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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2012 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: September 2, 2012
Top 10's:        
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Tier 1
Jimmy Graham - NOS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
2009                  
2010 NOS 15 31 356 11.5 5 1 3  
2011 NOS 16 99 1310 13.2 11      
Avg   16 65 833 12.4 8 1 2 0
Proj NOS   90 1160   11      

Graham not only made good on a second-year break out, he did the unthinkable and became a heavily used primary receiver in an offense predicated on spreading the ball around. He turned in 99 catches for 1310 yards and 11 scores and along with Rob Gronkowski made the tight end position a huge difference maker for those fantasy owners. He scored in 11 different games including the playoffs and had five efforts exceed 100 yards. Unlike Gronkowski who has Aaron Hernandez as a team mate with major tight end production, the Saints had no other tight end with more than five catches ON THE YEAR. Graham is a weapon all his own and it is not just the position. He never slowed down last year and has to be the second tight end taken this summer.

Rob Gronkowski - NEP YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 20%
2009                  
2010 NEP 16 42 546 13.0 10      
2011 NEP 16 90 1327 14.7 17 1 2 1
Avg   16 66 937 13.9 14 1 1 1
Proj NEP   82 1000   10      

One of the biggest surprises of 2011 was the emergence of Rob Gronkowski not as an elite tight end but as a record-setting receiver that happened to line up as a tight end. Gronk ended the year with 90 catches for 1327 yards and 17 touchdowns. In a position with fewer scoring opportunities than most, he only scored in 11 games, he had two or more touchdowns in eight games. To say he was a difference maker is a major understatement. He was already a top player as a rookie but 546 yards and ten touchdowns was by no means his limit. The question this year is how far does he fall given that his astronomic 2011 won't likely be repeated. But he's a top tight end at half that production and he never displayed any signs of slowing down last year. He deserves to be the first tight end drafted.

Tier 2
Aaron Hernandez - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 12%
2009                  
2010 NEP 14 45 563 12.5 6 3 47  
2011 NEP 14 79 910 11.5 7 5 45  
Avg   14 62 737 12.0 7 4 46 0
Proj FA   70 900   9      

Only in New England can a tight end catching 79 passes for 910 yards and seven scores go unnoticed. Hernandez ended as the third best fantasy tight end in most scoring scenarios. While Rob Gronkowski was an end zone favorite for Tom Brady, Hernandez did score once in seven different games and was a lock for around 50 yards per week and a score every other game. Gronkowski gives you monster games but Hernandez was consistently good and earns his spot near the top. Of the two tight ends in NE, Hernandez is less likely to see any drop off this year. He's not winning leagues for anyone but he is not losing them either. Solid pick.

Antonio Gates - SDC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2009 SDC 16 79 1157 14.6 8      
2010 SDC 10 50 782 15.6 10      
2011 SDC 13 64 778 12.2 7      
Avg   13 64 906 14.1 8 0 0 0
Proj SDC   75 850   8      

Only once in the past eight seasons has Gates posted a lower per-game fantasy total than last year, and his seven TDs were his worst showing since his rookie season. Gates also missed three games, bringing his two-year total to nine. And yet he was still a solid top-10 fantasy tight end. Early reports are that he’s healthy, or at least healthier, and with Vincent Jackson gone Gates will be battling Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd to pick up the slack. If you trust his knees Gates is still capable of being an elite tight end, but the risk and those joints’ track record put him at the tail end of that prestigious group.

Jermichael Finley - FA* YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 12%
Auction 12: 12%
2009 GBP 13 55 676 12.3 5      
2010 GBP 5 21 301 14.3 1      
2011 GBP 16 55 767 13.9 8      
Avg   11 44 581 13.5 5 0 0 0
Proj FA*   70 800   8      

Finley led NFL tight ends with 11 drops, but to his fantasy owners it seemed more like 11 each game. Worse, he was wildly inconsistent, with a three TD game and 10 donuts, scoring in consecutive games only once. Despite the butterfingers and the inconsistency Finley still managed to crack the top five in fantasy tight ends, and with the Packers’ offense returning intact he’s poised for a reprise in 2012. If you can stomach the frustration, there’s definitely a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

Fred Davis - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2009 WAS 16 48 509 10.6 6      
2010 WAS 16 21 316 15.0 3      
2011 WAS 12 59 796 13.5 3      
Avg   15 43 540 13.0 4 0 0 0
Proj FA   70 920   6      

(+Upside) Davis enters his fifth season with the Redskins and there is reason to believe it could be a big one. He already had a breakout of sorts last year when he ended with 59 catches for 796 yards but only three touchdowns. Davis was suspended for the final four games of 2012 for having tested positive for marijuana. He admitted that the lockout last summer gave him too much time on his hands and the result will not happen again. Davis turned in six games with 80+ yards in 2012 and with a new quarterback should see that sort of progress continue. The Redskins did little to bolster their receiving crew other than pick up Pierre Garcon so Davis could end up as the primary receiver or a major player at the very least. He's a receiving talent and one that Mike Shanahan has come to rely on. If Robert Griffin does too, Davis could end up a top five tight end this year. He's a nice tight end selection once the initial studs are taken.

08-15-12 Update: Davis has not been connecting as well with Robert Griffin III as the wideouts have and it makes him less likely to be the leading receiver for the Skins.

Jason Witten - DAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 7
Auction 10: 8%
Auction 12: 8%
2009 DAL 16 94 1030 11.0 2      
2010 DAL 16 94 1002 10.7 9      
2011 DAL 16 79 942 11.9 5      
Avg   16 89 991 11.2 5 0 0 0
Proj DAL   70 850   7      

Not only does Witten come off his worst season in five years, his production seriously waned in the latter months of 2012. Witten only caught 79 passes for 942 yards and five scores last year and while those numbers are not horrible, it was how he got them. Witten started the season on a hot streak but then in the final eight games only scored once and fell below 50 yards in five matchups. Laurent Robinson was one reason and he has left. Witten is still one of the most productive tight ends in the league and a Romo favorite. Whatever gains he might make with no more Robinson around could be replaced by an improved rushing game and a reduced need for tight end throws.

Tier 3
Vernon Davis - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 8%
2009 SFO 16 78 965 12.4 13      
2010 SFO 16 56 914 16.3 7      
2011 SFO 16 67 792 11.8 6 2 -5  
Avg   16 67 890 13.5 9 1 0 0
Proj SFO   65 850   7      

(+Upside) Davis turned in a down season for 2011 when he ended with only 67 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns. The encouraging part though was that Davis admitted to being slow to pick up the new offense last year but by the end he was a huge weapon, logging 110+ yards and two touchdowns in each postseason game. That should translate into a much better 2012 though the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham are very likely to take a part of the receiving pie that would have gone to Davis. Look for an uptick to his production that could return him to the upper echelon again.

Tony Gonzalez - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 4%
Auction 12: 4%
2009 ATL 16 83 867 10.4 6      
2010 ATL 16 70 656 9.4 6      
2011 ATL 16 80 875 10.9 7      
Avg   16 78 799 10.2 6 0 0 0
Proj FA   68 780   7      

Gonzo, once again, says that this is his final season and that this time he means it (which means his wife means it). After 15 seasons in the NFL, all he is doing is burying tight end records that may never be broken. He saw an uptick in production in 2011 when he ended with 80 catches for 875 yards and seven touchdowns. Gonzo is no longer going to really help you win games but he won't lose them for you either. At this point, he remains a safe bet each week for around 50 yards and a score in about every other game. The Falcons are throwing more but Julio Jones is there to soak up any excesses. Gonzo remains a solid pick - just no longer a big difference maker.

Jermaine Gresham - CIN YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 10
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 4%
2009                  
2010 CIN 15 52 471 9.1 4      
2011 CIN 14 56 596 10.6 6      
Avg   15 54 534 9.9 5 0 0 0
Proj CIN   70 700   8      

West Coast offense plus rookie quarterback minus two diva receivers and a 50- catch slot guy should have meant bigger things for Gresham last season. Sure, his numbers increased across the board but only marginally and he was at best a fringe fantasy contributor in most formats. There aren’t nearly as many factors lining up in Gresham’s favor this time around, so maybe his top end is right there on the cusp of fantasy relevance. There are too many talented tight ends in better situations to bank on Gresham being much more than a low-end fantasy contributor.

   
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