2010 Fantasy Football Preview: TEs

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers makes a catch against the New York Jets during AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

All 2010 Fantasy Football Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

The tight end position is often overlooked in fantasy football, but in leagues that award a point per reception, a stud TE can be quite valuable indeed. Over the past decade or so, NFL offensive coordinators have increasingly built game plans around their talented tight ends. It used to be that the position was meant to block in the running game and catch the occasional pass or two. But, more and more, the tight end has become a spot for a big playmaker with soft hands who can block a little.

The position isn’t nearly as deep as QB, but since many fantasy owners don’t consider taking a tight end until the fourth or fifth round, value is often found in the middle rounds. A vast majority of championship teams will get at least average production from the position, so no matter your strategy, you have to find a decent TE somewhere in your draft if you hope to be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.

Here are a few TEs I’ll be targeting this season along with the round in which each player becomes a good value.

Antonio Gates in the 4th
With Vincent Jackson prepared for a long holdout, Gates will get a ton of targets from Phillip Rivers. It appears that his foot injury is behind him, so he’s in line for another Top 4 year. Gates is as consistent as they come.

Dallas Clark in the 5th
Clark was a stud last season, but with Anthony Gonzalez back and the continued development of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, one wonders if he can post 100 catches again. His previous high was 77, so the gut says ‘no.’ Still, even if he takes a 20% cut in production, that still would have been good enough to be TE3 in ’09.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03: Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers catches a five-yard touchdown pass over Greg Toler #28 of the Arizona Cardinals in the third quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Jason Witten, Vernon Davis or Jermichael Finley in the 5th/6th
All three of these guys are capable of putting up big numbers this season. Witten is Mr. Steady, Davis has one great year under his belt and Finley is Mr. Upside. Witten has averaged 90-1042-4.3 over the last three seasons and the Cowboys have said that they want to get him more involved in the red zone. Davis finished just behind Gates as last season’s TE3, and should have another fine year as everything has stayed pretty much the same in San Francisco. Finley showed his worth in Week 4 against the Vikings when he posted 6-128-1 and finished the year on an eight-game tear in which he averaged 5.5-72-0.5, which are TE2-type numbers. The Packers lack a big body at WR around the goal line, so look for Finley to get his fair share of jump balls inside the 5-yard line.

Tony Gonzalez or Brent Celek in the 6th/7th
Gonzo is the consummate pro and has finished in the Top 5 in 10 of the last 11 seasons. He’s 34, but he’s still doing all (or at least most) of the things he was doing at 28. Even though the projections have him finishing TE6 or TE7, it’s more likely that someone projected to finish ahead of him has a disappointing year and Gonzo sneaks into the Top 5 yet again.

As for Celek, some might downgrade him because Donovan McNabb is gone, but in the two weeks where Kevin Kolb got a lot of work (Weeks 2 & 3), Celek caught 16 passes for 208 yards and a TD. Granted, in Week 2 the Eagles were throwing from behind against the Saints, and Week 3 was against a very suspect Chiefs defense, but still — Kolb feels comfortable with Celek. How you feel about the QB is how you feel about the TE. If Kolb has a good or great season, Celek will likely finish in the Top 6 or 7 again.

Kellen Winslow or Visanthe Shiancoe in the 9th
The bottom line is that if Winslow stays healthy, he’s going to finish in the Top 10. Unfortunately, that’s a big IF, and Winslow is already being held out of practice because of soreness in his knee after his sixth — yes, his sixth — knee surgery. Still, in the 9th, Winslow is a good value. Just be sure to draft his backup relatively quickly.

Shiancoe’s value depends heavily on the pending return of Mr. Brett Favre. He posted Top 5 numbers over the second half of the season and Favre loves to look for his TE in the red zone.

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 03: Zach Miller #80 of the Oakland Raiders catches a touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Zach Miller in the 9th/10th
Jason Campbell is in as the starter in Oakland, which means that for the first time, Miller will have a capable QB throwing the ball. Campbell loved throwing it to Chris Cooley in Washington, so Miller projects to have a nice year. He caught 37 passes over his final six games and with a solid QB under center, he should be able to build off of that success.

Kevin Boss in the 12th
From Weeks 8-16, Boss averaged 3.5-46-0.6, which are TE7-type numbers. He’s not terribly consistent, but he’s entering his fourth season and has become one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets around the goal line. Boss is better suited to be a backup, but a Top 10 finish is not out of the question if he gets consistent targets week to week.

Steering clear of… Chris Cooley. I like him, but with Fred Davis battling for snaps and a new QB in town, there’s not enough stability to justify his 7th round ADP… Owen Daniels. He just had a setback with his knee, so if he’s not back and looking good in the next couple of the weeks, I’ll let someone else take the risk… Heath Miller. I like him in a backup role, maybe in the 12th round, but with Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first six games, I wonder how effective the Steeler passing game will be with Byron Leftwich, who is not known for passing to his TE… Greg Olsen. He has great upside, and who knows, maybe Mike Martz will finally take advantage of his tight end. But there are too many other options in more stable situations.

Here are our official TE rankings, by tier:

1. Antonio Gates
2. Dallas Clark

3. Jason Witten
4. Vernon Davis
5. Jermichael Finley
6. Tony Gonzalez
7. Brent Celek

8. Kellen Winslow
9. Visanthe Shiancoe
10. Zach Miller
11. Chris Cooley
12. John Carlson

13. Greg Olsen
14. Heath Miller
15. Owen Daniels
16. Jeremy Shockey

17. Kevin Boss
18. Dustin Keller
19. Todd Heap
20. Tony Scheffler

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

Related Posts