Fantasy Football 2011 Preview: Tight Ends

The start of the 2011 NFL season is only a few weeks away, and that means fantasy football owners everywhere should be preparing themselves for their upcoming drafts if they hope to make a strong run for their league’s title this year.  We here at know that it is important to get an edge on your opponents prior to draft day, and we want to give you that edge with our Fantasy Football position-by-position previews.

Today we take a look at the tight end position.

The Top 5:

1. Antonio Gates, SD –  Despite playing in only 10 games during the 2010 season, Gates still managed to record 782 yards and 10 touchdowns.  That was good enough to rank him second in fantasy points among all tight ends.  If he can stay somewhat healthy throughout the 2011 season, there is no reason to believe that he can’t be fantasy’s top tight end.

2. Dallas Clark, IND – Clark’s 2010 season was cut short due to a wrist injury, but he is healthy once again and looking to regain his 2009 form that saw him record 100 receptions, 1106 yards and 10 touchdowns, good enough to rank him tops among tight ends in fantasy points two seasons ago.

3. Jason Witten, DAL -When it comes to reliable tight ends, they don’t get much more reliable than Jason Witten.  In addition to playing in all 16 games in each of his last seven seasons, Witten has also recorded at least 90 receptions and over 1000 receiving yards in three of his past four seasons.

4. Jermichael Finley, GB -After recording 676 yards and five touchdowns in ten starts during the 2009 season, Finley had a rough 2010, recording 301 yards and one touchdown before suffering a season-ending knee injury in week five.  Now that he is healthy again, Finley has a lot to prove, and with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, he could eventually challenge Gates for honors as fantasy football’s best tight end.

5. Kellen Winslow -Winslow struggled throughout the start of last season, recording all of his five touchdowns between week 10 and week 16.  He appeared to become more comfortable with Josh Freeman as the season went on and if they can carry that momentum into 2011, it should translate into a big season for the former Miami Hurricane.

Two Sleepers:

Jimmy Graham, NO -In only five starts last season Jimmy Graham was able to record five touchdowns.  Three of his five touchdowns came in games he started, while four of his touchdowns were scored in the Saints’ final three regular season games.  With Jeremy Shockey out of the picture and Marques Colston dealing with injury problems, Graham could be in line for plenty of targets in 2011, which should translate into some solid fantasy numbers.

Todd Heap, ARI – After putting up 599 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games last season with the Ravens, Heap now finds himself in Arizona, where Kevin Kolb will be throwing him the ball.  Kolb likes to use his tight end and with little depth at the wide receiver position after Larry Fitzgerald, he may not have much of a choice.  Fitz should garner much of the secondary’s attention, opening up plenty of opportunities for Heap in 2011.

Two Busts:

Mercedes Lewis, JAC -With 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, Mercedes Lewis finished fourth among tight ends in fantasy points in 2010, but with the quarterback situation in Jacksonville up in the air, we’d look for his touchdown total to decrease significantly, making him a risk as your starting tight end.

Chris Cooley, WSH – Chris Cooley had a decent 2010 campaign, finishing seventh among fantasy tight ends with 849 yards and three touchdowns.  Don’t expect the same from the 29-year-old in 2011, as he is currently battling knee problems and will likely give up a chunk of his production to fellow Redskins tight end Fred Davis.

Tags: fantasy football, NFL, tight end,