2012 Fantasy Football: Updated Tight End Rankings
When you begin to discuss fantasy tight ends, the conversation has to start with a pair of tight ends from the 2010 draft class that had the two best years anyone has ever had at that position from a statistical standpoint.
In fact, only one wide receiver (Detroit's Calvin Johnson) did what they did last year. Megatron and the two tight ends all finished with 90-plus receptions, 1,300-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns.
Of course, the two tight ends to which I'm referring are New England's Rob Gronkowski and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham.
While those two tight ends are 1-2 in my rankings, the position is as deep as ever.
Here are our 2012 fantasy football tight end rankings (using standard scoring -- i.e., not PPR scoring):
1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
A mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses, Gronkowski set single-season records for a tight end with 1,327 yards and 17 receiving touchdowns on his 90 receptions. In 36 career games counting the playoffs, Gronkowski has a total of 30 receiving touchdowns and one "rushing" touchdown.
2. Jimmy Graham, Saints
Graham had slightly fewer yards (1,310) and less touchdowns (10) than Gronkowski, but he had more receptions (99). No tight end was targeted more than Graham (149) and only five receivers had more targets. Based on the average fantasy points allowed to tight ends last year of all Saints' opponents in 2012, Graham and the Saints' tight ends have one of the top three most favorable schedules.
3. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
Hernandez missed two games yet he still finished with 79 receptions for 910 yards and seven touchdowns. Based on his production of 65 yards per game, Hernandez would have likely given the Pats two 1,000-yard tight ends if he had played all 16 games. In addition, Hernandez was used as a rusher more frequently down the stretch. Especially if opposing defenses focus on slowing down Gronkowski, Hernandez could be poised for a monster season.
4. Jason Witten, Cowboys
Witten set five-year lows in both receptions (79) and yards (942), which is partly due to the production of the Cowboys top three receivers: Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson, but Robinson signed with the Jaguars this offseason. Over those five seasons, Witten has three of the ten 1,000-yard seasons achieved by tight ends.
5. Vernon Davis, 49ers
Davis posted three-year lows of 792 yards and six touchdowns last year. That said, Davis is a freakish athlete that was nearly unstoppable in the postseason. In two playoff games, Davis had 10 receptions for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
6. Antonio Gates, Chargers
After missing a few games early in the season due to his foot, Gates had 56 receptions for 704 yards and seven touchdowns in 11 games. Although coach Norv Turner says Gates is "back" to his pre-injury form, there is still some reason to worry that the injury will flare up and I view the top five options to be safer bets.
7. Jermichael Finley, Packers
Capable of being a top-five tight end, Finley frustrates fantasy owners with his inconsistency. Finley, who re-signed with the Packers for two years this offseason, had three fantasy points or less in five games this season. Although he set a career high in touchdowns (eight), he had his lowest yards-per-game average (47.9) since his rookie season.
8. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
Gonzalez, who has 1,149 career receptions for 13,338 yards, has decided to play another season, which makes sense considering how productive he was in 2011. Gonzalez finished last season with 80 receptions for 875 yards and seven touchdowns, all of which were three-year highs.
9. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Gresham, the Bengals' first-round pick in 2010, posted slightly better numbers in his second season (56 receptions for 596 yards and six touchdowns, all career highs) than he did in his rookie campaign. That said, he is one of the tight ends that I am targeting later in drafts and think he could be poised for a breakout season.
10. Fred Davis, Redskins
Despite missing the final four games of the season due to league suspension, Davis totaled 59 receptions for 796 yards and three touchdowns in 12 games last year. While RG3 did not target his tight ends much in college and the 'Skins added some receivers in free agency, Davis is still a low-end TE1.
To see the rest of our top 25 fantasy tight ends, click here.