Fantasy Draft Matchup: Vernon Davis Vs Jason Witten

Taylor SmithAnalyst ISeptember 1, 2010

SEATTLE , WA - DECEMBER 06:  Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a touchdown pass in the 1st qurter against the Seattle Seahawks  at Qwest Field on December 6, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Tight end is often a forgotten, yet crucial, position when it comes to fantasy football.

You have your quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers to worry about, but a productive tight end can be an incredibly valuable commodity.

The top-tier fantasy tight ends in the league are Antonio Gates, Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, and, as of last year, the San Francisco 49ers‘ Vernon Davis.

Davis, after scoring a grand total of nine touchdowns combined in his first three years in the league, exploded in 2009 to lead the league with 13 scores.

At 6’3″, 250 pounds, with incredible speed, Davis is a matchup nightmare capable of putting up elite wide receiver numbers.

If Alex Smith can find him consistently, he has the potential to even improve on his 2009 performance this season.

However, Jason Witten has been one of the most productive tight ends in the league for quite some time, and has proven to be Tony Romo’s favorite target.

Despite scoring just two touchdowns, Witten still racked up 94 catches for 1,030 yards in 2009.

So, let’s run a little fantasy draft hypothetical out there: Assuming Gates and Clark are already off the board, and you’re in the market for a tight end, do you go with Davis or Witten?

There are a few questions surrounding Vernon Davis’s situation going into the season. Most of them with regards to his quarterback, Alex Smith.

Obviously, if Smith struggles, Davis’s numbers will suffer as a result.

Despite the 13 touchdowns, Davis was only targeted in the red zone 13 times all of last season. This number will almost certainly have to go up in order for him to repeat or improve upon last season’s performance.

While there’s lots of uncertainty with the 49ers’ passing game, Davis’ production cannot be ignored.

Witten has one of the league’s top fantasy QB’s throwing to him in Romo. He has been very durable in each of his first seven pro seasons, having played in all-but one game.

With the Cowboys’ offensive line battling injuries and age so far this preseason, don’t be too surprised if Romo doesn’t have as much time as he’s used to in the pocket.

This could actually prove beneficial to Witten owners, as the former Tennessee Volunteer is Romo’s trusty safety valve.

Unfortunately, Witten was targeted in the red zone just seven times all of last season.

As with normal football, touchdowns are the name of the game in fantasy football.

Witten has scored just six total touchdowns in the past two seasons.

The combination of upside, plus last season’s touchdown barrage, makes Davis the more appealing option.

Witten could easily top 1,000 receiving yards yet again, but the lack of red zone targets and scores in the past couple of seasons is certainly cause for concern.

This writer rules in favor of Vernon Davis.

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