The role that the tight end plays in real football and fantasy football has come a long way in the last twenty years. They are no longer asked to become an extra offensive lineman or a gadget option in the passing game. Tight ends are the real deal and they have been making big leaps in fantasy drafts also. The important thing as a fantasy owner is to grab one of the tight ends that has the complete package ( receptions, yards and TD). Some may put up receptions and yards but can you count on them to put the ball in the end zone. Let's check out who's available.
Gates is the premiere fantasy TE. He missed six games last season but still had 782 yards and 10 TD's.
For the fantasy teams that owned him last season, he was sorely missed. You know what you're going to get with Clark when he's healthy and Manning will love to have him back.
Witten is not someone you have to worry about when it comes to health issues. He has not missed a game since 2003. Last season he scored a career high nine touchdowns and fantasy owners will hope that carries over to this season.
Unlike the others in the top 5, David does not play with an elite QB. And even though he frequently faces double teams, his athletic ability allows him to be very productive. He is entering his prime and might show further improvement in Jim Harbaugh's offense.
Finley was another great tight end that ended up on the IR. It looked like it was going to be a career year for him, so 2011 may be the season that 2010 wasn't for Finley. Like Vernon Davis, Finley is a beast.
He burst onto the scene with a super rookie season. Gronkowski scored ten touchdowns, which tied for first at the tight end position. He may not reach that total this year but should score quite a few while his receptions and yards move higher.
Winslow has surprisingly not missed a game since joining the Bucs. He is not one of the elite tight ends but is still a very solid choice.
He started slow, recovering from his torn ACL the year before but finished very strong. Daniels is a really good tight end and hopefully he can get back to his 2008 numbers.
Cooley should put up similar numbers to his 2010 season. In the Shanahan offense, Cooley received frequent targets. With the Redskins using a new QB, he'll no doubt be looking for his tight end.
10. Tony Gonzalez - Atlanta Falcons
The former Chief has not been able to put up the same numbers that he did in K.C. That doesn't mean his numbers are bad but he is no longer one of the elite TE's. Gonzalez also has to fight for touches with the duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones.
11. Aaron Hernandez - New England Patriots
Hernandez also teamed up very well with Tom Brady in the passing game. He missed some games, so if he's healthy for the whole season this year expect his numbers to be slightly higher.
12. Zach Miller - Seattle Seahawks
Who knows what the Raiders were thinking when they let Miller go to Seattle? It should be interesting to see how the Seahawks use him but I expect him to post some really nice numbers.
Lewis had a true breakout season in 2010. I could see his touchdowns coming down from 10 but his receptions and yards should stay about the same. ( around 50 rec. and 700 yards)
In his sophmore season of 2010, he played in every game and showed that he can be productive. If he can develop a relationship with Matt Stafford, there may be bigger things in his future.
Graham was another rookie who shined. With Jeremy Shockey moving on to Carolina, he should reap the benefits and see an increase in all categories.
He seems to be Mark Sanchez's favorite target and comes up with some amazing catches. His touchdowns were all at the start of the season, so hopefully this season will be more spread out over the course of the year.
Miller's production dropped back down after setting some career highs in 2009. Ben Roethlisberger trusts him, which means he will by no means be forgotten in the Steeler offense.
The Eagles offense was high flying last season but Celek's numbers went down. With the weapons Philadelphia has, he probably won't improve much over last season.
Gresham finally brought the Bengals a receiving option at tight end. His numbers will probably stay the same or go down, as they have lost Carson Palmer and their two best receivers.
The Cardinals have never used their tight end very much but that could change with the edition of Todd Heap. Heap may be one of the top options for Kevin Kolb after Fitzgerald.
Watson had career highs in receptions and yards in 2010. With the Browns offense still developing, look for Watson to still be used quite frequently by Colt McCoy.
He is another young tight end on the rise. Of course the Chiefs are a run heavy offense, but Moeaki should be able to put up some points when he has the opportunity.
23. Jared Cook - Tennessee Titans
Cook is a beast but needs to develop some consistency. He'll be entering his third season and might make for a nice sleeper pick if you have a tight end need.
With the move over to the Panthers, Olsen should rebound from a mediocre 2010. He wasn't used enough in the Bears/Mike Martz offense. He has the talent to stretch the field as seen in Chicago's playoff win over Seattle.
Boss is the new starting tight end for the Raiders. Zach Miller was used a lot in this scheme, so we can expect Boss to succeed and have a productive year.
Inheriting the position from Todd Heap, Dickson should receive an ample amount of targets and continue to develop. Watch him as a sleeper tight end with speed.
Shiancoe's 2010 followed Brett Favre's 2010 and they both trended downwards. Keep an eye on him during pre-season but his ceiling is probably 50 receptions, 500 yards and 2 touchdowns.
28. Jacob Tamme - Indianapolis Colts
He was a great replacement for Dallas Clark if you were able to grab him. He probably won't be able to duplicate his 2010 season without an injury to Clark but he has gained the trust of Manning.
30. Jeremy Shockey - Carolina Panthers
He can't seem to stay healthy for an entire season. Shockey moves away from the strong passing game of the Saints to the developing Panthers. The tight end will be used but he has Greg Olsen in front of him.
31. Kyle Rudolph - Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph is the future of the TE position in Minnesota but it will take time for him to develop. Draft him as a keeper or dynasty pick later in your draft.
32. John Carlson - Seattle Seahawks
He lost a lot of value as last season went on and even more when Seattle signed Zach Miller. If the Seahawks keep him, then it's going to be a long year for John Carlson.