Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Tight end in fantasy football is a very interesting field this year, and there are a few strategies that you can use here. The field is actually quite deep. 12-14 different guys that I wouldn't be mad at having as my starter.

You've got two guys going in the second round. And don't see another tight end leaving the board until the 5th. So... do you take Graham or Gronkowski early, knowing that they put up statistics like top receivers? Or do you stick up on running back and wideouts early, and wait til the 5th or 6th to grab someone like Witten, Finley or Gresham? Or wait all the way to rounds 10-12 for Gonzales, Gresham, Cook or Fleener?

Lots of options. Lots of strategies. And I'm sure to be breaking them all down in the coming months. Without further ado, here are your top 30 fantasy football tight ends.

  1. Jimmy Graham – You know what... I'm gonna do it. I like Graham better this year. Fewer touchdowns last season than Gronkowski, but similar stats everywhere else. Another TE that will show no signs of slowing. Only issue is the loss of Sean Payton, but with Graham as the most athletic tight end in the NFL, he won't be hurt much. I can see him eclipsing Gronk this season.
  2. Rob Gronkowski – Ankle injury doesn't seem like too big a deal to me. His 2011 season was the best you'll see for a tight end, and there is little reason to believe that it will slow down. Brandon Lloyd is the only addition that will take a few looks away from him, but with Welker, Hernandez and running backs taking passes, I don't see his yardage total being the same. Just hope that someone in your league doesn't overvalue him and take him in the first.
  3. Antonio Gates – I'll put my money on the comeback here. Vincent Jackson is gone and as long as his foot is good, Gates could return to being the best receiver the Chargers have. Defenses will key on him a bit more if no WR can open it up though. Don't sweat the frustration that he has caused in the last two seasons, he still has plenty of football left in him.
  4. Jermichael Finley – I was high on him last year and pretty let down by what I saw. His stats were solid, but compared to the big two, he didn't wow anyone. Yardage should go up, maybe reach 900 if we see his targets and receptions go up, touchdown total should stay between 8-10. He won't put up the same stats as Graham or Gronkowski, but he comes far cheaper in the 6th round.
  5. Aaron Hernandez – Hernandez is faster and frankly a better receiver than Gronkowski. He just doesn't get the press and doesn't get the touchdowns. Hernandez could explode at any point, especially with defenses keying in on Welker, Gronk and possibly Floyd. Another player much cheaper than the big 2 going in the mid 6th round.

  6. Jason Witten – He's not done yet, Witten's receptions went way down last year, but he was still within 60 yards of 1,000. With both big Cowboys receivers healthy, he won't have defenses all over him like he did for a few games last season. If the Cowboys can be as good as the look on paper, then he could have another standout year. Downside is that you never know what you'll get from him in the touchdown department. Only 2 in 2009, 9 in 2010, 5 last year.
  7. Vernon Davis – I don't think he slows down, despite the 49ers bringing in so many new receivers. He has seen the spotlight that we were looking for after some brilliant late season performances. I think he goes up in all categories. He's a bit riskier than the tight ends listed above, and is going earlier than them, which is a bit of a downside.
  8. Jermaine Gresham – He's everything you really want in a fantasy football tight end, the problem is that the Bengals refuse to let he go further than 10 yards. He got a good amount of targets last year, and with rookie receivers replacing the supporting cast, that number should rise, along with TDs and yardage. He's also going to have to get more active in the red zone. I like him as a nice sleeper pickup that you can grab all the way in the 10th round.
  9. Fred Davis – Last year he looked like the best receiver on the Redskins. Like San Fran, Washington brought in a lot of WRs, but I don't know how much that will effect him. Question mark is how good he gets along with RGIII. Also drugs... those seem to be a problem too.
  10. Jacob Tamme – Should be a sleeper, but everyone is high on him. His ADP is surprisingly in the 8th round. His upside is all on the arm of Peyton Manning, we saw how well they got along in 2010. Could they repeat that success, I think so. Peyton loves his TEs. Here's hoping he can finally start doing something after the catch.
  11. Brandon Pettigrew – Second highest number of targets last season. A bit shocking. As long as Stafford is throwing the ball, he looks like a good option. This year, I do think that Titus Young will open up, which could hurt his productivity a little. He'll have streaks with little production, but you will also see some monster games out of him.
  12. Tony Gonzalez – 36 years old, I can't imagine that he looks as impressive as last season. Then again, I said the same thing last season that he was on the decline. Thing is, he's just an incredible athlete. Down the stretch he'll lose power a bit, and Roddy and Julio should grow this season. He's still a solid pick though if you decide to wait a bit later for your TE talent.
  13. Brent Celek – With DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy ahead of him, he doesn't get as many passes as he should. But he is a big strong guy that can get a lot of work done after a catch. Michael Vick seems to like throwing to him, which should continue this season. I like him for about 750 yards and 5 scores, similar to last season.
  14. Coby Fleener – Tight ends are usually the best friends of rookie quarterbacks. Now take into account that he is also a rookie coming out of the same school as the new quarterback. A bit of a risk based on the fact that both he and Luck will have to translate to the NFL. But you have to view their history as a plus. Colts don't have a great run game, and should continue to play from behind, so I like the upside here. Especially if you want to wait all the way into the 12th round to get your starting tight end.
  15. Jared Cook – Looked like a complete bust until the last three games of the season, where he racked up 335 yards. I expect big things from him this year, no matter who is under center.
  16. Owen Daniels – Pretty quiet for the last few years, you have to look back to 2008 to find top TE stats from him. But he does have the potential to do something big. Definitely benefits from a healthy Schaub and a healthy Andre Johnson.
  17. Dallas Clark – As you can tell from my rankings, I like the Tampa Bay offense this year. Two great receivers, rookie running back with a veteran number two, and a maturing quarterback. Clark has had fantastic years in the past and will be lining up as the starter this year for an offense that could prove surprisingly explosive.
  18. Heath Miller – I think that the will benefit from the retirement of Hines Ward. Ward worked inside and underneath, the same place as Miller. Miller gets consistent targets, and that number could go up without competition there. Unfortunately, he is often used as a blocker, so he doesn't get as many looks as other TEs listed above.
  19. Dustin Keller – He gets better and better each year, and actually led his team in targets, receptions and yards last year. If the Jets continue to only talk about having a power run game, he could benefit, especially without much competition from receivers.
  20. Kyle Rudolph – He should benefit a lot from having a consistent quarterback this year, but he does oddly have competition at the position from John Carlson. Rudolph should start, and should grow this season. I'm not expecting fireworks, but a couple big games aren't out of the question.
  21. Tony Moeaki – 556 yards and three scores in 2010, then suffered an injury and missed all of last year. I think that he can come back with a repeat performance. Someone to keep an eye on.
  22. Kellen Winslow – Pretty forgotten right now, he could come out of nowhere. He's been at the top of people's lists for years, and I don't think a simple team change should deter that. He does have competition at the position, but he also has something to prove.
  23. Greg Olsen – I liked him last year a lot, but he didn't come out like I thought he would. The Panthers number two receiver is Brandon LaFell, so Olsen does have room to step up and be a big player for them. Not much upside, but there is little downside too. Pretty consistent player who should see 500 yards and 5 scores.
  24. Ed Dickson – Would be much higher on the list if it weren't for Dennis Pitta. New England is the only team that can pull off a two-headed tight end attack.
  25. Martellus Bennett – New York loves to throw the ball. If Bennett is in any type of shape, he could put up some decent numbers. And playing in the same conference as the team that cast him off should light a fire under him.
  26. Marcedes Lewis – Gabbert has to improve and his new receivers should take pressure off him when the Jags find their way to the red zone. Don't expect much yardage, but he could find the end zone a lot this year.
  27. Anthony Fasano – Kind of a “Dolphins have to throw to somebody” philosophy here. Ochocinco I think is done. Devon Bess and Brian Hartline are hardly stunners. Fasano will never have a great breakout season, but he could be solid.
  28. Lance Kendricks – Disappointing last season, but should improve. You've got to think that the Rams show some kind of life this year.
  29. Scott Chandler – Nothing to write home about. But he catches everything thrown at him. If the Bills can manage to get him more than 48 targets this year, he could be dangerous.
  30. Evan Moore – Not super reliable, but I have to give him the 30th spot. Rookie quarterback, not much receiver talent around him. That ball has to be thrown somewhere... why not tight end?


  1. I really hope Fleener works out. Waiting until the late rounds for a tight end is a big part of my strategy this year. That's when I picked up Jimmy Graham last year and an hoping for the same kind of luck with either Fleener or Cook.

  2. Really hope Fleener works out. A lot of my strategy this year is relying on taking a TE in the late rounds, which pretty much means Fleener or Cook. One of those guys has to put up something decent, right?

  3. I would think so. I'm pretty sure that my strategy this year will be taking on of the mid-round TEs instead of a late-rounder. I'd be happy with one of the guys falling between round 6 and 9, Finley, Hernandez, Witten, even down to Pettigrew or Celek. I do have high hopes for Fleener, as I pointed out. Rookie TEs arent generally that well off, but he could be an exception potentially.

  4. Hey man,

    In a keeper league, would you go with Gronk or Graham? I know you chose Graham on this article, but I really want to affirm my decision to go with Graham. The only other tie breaker is that if I give up Gronk, I would only be giving up a 13th round pick. If Graham, I would be giving up a 7th rounder. Thoughts?

  5. I like Graham more. But you are getting a hell of a deal with Gronkowski.

    Try to figure out what kind of player you would be looking at with a round 7 pick. If you think number 7 would be a good player to have on your team, then I would drop graham. If you arent impressed by the talent you can get in Round 7, then keep him.

    Your call.