Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said he was “95 percent” certain 2012 would be his final season, but after putting up his best numbers since 2008 (93 receptions for 930 yards and eight touchdowns) he re-signed with the Falcons and will come back this season. For what it’s worth Gonzalez has said he is certain this will be his 17th and final NFL season, but time will tell if he sticks to that.
Gonzalez has been one of the top tight ends for fantasy football owners for over a decade now, but can he put together one last terrific season in 2013?
The Falcons’ offense became more pass-oriented in 2012, with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing the ball 615 times (sixth-most in the league). Wide receivers Roddy White (92 receptions for 1,351 yards and seven touchdowns) and Julio Jones (79 receptions for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns) had excellent seasons along with Gonzalez, forming arguably the leagues’s top pass catching trio.
Gonzalez was the third-most targeted tight end in the league last season (124), behind Jason Witten (149) and Jimmy Graham (135), and he also tied for second at the position in red zone targets with 17. Even with a slight drop-off in total opportunities, Gonzalez should remain a go-to guy for Ryan in the red zone this year.
I don’t expect Gonzalez to repeat his numbers from last season, and at age 37 a significant decline is a possibility. But durability has not been an issue for him, with just two missed games in his career and none since 2006, and it would be an upset if that suddenly changed.
Gonzalez’s upside potential is not great with the talent around him in Atlanta’s passing game, but he is one of the most reliable fantasy options at a position that is fairly deep but also lacks a lot of sure-fire options this year. I project 80-85 receptions for 800-850 yards and 5-10 touchdowns for him this year, which is enough to make “Gonzo” a rock-solid TE1 in all league formats.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.