Fantasy Feud: Jason Witten Vs. Tony Gonzalez
Anytime you are debating between two of the best tight ends to ever step foot on a football field, you’re nit-picking. You can’t go wrong with either one of these guys as your fantasy tight end, but I’ll have to pick one of them, right? Just keep in mind, that in my drafts, I won’t be selecting a tight end until around the ninth or tenth round, strictly because of how deep the position continues to be. With that being said, here are the career numbers from these two goliaths of the tight end position: Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez.
Making the case for Witten
If you want your fantasy end to catch passes at a high rate, look no further than Witten. Last season, he set a single season record for receptions by a tight end (110), and that number was fifth in all of football. Witten has also posted three 90-catch seasons throughout his career, as well as two 80-catch campaigns. Keep in mind, Witten produced one of the best seasons from a tight end in history, despite dealing with a lacerated spleen towards the start of the year. In PPR formats, Witten is easily a top-three fantasy tight end, as he is targeted a ton by quarterback Tony Romo. In fact, Witten was targeted an impressive 150 times last season. That number was the highest among any tight end, and the eighth-most in football. Since 2007, Witten has been targeted at least 115 times, and there is no reason to believe that trend won’t continue in 2013. Of course, the only negative aspect of Witten’s fantasy prospects are the touchdowns, or lack there of. In 2012, Witten only found the end zone three times, his lowest total since the 2009 season. Believe it or not, Witten has never posted a double-digit touchdown season in his career, his high being nine. It can be annoying for fantasy owners, but the fact of the matter is, Romo just doesn’t look for him in the red zone like he does between the 20′s. Last year, Witten saw a discouraging five end zone targets and only caught eight passes in the red zone. Still, despite the lack of scores, Witten still finished as fantasy’s fifth-best tight end. If he can start scoring more touchdowns on top of catching a plethora of passes, he could very well make a case for the number one tight end in 2013.
Making the case for Gonzalez
After already establishing himself as the greatest tight end to ever play the game, Gonzalez decided to return for another season, despite flirting with retirement. This bodes extremely well for the Falcons, as well as fantasy footballers everywhere. At age 36, Gonzalez was incredible in 2012 (yet again). He finished ninth in football with 93 catches for 930 yards and eight scores, resulting in the three-spot among fantasy tight ends. With all of those weapons at Matt Ryan’s disposal, Gonzalez likely won’t catch the amount of balls that Witten will, but he will catch more passes in the end zone. When Atlanta was inside an opponent’s 20-yard line last season, you could pretty much guarantee it would either be Gonzalez or Michael Turner scoring the touchdown. All eight of his touchdowns came from inside the 20, and he also caught 12 balls in that area, which tied for the most among tight ends. He’ll always be one of the favorites to lead his position in red zone targets, having tied for second in 2012 with 17. Despite being ancient, Gonzalez still has the size and athleticism to go up and make any play in the end zone. I mean, when you are talking about a surefire Hall-of-Famer in Gonzalez, you are talking about safety, During his 17-year career, the guy has missed just two games. He’s caught at least 70 passes 13 times, and has posted 700 yards or more 13 times as well. There’s really not much else that needs to be said for me to convince you to select Gonzalez. He’s one of, if not the greatest of all time, and in arguably the most high-powered offense in football, I fully expect strong fantasy totals in 2013.
Like I said, both guys are obviously studs, and you can’t go wrong with either one. However, if I had to choose one for my fantasy roster, it would be Gonzalez and is more impressive track record and pedigree. When comparing Witten’s catch totals to most of the other tight ends in the league, it’s a huge gap. But not Gonzalez. I mean, Witten caught the most passes among tight ends last year and Gonzalez was still only 17 behind him. I think both are obviously due for a bit of regression, but Gonzalez will catch no more than 10 fewer passes than him this season, and the touchdown differential will make up for it. Also, I think Gonzalez has the better offense and is far more likely to get the job done when it counts.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.
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