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It's Draft Time

By Rocco Cavuoti

Every fantasy draft is highlighted by quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs. These skill positions are the "sexy" picks that we all compare and argue about until we're blue in the face. But in fantasy football, solid points must come from every part of your starting lineup in order to win consistently. Those extra points can often be found in the shape of the less than glamorous positions: tight end, kicker and team defense.

Again, this guide is meant to serve the purpose of all scoring systems but remember to keep your particular league in mind while drafting your team.

Tight Ends
1. Antonio Gates, SD: QB Drew Brees was good with him, but QB Philip Rivers will need him more
2.  Tony Gonzalez, KC: Tried and true, is always a top TE
3.  Jason Witten, DAL: With WR Terrell Owens drawing double-coverage, he’ll be open more
4. Heath Miller, PIT: No Antwaan Randle El, no Jerome Bettis, Miller is the new red zone guy
5.  Alge Crumpler, ATL: The only person QB Michael Vick can throw to
6.  Chris Cooley, WAS: When in doubt, gets the ball in Washington
7.  Jeremy Shockey, NYG: Going to get opportunities, QB Eli Manning will use him
8.  L.J. Smith, PHI: Nagging injuries aside, QB Donovan McNabb will use him, expect 60 catches
9.  Todd Heap, BAL: Should get even better with QB Steve McNair throwing to him
10.  Ben Watson, NE: Emerging as the TE that QB Tom Brady needs in the red-zone
11.  Randy McMichael, MIA: QB Daunte Culpepper’s safety valve, and a good one at that
12.  Vernon Davis, SF: QB Alex Smith will need him if he wants to complete passes
13.  Jerramy Stevens, SEA: Had a TD catch in the Super Bowl, will be solid
14.  Kellen Winslow, CLE: If healthy, has real talent, but still a complete unknown
15.  Dallas Clark, IND: The safety valve in the league’s best passing attack

1.  David Akers, PHI: Best fantasy kicker, period
2.  Adam Vinatieri, IND: Known for clutch kicks, will have a great year
3.  Neil Rackers, ARI: Should be around the red zone even more than last year
4.  Jeff Reed, PIT: With no Bus to get TDs, may have more kicking to do
5.  Shayne Graham, CIN: May have more opportunities if QB Carson Palmer can’t score TDs
6.  Mike Vanderjagt, DAL: Great fantasy kicker, Dallas will need him
7.  John Kasay, CAR: In the past two seasons is 100 percent from inside the 40
8.  Jay Feely, NYG: Great last season, no reason to think anything will change
9.  Lawrence Tynes, KC: Under the radar, even for a kicker, very solid
10.  Josh Brown, SEA: Seattle will score less TDs without OG Steve Hutchinson, more FGs
11.  Matt Stover, BAL: Always solid, will have lots of opportunities this season
12.  Ryan Longwell, MIN: Now kicking indoors in Minnesota, nice upside
13.  Sebastian Janikowski, OAK: Down year in 2005, but should be solid this season
14.  Jason Elam, DEN: Broncos likely to score more TDs this year, less FGs
15.  Jeff Wilkins, STL: Always reliable, gets plenty of chances.

1.  Chicago Bears: Big surprise right? Great unit that will only get better
2.  Baltimore Ravens: Add DE Trevor Pryce and a healthy LB Ray Lewis, kinda scary
3.  Pittsburgh Steelers: Interceptions and big plays are their specialty
4.  Cincinnati Bengals: Team had 44 takeaways last season, could get even better
5.  Carolina Panthers: Aggressive style and pretty fast too, second in takeaways in 2005
6.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Always good and trying to get younger
7.  Philadelphia Eagles: A top sack team in 2004 was hit with injury bug last year
8.  Washington Redskins: Safeties Adam Archuleta and Sean Taylor will make plays
9.  Miami Dolphins: Always solid and coach Nick Saban likes to play good defense
10.  New York Giants: Should force a lot of turnovers but teams will score on them
11.  Buffalo Bills: Developing still, but a very good defensive team
12.  Indianapolis Colts: They do make some plays and are not a bad defensive team
13.  Jacksonville Jaguars: Young team on the rise, will only get better
14.  Denver Broncos: Nice combo of veterans and explosive young talent
15.  Cleveland Browns: Already good before coach Romeo Crennel got there, now getting better

Issue 1.18: Aug. 24, 2006