Did you know that Antonio Gates was scoring so many fantasy points per game last year that he was on pace to finish not only as fantasy’s top tight end, but also our No. 1 receiver? He first missed time in Week 9, having compiled 40 catches for 663 yards and nine scores, which put him on pace for 80 catches, 1,326 yards and 18 TDs. Good God. He’s now practicing fully and on track to start in the opener. It’s unlikely Gates enjoys a full repeat — in fact, if I thought he would, I’d make him a first-round pick — but he’s clearly head and shoulders ahead of the competition at his position. I’d grab him at any point in the third round, and I’m seriously considering whether I can find enough late at the RB and WR positions to spend my first three picks on a RB, QB and Gates.
More thoughts after the rankings.
Update: The rankings have been updated as of 8/30/11. All updates are mine and mine alone, so I have left the original average rank of each player intact.
After Gates, any of the next five options make for quality starters in fantasy leagues. Jermichael Finley is going to have a healthy season one of these years, and he’s going to make an indelible mark on the fantasy world when he does. Clark, Witten and Davis are known quantities, while Owen Daniels could join that elite group with a healthy 2011 season. I love Jimmy Graham, but he seems to go a tad early in drafts for me — I don’t see him surpassing any of the first six guys on the list, so I don’t think he contributes much draft value to your team at his current spot.
The next five or six TEs on the list all sport some kind of flaws, and that means if I don’t get an elite TE I’ll likely pick from the scrap heap at the end of the draft. Greg Olsen looks like he could be a weapon in Carolina, while Todd Heap and Kevin Boss are two more names that could see a target increase as well with their changes of scenery. However, the big sleeper I’m looking at is Lance Kendricks, who’s looking great in practice and fresh off a dominant performance in the first preseason game. Sam Bradford is hungry for talented pass catchers, and Kendricks could become a preferred weapon immediately.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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