NFL Tight Ends
Tight ends aren’t fantasy footballs prized possessions but they are very important. Having a tight end on your team that can produce week in and week out is a staple if you want to make it to the playoffs. Now you may swap tight ends throughout of the season but there are some guys that you can’t pass up on draft day. Here’s my list of the top ten fantasy tight ends for 2011.
1. Jason Witten- Dallas Cowboys- Witten has figured it out when it comes to finding holes in the defense and making it easy for Tony Romo to throw him the ball. Jason was the only tight end in the league last year to go over the 1,000 yard mark and that’s saying something considering he didn’t have Romo throwing him the ball the entire season. With Jason Garret as the new head coach in “Big D” I’m expecting Witten to have a big year. Jason is Tony Romo’s favorite target and he will get his looks every week. In most drafts he’s going to be the first tight end that comes off the board.
Stats Prediction- 90 rec, 1,050 rec yds, 11 TD’s
2. Antonio Gates- San Diego Chargers- How can you not like Antonio Gates as your tight end? Gates has great hands and size and has a knack of finding the end zone. Gates is a tough matchup for linebackers, corners and safetys which makes him a great fantasy player because he’s going to get open and have the ball thrown his way. San Diego’s offense is ready to shift it into fifth gear this year and Gates is going to be a main component of the offense. When Philip Rivers isn’t looking for Vincent Jackson down field, Rivers is going to be throwing the ball Gates way.
Stats Prediction-70 rec, 925 rec yds, 10 TD’s
3. Dallas Clark- Indianapolis Colts- In the Colts offensive sets Dallas is usually lined up in the slot creating an enormous mismatch for any nickel cornerback. When Dallas isn’t in the slot he’s matched up with linebackers and that’s just another mismatch. There’s no easy way to cover this guy and that’s what makes him a great fantasy player. Clark is going to get more looks because he’s beating his man more often. Defenses can’t double cover him because Indianapolis has so many other weapons and Dallas is Peyton Manning’s second best option (his first being Reggie Wayne). When Peyton sees that Reggie Wayne is covered downfield he’s going to look for Clark and more often than not Dallas is going to be open. With Clark’s great hands he catches a lot of passes and that’s good news for you if you’re in a point per reception league.
Stats Prediction- 88 rec, 1,075 rec yds, 7 TD’s
4. Tony Gonzalez- Atlanta Falcons- Tony G has been doing his thing for the past 13 seasons. Gonzalez redefined the tight end position for players like Antonio Gates and Vernon Davis. Tony’s size alone makes him a mismatch for linebackers. To go along with that size, Tony has experience and knows the ins and outs of the position. Atlanta is loaded on offense and defenses are going to try their best to stop Michael Turner, Roddy White and Julio Jones leaving a void where Tony G will be Matt Ryan’s go to guy. Gonzalez isn’t going to get as much attention at White but when Matt Ryan needs to rely on a guy to go to under pressure, it’s going to be Gonzalez. Tony has always been a solid fantasy player and will continue to be a solid option at tight end for a couple more seasons.
Stats Prediction- 65 rec, 680 rec yds, 6 TD’s
5. Vernon Davis- San Francisco 49ers- There aren’t many offensive options in San Fran right now other than Davis and Michael Crabtree. Tight ends are quarterbacks best friends and Vernon is going to benefit from the fact that Alex Smith isn’t that great of a starting quarterback. Davis is another tough matchup for linebackers and corners with his strength and speed. Davis loves to go up and catch ball, break tackles and leave defenders in the dust. If Alex Smith can get the ball into Davis’s hands, you can bet that he’s going to put up huge fantasy numbers. I’m expecting a nice fantasy season from Davis this year.
Stats Prediction- 70 rec, 1,110 rec yds, 9 TD’s
6. Zach Miller- Seattle Seahawks- Fresh off a great fantasy season in Oakland, Miller moved north to Seattle where they have loaded up on the offensive side of the ball. Miller showed everyone last year that he can put up fantasy points now matter who’s throwing the ball his way. With last year’s performance I saw that Zack has figured out his spot in the offense game plan. Seattle went out and signed Sidney Rice which means that defenses are going to try and stop him from breaking big plays down field. This is going to open the rest of the field for Miller to beat up on safteys and linebackers. Zack is going to go above and beyond what he accomplished last season.
Stats Prediction- 75 rec, 875 rec yds, 7 TD’s
7. Owen Daniels- Houston Texans- Having Andre Johnson, the best wide receiver in the NFL, on your team helps Owen Daniels out a lot but regardless this Owen has got some pretty nice skills. As long as he can stay healthy and on the field, Daniels is going to produce at the tight end position. Like everyone else on this list before him, Owen is a mismatch for linebackers and safetys. Defenses sometimes sleep on Daniels because they focus on Andre Johnson and Daniels makes them pay as he’s shown that he can stretch the field and find the end zone. Owen also benefits from having Matt Schaub as his quarterback. Schaub isn’t that great of a quarterback and he’s going to throw the ball to his tight ends when Johnson is double covered. Daniels is going to give you solid fantasy points every week as long as he’s on the field.
Stats Prediction- 68 rec, 825 rec yds, 5 TD’s
8. Aaron Hernandez- New England Patriots- Young, fast, and a quick learner. Oh and he has Tom Brady as his quarterback. Hernandez is due for a big season as he’s going to be the number one tight end in New England this season. Aaron is going to be a handful for opposing defenses because of his speed and size. Hernandez can burn linebackers and out jump corners for passes but he won’t have to worry too much about that because Brady is going to hit this guy a lot this season since Randy Moss has just recently retired. I wouldn’t worry about Chad OchoCinco as Brady likes to hit his tight ends. Hernandez looks more like a huge wide receiver than a tight end and Brady is going to love throwing the ball to Aaron.
Stats Prediction- 60 rec, 875 rec yds, 8 TD’s
9. Jermichael Finley- Green Bay Packers- Finley is going to have some nice fantasy numbers this season because of how much Aaron Rodgers likes throwing the ball to his tight ends in the red zone. Jermichael is going to get an average amount of looks through the season but that’s because of all of the legitimate receivers that the Packers have. But where he’s going to get his points is in the red zone. When Rodgers gets the ball inside the 20 yard line he’s going to be looking for Finley and he’ll get a good amount of catches in the red zone that will end up in the end zone.
Stats Prediction- 50 rec, 600 rec yds, 8 TD’s
10. Kellen Winslow- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Tampa Bay’s offense is getting better with the growth of quarterback Josh Freeman. The Bucs let go of their number two receiver Michael Clayton this offseason and that hole is going to be filled by Mr. Kellen Winslow. Kellen goes out every Sunday wanting to be the man with the ball in his hands. Kellen gets really physical with his defenders then gets his hands on the ball and makes some great runs after the catch. What more can you ask for from your tight end? Kellen has a true love for the game and it shows on the field and on the stats sheet. Kellen is going to have a nice fantasy season this year so don’t hesitate to draft him with one of your later picks.
Stats Prediction- 70 rec, 810 rec yds, 7 TD’s