With eight tight ends gaining over 800 yards last season and six of them scoring eight or more touchdowns, it’s finally time for owners to start giving the position greater consideration this Fantasy Football season. To help with the decision making process come draft day, here’s a list of the top ten tight ends available in 2010.
1) Antonio Gates (San Diego Chargers)
Possibly the most athletic Tight End in the league, Antonio Gates is coming off a season in which he caught 78 passes for 1,157 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those lofty numbers are possible again this year due to San Diego’s dependency on the passing game now that Tomlinson is gone. Though rookie Ryan Mathews may eventually fill in nicely for the departed future Hall of Famer, Gates will still remain the go to guy in San Diego for at least one more season. The fact that he has scored 57 touchdowns over a six year stretch should make him an even more attractive pick and you should not be surprised if he is gone by the third round.
2) Dallas Clark (Indianapolis Colts)
Clark is coming off a career year in which he caught 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns and, as long as Peyton Manning remains the Colt’s quarterback, he will stay among the league leaders in receptions. As steady a fantasy receiver as they come, Clark posted nine games of seven or more receptions last season, while twice going over the 100 yard barrier. While he may not go as high as Gates in most drafts, Clark should be off the board by the fifth round.
3) Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
Though he has averaged over 90 receptions and 1,000 yards over the past three seasons, Witten is currently not a big enough red zone threat to be rated higher. Still, what you get from the Cowboy’s tight end is plenty, and there is no reason to believe that Witten won’t have another 90 -1000 season in 2010. On the upside, it is highly doubtful that he will come away with only 2 touchdowns again this season.
4) Vernon Davis (San Francisco 49ers)
Davis finally started living up to the expectations which made him the sixth player chosen overall in the 2006 NFL Entry Draft. Last season Davis led all tight ends with 13 touchdowns, scoring at least once in ten out of the sixteen games he played. Along the way the 6-3, 250 lbs tight end with the 4.5 speed also had three +100 yard games.
No longer a sleeper pick, look for Davis to be among the top 5 tight ends taken this year.
5) Kellen Winslow (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Forget the knee injuries and the bad boy image, as long as Tampa Bay stays busy developing their quarterback of the future, Winslow will remain the Buccaneers number one target. Last year Winlsow was back to posting the type of numbers that made him a Fantasy Football favorite in 2007-2008. Look for Kellen to record at least 70 receptions for 900 yards this season, and for Tampa quarterbacks to pass to him in red zone situations.
6) Zach Miller (Oakland Raiders)
Despite an anemic passing game in Oakland, Zach Miller has managed to post decent numbers the last few seasons. Don’t be surprise then if Miller improves on those numbers this season now that Oakland is looking to go in a different direction with their starting quarterback. Look for numbers in the +75 catches, +900 yard range and don’t be afraid to take him in the draft.
7) Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta Falcons)
After 13 years in the league, and 999 receptions, Tony Gonzalez may just be on his way down. Gonzalez slowed down drastically late last season, catching only 8 passes for 79 yards over the last 3 games, and gone now may be the days of +1,000 yards seasons for this future Hall of Famer. Still, 70-80 catches and +850 yards are a strong possibility and the athletic tight end still remains a large target in the red zone. While there may be one or two great season left in the tank, make sure you take an adequate backup when drafting Gonzalez this season.
8) Brent Celek (Philadelphia Eagles)
The departure of McNabb should not have a negative effect on Celek who had some of his best games last year when Kevin Kolb was the starter. By season’s end Celek had caught 76 passes for an impressive 971 yards and 8 touchdown, making him one of the year’s biggest surprise. There is no reason to believe he can’t do it again this season.
9) Heath Miller (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Big Ben’s troubles in Pittsburgh may or may not have a fantasy impact on Miller. Still, Miller is coming off a break through season in which he caught 76 passes for 789 yards and 6 touchdowns, and he is now firmly established as a major part of the Steeler’s passing game. Despite what happens with Roethlisberger this season, go ahead and take a chance on Miller.
10) John Carlson (Seattle Seahawks)
Carlson has been incredibly consistent his first two seasons in the league, and coming into his third season the former Notre Dame tight end has 106 receptions and 12 touchdowns to his name. Look for Carlson to have a breakout season this year and for his numbers to push up to the +70 catches, +750 yard range. Carlson is also an excellent red zone target who closed out the season with touchdowns in his last 4 games.