Daniels could be a draft value in 2011

In these hard economic times, everyone is looking for a bargain. Whether it’s at the supermarket buying apples for 99 cents a pound, at the mall grabbing two pairs of Nike sneakers for $89, or on eBay buying a brand-new Ralph Lauren suit for $169, getting the most bang for your buck makes more sense than ever.

In the spirit of bargain shopping, fantasy owners who want a great value at the tight end position should target Owen Daniels in 2011 drafts. According to NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora, the veteran has agreed to terms on a new deal with the Texans that will pay him $22 million ($13 million coming in the first two years).

Daniels has shown flashes of major fantasy potential during his five years at the NFL level. At the midway point of the 2009 season, he was the top-scoring tight end in fantasy football. Unfortunately, a torn ACL cost him the final eight games and a chance at his first 1,000-yard season. He returned last year to record a mediocre 38 catches, 471 yards and two touchdowns, but hamstring issues forced him to miss five games.

Clearly, Daniels hasn’t exactly been durable and is a risk-reward option in drafts. But that’s the reason you can steal him in the middle to late rounds. And based on what he did at the end of last season, it’s definitely a gamble worth taking if you can’t land an elite tight end in the first five to six rounds.

When he finally got back to 100 percent, Daniels was putting up terrific numbers and seeing plenty of targets from Matt Schaub. In fact, he recorded 22 receptions for 271 yards and two touchdowns over the final four games. If we project those numbers over a full season, Daniels would have finished with 156.4 fantasy points.

That would have put him 2.2 points ahead of Jason Witten, who was the top-scoring player at the position in 2010. I’m not saying that he’ll accomplish that feat in 2011, but the numbers show that the statistical upside is there for Daniels to become the type of player that could benefit the bargain shopper in us all.

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