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The age of the do-it-all tight end began about five years ago with the rise of guys like Alge Crumpler, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Randy McMichael and Todd Heap. Jason Witten and Dallas Clark followed. Last year's discoveries were Vernon Davis and Visanthe Shiancoe, who led TEs in TDs with 13 and 11, respectively. This year's star will be Jermichael Finley.
TE is a position where you can't expect a ton of receiving yards or a lot of TDs, so why not gamble on who you think will be the next big thing. Here's how I'd pick TEs this season:
1. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay: Four TDs in his last five games in 2009, and probably would have been among yardage leaders at his position had he not missed three games. The best QB in the league will feed him regularly.
2. Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota: Brett Favre's return and the loss of Sydney Rice to injury for several games assures he'll have another great season with plenty of chances.
3. Vernon Davis, San Francisco: Could easily earn the No. 1 ranking, though a lot depends on the consistency of QB Alex Smith and how much the 49ers run the ball.
4. Antonio Gates, San Diego: Unbelievably, he had his first thousand-yard season last year, when many people were expecting him to start slowing down.
5. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis: A little worried about the likelihood that injuries will force him to miss the entire preseason, but should be a frequent choice in a pass-first offense.
6. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta: The TE Godfather is aging gracefully and could be in line for more passes in his second year working with QB Matt Ryan.
7. Jason Witten, Dallas: A lot of these picks come down to the QB involved, and Tony Romo is not someone I have a ton of faith in, but Witten and Miles Austin are his best targets.
8. Greg Olsen, Chicago: Could be a gamble even this low, Supposedly, he wasn't going to fit in a Mike Martz offense, but QB Jay Cutler keeps looking for him.
9. Brent Celek, Philadelphia: Almost a thousand yards receiving last year, and QB Kevin Kolb will need him.
10. Owen Daniels, Houston: You will see him ranked higher, and he could finish higher, but he tore his ACL halfway through last year and I think he'll get off to a slow start.
* First Down reports about how everyone is down on Larry Fitzgerald. Blame Matt Leinart.
* Bleacher Report has confessions of a fantasy football fanatic.
* FanHouse lists five underrated fantasy picks, and one of my favorites, the Bears' Johnny Knox, makes the list.
* SB Nation reminds us about Brian Westbrook, for former first-rounder who was always too injury-prone for my tastes. Could he actually be worth a late pick in the same backfield as Frank Gore?
Struggling to make the playoffs in the waning weeks of the season? Figure out your problem category and try one of these pick-ups:
Problem: Home runs.
Solution: Luke Scott, 1B/OF, Baltimore. Eight homers in August, and 68 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.
Problem: Stolen bases.
Solution: Coco Crisp, OF, Kansas City. Five SBs in the last week, and playing more regularly with Scott Podsednik gone. Only 33 percent owned.
Solution: Daniel Hudson, SP, Arizona. 19 strikeouts in his last 14 innings, and trying to make the White Sox look bad for trading him. Only 29 percent owned.
Solution: Hisanori Takahashi, SP/RP, NY Mets: With Francisco Rodriquez out for the season, Takahasi supposedly is the closer of choice. Only 25 percent owned.
So, there you go. Enjoy the playoffs.
Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.
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Posted on Feb 20, 2018