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Third and Three: Tight Ends

Washington will utilize a lot of double tight end schemes.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With NFL training camps just around the corner, we all have our early thoughts as to who will be this year's fantasy bargains and who will be a flop.

In Part IV of the series, we continue our search for bargains at the tight end position. We'll look at three players who will play above their current projected fantasy value and three who won't perform up to expectations.

Of course, over the next two months my opinions could change based on what I see at camp and in the preseason, but going into the season here are some of my early expectations.

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Jason Witten, Dallas (ADP 56) - Witten's touchdown total has dropped in each of the last two seasons (from seven to four to two), but he is still a primary weapon for Tony Romo as evidenced by his 94 receptions and 1,030 receiving yards. Fantasy owners have seen the drop in end zone catches and Witten has dropped to the fifth tight end off the board. That's too low and makes him a bargain for 2010 when defenses will have their hands full with Miles Austin, rookie Dez Bryant and Felix Jones.

Witten just might be the "overlooked" weapon and should rebound with at least six touchdowns and 1,000 yards.

Zach Miller, Oakland (ADP 114) - Miller produced 66 receptions for 805 yards and three scores with JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye at quarterback. He figures to be better with Jason Campbell behind center and that means he could get close to the 1,000-yard mark. Still, he's barely on the radar as the 12th tight end off the board. He'll be the best value at the position for 2010, just make sure you get the correct Zach Miller, not the one in Jacksonville.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh (ADP 134) - In 2009 Heath Miller set career highs in receptions (76) and yards (789) to go along with six TDs. He also had the third-most targets in the red zone among tight ends. He rarely sits out an offensive play the field because he's a very good blocker and should be a favorite target for Dennis Dixon or Byron Leftwich in Ben Roethlisberger's absence. He figures to have another active year and could score more than the six times he did in 2009.

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Jermichael Finley, Green Bay (ADP 59) - A lot is being expected from Finley who has only started for roughly half a season. Fantasy owners saw his big playoff game against Arizona (six receptions for 159 yards) and now assume he'll do that every week. Beware. Although he is very athletic, he doesn't have the greatest hands -- let's call them inconsistent to be kind. He's also still not 100 percent recovered from a knee injury he played through last season.

And just when you expect Aaron Rodgers to throw the ball his way, Rodgers will target backup tight end Donald Lee or worse, Spencer Havner.

Owen Daniels, Houston (ADP 95) - Daniels was in the midst of a "career" year when he went down with a severe knee injury (ACL) in the eighth game of 2009. Daniels had already caught 40 balls for 519 yards and five scores and was the No. 2 option for quarterback Matt Schaub after Andre Johnson. We're still not sure whether he will be 100 percent ready for Week 1 and he'll likely miss a lot of training camp, which makes picking him a high-risk proposition.

Chris Cooley, Washington (ADP 108) - Cooley had been a solid fantasy option at tight end for four years when he went down with a broken leg in 2009. Though he's healthy and excited to have Donovan McNabb throwing him the ball, the fly in the ointment is Fred Davis. Davis is a young and talented tight end who showed what he could do in Cooley's absence, recording 48 receptions for 509 yards and six touchdowns. It could be that the Redskins will utilize a lot of double tight end schemes to take advantage of their two most talented receivers, but they could also end up splitting time, in which case Cooley's ADP of 108 will be much too high.



Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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