2012 Fantasy Football Projections: Tight Ends
The only way to accurate fantasy football rankings is by first having a clear understanding of how you value each fantasy option. And to know their value, you have to have an idea of what kind of production they’ll offer in that given year.
I’m kicking off my player projections for the 2012 season with the tight end position, so here goes:
Note: Points are rough based off of standard scoring system.
1. Rob Gronkowski – 87 rec, 1,224 yards, 13 TD = 200 pts
Brandon Lloyd coming to town might take a few touchdowns away, but The Gronk is still a huge part of an extremely potent offense. He’s still the top option at the tight end position.
2. Jimmy Graham – 95 rec, 1,279 yds, 10 TD = 188 pts
It’ll be hard to get back to last year’s production, but Robert Meachem is gone and Graham is still too heavily targeted to drop off by much. Drew Brees not being signed yet and Sean Payton being suspended could be problems, potentially.
3. Antonio Gates – 75 rec, 924 yds, 10 TD = 152 pts
Gates is healthy and Vincent Jackson is gone, so it all adds up to one of his better seasons in years. As it turns out, it’s good for third place in 2012.
4. Jermichael Finley – 66 rec, 855 yds, 9 TD = 141 pts
Finley is too talented to not get better in such an explosive system. As much as the system and talent around him aids him, however, it’s as much of a deterrent due to Aaron Rodgers simply going with whoever is open. I like him as a top-five tight end, but he stops in at number four.
5. Aaron Hernandez – 76 rec, 915 yds, 7 TD = 133 pts
Way too many have Hernandez coming in as the third tight end, and I just don’t see the top three guys being the same exact ones as in 2011. He drops a couple spots, but sticks in the top-five due to his versatility and system.
6. Jason Witten – 84 rec, 988 yds, 6 TD = 132 pts
Many are down on Witten because of a sluggish finish in 2011, but much of that had to do with all three wide receivers being healthy. Laurent Robinson is gone, though, so Witten should be back among Romo’s top three targets.
7. Vernon Davis – 72 rec, 822 yds, 8 TD = 130 pts
Davis is way too talented to drop far outside of the top-five, but Randy Moss and Mario Manningham didn’t come to sit and do nothing. Their presence will keep him from blowing up, but improved talent around him will still help him have a very solid season.
8. Fred Davis – 76 rec, 904 yds, 6 TD = 126 pts
Davis was the 12th best tight end last year, despite missing the final four games due to a suspension. That should tell you something. I also think rookie RG3 will find solace in a big, reliable target over the middle and in the red-zone.
9. Jared Cook – 65 rec, 855 yds, 5 TD = 115 pts
Cook has struggled with consistency over the past few years, but he continues to flash brilliance. I think he keeps it together for most of 2012 and sneaks into the top-10.
10. Dustin Keller – 66 rec, 823 yds, 5 TD = 112 pts
I’m not in love with Keller or the guy throwing to him (Mark Sanchez), but his numbers weren’t bad last year and Plaxico Burress leaving could mean a few more red-zone targets. He’ll continue to take baby steps in his progression.
11. Tony Gonzalez – 74 rec, 755 yds, 6 TD = 111 pts
Gonzalez had his best season as a Falcon last year and was the fourth overall tight end in fantasy football. That won’t happen again in 2011 with Julio Jones busting out, but he’ll still be a borderline top-10 option.
12. Greg Olsen – 55 rec, 620 yds, 8 TD = 110 pts
This is where the reaches start. I know, but bear with me. Olsen has a great combination of size and speed, and Cam Newton should only be getting better. With Jeremy Shockey likely gone, Olsen should see more time on the field and his stats should rise, as well.
13. Kyle Rudolph – 60 rec, 725 yds, 6 TD = 108 pts
I know Rudolph is a risk/reward option, but Jerome Simpson is suspended for the first three weeks and the Vikings just aren’t stacked with play-makers in the passing game. Rudolph has Rob Gronkowski size and has very reliable hands. I think he starts the season hot and posts solid numbers in year two.
14. Owen Daniels – 62 rec, 744 yds, 5 TD = 104 pts
The Texans still don’t have an upgrade at the number two receiver spot and Joel Dreessen is in Denver. Translation: Daniels should slowly work back into PPR gamer’s good graces in 2012.
15. Coby Fleener – 52 rec, 667 yds, 6 TD = 103 pts
I know Fleener is a rookie and his lack of blocking prowess could keep him from the starting job, but he has a great rapport with Andrew Luck and his size/speed combo is intriguing. He won’t blow up in 2012, but he’ll be better than some think.
16. Jermaine Gresham – 62 rec, 667 yds, 6 TD = 103 pts
Gresham’s numbers are never quite as good as his talent suggests it should, but I think he slightly progresses for the third year in a row.
17. Brandon Pettigrew – 77 rec, 782 yds, 4 TD = 102 pts
Pettigrew is a fantastic PPR option, but he’s not a dynamo in the red-zone and he doesn’t make a ton of plays with the ball. Titus Young should carve out a bigger role, too, so his targets could drop a bit.
18. Jacob Tamme – 72 rec, 724 yds, 5 TD = 102 pts
Tamme did pretty well with Peyton Manning slinging him passes two years ago, so I like his chances as a full-time starter in Denver. He won’t go nuts, but he’s definitely a top-20 tight end.
19. Brent Celek – 57 rec, 710 yds, 4 TD = 95 pts
I really like Celek, but he hasn’t come close to his stellar 2009 season in two years now, and Michael Vick historically doesn’t utilize the tight end all that well. He’s a very solid TE2, but Celek can’t be relied on for elite production on a consistent basis.
20. Ed Dickson – 52 rec, 616 yds, 5 TD = 91 pts
The Ravens basically use two tight ends to form one tight end via Dickson and Dennis Pitta. Dickson will see some improvement, but he won’t blow up.
21. Scott Chandler – 47 rec, 512 yds, 6 TD = 87 pts
Chandler doesn’t have any play-making ability, but he’s a great red-zone target and his blocking will get him on the field even more in 2012.
22. Dennis Pitta – 48 rec, 556 yds, 5 TD = 85 pts
Pitta is still a slight second-fiddle to Dickson, but he, too, will see some progress this year as the Ravens open things up in the passing game a little more.
23. Lance Kendricks – 46 rec, 546 yds, 5 TD = 84 pts
The Rams appear to be high on Kendricks, and I’ve always liked his size and athleticism. He has a lot of room to grow, but the biggest thing is Sam Bradford taking that step. If that happens, Kendricks should have a decent second season.
24. Tony Moeaki – 54 rec, 596 yds, 4 TD = 83 pts
Moeaki missed all of last year with a torn acl, but now he’s back as the starting tight end. Kevin Boss will steal enough targets as his backup to keep him relatively grounded, but Moeaki is still a solid TE2 going into 2012.
25. Kellen Winslow – 40 rec, 525 yds, 5 TD = 82 pts
Zach Miller was a free agent bust last year, while Winslow has always been a pretty reliable possession receiver. They figure to share targets, but I think Winslow has a good chance at putting up slightly better numbers.
26. Marcedes Lewis – 46 rec, 522 yds, 5 TD = 82 pts
Lewis went from 10 touchdowns to zero from 2010 to 2011, and I think it’s safe to blame the inept Blaine Gabbert. I think Gabbert improves enough to get Lewis back to respectability. That, or Chad Henne takes over and saves him.
27. Martellus Bennett – 44 rec, 566 yds, 4 TD = 80 pts
Bennett is always a sleeper and now he’s the projected starting tight end for the Giants in 2012. He should at least get close to what Jake Ballard and Kevin Boss have done the past few years. Right?
28. Heath Miller – 48 rec, 547 yds, 4 TD = 78 pts
There’s some speculation that Miller will blow up now that Todd Haley is in Pittsburgh, but I’m not buying it. Miller had one freakishly solid season and has otherwise been painfully average. He’s top-30, but not by much.
29. Kellen Davis – 40 rec, 526 yds, 4 TD = 76 pts
Davis is a massive target and with Mike Martz gone, the Bears may finally start actually throwing in the tight end’s direction. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery coming to town probably still keep Davis fairly grounded, however.
30. Zach Miller – 41 rec, 496 yds, 4 TD = 73 pts
I like Miller’s talent, but he turned into a scrubd last year and Seattle still has quarterback questions. I’ll take Winslow over him for now, as he needs to prove his worth again.
31. Benjamin Watson – 42 rec, 510 yds, 3 TD = 69 pts
Watson is 32 and had concussion issues last year, so Jordan Cameron and/or Evan Moore could make him irrelevant eventually. I just don’t know if I see it happening in 2012 just yet.
32. Luke Stocker – 45 rec, 489 yds, 3 TD = 67 pts
Kellen Winslow is gone, but Stocker still has to share the field with Dallas Clark at least half the time and the Buccaneers appear to be leaning more towards the run these days.
33. Anthony Fasano – 34 rec, 426 yds, 4 TD = 66 pts
Fasano isn’t a great play-maker and has never topped 40 receptions, so why should anything change now?
34. Dallas Clark – 35 rec, 414 yds, 4 TD = 65 pts
Clark is 33 and has never been a great blocker, so it’s hard to imagine him putting up big numbers in a ball control offense.
35. Tony Scheffler – 25 rec, 366 yds, 4 TD = 60 pts
Scheffler has some value near the red-zone, but he’s still backing up Brandon Pettigrew, so his value is capped.
36. Todd Heap – 35 rec, 417 yds, 3 TD = 59 pts
Heap was average in 2011 and Rob Housler could push him hard. I think ultimately Heap starts bowing out this year, but his numbers will still be slightly better than Housler’s.
37. Evan Moore – 31 rec, 406 yds, 3 TD = 58 pts
Moore stretches defense usually, but didn’t do a great job at it last year. Watson’s health and effectiveness will have a direct affect on Moore’s overall value.
38. Joel Dreessen – 26 rec, 334 yds, 4 TD = 57 pts
Dreessen displayed solid value in Houston, but will be behind Jacob Tamme in Denver so he won’t be able to progress much.
39. Rob Housler – 28 rec, 374 yds, 3 TD = 55 pts
I think Housler is a very interesting player, but he’s going to have to wait behind Heap for another year, although they could split time on the field by mid-season.
40. Michael Egnew – 26 rec, 311 yds, 4 TD = 55 pts
Egnew has good size and athleticism, and has already earned praise in Miami. He could push Anthony Fasano early for playing time.
41. Dwayne Allen – 28 rec, 354 yds, 3 TD = 53 pts
Allen may end up starting over Fleener as a rookie, but his numbers won’t be nearly as good.
42. John Carlson – 33 rec, 406 yds, 2 TD = 52 pts
Carlson made the waves with the contract in free agency, but he isn’t the same player he was in his first two seasons and Kyle Rudolph is the better talent.
43. Chris Cooley – 24 rec, 348 yds, 3 TD = 52 pts
Cooley is a healthy risk and no longer near the talent that Fred Davis is.
44. Kevin Boss – 25 rec, 336 yds, 2 TD = 45 pts
Boss should see some playing time with Moeaki working his way back from a knee injury, but he’s not a top-40 option.
45. Orson Charles – 24 rec, 324 yds, 2 TD = 44 pts
I like Charles’s athleticism and potential, but unless the Bengals toss a ton of two-tight end sets in 2012, the rookie will struggle to make an impact behind Jermaine Gresham.
46. James Casey – 20 rec, 255 yds, 2 TD = 37 pts
I love Casey’s versatility, but unfortunately his versatility is actually his downfall, as the team has him filling in at fullback right now. If he ever switches back to tight end full-time, he could jump up 15-20 spots.
47. Delanie Walker – 22 rec, 234 yds, 2 TD = 35 pts
Walker is a versatile H-back, but his ceiling is low due to all the other weapons on offense – namely tight end Vernon Davis ahead of him.
48. Jordan Cameron – 20 rec, 211 yds, 2 TD = 33 pts
Cameron is a guy on the rise, but he’s still stuck behind Ben Watson and Evan Moore.
49. Garrett Graham – 18 rec, 210 yds, 1 TD – 27 pts
Graham is a pedestrian talent, but he’s now the top backup to Owen Daniels. His production should still be limited, though.
50. Evan Rodriguez – 16 rec, 204 yds, 1 TD – 26 pts
Rodriguez is a versatile rookie who can help out in a lot of spots, but he probably won’t see a ton of time at tight end in year one.