Fantasy Football: Jason Witten Vs. Tony Gonzalez

Matthew BeckCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 28:  Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 28, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The tight end position is one of the hardest positions to fill on a fantasy football team.  When drafting, most fantasy owners have trouble figuring out when to draft tight ends and which ones to draft first.

This season, the top two tight ends taken in your draft should be Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez.  But which tight end should be drafted first?


Up firstJason Witten 

Witten had a sub-par fantasy season in 2008, in which he only recorded four touchdowns on the season.  He still was able to manage an average of five receptions per game, during a disappointing season for the Cowboys.

In the offseason, the Cowboys released star wide receiver Terrell Owens, which should relieve the Cowboys from the constant headache Owens brought to the team.  This move also cements wide receiver Roy Williams into the No. 1 receiver slot for Tony Romo.

The Cowboys running game will be lead by the hard nose running Marion Barber, with the change of speed back being Felix Jones.  This tandem could be one of the best in the game, as long as the 13th ranked offensive line can continue to block well for the Cowboys.

Witten was able to catch a lot of balls over the last few seasons, and now with Owens gone, it should make him even more of a target as Romo gets acquainted with Williams.  His touchdown total for 2009 should increase, along with his yardage.

Witten’s 2009 projected stats according to Sporting News:

Receptions: 88, Yards: 1045, YPG: 65.3, Touchdowns: 7, Fantasy Points: 146.5


Up secondTony Gonzalez

After asking to be traded prior to the 2008 season, Gonzalez had one of the best seasons of his prolific career.  He was the No. 1 target by the Chiefs quarterbacks all season, and found the end zone 10 times, which doubled his production from the previous two seasons.

In the offseason, the Chiefs decided to part ways with the future Hall-of-Famer and traded him to a young up-incoming Falcons team.  Gonzalez will now by the red zone target for rookie of the year Matt Ryan.

The Falcons are looking to build off of their breakout 2008 season, and win the NFC South.  They are lead by pro-bowler Michael Turner in the backfield, Matt Ryan at quarterback and Roddy White catching the deep balls on the outside.

It is yet to be seen how large of a role Gonzalez will have on the team, but one thing is for sure, he will get plenty of red zone looks with his huge frame and athleticism.  Young quarterbacks love to rely on tight ends, so Gonzalez should do just fine with the Falcons in 2009.

The one downside to Gonzalez is that he is 33-years-old, meaning he is overr the hill in football years.  His reception totals, touchdowns and yardage should take a dive this season as he becomes more of a role player, instead of the stand-out he was one short season ago.

Gonzalez’s 2009 projected stats according to Sporting News:

Receptions: 92, Yards: 1020, YPG: 63.8, Touchdowns: 6, Fantasy Points: 138


The Winner—Jason Witten

Witten should be the first tight end taken on draft day because he has shown that he can be a consistent target for his quarterback for the past few seasons. While being consistent in all of his stats except for touchdowns over that span.  Gonzalez is heading to a new system in Atlanta, which has yet to establish Gonzalez into their offense.

The Cowboys are more of a throwing team than a running team, unlike the Falcons that ran the 55 percent of the time in 2008.  The Cowboys passed the ball 59 percent of the time in 2008, which lead them to being one of the most passed teams in the NFL.

Witten should end up being the number one tight end by the end of the season, so keep his upside in mind while making your selections on draft day!

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