As the game has changed in the National Football League, so has the tight end position. Whereas a tight end used to essentially serve as another offensive lineman, there are a lot of tight ends that are more like wide receivers nowadays. Tight ends help to sell NFL tickets by making fantastic catches that used to only happen in the realm of wideouts. Thus, the tight end is a very relevant position in fantasy football. Here are some tight ends that will probably out-produce where they are taken in most fantasy drafts.
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts: Clark plays a prominent role in one of the top offenses in the league. Peyton Manning loves throwing to his tight ends and Clark will get plenty of looks. He’ll be towards the top of the tight ends crop in production, but can be had much later than guys like Antonio Gates and Jason Witten.
Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears: 2009 looks like it could very well be Olsen’s breakout campaign. He’s got a ton of talent and has shown that he’s ready to shine, but now that Jay Cutler is on board it’s time to turn him loose. Cutler and Olsen have reportedly formed a good rapport off the field and it’s likely that the on-field chemistry follows suit. Without top-end receivers, Cutler will be looking Olsen’s way regularly. He should produce great numbers for where you can get him.
Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders: Miller is somewhat of an unknown, but he’s a really good tight end at a young age. As JaMarcus Russell becomes more comfortable and consistent within the team’s offense, Miller’s numbers will improve. The Raiders still don’t have much on the outside, so Miller will get looks.
John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks: Carlson had a very solid rookie season last year that went largely unnoticed by NFL fans. Fantasy owners should take notice. He’s a smart player that is ready to learn. He didn’t play a ton with Matt Hasselbeck last season, as Hasselbeck was banged up much of the year, so it might take some time to develop the chemistry between the two. Still, Carlson is a great late-round option at the position.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: Miller’s prevalence in the fantasy world has diminished, but he’s still a great red zone threat. He’s not going to rack up the yardage, but he’ll score.
Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Winslow needed a change of scenery, as his relationship with the Cleveland Browns was getting worse and worse, and Tampa gives him a fresh start. The only problem is that the quarterback situation in Tampa is rather unstable. It’s unclear who the starter will be down there; it could be Byron Leftwich, Josh McCown or rookie Josh Freeman. The best situation for Winslow would be either Leftwich or McCown, and probably more so McCown due to his knowledge of the offensive system.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: This is Davis’ last shot to make good on all his physical gifts. He’s worth a late-round flier just in case Mike Singletary has finally knocked some sense into him.
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