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The Top 20 Tight End Rankings For The 2012 Fantasy Football Season

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For all the football fans out there who needed a fantasy fix on Friday, my apologies for not posting the “Top 20 Tight Ends of the 2012 Season” as planned. I was in and out of the hospital all weekend with my daughter running a very high fever. I guess the flu bug is going around, but again I’m not a doctor, I just listen to what they say.

On Thursday we covered the Top 20 Wide Receivers, so let’s get back at it with the Tight Ends. This is a new position of great importance to winning fantasy titles. Many leagues make it mandatory to start a TE, so having a stud or a better than average tight end can help your team with getting many needed points.

This used to be a throw away position, but not anymore, as many people use late first’s and even early second round picks on the elite tight ends this year. Below is my take and rankings for the Top 20 tight ends of the 2012 fantasy football season.

#1 Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (Age 23)
There is a lot of debate between who is the #1 TE this year. I give the edge to Gronkowski based off the fact that he just scores more TDs than Graham. Honestly, it’s just a matter of choice. Gronk had an insane season last year with 90 catches, 1,327 yards and 18 total touchdowns. He is a beast of a player and if he was a WR, would he be a first round pick? Some would say so, depending on who you ask. Me? I say… yes. 124 targets on a team with a bunch of passing options should tell you how much Brady loves this guy.

#2 Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (Age 26)
Graham is an elite football player and phenominal athlete. He posted 99 catches, racked up over 1,300 yards and scored 11 times. That is almost as studly as one can get at the TE position, if not for the man at the #1 spot, this guy would be #1 at TE by a long shot. Graham was targeted by Brees almost 150 times last year and I do not see that number going down as he is the best receiver on a pass first team.

#3 Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers (Age 25)
Bump Finley! What a term throughout the fantasy world, lol. If not for being on the Packers, I think this guy would have little relevance. But he is, and he has the best QB in the NFL, so that alone gives Finley great value. He has a few big games here and there, and then follows it up with 6 bad games in a row. Here is an example for you, he had one big week in week 3, but did not do much else. In his other 15 games, Finley only caught 48 passes for 682 yards and 5 scores. Finley also has an injury history to boot and makes a lot of bone headed decisions, but should have lots of opportunity, and opportunity wins championships.

#4 Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (Age 30)
Witten is normally a PPR beast, but last year his receptions dropped off a bit. When talking about receptions, 79 seems like a good number, but not for Witten. Add that to the 942 yards and 5 TDs he had last year, that is considered a down year. Witten’s receptions were at a five-year low, but I expect them to go back up since Austin can’t stay healthy (He popped his hammy yet again last week) and Dez Bryant seems to be a knucklehead at times. His career is coming to an end slowly, but for this year he will still be a favorite target of Tony Romo.

#5 Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots (Age 23)
I liked this guy coming out of college, and I like him even more now. Hernandez is a jack of all trades since he can catch, run the ball and block for others. He lined up as an H-Back last year in a few formations and caught 79 passes for 910 yards and 7 TDs, but that was only in 14 games. Gronk is the guy to have out of the two, obviously, but Hernandez should be a starter for a fantasy team based of his upside and opportunity.

#6 Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers (Age 32)
I remember when Gates was the undisputed number one tight end in fantasy football. Not so much anymore. He has been injured the past few years, but looks ready to roll and in better shape than ever. With Vincent Jackson gone, look for Gates to reclaim his role as the number one passing option on the Chargers. This guy can be a beast yet again, and should be based off everything I have read. 80 catches for over 1,000 yards and double digit scores is way more than possible.

#7 Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (Age 28)
Davis, in my opinion, has always been a guy drafted a lot higher than he performs. Davis only had 67 receptions for 792 yards and 6 touchdowns last year, which is pretty good, but many people spent early picks on him expecting more. The Niners have a plethora of passing options and the running game is always the prime focus. Smith and Davis seem to have a good relationship over the years, but Randy Moss will need his targets or expect this situation to get messy. Davis is not a bad option, as he can have some big games, but manage expectations.

#8 Fred Davis, Washington Redskins (Age 26)
Fred Davis is a beast of a tight end who could be elite, but too bad he loves Mary Jane a little too much. Davis was suspended three games last year and showed lots of promise in the other 13. He made 59 catches for 793 yards to go along with 3 scores, with a horrible quarterback situation, to say the least. Now, he has RG3 as his QB, who will rely on Davis a lot since he is a rookie. Davis should account for many more catches, double his output for TDs, as well as put up nearly 1,000 yards of offense.

#9 Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions (Age 27)
Someone has to catch passes when they are not throwing to Calvin in Detroit, and that guy is Brandon Pettigrew. He had 83 receptions for 777 yards and 5 touchdowns last year and that is with CJ putting up monstrous numbers and catching almost 100 balls. Pettigrew is a little inconsistent as he manages to put up good numbers one week but not the next. That is the problem with a lot of tight ends, it is just Pettigrew has Stafford throwing to him, and an elite amount of upside to go with that. Pettigrew should be able to achieve the exact same numbers again this year, so he should be a start for some fantasy team in your league.

#10 Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals (Age 25)
Gresham is the second best receiving option in this offense behind second year stud wide out A.J. Green. With two veteran receiving options gone from last year and the rest of the receiving core a bit inexperienced, look for Gresham to step up. Gresham was effective last year when needed by making 56 receptions on 92 targets for 596 yards and 6 scores. He has an insane amount of upside and should post much better numbers than he had a year ago. Gresham can be a big surprise this year and may end up a top 5 producer at the position if he is used to his full potential.

#11 Tony Gonzales, Atlanta Falcons (Age 36)
This guy is going to go out in style on his 2012 farewell tour. Gonzalez has produced for fantasy football owners for many years, but this one will be his last. Last season he performed just like a #1 tight end catching 80 passes for 875 yards and 7 touchdowns. I don’t expect him to fall off from that much as the Falcons will pass often and spread the ball around, but will feed him a few passes here and there… you do that for a legend. He is still in great shape and will produce as a low end #1 or a prime backup TE for your fantasy team this year.

#12 Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (Age 24)
Andrew Luck is going to be a great quarterback down the road, but it takes time for young QBs to develop. They need safety blankets, and that’s what tight ends are for. At Stanford, Luck utilized Fleener a great deal and they already have a great chemistry moving on to the next level. Fleener should produce pretty well considering the pass catching weapons that the Colts have are at a bare minimum. The fact that Luck and Fleener know each others playing style will be what gives this guy an extra few ticks up the rankings chart. Just incase you needed a reason other than his pure talent and potential.

#13 Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (Age 25)
This is the guy everyone is claiming will have a break out year this year, and he may, but I just do not see it. He has shown some promise over the past couple years, but nothing that really says “I’m about to break out.” He had 49 catches for 759 yards and 3 touchdowns last year, which is where I see him, when he is on a team that has CJ2K to feed and Britt to catch the red zone TDs that CJ does not get. He has some upside, but it is limited when it comes to touchdowns, in my opinion. He is a great #2 guy, and should be used in a committee at best.

#14 Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (Age 23)
Did anyone even notice this guy on the field last year? I barely saw him and I watch every game. When he managed to play, he did well, posting 26 receptions for 249 yards and 3 scores. John Carlson was signed this past off season to replace Shiancoe who left via free-agency. Carlson was on the IR for all of the 2011 season in Seattle and is already hurt this year as well. Rudolph made many big plays when he was at Notre Dame and did the same when he had a chance to play this past year. He has huge upside and is the only other pass catching option besides Harvin. His downside is that he is a Viking.

#15 Owen Daniels, Houston Texans (Age 30)
Daniels has never really lived up to his potential, but he has had some pretty good seasons. Last year was not one of his best as he only put up 54 receptions for a total of 677 yards and 3 TDs. Pretty pedestrian production that was not helped by Schaub and Johnson getting injured. There are still very few pass catching option in Houston, partly because they have Foster to do most the work, so Daniels always has the potential to be a play maker on this team. His upside is limited but he could be great bye week filler or help in that committee approach some of you are working on.

#16 Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles (Age 27)
He saw very few opportunities to make thing happen once Vick got involved back in 2010. But Celek bounced back last year with 62 receptions for 811 yards and 5 scores, which was pretty nice. Celek had to step up last year as Maclin was suffering from the kissing disease and DeSean Jackson was holding out. That was all helpful for the nice season, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t produce those numbers again this year. If Vick and Celek click like they did last year, he very well may. He is worth the pick if you can get him at this position on draft board.

#17 Martellus Bennett, New York Giants (Age 25)
Bennett has been in the league for 4 years, and has totaled only 85 catches for just over 800 yards and 4 scores in that time. Not bad if that was an entire seasons body of work, but he was fighting for playing time with Witten over that span. That normally is not going to play in to your favor, no matter how good you are. Witten is just an elite tight end, Bennett realized that and left town for division rival New York. He will have a chance to show what he can do as he will get to start for the Giants and have the opportunity of catching TDs from a two time Champion. He is a gigantic person to guard, but he needs to make sure he hold’s onto the ball.

#18 Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (Age 30)
Miller is a huge underdog coming into this season and should exceed his ADP. Even though he had one of his best seasons last year, making 51 grabs for 631 yards and 2 TDs, he is still being over looked. I know his touchdowns were down, but he should get a few more with Wallace making a stink and holding out. Rumors are that Miller will be a featured part of Todd Haley’s offense, and Haley loves to pass, so you do the math. I think it is reasonable to say that Miller can put up numbers around 60 catches for 750 yards and 7 TDs.

#19 Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (Age 27)
Olsen did not do that bad in Cam Newton’s rookie year by making 45 catches for 540 yards and 5 touchdowns. Olsen should see a bump in targets now that Shockey is no longer on the team to take snaps away. Olsen is a pretty good receiving threat in the red zone, but Steve Smith, the running game and even Cam will take opportunities for Olsen to score away. Manage expectations, but he has upside of 60 catches for 700 yards and 6 scores.

#20 Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos (Age 27)
Tamme was in a very bad situation last year because of bad quarterbacks, but he now finds himself with a familiar friend. Manning and Tamme are together again in a different town, but the results should be the same. He worked well with Manning back in 2010 from weeks 8-17 making 67 catches for 631 yards, and 4 touchdowns on 93 targets. Tamme will produce good numbers again, but there is a better option in the red zone, so make sure you don’t expect too many red zone targets.

Hope these rankings help you out this year in achieving the goal of being your leagues champion. Check back once the season starts as we will cover who to sit and who to start, sleepers and waiver wire pickups of the week. Until then, here are the other Top 20 lists of the other positions from last week:
Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers

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