Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Offseason Extra: Top 12 TEs for 2012

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

One of the biggest questions facing Fantasy owners heading into 2012 will be when to draft Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots tight end could have a significant impact on Draft Day.

Gronkowski just finished one of the best seasons ever for a tight end. He had 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, which set the NFL record for tight ends, and he added a rushing touchdown for good measure. He now has 28 touchdowns in two seasons and should continue to post outstanding stats in his third year.

Check out our Fantasy Football podcast!
There is no better source for entertaining Fantasy advice than our Fantasy Football Today podcast. Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Adam Aizer will help you pass the time as you anticipate Draft Day 2014!
Latest episode | Subscribe today!

But is Gronkowski really worth a first- or second-round pick in standard leagues? That's the decision owners will have to make on Draft Day, especially the aggressive ones who like to be proactive and not follow the formula of taking running backs with your first two picks.

This season, the first tight end drafted was Antonio Gates in Round 4, and that's typically when most tight ends are taken -- when the run starts. Two tight ends were drafted in Round 4 (Gates and Jason Witten) and two were taken in Round 5 (Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley).

Gronkowski has proven to be an elite Fantasy option, and he had 233 Fantasy points this year. He would have been the No. 5 running back this season based on Fantasy points behind Ray Rice (285), LeSean McCoy (270), Maurice Jones-Drew (249) and Arian Foster (238) and the No. 2 receiver behind Calvin Johnson (254). All of those players are projected as first-round picks in the majority of leagues, so why not Gronkowski?

By taking Gronkowski early -- and the suggestion here is to draft him in Round 2 -- you lock up the best player at his position, and you should dominate the tight end spot every week. Gronkowski finished 46 Fantasy points better than the No. 2 tight end, Jimmy Graham.

But there is some risk involved with drafting Gronkowski early. What if he struggles? Of the Top 4 tight ends drafted, only Finley finished as a Top 5 option. Part of the reason Gronkowski was so amazing was because of his value since he was drafted in Round 9. Graham also was a Draft Day steal since he went in Round 7.

The Patriots could also improve their receiving corps, which would cut into Gronkowski's targets (he had 124 this year). Assuming that Wes Welker re-signs with the Patriots as expected, New England can also add another receiver to upgrade over free agent Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco, who will likely be released.

Tom Brady won't go away from Gronkowski, but with Welker, Aaron Hernandez and another legitimate weapon, Gronkowski might not score 18 touchdowns again, which would hurt his value, especially if he was drafted in Round 1. It's just something to consider.

You can also wait until Round 3 to take Graham, who is only going to improve as well, or load up at other positions and then draft a tight end later. You can take Hernandez or Gates in Round 4 or Witten, Vernon Davis or Finley in Round 5. The choice is yours on how you want to build your team.

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Football.

As for Gronkowski, he has played himself into first-round consideration. While we don't recommend drafting him in Round 1, don't be surprised when he comes off the board early in Round 2. We just hope he doesn't falter heading into the third year of his career.

Top 12 Tight Ends for 2012

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2011 stats: 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns (124 targets); rushing touchdown
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 233 (14.6)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 106 overall (Round 9)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 15 overall (Round 2)
Gronkowski wasn't just good in the regular season, but he was also a star in the playoffs with 17 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns against Denver, Baltimore and the Giants. His magical season didn't end the way he hoped because an ankle injury ruined his Super Bowl appearance. He had surgery on his injured ankle five days after Super Bowl XLVI, so he should be 100 percent come August. He now has 28 total touchdowns in two seasons and unless the Patriots significantly improve their receiving corps, he should remain a top target for Brady and the No. 1 tight end in Fantasy leagues. He is worth drafting in Round 2.


2012 sleeper TEs
Jared Cook, Titans
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
Evan Moore, Browns

2. Jimmy Graham, Saints
2011 stats: 99 catches for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns (149 targets); one fumble
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 187 (11.7)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 84 overall (Round 7)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 26 overall (Round 3)
Graham was a star this past season with double digits in Fantasy points in 11 games, and he led all tight ends in targets. He might present great value on Draft Day since most owners will reach for Gronkowski in the early part of Round 2, and Graham will be there for you most likely at the beginning of Round 3. To give you an idea, Graham would have been the No. 5 receiver this season based on Fantasy points behind Johnson, Jordy Nelson (210), Welker (206) and Victor Cruz (198). Graham could benefit greatly if Marques Colston and Robert Meachem both leave as free agents, but even if they stay we know Drew Brees will continue to look for Graham often, which is why he is a star Fantasy option in 2012.

3. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
2011 stats: 79 catches for 910 yards and seven touchdowns (112 targets); five carries for 45 yards; one fumble
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 127 (9.1)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 126 overall (Round 11)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 37 overall (Round 4)
Hernandez didn't have the same consistent season this year that Gronkowski or Graham did, but he was still a quality Fantasy option and finished as the No. 3 tight end in standard leagues. We hope Hernandez can remain healthy all year because he has missed at least two games in each of his first two seasons, but he was dominant in the playoffs with double digits in Fantasy points against Denver and the Giants. Like Gronkowski, Hernandez will benefit if the Patriots don't significantly upgrade their receiving corps, but he should remain a favorite target for Brady since he could do so many things, including take carries out of the backfield as a running back.

4. Antonio Gates, Chargers
2011 stats: 64 catches for 778 yards and seven touchdowns (90 targets)
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 115 (8.8)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 37 overall (Round 4)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 40 overall (Round 4)
Gates could easily re-emerge as the No. 1 tight end in all leagues, especially if Vincent Jackson leaves as a free agent, but health has been his biggest detractor. He missed three games this season and hasn't played in 16 games since 2009. We hope he will be 100 percent to start the 2012 season, but you never know with his nagging foot problems. If he does play 16 games he will present tremendous value since he's capable of reaching 75 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. And if Jackson is gone, we could see Gates post huge stats since he was a tremendous force in 2010 when Jackson was out for most of the season due to a contract dispute.


2012 bust TEs
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
Owen Daniels, Texans
Kellen Winslow, Bucs

5. Jason Witten, Cowboys
2011 stats: 79 catches for 942 yards and five touchdowns (117 targets)
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 117 (7.3)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 47 overall (Round 4)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 51 overall (Round 5)
Witten took a step back this season in his production as his catches, yards and touchdowns all declined from 2010 (94 catches, 1,002 yards and nine touchdowns). It could be a result of Tony Romo spreading the ball around to Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson, or Witten could be slowing down after nine seasons. We're not concerned about Witten heading into 2012 since he remains close with Romo, and Robinson might not return as a free agent. Witten might not be in the class of Gronkowski or Graham, but he should continue to catch 75-plus passes for 900-plus yards and five-plus touchdowns. That makes him a Top 5 tight end on my board, and I'll be happy to draft him in Round 5.

6. Vernon Davis, 49ers
2011 stats: 67 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns (94 targets); one fumble
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 105 (6.6)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 61 overall (Round 6)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 55 overall (Round 5)
Davis was a beast in the playoffs with four touchdowns against the Saints and Giants in two games. It made up for an inconsistent regular season when he had seven games with double digits in Fantasy points and nine games with five points or less. The key for Davis could be who his quarterback is with Alex Smith a free agent. Smith has been good for Davis and vice versa since they are both at their best when he is getting Davis the ball. Still, we'd like to see Davis play with an elite quarterback (Peyton Manning perhaps), and his value could easily surpass Witten on Draft Day. I would move Davis ahead of Witten if he gets an upgrade at quarterback because his play during the postseason was inspiring.

7. Jermichael Finley, Packers
2011 stats: 55 catches for 767 yards and eight touchdowns (93 targets)
2011 Fantasy points (average): 118 (7.4)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 55 overall (Round 5)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 64 overall (Round 6)
Finley's Fantasy value is up in the air since he's a free agent this offseason and could leave Green Bay if he doesn't get the franchise tag. We'd like Finley to remain with the Packers because it's a tight end-friendly offense with a great quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. He could also look to play in Miami with former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, but where Finley ends up will determine how good he can be, as well as his health. He played 16 games this season for the first time in his career and posted new highs in catches, yards and touchdowns as he finished as a Top 5 tight end in standard leagues. If he plays 16 games with any team he should remain a Top 10 option in all formats and is worth drafting by Round 6.


2012 rookies to watch
Dwayne Allen, Clemson
Coby Fleener, Stanford
Orson Charles, Georgia

8. Brent Celek, Eagles
2011 stats: 62 catches for 811 yards and five touchdowns (96 targets)
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 105 (6.6)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 143 overall (Round 12)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 76 overall (Round 7)
Celek had a revival for Fantasy owners this season after he disappeared in 2010. Michael Vick said before the year he would get Celek more involved, and it showed with five games with double digits in Fantasy points, including three in a row to close the season. He could benefit if DeSean Jackson leaves as a free agent, which would give Celek more targets. He will remain risky since Fantasy owners don't fully trust him after what happened in 2010 and he has to stay healthy after having minor hip surgery in the offseason. But we can see Celek finishing as a Top 10 tight end in 2012, and he's worth drafting with a mid-round pick.

9. Fred Davis, Redskins
2011 stats: 59 catches for 796 yards and three touchdowns (88 targets); one fumble
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 90 (7.5)
2011 Average Draft Position: Not drafted in the majority of leagues
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 85 overall (Round 8)
Davis is a free agent this offseason, but he's expected to return to the Redskins after he was suspended for the final four games this year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He was off to a great start prior to the suspension with at least nine Fantasy points in seven games. Based on his average, he would have finished with 120 Fantasy points, which would have made him a Top 5 tight end. We're not sure if he can reach that level again, especially if Chris Cooley remains with the Redskins and depending on the quarterback, but he has Top 10 potential and is worth drafting with a mid- to late-round pick as a starter.

10. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
2011 stats: 80 catches for 875 yards and seven touchdowns (116 targets)
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 123 (7.7)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 100 overall (Round 9)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 97 overall (Round 9)
Gonzalez is a tight end I would try to avoid because he's going to be 36 in 2012 and is nearing the end of his career. He was great at times this season with double digits in Fantasy points in five games, but he was miserable down the stretch with a combined 13 Fantasy points in his final five outings. With Roddy White still No. 1 in targets in the NFL, and the continued development of second-year receiver Julio Jones, Gonzalez will be the third option in the passing game. That's not a terrible place to be, especially with Matt Ryan playing well, but don't reach for Gonzalez before Round 8. He is not going to finish as a Top 5 tight end again like he did this season and might fall out of the Top 10 if White and Jones dominate the offense as expected.

11. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
2011 stats: 83 catches for 777 yards and five touchdowns (126 targets)
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 99 (6.2)
2011 Average Draft Position: No. 117 overall (Round 10)
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 106 overall (Round 9)
Pettigrew showed that he can be a successful Fantasy option with Matthew Stafford finally staying healthy all year. Pettigrew had at least nine Fantasy points in seven games and he closed the season with double digits in Fantasy points in three of his final four outings. He needs to be more consistent since he had eight games with five Fantasy points or less, and he struggled outdoors with only one game with double digits in Fantasy points in Week 17 at Green Bay. But Pettigrew is worth drafting as a starting option, especially if you wait to select a tight end with a late-round pick.

12. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
2011 stats: 56 catches for 596 yards and six touchdowns (92 targets); one fumble
2011 Fantasy points (weekly average): 87 (6.2)
2011 Average Draft Position: Not drafted in the majority of leagues
2012 Projected Average Draft Position: No. 112 overall (Round 10)
There are several tight ends who could be drafted in this spot, including Clark, Dustin Keller, Jared Cook, Owen Daniels and Kellen Winslow. But all of them have flaws, while Gresham should continue to improve heading into his third season. He developed a solid rapport with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, and he should be the No. 2 target for the Bengals in 2012 behind receiver A.J. Green. Gresham missed two games due to injury this year, and if he hit his average he would have been the No. 11 tight end. He should finish around the same spot in 2012, but he can improve if he shows more consistency. We expect that to happen, and he's a tremendous value with a late-round pick on Draft Day.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Sammy Watkins risky in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) The Bills haven't had a bonafide No. 1 receiver since the days of Jim Kelly to Andre Reed, but rookie Sammy Watkins has the talent to be their best wide receiver since the franchise's Super Bowl era. Sure, Eric Moulds, Lee Evans and Stevie Johnson were fine, but with the right quarterback, Watkins can be special.

Unfortunately, Watkins will be catching passes from second-year signal caller EJ Manuel. The team seems to have little confidence in Manuel being the answer at quarterback just one year after drafting him in the first round. Kyle Orton was pulled out of retirement and handed a pricy one-year deal, and one can easily picture the scenario where he's starting games for the team in November and December.

Will Manuel respond to the job-security threat with elevated play? His best shot is to feed his star rookie early and often. Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has made a career off shutting down No. 1 receivers, but he's not the same player at 33 as he was at 25. While he was a plus in coverage as recently as 2012, Tillman struggled on the field between injuries last year. If Watkins had a top-16 quarterback delivering the ball, I'd like him for a big game in Week 1. As it is, Fantasy owners would be best holding off on starting Watkins until the quarterback situation plays itself out for better or for worse.


Fred Jackson may have trouble finding running room in Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:04 am ET) Bills running back Fred Jackson will face a Bears team in Week 1 that did a terrible job at defending the run last season. However, his Week 1 success may not be as pre-ordained as that of running mate, C.J. Spiller.

Unlike Spiller, Jackson does much of his work without the benefit of big plays, grinding out his numbers by taking what the defense gives rather than providing a home-run threat on any down. While most of the members of the Bears back seven that was responsible for surrendering so many big plays has returned, the team has overhauled the defense line, signing three new defensive ends and drafting two rotational defensive tackles.

Two of those free-agent additions are Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, the two players that graded out as the best 4-3 defensive ends in run stop percentage last season, per Pro Football Focus. With those two players in tow and second-round draft pick Ego Ferguson taking up space in the middle, Jackson could have difficulty converting on short-yardage or goal-line situations.

It's also fair to wonder how many long scoring drives the Bills will be able to put together if Jackson and the offensive line can't stymie the line's potentially improved rush defense. EJ Manuel hasn't done enough at this point in his career to trust his ability to pick defenses apart with his arm. If the Bills have trouble finding the red zone, Jackson could wind up being a Week 1 Flex option Fantasy owners come to regret.


C.J. Spiller could ride big plays to productive Week 1
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Bills running back C.J. Spiller has feasted on big plays ever since emerging as a Fantasy weapon. In 2012, he was third in the league in breakaway percentage, a statistic tracked by Pro Football Focus that determines how much of a player's rushing yardage total is accrued on plays of at least 15 yards. Spiller topped the league in the category last season. Clearly, if he can find a seam, he has the ability to wrea havoc on a defense.

Spiller will be squaring off with the Bears on Sunday. Last season, the Bears turned in by far the worst run defense performance in the league. They surrendered 2,583 rushing yards and 5.3 yards per rush, both marks placing them last in the league. They overhauled the defensive line in the offseason as a result, drafting two rotational defensive tackles and signing three defensive ends.

But if those players can't keep Spiller bottled up at the line all game, he's a threat to break a long touchdown or two. While the Bears run defense was obviously porous as a unit, the back seven was particularly offensive, ranking last in Football Outsiders' second-level yardage and open-field yardage statistics. The Bears didn't do much to upgrade those two levels of the defense either, meaning plenty of broken tackles and long gains are there for the taking if Spiller can find a little daylight. He's a trustworthy RB2 in Week 1 and a must-use in any Flex conversations.


EJ Manuel will look to conquer road woes Sunday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) Bills quarterback EJ Manuel endured what could at best be described as an uneven rookie season last year. Going 4-6 as a starter, Manuel particularly struggled on the road, where he turned in poor performances against the Jets, Browns, Steelers and Buccaneers before turning in a quality performance against the Jaguars in Week 14, his last game of the season.

Manuel opens this season on the road as well, heading to Soldier Field to take on the Bears Sunday. He'll be facing a new-look Chicago defensive line, rebuilt after the Bears defense struggled to generate a pass rush last season. Whether that pass rush can be effective could be the key to Manuel's success; the quarterback averaged 6.9 yards per attempt when under no pressure last season, but just 5.0 yards per attempt when faced with pressure.

Is there a good reason to start Manuel in Week 1? Not really. Every Fantasy team should be looking at a healthy roster heading into the beginning of the season, and there are anywhere from 14 to 20 QBs worth using over Manuel no matter the matchup. But a good performance in an unfavorable environment against a potentially improved pass rush would go a long way towards making the second-year player Fantasy relevant in 2014.


Patriots claim Don Jones off waivers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) The Patriots have been awarded safety Don Jones on waivers from the Dolphins and waived offensive lineman Chris Barker in a corresponding move.

The Patriots will likely be looking for some extra insight on their Week 1 opponent after bringing the former Dolphin into the fold. The move leaves the Patriots with six safeties on the roster.


Jets release Ellis Lankster, re-sign A.J. Edds
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) The Jets released cornerback Ellis Lankster and re-signed inside linebacker A.J. Edds Monday.

Report: Chris Conte to start if medically cleared
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) Bears safety Chris Conte will be the team's starting free safety in Sunday's season opener against the Bills, provided he's medically cleared to play, ESPN reports.

Conte has been locked in a position battle with rookie Brock Vereen, and despite suffering a concussion during the team's third preseason game, he's done enough to be named the starter. It wouldn't be surprising to see Vereen overtake Conte in the starting lineup, with the latter grading out as a below-average starter, according to ProFootballFocus.com, who particularly struggles in run support.


Report: Raiders going with Derek Carr over Matt Schaub
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) Raiders players have been told the team will start rookie Derek Carr over veteran Matt Schaub at quarterback, reports Fox Sports. Carr threw three touchdown passes in last Thursday's preseason finale while Schaub has battled elbow problems.

Oakland opens the season Sunday at the Jets.


Emmanuel Sanders a strong flex option Week 1
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) Assuming Wes Welker returns from his concussion and plays Week 1, teammate Emmanuel Sanders still will be a strong flex option. Colts-Broncos is a guaranteed shootout -- the over/under is a whopping 55, highest on the board -- and Peyton Manning can support three productive Fantasy receivers with ease.

Plus, Manning has taken a liking to Sanders. When Sanders debuted in the third preseason game, the duo hooked up for 67- and 29-yard touchdowns in the first half.

"You just throw it as far as you can, and it's hard to outthrow that guy," Manning told the team's website.

Sanders finished with five catches for 128 yards on eight first-half targets, doing most of that before Welker got concussed. Sanders was not 100 percent for that game; he had just come back from a quad injury.

Now Sanders, who started building chemistry with Manning at informal Duke University workouts, "looks ready for the big stage," the website said.

"Peyton puts it on the money," Sanders said. "He takes pride in throwing the perfect football. He takes pride in being perfect all around, in general. He makes my job easy."

Manning is going to help Sanders reach a level he has not hit before, starting Sunday night.

Redskins complete practice squad
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/1/2014) The Redskins filled out their 10-man practice squad by signing safety Akeem Davis and linebacker Chaz Sutton, reports the Washington Post.

 
 
 
Rankings