The tight end position has emerged as a true weapon for NFL offenses the past few seasons and can no longer be ignored until the middle to late rounds of your fantasy football draft.
The NFL is a copycat league, as are fantasy football leagues, so after the success that teams like San Diego and Dallas have had with their big athletic tight ends, everyone is in a frenzy to find that perfect blend of size and athleticism in the same manner that New England and New Orleans have in more recent memory.
Let’s take a look at my top five 2012 fantasy football tight end rankings prior to training camp.
I’m using a standard scoring, 10 team, 15 round average draft position system in the following rankings.
1) Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: I said last season, this kid was going to be a monster in the fantasy football world very few people listened. Now that, he’s proven he is a monster the sky is the limit. I’m taking him over Gronkowski because of New Orleans’ pass happy offense, which saw Graham targeted 24 more times than Gronkowski last season. I don’t expect that to change in 2012. (ADP: 2nd Round)
2) Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: It was hard to rank “Gronk” number two in my 2012 fantasy football tight end rankings, but I had to. The addition of Brandon Lloyd will detract from his targets and don’t forget about the other TE in New England, Aaron Hernandez. “Gronk” will still get his targets, but it will be difficult to duplicate the record-breaking success he had in 2011. (ADP: 2nd Round)
3) Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: What everyone in the Bay Area thought they were getting when San Francisco drafted Davis, is finally starting to shine through. I’m projecting Davis to continue the production we saw in playoffs through the entire season. The additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham will help him and his fantasy football owners, since Davis won’t see as many double teams. Although the running game has been San Francisco’s bread and butter, look for them to air it out this season. (ADP: 6thRound)
4) Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers: Many people took Finley early in their fantasy football draft last season only to be disappointed over how inconsistent he was. A full offseason program and Green Bay’s pass-happy offense are more than enough reasons to keep him high on your list of TE prospects this season. (ADP: 7thRound)
5) Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: Lost amongst this new breed of tight ends is Dallas’ “Old Reliable” Jason Witten. Here’s a man that has averaged 82 receptions over the past 8 seasons and has scored 40 touchdowns during time. Year after year, Witten shows up and produces as a solid fantasy football option. He should return to those days, especially now that Dallas’ offense has no true third receiver. There’s no denying who Tony Romo’s security blanket is and his numbers should return to what we’re accustomed to seeing from Witten. (ADP: 7th Round)
Players on my radar:
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: Hernandez will benefit the most from the coverage “Gronk” and Lloyd will draw, he posted impressive numbers as the number two TE last year for New England and will continue doing so in 2012 (ADP: 8th Round)
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: Gates remains a top fantasy option and could easily be in the top five if, he could stay healthy. Look for Gates to rebound, especially now that Vincent Jackson is gone. (ADP: 7th Round)
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions: Pettigrew is coming off a career year behind 83 receptions, 777 yards and five TD’s and we look for him to continue that trend in 2012. He was also one of Matt Stafford’s favorite targets inside the 20 yard line, registering 22 red zone looks compared to Calvin Johnson‘s 25. (ADP: 11th Round)
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins: Rookie QB, and he’s Washington’s only threat to go over the middle. You do the math. (ADP: 11th Round)
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals: Showed flashes of excellence last season, could be in for a breakout season behind second year QB Andy Dalton in 2012.
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos: Tamme will be Peyton Manning’s security blanket in Denver. Judging from their days in Indy, Tamme is in for an awesome season. (ADP 13th Round)
Hope you have a great fantasy football draft and as always thanks for checking us out on RantSports.com