Fantasy football preview: Scouting the tight ends

Posted: August 27, 2009

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons: Showed no signs of slowing down with 96 catches and 10 TDs last season at age 32. He should make quarterback Matt Ryan's life even better, especially in the red zone.

Antonio Gates, Chargers: Gets into the end zone more than most at this position and seems to be as healthy as he's been in a few years. San Diego ought to be the class of a bad AFC West, and Gates, thanks to Gonzalez' departure, will be the top tight end in the conference.

Jason Witten, Cowboys: No T.O. should mean more opportunities - and less drama - for Witten. It could also mean coverages focus more on Witten, like the ones Jim Johnson used to design.

Dallas Clark, Colts: Not a bad consolation if you miss out on the run of the first three tight ends.

Greg Olson, Bears: He's the chic sleeper tight end of the year ... but you should hope he doesn't follow in the footsteps of guys such as Kellen Winslow (2008), Vernon Davis (2007) and Jeremy Shockey (2006).

Chris Cooley, Redskins: Was second among tight ends, with 83 grabs. What killed fantasy owners was that only one of them went for a touchdown.

Owen Daniels, Texans: Wants to be the highest-paid tight end, which is admirable, but not deserving. Doesn't get into the end zone enough (five total TDs over the last 2 years) to justify cracking the fantasy top five.

John Carlson, Seahawks: Had a decent rookie season with 55 catches and five scores, but the addition of T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the return from injury of Seattle's other wide receivers can't be good.

Jeremy Shockey, Saints: Drew Brees threw 34 touchdowns last season. None of them went to Shockey, who also averaged a measly 40.3 yards per game.

Brent Celek, Eagles: The reworked offensive line hasn't really played together, so Celek's numbers will take a hit if he has to stay in and help with pass protection. Like him as a late sleeper, but not as an immediate starter.

The draft board: the top 20

1. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons 4

2. Antonio Gates, Chargers 5

3. Jason Witten, Cowboys 6

4. Dallas Clark, Colts 6

5. Greg Olson, Bears 5

6. Chris Cooley, Redskins 8

7. Dustin Keller, Jets 9

8. Owen Daniels, Texans 10

9. John Carlson, Seahawks 7

10. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers 8

11. Zach Miller, Raiders 9

12. Brent Celek, Eagles 4

13. Jared Cook, Titans 7

14. Jeremy Shockey, Saints 5

15. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins 6

16. Vernon Davis, 49ers 6

17. Kevin Boss, Giants 10

18. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings 9

19. Travis Beckum, Giants 10

20. Heath Miller, Steelers 8

Quick hitters

* On the way down: Jeremy Shockey, Saints

* Riskiest pick: Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers

* Sleeper: Dustin Keller, Jets

* Please avoid: Vernon Davis, 49ers

* Top rookie: Jared Cook, Titans

* On the way up: Antonio Gates, Chargers

Note: bye week is listed at the end of each line

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