Jason Witten – 81 rec. 952 yds. 4 TDs
Martellus Bennett – 20 rec. 283 yds. 4 TDs
The Cowboys were already loaded at tight end with Jason Witten, before rookie Martellus Bennett impressed during his rookie campaign. Witten is considered by many to be the best tight end in the game, but the presence of Bennett scares me a little bit. No doubt Witten is a great starter to have on your fantasy team, but Bennett will steal some of his looks, especially in the red zone where Bennett’s athleticism allows him to excel in jump ball situations. Bennett is a solid back up to have on your roster for bye weeks or as an injury replacement as he will continue to get better.
New York Giants:
Kevin Boss – 33 rec. 384 yds. 6 TDs
Boss became of favourite target of Eli Manning’s down the stretch, and was a vital cog in the Giants Super Bowl run two seasons ago. I like Boss’ potential for the upcoming season, especially the TD numbers, which should only improve without Plaxico Burress taking away from his red zone looks. He is definitely a fantasy starter, and should be available in the later rounds. Travis Beckum, a third round pick this year, had first round ability, but dropped because of a knee injury, and could become a factor at some point.
Brent Celek – 27 rec. 318 yds. 1 TD:
Celek was part of the reason the Eagles could afford to get rid of L.J. Smith, and is a big target with strong hands. He is a borderline fantasy starter, who may be worth a look if you are in dire need of a TE in the late rounds, or if you can get him on the waiver wire. The Eagles also drafted Cornelius Ingram, who missed his entire senior season because of injury, but is a feared receiver.
Chris Cooley – 83 rec. 849 yds. 1 TD:
Cooley should be an elite fantasy tight end, but the one touchdown is a real red flag. However, Jason Campbell is playing for his job this year, which means his TD numbers should be better, so subsequently, Cooley’s TDs should go up as well. Last year’s second round pick, Fred Davis, was billed as a great receiving tight end, but did nothing his rookie year. Monitor him in preseason to see if he has any chance of getting more opportunities this season.
Greg Olsen – 54 rec. 574 yds. 5 TDs
Desmond Clark – 41 rec. 367 yds. 1 TD
With the addition of Jay Cutler, look for Olsen to improve on what was a very impressive sophomore season. Clark fell even further behind Olsen last year, and is clearly going to be receiving even less looks this season. Cutler loves to spread the ball around, and with few talented receivers on the roster, he should be looking towards Olsen often.
Brandon Pettigrew (rookie):
Pettigrew isn’t the super athletic, semi-WR type of tight end we are used to seeing being taken in recent first rounds. Instead, he is the total package, a guy that will block in the run game, as well as chip in as receiver when called upon. Don’t expect sensational numbers from him, as he may be playing with a rookie QB, but he could be a solid waiver pick up later on in the season.
Green Bay Packers:
Donald Lee – 39 rec. 303 yds. 5 TDs:
Lee was a pleasant surprise for the Packers last season, as well as fantasy owners who claimed him off of waivers. If Aaron Rodgers can have a similar type of season there shouldn’t be any reason why Lee cannot equal, or even surpass last year’s numbers. He does sometimes have suspect hands though, and did drop a couple TDs last year.
Visanthe Shiancoe – 42 rec. 596 yds. 7 TDs:
Shiancoe keeps improving every season, and could become a legitimate top ten tight end this season. How anyone can put up 7 TDs and still fly under the radar is beyond me, but use that to your advantage, and steal him after all the big names are off the board.
Tony Gonzalez – 96 rec. 1058 yds. 10 TDs
I can’t say enough about what a great pick up this was for the Falcons. I don’t think Gonzalez has lost a step at all (his numbers back that up), and I believe that playing for a contender will only rejuvenate the future Hall of Famer. The only downside of Gonzalez, is that he is a slow starter, and being on a new team might cause that to happen again.
Jeff King – 21 rec. 195 yds. 1 TD
Dante Rosario – 18 rec. 209 yds. 1 TD
The Panthers don’t really use their tight ends for anything but blocking in the run game. There was some hype going into last season surrounding Rosario, but he did nothing after his game winning TD catch against the Chargers. Rosario is still a sleeper, but will most likely be available on the waiver wire.
New Orleans Saints:
Jeremy Shockey – 50 rec. 483 yds. 0 TD:
Look for Shockey to have a big year now that he has a full offseason and training camp to get acclimated with Drew Brees. When Shockey is healthy he is one of the most dangerous receiving threats from the tight end position. And since Drew Brees is the best QB in the league, this is a match made in heaven.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Kellen Winslow II – 43 rec. 428 yds. 3 TDs:
Winslow is an elite tight end when healthy, but that seems to be a rare occurrence. He is still a very solid starting option, but the Bucs figure to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, not to mention the have big time QB issues. I would advise staying away from Winslow this season, unless he makes it onto the waiver wire late in the year when Josh Freeman is playing QB.
Ben Patrick – 11 rec. 104 yds. 0 TD
Leonard Pope – 9 rec. 77 yds. 0 TD:
The Cardinals like to run three and four receiver sets, and rarely involve their tight ends in the passing game. Both Pope and Patrick are more contributors as an extra blocker in the passing game or in the running game. You want the Cards wideouts on your fantasy teams, not any of the tight ends.
St. Louis Rams:
Randy McMichael – 11 rec. 139 yds. 0 TD:
McMichael is a very good receiving tight end, who missed a lot of time due to injury last season. If the Rams’ offensive line can give Bulger time, he should look McMichael’s way a ton this year since the two starting wideouts are very inexperienced. McMichael is a player that you can take a look at late in the draft if you are out of options at his position.
San Francisco 49ers:
Vernon Davis – 31 rec. 358 yds. 2 TDs:
Davis has athleticism for days, but unfortunately has suspect hands, and has a hard time getting open. Once he has the ball in his hands, though, there may not be a better tight end in the game after the catch. Mike Singeltary has seemingly got through to him though, so at least he is using his athleticism in other ways to help his team. However, from a fantasy perspective Davis is worth a gamble in the later rounds, but should not be considered a surefire starter.
John Carlson – 55 rec. 627 yds. 5 TDs:
Carlson quietly had a monster rookie season for the Seahawks, and will look to improve upon his numbers with a healthy Matt Hasselbeck behind center. Carlson is a stud who is not yet being recognized as one of the game’s top tight ends, but he soon will be. Take advantage of him not having a name-factor in your draft, because this kid is going to be something special.