2010 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy and Sleepers Discussion: Tight Ends

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IAugust 26, 2010

What round should you target the up-and-coming Jermichael Finley this year? We've got you covered below ...
What round should you target the up-and-coming Jermichael Finley this year? We've got you covered below ...Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Drafting a tight end was once so easy, even a caveman could've done it.

Wait to a late round, a la my suggested strategies for kickers and defense, and take who ever is left on your short list of upside guys.

Those days are over.

Thanks to a statistical explosion in 2009, the tight end position has become a deep pool of talent with the potential to make or break your fantasy season.

So what is one to do? Read on …

Early-round considerations?


First, as sexy as Antonio Gates or Dallas Clark may seem atop the tight end mountain, you’d be crazy to draft any tight end before round four in standard fantasy football leagues. Sure, someone very well may draft those guys and a slew of other tight ends from my re-draft tight end rankings list before you choose in the fourth round. Just don’t be one of those people yourself.

Out of all the tight end options, including a high-potential group including Clark, Gates, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley and Brent Celek, I’d personally only consider either Clark or Gates in the fourth or fifth round of any draft. These two commodities have proven, over the test of time, to be consistent weapons at the position. Davis, Celek and Finley, among others, have only a short track record to pull from.

However, there is plenty of sense in letting someone else take Clark and Gates and waiting to a later round for a bargain.

Mid-round options aplenty


In a recent competitive draft with co-workers for our annual fantasy league, the flow of drafted tight ends mirrored what has been happening in a lot of leagues across the country. I took Gates in the fourth round simply because I wasn’t thrilled with the WR options available and refused to draft a QB early. However, I regretted that move as the draft moved into the middle and later rounds when I noticed how long certain names fell.

Vernon Davis went in the fifth round, as expected. Jason Witten in the sixth … a little higher than I’d take him, especially since I’m not high on him in 2010. Jermichael Finley and Brent Celek were great values, in my opinion, in the seventh round. Outside of these names … VDavis, JFinley, BCelek (minus JWitten because he continues to go higher than I’ll ever take him) … I’m more than happy to wait on value tight ends later in the draft if I miss out on my top options.

Late-round heroics

Here is where a fantasy championship can be won or lost. Finding a great tight end value late in your respective fantasy drafts. I was utterly amazed, for example, in the co-worker draft this past weekend to see Owen Daniels fall to the 11th round. Sure there are injury concerns, but his upside is enormous. Question that? Check out his stats the first half of last season.

Another late-round gem in that draft, in my opinion, was John Carlson in the 13th round. The guy was a statistical beast two seasons ago before being stuck with blocking duties last year. The Seahawks have addressed blocking issues with other options, freeing up Carlson to become a solid fantasy option at a bargain-basement price. I actually was the one who snagged Carlson here--I couldn’t bear to see him fall further, and if my expectations for Carlson pan out, I can deal Antonio Gates for some big upgrade at RB or WR later.


Another late-round upside tight end that could help buoy people to fantasy stardom in 2010 … Zach Miller of Oakland. He is currently the most reliable receiving option on a team that recently acquired a QB who loves his tight end. Just ask Chris Cooley. I expect big things from Miller this season, and would gladly take him in the later rounds of a draft. He went in the 11th of our work league I’ve been referencing.

Thanks to the return of Brett Favre, injury to Sidney Rice and headaches of Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe is suddenly looking like a nice later round add in most fantasy formats … especially those who reward TDs nicely.

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