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Fantasy Sports

Fantasy Football 2013: Why You Should Wait On Tight End

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

 

The game continues to change.

Not too long ago, tight ends in football weren’t as athletic, big, skilled or used nearly enough in offenses than they are in the present times. I heard a statistic from Denny Carter (CDCarter13 via Twitter) that really explains just how the position has evolved over the years. Here’s the stat: In the 2002 season, tight ends were targeted over 2,600 times, resulting in around 1,700 catches. Fast forward to 2013 and tight ends have been targeted almost 4,000 times, resulting in almost 2,500 catches among the position. Clearly the position is becoming more of a focal point of NFL offenses, but that doesn’t mean they should be one of the focal points of your fantasy rosters this season.

Unless you snag Jimmy Graham in the later stages of the second or beginning of the third round, I would highly advise to wait on selecting a tight end in fantasy this year. With the Patriots tight end situation looking like a mess, Graham is the clear-cut number one fantasy tight end, and with Dennis Pitta out for the season, the position is losing value. However, that doesn’t mean you should make the position your priority in your drafts. Another gem of a stat from Denny states that during the 2012 campaign, 47 tight ends recorded tight end number one numbers in a 12-team league for at least one week. It makes sense too because it seems like every year a handful of guys at the position emerge from out of absolutely nowhere and become fantasy relevant. Last year, Pitta was one of those guys, along with Brandon Myers. It’s basically inevitable, so why not wait on a high upside guy in the 10th round while you continue to add tons of depth to your roster? Honestly, as good as Graham is, and as far away from the rest of the pack he is, I think I’d rather draft two high upside tight ends towards the end of my draft. I mean, seriously. Let’s look at the ADP of some of the bigger name tight ends in fantasy (via Fantasy Calculator).

Rob Gronkowski: 4.09

Jason Witten: 5.10

Vernon Davis: 5.12

Tony Gonzalez: 6.06

Kyle Rudolph: 7.12

Basically, if you pass on these guys at their current ADP, you can add so much more depth and talent to your roster that it’s ridiculous. Why not stockpile on running backs (the most shallow skill position in fantasy) rather than take a tight end between round four and seven? In the majority of the mock drafts I have been involved in thus far, I have been targeting a guy with upside like Jared Cook or Greg Olsen towards round 10 or 11. Even if Cook doesn’t produce like we have been waiting for, my team really won’t suffer too much because of the depth surrounding my roster. Here’s an example of a team I drafted while waiting on tight end:

Team 1

QB: Tony Romo

RB: C.J. Spiller

RB: Matt Forte

WR: Larry Fitzgerald

WR: Dwayne Bowe

TE: Jared Cook

FLEX: Darren Sproles

Bench: Cecil Shorts, Giovani Bernard, Emmanuel Sanders, Fred Jackson, Jordan Cameron

Team 2

QB: Tony Romo

RB: C.J. Spiller

RB: Chris Johnson

WR: Vincent Jackson

WR: Steve Smith

TE: Jared Cook

FLEX: Reggie Bush

Bench: Shane Vereen, T.Y. Hilton, Fred Jackson, Kendall Wright

Of course, you can see that I also waited on drafting my quarterback, which is another thing I strongly advocate. Clearly, there are some serious benefits of waiting to draft your tight end. By waiting until the 11th round in both of these drafts to grab my starting tight end in Cook, I’ve allowed myself to become set up very well for bye weeks, injuries, etc. Outside of maybe the top four or five guys, there are so many question marks at this position. Guys like Rudolph are touchdown dependent, Jermichael Finley hasn’t been on the same page with that Green Bay offense, Antonio Gates has been slowing down over the past few years and those are just three guys. There’s tons of risk with this position, and fantasy owners would be much better off stacking their roster elsewhere, preparing for the inevitable tight end letdown.

Just kidding, but not really.

Adam Pfeifer is a senior fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.