NFL Fantasy: 10 TE's to Keep an Eye on Next Season

Song FlaglerContributor IFebruary 25, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 19: Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers runs after grabing a pass as Donte Whitner #20 of the Buffalo Bills tries to tackle him at Lambeau Field on September 19, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bills 34-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

There are several TEs that could make a difference in your fantasy league next year.  If there's a season (and that's a big IF right now), it's never too late to start planning your draft, especially when crucial roster changes could affect the stat line.

This offseason has already been filled with news about franchise tags and players being dropped from teams.

When Jeremy Shockey was let go by the Saints, it got me thinking about which tight ends could make a difference this year on someone's roster.

Let's start with the Saints and David Thomas.  Now, no one is going to profess that Thomas is the next Jason Witten or even Todd Heap.  But I think he's going to have a good season this year.

His stats are by no means stellar.  I don't think he's worth a high draft pick, but if you get into your draft and all the other tight ends are gone, pick Thomas up and know you should see some productivity from him.

However, Thomas has a lot of competition in front of him.  I'm excited to see what the top two TEs do when they return next year.

Jermichael Finley and Dallas Clark both left early in the season last year, and when they did, fantasy owners were clamoring to the waiver lines to find some sort of nugget.  This year both should be back and should be integral parts of their respective offensives.

If either is available when you're ready to draft a TE, pick them up, and I would dare say Finley should be the first TE off the board.

Jason Witten was a big help to me last year in one of my leagues, and considering Witten found success with Jon Kitna at QB, I expect Witten's productivity to continue after Romo returns.  Jason Garrett as head coach may also help Witten's stat line.

Antonio Gates is someone you can't pass up, but he will be my fourth option at TE this year.

The Chargers have struggled.  They've got a lot of great pieces, but they can't seem to put it all together and build a championship.  If the Chargers start off slow again this year (and with the potential lockout threatening to delay training camp, it's inevitable), Norv Turner could be let go.

This would spell disaster for the Chargers and their offense.  Take Gates if he's there, but plan on who your backup will be.

Speaking of backup, I'm honestly torn as to which Patriots' TE I would take.  Both had tremendous success.  They accounted for over 1,100 yards and 16 TDs.  That's a lot of productivity.  The problem with the Pats is that you don't know who is going to get the ball, and while that's always the risk with fantasy sports, wasting a high draft pick on one of these TEs is a risk/reward type deal.

Still, keep an eye out through the season to see if one of these boys emerges as the frontrunner.

Another question mark this year is Vernon Davis.  Alex Smith will have yet another offensive coordinator, and I'm just not sure Smith can win more than seven or eight games.

Davis is a beast and can put up numbers, but I expect this team to have some bumps ahead.  It's something to consider.

Brandon Pettigrew has great moves and great hands.  Too bad his QB can't stay healthy enough with his glass shoulder.

Pettigrew's numbers weren't bad, even with two other quarterbacks throwing the ball.  The great thing about a TE is if the backup comes in, you can have some great numbers.  And Stafford will probably go out, again, and Pettigrew should see some productivity.  He's a good pick for the bench.

Tony Moeaki had a great season last year and was a sleeper most weeks.  I expect that productivity to drop with the loss of offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis.

I'm still not sold on the Chiefs, although I think they've brought some talent to the team.  Moeaki may be a sleeper a couple of weeks, but overall I think he should remain on the waiver wire.

Also keep an ear out for Hoomanawanui (and I didn't have to use spell check to write his name).

Not only is his name sweet off the lips, but he may be a sneaky waiver wire pickup, too.  Who doesn't want to cheer him on every week?

There are many other tight ends I could discuss here, but I will leave the rest up to you. Feel free to share your thoughts on the tight ends in the NFL.  This is simply my opinion, and who knows how a work stoppage might affect this position.

But it's never too early to talk fantasy football, is it?