We're back at it again, just in time for your fantasy draft. You have already seen the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs, now let's finish it off with the tight ends. I'll give you several ways to score big in your fantasy leagues. We'll take a look at the big scorers to take early and some other ones that you can wait until later in the draft that still should be a solid contributor. We will start it off with the tight ends that score fantasy points like receivers.
5) Visanthe Shiancoe - 2009 Stats - 56 rec 566 yards 11 TDs
Shiancoe had a solid 2009, thanks to a large part played by Mr. Wrangler, Brett Favre. Favre may have made all of the throws, but Visanthe definitely has the rare hands to make all the catches. As good as 09' was for Shiancoe, I expect a better 2010. Sidney Rice was Favre's favorite target last year. He could throw the deep ball up and Rice would go and get it. Rice scored a lot of the touchdowns due to this. He also took away a lot of the redzone looks from Shiancoe. Rice has been placed on the PUP list to start this season. This guarantees Sidney missing at least the first 6 games. During this stretch, Favre will come to rely on Shiancoe. After Rice comes back, Brett will already have built this chemistry with Visanthe and still look for him in critical situations.
4) Jermichael Finley - 2009 Stats - 55 rec 676 yards 5 TDs
Jermichael had a breakout year in 2009 and will continue this wave of new young tight end talent. Finley will benefit from being a pass catching tight end on one of the top passing teams. He has a great young franchise quarterback in Aaron Rodgers that can go through all the reads and make everything throw. The Packers are too deep at wide receiver for teams to always dedicate a top defender to guarding Finley. There are not too many linebackers or safeties for that matter that have the size plus speed to follow Finley all over the field. Rodgers will look for Jermichael, especially in the redzone, and has the tools to deliver the ball in stride and/or to the perfect location.
3) Brent Celek - 2009 Stats - 76 rec 971 yards 8 TDs
The Eagles are a very young and talented team. Kevin Kolb developed with this young group of offensive weapons, including one of the top tight ends in the game, Brent Celek. Celek and Kolb already seem to be on the same page. Just watching Kolb in his limited time in the regular season in 09' and the preseason so far in this year, he seems to have a firm grasp on the offense and know where his weapons will be. With Maclin missing time, Celek seems to be benefiting more than any other player. He's a bigger target and with the Eagles losing their workhorse back, Brian Westbrook this year, they could look to depend on Kolb's arm over Lesean McCoy's feet. If that is the route they go, then Celek will put up numbers like what Dallas Clark did last year.
2) Antonio Gates - 2009 Stats - 79 rec 1,157 yards 8 TDs
What can you say? Gates is the prototype of what you want a tight end to look like. He also plays with captain check down. Philip Rivers has always looked to check down to Gates or LT in the past. With LT now in New York, is it possible for Gates to even get more 5 yard passes and break tackles to turn into long gains for Rivers passing stat? I believe this is what will happen. Ryan Matthews will get a heavy workload in the running game, but there are questions behind the reliability of this O-line. Vincent Jackson is still MIA. So, if they decide to go pass heavy, Gates will undoubtedly be the #1 option.
1) Dallas Clark - 2009 Stats - 100 rec 1,106 yards 10 TDs
Clark is built more like a wideout and this is what the Colts use them as. He also benefits from playing with the best Quarterback in the game today. Peyton Manning can manipulate a defense and put the ball wherever he wants. Manning also makes any receiver that plays with him a viable threat. They can take advantage of Pierre Garcon's speed, by having the corner and the safety having to protect the deep route. Then you have one of the top receivers in the game on the other side in Reggie Wayne, in which every D has to game plan against. After you throw Austin Collie or Anthony Gonzalez out there in the slot, then defenses have no other choice but to match a linebacker or a safety up against Clark. This can turn out bad; even against elite linebackers...just ask Brian Cushing who got burnt all day by Clark. Cushing gave up 15 receptions in that game. There is no reason to believe that Peyton won't manipulate defenses again in 2010.
Just Miss Top 5
Will rebound from a fluke season in touchdown receptions. He only had 2 touchdowns in 2009 but all his other stats were at the top of his position. There is no way he doesn't improve on TD receptions this year. The Dallas O-line does concern me on whether Romo can but up the huge numbers as in years past.
Should easily be in the top 5. The only problem is that we haven't seen him play since the injury in 2009. I know he'll be back on opening day, but without seeing him play after the injury, I just couldn't list him in the top 5. If he comes out in the first game playing like the same ole O.D., then you will have a great year at the tight end position, if you picked him up.
Has top 5 abilities, easily. He also has Alex Smith throwing the ball to him. I just can't see Smith taking full advantage of Davis' skill set. Until the 49ers get a real QB, Vernon won't be listed in my top 5.
Is basically in the same boat as Daniels. He's coming off a severe injury. He also has another negative going against him, though. He's playing with a new quarterback and that quarterback is dinged up right now. I believe Cooley will have a solid year as usual, but it won't be a top 5 season.
Is 78 years old. He has to break down sometime. I think this is the year he has a huge falloff. He plays in a high power offense and if he can make it through the whole season and still play at the same caliber that we became accustom to, then he could still be mentioned at the top...well at least until he turns 79.
Has to find away to convince Mike Martz to use his size as a weapon in the Bears new passing game. Martz usually likes his tight ends to be blockers. You should be able to get Olsen late and if Martz uses Greg right, then he could make you look like a fantasy genius.
Seems to always have something happening negative around him. Whether it's injuries, accidents, or placing footing to firmly in mouth. This will make a highly talented tight end slide into the later rounds. He'll have a great statistical season if he avoids the previous mention scenarios.
Might struggle early with Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich, or Charlie Batch throwing him the ball. Whoever they decide to be quarterback while Big Ben serves his suspension, will hurt Miller's fantasy value. But when Ben comes back, he will put up respectful numbers as seen in past years.
Will be the biggest beneficiary from the Brandon Marshall acquisition. He'll put up stats that he's never come close to. I wouldn't be surprised with a 7+ TD season.
Has the luxury to start as a rookie. He also gets to have Carson Palmer throw him the ball and have defenses focus on T.O., Chad Ochocinco, and fellow rookie Jordan Shipley. Gresham is a huge target and should benefit greatly from having them other guys draw most of the attention.
Was well on his way to becoming a household name in Denver until the"lil ego" showed up. The "lil ego" is referring to his former head coach Josh McDaniels who blew up a playoff team and made them one of the worst teams in the NFL. McDaniels and Scheffler bumped heads immediately. Now that Tony is out of Denver, he should pick up where he left off when Shanahan was running the show. Scheffler will be a premier target in Detroit when Calvin Johnson is covered.
Is the best tight end that no one knows about. He has had to suffer with JaMarcus Russell at quarterback. Now Russell is gone and Miller should be able to show his talent. You should be able to scoop him up late and get good numbers out of him.
Will be a top option for 2nd year quarterback Mark Sanchez, not because he doesn't have receiver options, but because I feel Sanchez isn't a top QB. He'll develop into a Philip Rivers type, just dumping off to the backs and the tight end. Keller won't mind one bit if he becomes half the tight end as Gates in San Diego.
Is another late round pick that you could draft as your 2nd tight end. Matt Moore could depend on him quite a bit. Carolina has a young receiving core behind Steve Smith and could really value a dependable tight end like Rosario.
Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were both drafted by the Patriots. The Patriots seem to have turned over a new leaf this offseason. They aren't known for using the tight ends that often in the passing game. They have been throwing the way of these rookies quite often in the preseason. Out of the two, I believe Gronkowski should develop more into the prototypical NFL tight end. He can become a redzone weapon and also, if needed.
Well, that's it for my fantasy advice for 2010. I hope you enjoyed it and it helps you in your upcoming draft. Check out "NFL Game Day" on Sunday mornings where I will be breaking down all the Sunday game matchups providing introspective and insight on what to look for. Midweek, tune into my "NFL Rage" column where I will be taking to task players, coaches, GM's owners and maybe even a few fans for their actions / non actions during the previous week. Absolutely No one is off limits! Get ready because now the season begins. - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX once a week as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk.
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