NFL

Six Breakout NFL Tight Ends for 2009

Philadelphia Eagle Brent Celek

Brent Celek Photo Credit: Icon SMI

There’s a clear-cut consensus top four tight ends in fantasy football this season: Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark and Tony Gonzalez. You should try to get them. They’re pretty good. But every year, some schmucks will overvalue the position and reach, meaning you won’t be able to draft them at value. This year it feels like there’s the top four and there’s everybody else. After that top tier it gets murky. Sure there are Kellen Winslow, Owen Daniels and Chris Cooley, but they have their question marks. For my money, the best strategy for 2009 once those elite four are off the board is to wait and swing for the fences on a high-upside breakout candidate. Somebody like the six gentlemen below …

See also: 11 Breakout Wide Receiver Candidates

1) Greg Olsen, Third Year, Chicago Bears: Olsen has legitimate high-end talent and he finally has a legitimate quarterback, which means he’s looking at a top-tier TE season – but he isn’t being drafted like it. Reports out of training camp are that Cutler and Olsen have been doing some serious bonding, both on the field and off. His great relationship with Cutler combined with the fact that he’s Chicago’s most consistent receiving threat should make him a natural red-zone presence. Olsen is big, and he’s also extremely fast for the position, getting down the field as well as any TE – which means the yards should be there weekly.

2) Brent Celek, Third Year, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles throw the ball a lot, and they make every effort to get the tight end involved. Celek is the clear No. 1 in Philly this season and he can be what LJ Smith was not: reliable. You usually sort last season’s fantasy stats by regular-season totals, but don’t forget Celek was leaned on heavily in the playoffs last year – and that he responded with 19 receptions, 151 yards and 3 TDs. He’s got a shot at being a top-10 fantasy tight end.

Read on for four more breakout tight ends …

San Francisco 49er Vernon Davis3) Vernon Davis, Fourth Year, San Francisco 49ers: I know I’ve been on the Vernon bandwagon before and come out looking the fool for it, but at this point he’s a classic post-hype sleeper candidate. TE-hating Mike Martz is gone, and Jimmy Raye is in. Unlike Martz, Raye and Mike Singletary are making every effort to work with Davis and cash in on his all-world speed. Physically he could be a faster Antonio Gates. Mentally, not so much.

Vernon Davis Photo Credit: Icon SMI

4) John Carlson, Second Year, Seattle Seahawks: I’m not a huge fan of the Seahawks offense, but there’s little question they should be significantly more productive than 2008 and Carlson will be active inside the 20. No offense was destroyed by injuries a year ago more than the ‘Hawks. They’re healthy again, and they’ve added some nice pieces. A second-round pick last year, Carlson produced top-10 numbers (55 receptions, 627 yards, 5 TDs) and this year should have a healthy Hasselbeck throwing him the ball and TJ Houshmandzadeh drawing coverage (believe it or not, Carlson drew some doubles in ’08).

5) Dustin Keller, Second Year, New York Jets: I question how consistently the Jets QBs will be able to deliver the ball, but their shortcoming should mean the inexperienced signal callers look to their trusty TE often. Keller has the talent, and he produced at a high level in the second half last season with 35 receptions for 388 yards. Look for the 2008 first-round pick to become Mark Sanchez’s new best friend. He’s worth a late-round gamble.

6) Brandon Pettigrew, Rookie, Detroit Lions: It’s a reach, I know. Rookie TEs are always a crap shoot, but Pettigrew’s blocking skills out of the box should get him, and keep him, on the field. He’s got a starting gig sewn up, and he’s on a team desperate for receiving options to take some pressure off of the Calvin Johnson and rookie QB Matthew Stafford. He’ll be an oft-looked-to safety blanket for Stafford, and his size should make him an attractive red-zone target. It may take him a few weeks to get into a groove at the NFL level and with a rookie QB, but keep an eye on the 20th overall pick.

See also: 11 Breakout Wide Receiver Candidates

Keeping up with sleeper picks and good matchups can help you beat sports betting odds and possibly win you some extra cash.

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