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Second Year Tight Ends

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Tight end is a tough position for fantasy players.  There's Gonzalez and Gates and maybe Winslow, and then there's everybody else.  A lot of players feel that if you don't draft one of the top three, you can pretty much just bail on the position and take a guy with a very late round pick.

Rather than just giving up like that, here are two tight ends that I'm focusing on this season.  While both of them really struggled during their rookie seasons last year, they now have maturing quarterbacks and familiarity with the offense.   I think both of them will end up as top ten fantasy tight ends this season.

Vernon Davis (San Francisco) - It's hard to believe, but Davis was drafted fifth overall in the 2006 draft.  Injuries and ineffectiveness kept him from having a fantasy impact for most of the season and he had totals of 6 catches for 48 yards and a touchdown through 11 games.  But once he was healthy he began to show why he was drafted in the top five, finishing with 14 catches for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns over the final five games.    He's coming into this season healthy and I look for him to become a favorite target of QB Alex Smith.

Leonard Pope (Arizona) - With his 6'-8", 265 lb frame, Pope was expected to excel as a rookie tight end last season.  However, the Cardinals' offensive line was so poor that Pope was called on to block far more often than expected and the introduction of rookie QB Matt Leinart didn't help him any either.   Pope started to put it together towards the end of the season though - partly attributable to Leinart's development as well - and he finished with 8 catches for 78 yards (half his season total) in the month of December.  Matt Leinart is now more experienced, the Cardinals line is improved and new head coach Ken Whisenhunt has seven years experience as a tight ends coach in the NFL.   I expect to see Leonard Pope a focus of the Arizona offense this season.