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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Jason Witten is good, Martellus Bennett bad

By Calvin Watkins

Football Outsiders provides statistical information of NFL players and teams every week during the season.

FO released it's best and worst players from the 2010 season and one thing we noticed was the tight end position. You have to be a ESPN Insider to get the info.

Antonio Gates was considered the best tight end in the game and Jason Witten was the third best. Witten led tight ends in catches (94) and yards (1,002) and was second with nine touchdowns.

Here's what FO said about the tight end position: "Gates managed to lead all tight ends by a wide margin despite suffering from agonizing injuries on both of his feet throughout the year. His 79.5 percent DVOA is easily the best for any tight end during the DVOA Era (1993-2010), and he even finished with more DYAR than he did during last year's fantastic season. He did all this on 65 targets! He had 155 more DYAR than Jason Witten -- who had a great year -- in one-half of the targets."

So what is DVOA? The short version from FO: Is a method of evaluating teams, units, or players. It takes every single play during the NFL season and compares each one to a league-average baseline based on situation.

And what is DYAR? It's another formula that measures yards above replacement of the league average.

So the top tight ends are:

Gates, San Diego Chargers: 371 DYAR
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: 249 DYAR
Witten, Dallas Cowboys: 216 DYAR
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: 207 DYAR
Aaron Hernandez, Patriots: 160 DYAR

What about the bottom 5.

Daniel Graham, Denver Broncos: -133 DYAR
John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks: -94 DYAR
Dante Rosario, Carolina Panthers: -79 DYAR
Stephen Spach, Arizona Cardinals: -55 DYAR
Martellus Bennett, Dallas Cowboys: -53 DYAR

It doesn't mention Bennett in its breakdown, but Bennett did get better as a receiver and route runner but did have a few drops and some busted routes that concerned us. It's not the first time a receiver or tight end has done it, but for a guy like Bennett trying to get more playing time and someone who will be watched closely when John Phillips returns from knee surgery, he can't afford a lot of mistakes.