Backup Tight Ends That Could Emerge

It used to be that teams would carry two main tight ends on their roster: one receiving threat, and one blocking tight end. Now that tight ends have become like an extra wide receiver on the field, the number of receiving tight ends on NFL rosters has increased, which means that there are plenty of players at that spot that can produce fantasy points, even if they are backups. Two such players are David Thomas of the New Orleans Saints, and the San Francisco 49ers’ Delanie Walker. They’re worth a look during the beginning of the season, and could be good waiver wire picks if they show promise.

David Thomas- The Saints might be the only team in the NFL that has backup players at every position that could be starting. Tight end David Thomas is no exception. While Jeremy Shockey has been solid as the team’s starting tight end, Thomas showed last year that he could deliver if given playing time. Thomas spent his first three seasons with the New England Patriots, and didn’t record impressive numbers there, but caught 35 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown last year while Shockey was hurt. In an offense with so many weapons, it will be tough for Thomas to get starter-level stats, but he’s shown that he deserves a spot in the Saints’ arsenal, and if any quarterback can get everyone involved, it’s Drew Brees. He may not get much playing time this season, but a few good weeks in a row for him should be enough for you to claim him off waivers.

Delanie Walker- Like Thomas, Delanie Walker is playing behind an elite tight end, but has some skills of his own. Like 49ers starter Vernon Davis, Walker has the speed to stretch the middle of the field and provide another downfield threat. After Davis’s breakout 2009, he figures to be a crucial part of the offense in 2010. That will reduce Walker’s minutes, but in two tight end sets, or when the 49ers put more receivers on the field, Walker can be just as big a threat as anyone else on any given play. His career numbers so far are nothing special, and he may not significantly improve upon them, but it would be smart to keep an eye on him this year. During the preseason, Walker and quarterback Alex Smith have looked like they have good chemistry, which should translate to the regular season. He’s got the quickness to create mismatches, and with the talented players around him, he should get opportunities when he’s on the field.


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