Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Many fantasy owners are lamenting what might have been if only Antonio Gates had stayed healthy for the entire season. Other owners suffered from season-ending injuries to stars Jermichael Finley and Dallas Clark. Despite injuries which prematurely ending the season for three of the position's biggest stars, tight end produced solid statistics in 2010...they just came from unexpected sources.
In a strange turn of events, our position leader, Jason Witten, actually improved his statistics when starting quarterback Tony Romo went down with a broken collarbone. With Romo, Witten averaged 4.6 receptions-per-game, with Jon Kitna the number rose to 5.9 as the veteran threw more short passes. He also caught seven of his career-high nine touchdowns from Kitna, including six in the season's final five weeks.
But Witten would never have led the position in scoring if Gates had stayed healthy. Gates was on an unheard of pace before a foot injury ruined his and many fantasy owners season. Through the first eight weeks, the Chargers star tight end had hauled in 40 balls for 563 yards and nine scores. He scored 149 fantasy points in half a season. He was on pace to finish with 1,100+ yards and 18 touchdowns worth in the neighborhood of 300 points. That's a pretty nice neighborhood. By comparison, leading receiver Roddy White amassed just 262 points. Unfortunately, Gates played just two games after mid-season and worse, was frequently listed as a game-time decision making life miserable for fantasy owners. Still, Gates and whomever fantasy owners picked up for the second half of the season likely outscored Witten and for that reason, Gates wins the 2010 TSN MVP Award for tight ends.
The TSN Best Bargain Award was a close battle between Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis and New England rookie Rob Gronkowski. But it was Lewis' fast start, with seven touchdown receptions in the first eight weeks that put him over the top. Gronkowski had to first beat out fellow rookie Aaron Hernandez and did most of his damage in the second half, particularly Week 16 and 17 when many fantasy owners were already out of the title chase.
While Lewis won the coveted Best Bargain trophy, it should be noted that Dallas Clark's replacement in Indianapolis, Jacob Tamme, did a wonderful job posting 67 receptions in 631 yards in nine games after failing to catch a ball in the Colts first six contests. Being in the right place at the right time can pay off and fantasy owners who immediately jumped on him as a free agent did well in the second half of the season.
The TSN Most Disappointing Award goes to Philadelphia tight end Brent Celek. The Eagle tight end was coming off a 76-catch, 971-yard, eight touchdown season in 2009 and much was expected of him. However, it turned out that fantasy MVP Michael Vick didn't look his way much, preferring the deep ball to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin or underneath to LeSean McCoy. Celek failed to crack the 50-yard mark until Week 15 and barely finished in the top-20.