1. Antonio Gates, SD—Gates bounced back last year after a subpar year in 2008 to lead all tight ends in receiving yards. The Chargers offense figures to dominate and he had six TD in the last six games of 2009.
2. Brent Celek, PHI—Built on his impressive late season performance in 2008 to become the 4th ranked fantasy TE in 2009 with nearly 1,000 yards receiving and eight TD. No reason why he can’t duplicate that in 2010.
3. Vernon Davis, SF—Huge, unforeseen breakout campaign in 2009 that included 13 TD made him the top fantasy TE. Difficult to imagine that happening again but he should top 900 yards again next year.
4. Dallas Clark, IND—Coming off a career year where he benefited from the absence of a solid threat opposite Reggie Wayne early in 2009. With Anthony Gonzalez back from injury and Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie developing, Clark’s opportunities could be reduced in 2010.
5. Jermichael Finley, GB—Had a coming out party in 2009 with 55 receptions for 676 yards and five TD despite playing in only 13 games with nine starts. Finley averaged 11.5 fantasy points per game over the last five games of the season. Young player with major upside who should be the top ranked TE in dynasty leagues.
6. Owen Daniels, HOU—Daniels was on pace for a career year in 2009 before an ACL injury derailed his season. If he is fully recovered by week one, he will be in the top 5 in 2010 but that is unlikely.
7. Tony Gonzalez, ATL—Another solid campaign but he looked slower than in 2008 and was definitely underutilized by the Falcons.
8. Heath Miller, PIT—Coming off a career year, Miller emerged as a solid check down option for the Steelers as well as a great option in the red zone. Expect similar production in 2010.
9. Jason Witten, DAL—Witten ranked 3rd in yards amongst TE last year with 1,030 but was only the 8th ranked fantasy TE due to his low TD total (two in 2009, scoring six over the last two years). The Cowboys have shown a propensity to throw to their big wide receivers in the end zone and there’s little reason why that would change in 2010.
10. Kellen Winslow, TB—Sneaks into the top 10 despite being hindered by quarterback play and the lack of a dominant wide receiver in what figures to be one of the worst offenses in the league in 2010.
11. Zach Miller, OAK—Miller doesn’t get the credit he deserves, mostly because he has never had the chance to play with a decent quarterback. However, his numbers improved once the team benched JaMarcus Russell and Russell will be on a shorter leash in 2010.
12. Visanthe Shiancoe, MIN—A solid fantasy TE for the last two years because he is a TD machine (11 last year and seven in 2008). However, he has yet to top 600 yards so if you grab him, you’re banking on the touchdowns and that makes him a bit of a risk.
13. Greg Olsen, CHI—Olsen is talented but no TE in a Mike Martz offense has ever topped 380 yards. As with Shiancoe, if you grab him, you’re banking on touchdowns.
14. John Carlson, SEA—Carlson wasn’t a bust in 2009 but it’s safe to say that his owners expected him to improve on his rookie season in 2008 and that didn’t happen. He was forced to stay in to pass protect more often and given the team’s questionable offensive line, that likely won’t change much in 2010.
15. Chris Cooley, WAS—Suffered an ankle injury which relegated him to seven games last year. He is a talented player and, at 27, should bounce back but the Redskins offense is in a rebuilding mode and Fred Davis played well in his absence.
16. Brandon Pettigrew, DET—Last year’s top ranked rookie TE was rounding nicely into form with 15 receptions for 165 yards and two TD in the three games before he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Might start slowly in 2010 but expect him to come on by mid-season.
17. Kevin Boss, NYG—Boss has increased his receiving yards every year (118 to 384 to 567) which is encouraging, however the team completely forgot about him in the red zone until week eight last year. He had five TD over his final nine games but may be forgotten once again in 2010 due to the emergence of the team’s wide receivers.
18. Todd Heap, BAL—Provided a surprisingly solid season last year but he’s about to turn 30, he’s injury prone and the Ravens will almost certainly pick up a TE in the draft.
19. Dustin Keller, NYJ—Similar to Carlson in that an improvement in his receiving numbers was expected in his second year, but he was held in to pass block more. Keller got a boost when Leon Washington went down but not as much as expected.
20. Jeremy Shockey, NO—Played well when he was healthy in 2009 but still missed two games and played hurt in a number of others.
21. Tony Scheffler, DEN—Forgotten man in Denver last year figures to have a new team in 2010.
22. Marcedes Lewis, JAC—Has improved his yardage totals in each of his four years in the league but has never topped two TD in a season which severely restricts his fantasy usefulness.
23. Anthony Fasano, MIA—Fasano was a decent option in 2008 courtesy of his seven TD but slumped to just two last season. His receiving skills are mediocre at best.
24. Daniel Fells, STL—The Rams didn’t tender Fells but was re-signed after the Patriots expressed interest. Obviously, they’re not sold on him and you shouldn’t be either.
25. Fred Davis, WAS—Played too well last year to be relegated to a strictly backup role but the Redskins offense figures to be mediocre in 2010 so his upside is limited unless Cooley gets hurt again.
27. Bo Scaife, TEN—Seemed to be a promising player a couple of years ago but now he is what he is—30-40 yards per game and one or two TD on the season. Why bother.
28. David Thomas, NO—Thomas showed surprising receiving ability last year in limited opportunities, which makes you wonder what he might do if Shockey were to suffer a season-ending injury.
29. Brad Cottam, KC—He’s the starter for the Chiefs but there is not much upside here.
30. Dante Rosario, CAR—Another player who has looked the part at times but never put it together for an extended number of games.
31. Jared Cook, TEN—Titans are high on him and he could surprise if he can beat out Scaife and assume the role full-time.
32. Ben Watson, CLE—Watson moves from the Patriots, where he continued to tease fantasy owners with short flashes of excellence, to the Browns. Not overly excited here.
33. James Casey, HOU—Casey showed some ability last year and could get some opportunities if Daniels is slow to recover from injury.
34. Leonard Pope, KC—Pope moved from the Cardinals to the Chiefs last year, and got some chances in K.C. but didn’t do much with them.