2010 NFL Fantasy Football Preview: Tight Ends and Defenses

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Two of the less important positions when it comes to drafting early in your fantasy leagues, these lesser positions could make the difference between a slight win and a dissapointing loss.

Some tight ends can be viewed as extensions of your receiver position, while if you wait to long, they could be extensions or your non-existent offensive line. Also, defenses, when you take the right one, can counter a quarterback's interception filled game by recovering some of those turnovers.

So, while these aren't the top positions to draft and shouldn't be touched in the first four rounds, they are important in having a complete roster going into the 2010 fantasy season.

Top Player – Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Gates has been at or near the top of the tight end rankings for about five years now, and he shows no signs of stopping. His ability to play all over the field and be both an intermediate and deep threat makes him an outstanding option at tight end and he's basically a number two receiver.

This year could be one of his best because of the fact that receiving running back LaDanion Tomlinson is out, so the shorter passes may go Gates way. Also, the receiving corps isn't in great shape, and with Vincent Jackson out the first three games and will likely struggle when he returns until he's ready, Gates will get the red-zone passes as well.

Top Defense – New York Jets
There is some debate on who is the top defense, but I think it comes down to Rex Ryan's former Baltimore Ravens and his current New York Jets. Because of the injuries to the secondary in Baltimore, the Jets get the edge to start the season.

With Revis, Cromatrie, and rookie Kyle Wilson at cornerback, Bart Scott on the inside with David Harris, and Kris Jenkins at nose tackle, this defense has the potential to be one of the best in recent memory if they don't get bitten by the injury bug. This defense is worth overpicking a little bit based on their likely ability to dominate opposing offenses.

Great Value – Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota Vikings
This pick is anticipating Brett Favre is returning. Favre has really taken a liking to Shiancoe in his time with the Vikings, and that won't stop this year if (once) he returns. The Vikings have many deep threats like Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian, and Percy Harvin, but not as many short options.

With Chester Taylor gone and no other real physical receivers, Shiancoe will again get the short and intermediate passes and could have an even more impressive season that in year's past.

Great Value – San Francisco 49ers

With former linebacking great Mike Singletary at the helm, you know there will be a focus on the defense. And while the offense has added receivers, running backs, and offensive lineman through the draft in recent years, the defense is still a strong point.

Patrick Willis is still the staple of the defense, and with Navorro Bowman playing well in camp and the defensive line and outside linebackers finally clicking as a unit, the defense could finally live up to it's potential. There no lock to be a great defense, but they have the horses and are a starting fantasy defense.

Great Value – Miami Dolphins
Still a young defense who needs to develop in a hurry if they hope to be Super Bowl contenders, they have outstanding talent. They have a young secondary, rookie outside linebackers, and young defensive lineman, but all are not points of weakness.

There debatable as a fantasy defense because of their youth and uncertainty, but I wouldn't pass on them if you can get them as a backup defense, because by mid-season, they could click and be among the best defenses in the AFC and in the NFL.

Sleeper – Martellus Bennett, Dallas Cowboys
With the many options in the Dallas Cowboy arsenal, you would think that Bennett will struggle to get the ball. Miles Austin, Roy Williams, rookie Dez Bryant, and even fellow tight end Jason Witten take priority over Bennett in the offense.

However, Jason Garrett, Cowboys offensive coordinator, takes pride in his ability to rotate guys in and maximize his weapons, and in the red-zones or on second and short downs, look for Bennett to get a chance to really showcase his skills.

Sleeper – CarolinaPanthers

A defense that lost Julius Peppers, among the most talented defensive lineman the leagues ever seen, will struggle this season. However, Everette Brown, former 2nd round pick who we at Optimum Scouting viewed as a Top 15 prospect in the 2008 draft, will have a chance to develop and be the feature pass rusher for the Panthers.

If he can be an 8-10 sack type of player, the impressive cornerback and safety roster along with Jon Beason and the linebacking corps will follow suit and the defense could be impressive. While they have to deal with the Falcons and Saints twice this year, they could thrive against other foes on their roster are could be a great "Bye Week Buyer".

Sleeper – Detroit Lions
Definitely a deep sleeper defense and I wouldn't recommed drafting them unless your in a very deep league, the Lions have some value in fantasy. They've added players like Kyle Vanden Bosch, Ndamukong Suh, Julian Peterson, and Louis Delmas in recent years, and they have potential to eventually become a top notch defense.

And while I'm not ready crown them as a fantasy starting defense, they could be a great pickup when your defense has a bye-week and they are worth keeping an eye on for a majority of the season in case your defense struggles or gets hit with injuries. Tight End Rankings

1. Antonio Gates

2. Jason Witten

3. Dallas Clark

4. Vernon Davis

5. John Carlson

6. Brett Celek

7. Jeremy Shockey

8. Dustin Keller

9. Visanthe Shiancoe

10. Tony Gonzales

11. Kellen Winslow

12. Greg Olsen

13. Brandon Pettigrew

14. Marcedes Lewis

15. Heath Miller

16. Todd Heap

17. Chris Cooley

18. Zach Miller

19. Jermaine Gresham

20. Owen Daniels

21. Kevin Boss

22. Shawn Nelson

23. Rob Gronkowski

24. Martelleus Bennett

25. Donald Lee

26. Bo Scaife

27. Anthony Fasano

28. Fred Davis

29. Dennis Pitta

30. Ben Patrick Top Defenses

1. New York Jets

2. Baltimore Ravens

3. Minnesota Vikings

4. Washington Redskins

5. Dallas Cowboys

6. PittsburghSteelers

7. San Francisco49ers

8. Philadelphia Eagles

9. Miami Dolphins

10 .Cincinnati Bengals

11. New York Giants

12. New Orleans Saints

13. Indianapolis Colts

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

15. Tennessee Titans

16. Atlanta Falcons

17. Green BayPackers

18. Chicago Bears

19. Arizona Cardinals

20. CarolinaPanthers

21. New England Patriots

22. San DiegoChargers

23. Oakland Raiders

24. Houston Texans

25. Detroit Lions

26. Denver Broncos

27. Cleveland Browns

28. SeattleSeahawks

29. Tampa BayBucs

30. Kansas City Chiefs

31. Buffalo Bills

32. St. Louis Rams