Based on our FPA rating, no tight end has a tougher schedule than Gates. However, that sn't enough to avoid him in drafts. His schedule includes tough games against the Raiders (2), Broncos (2), Colts, 49ers, Bengals and Patriots. The Raiders, Colts and Niners were three of the five toughest teams for tight ends to score on in 2009.