It doesn't take a long look to see that the NFL is stacked with TE talent. In the NFC, the East has Jason Witten, Brent Celek, Chris Cooley, and Kevin Boss. The NFC South has Tony Gonzales, Jeremy Shockey, and Kellen Winslow. Even the NFC West has two budding stars in Vernon Davis and John Carlson. But did you know that the NFC North represents the best bet for fantasy output? And while it does have something to do with the talents of the TE's themselves, the real secret to their fantasy success hinges on the defenses of the division where they play.
Last season NFC North teams were the worst in the league at defending TE's, with all four falling outside of the top-20. Take a look at the numbers surrendered to opposing TE's in '09 by the four defenses:
Team Rec Yds TD Fantasy Pts Allowed NFL Rank
Detroit 74 789 13* 142 30
Minnesota 85 918 9 134 28
Chicago 70 681 10 117 24
Green Bay 62 751 8 112 22
The NFC North presents some serious opportunity for guys who play against these defenses 6 times a season in intra-division contests--that's over 40% of the regular season fantasy schedule. And the best part is, you can own one of these options by drafting them in either the early, middle, or midnight rounds of your draft and beyond!
Top Option - Jermichael Finley is in the best situation, as he plays the worst three defenses within the division. Finley also carries with him a hefty fifth round asking price. If you are considering taking a TE early, use a selection on the pro-bowler-to-be after a few of the big names have been taken.
Mid-Draft Target - The return of Favre (did he ever leave?) makes Visanthe Shiancoe an instant value, and good bet to post double digit TD's, as #4's main security blanket. His 9th round ADP is very welcoming.
Late-Round Flyer - For the gambler in you, Greg Olson makes an interesting selection. Martz has never been one to feature TE's in his offense, but has admitted that he hasn't had one like Olsen (Vernon Davis anyone?) in his years of coaching. Olson is a high upside #2 taken with a late round pick.Brandon Pettigrew could see the "Lions" share of looks by seasons end
Waiver Wire Fodder - In Detroit, Brandon Pettigrew, who is returning from offseason ACL surgery, represents the youth, upside, and inexperience that have become a hallmark of the Detroit offense. I fully expects Tony Scheffler to hold the team job in the early going, carving out some nice TE2 numbers in the process. We do envision Pettigrew working himself into the rotation by mid-season, and any injury to either party could make for a nice waiver addition to any fantasy team as a TE2 with some serious upside.