2012 Fantasy Football: Tight Ends To Avoid
With a normal offseason here in 2012 after last year’s lockout, fantasy football talk will now start to come in full force. As always, there will be ample speculation and varying opinions on just about every player out there as draft season gets closer.
Tight ends can often fall below the radar of the more glamorous positions a fantasy football owner has to fill, but having a good one (or at least avoiding a mistake on a player that fails to meet expectations) can be something that makes a big difference in terms of having success in your league.
Here are some tight ends I feel fantasy owners should avoid in 2012:
1. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
Hernandez had another nice season in 2011, with 79 receptions for 910 yards and seven touchdowns, and now has 13 touchdowns over his first two NFL seasons. There seems to be plenty of targets to go around in the Patriots’ pass-happy offense, but the team has added some depth to their wide receiver group this offseason with the signings of Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney along with the re-signing of Deion Branch. Hernandez and tight end mate Rob Gronkowski have been at the center of the New England passing game over the last couple years, but having more legitimate options on the outside may lead to targets being divided and as long as Gronkowski is healthy after being limited in last year’s Super Bowl by an ankle injury I think Hernandez could be the odd man out. He still does have some value, but fantasy owners who draft Hernandez expecting a repeat of 2011 stand to be very disappointed.
2. Kellen Winslow, Seattle Seahawks
Winslow was acquired by the Seahawks from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a seventh round pick in 2013, after there was speculation out there that the new regime in Tampa Bay feared he would not mesh with new head coach Greg Schiano’s style. He had 75 receptions for the Buccaneers last season, but was otherwise not impressive as he averaged 10.2 yards per catch and had just two touchdowns. It’s fair to wonder if his significant injury history, particularly to his knees, has sapped him of explosiveness and now he looks likely to back up Zach Miller in Seattle. Winslow’s fantasy value is not great to start with, perhaps outside of PPR leagues since he has 70 0r more catches in a season four times in his career, but the uncertainly of his role should leave him undrafted in all but very deep leagues.
3. John Carlson, Minnesota Vikings
Carlson missed all of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, but that did not stop the Minnesota Vikings from signing him to a lucrative contract this offseason (five years, $25 million-$11 million guaranteed). His salary alone means he should get first crack at becoming Minnesota’s starting tight end and he is still just 28 years old so he should have some peak seasons left. But Carlson regressed during his last healthy season in 2010 (31 receptions, 310 yards, 1 touchdown) after having 50 or more catches in each of his first two seasons, and second-year man Kyle Rudolph is likely to at least push him for playing time at some point in the season. It should not take long for Rudolph to prove he is the better player, and that alone makes Carlson someone to think twice about carrying on a fantasy football roster at this point.
4. Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Bennett has been labeled as an underachiever during his four NFL seasons, but that can be chalked up at least in part to being behind perennial All-Pro Jason Witten with the Dallas Cowboys. An opportunity to start seems to have come when he signed with the New York Giants this season, with both Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum dealing with knee issues, but Bennett has reportedly ballooned to 291 pounds for the start of OTAs after previously weighing 265 pounds. That weight gain, despite Bennett’s recent proclamation that it was “by design” in an effort to bulk up, is a huge red flag at this early stage of offseason work. If he drops to a more normal weight prior to the season any concern over the gain could be a moot point, but after generating some early buzz as a potential fantasy sleeper Bennett has now become a fairly high-risk/high reward player.
Others To Avoid: Dallas Clark, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins; Ben Watson, Cleveland Browns; Todd Heap, Arizona Cardinals
Other Players to Avoid in 2012: