Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2012 Draft Prep: TE tiers and strategies

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

• Dave Richard's tiers and strategies: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Kicker and DST

Tight ends are the deepest position in Fantasy this season, which opens the door to some interesting draft strategies. We'll get to that along with the single most important tight end rule to live by on Draft Day, regardless of your overall drafting approach. But first, a disappointing stat that we'll all probably ignore.

Last year wasn't when tight ends "broke out." Back in 2007 we saw six players get over not only 100 Fantasy points, but 120 Fantasy points. We thought the revolution was on! But in 2008 that number slid to four tight ends with 100-plus Fantasy points including one over 120 points. The revolution was off.

2012 Draft Prep essentials
Fantasy News
Rankings | Top 200 | Player Profiles
CBSSports.com Draft Averages
Mock Drafts | Projections | Draft Index

But in 2009 tight ends rose to the occasion again as a whopping 10 had over 100 Fantasy points including four with 120 on the season. Tight ends were back, baby! Or so we believed as the number did a swan dive: Five hit the century mark with three getting over 120 points.

You already know last season was big for tight ends as 10 had over 100 Fantasy points, four had over 120 and two had over 175. But if this trend we've laid out were to continue, tight ends would falter across the board in 2012.

No one is buying this. And no one should.

Every coach and coordinator I spoke to this offseason spoke glowingly about tight ends referencing playmakers like Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and as Colts coach Chuck Pagano put it, those "nightmare" tight ends in New England. They're all enamored with the idea of finding big, physical players with good hands and deceptive speed to line up against smaller defensive backs or slower linebackers. Defenses still have yet to find an answer for corralling these behemoths and quarterbacks love hitting these big targets over and over. With more big tight ends expected to play regularly this season there probably won't be a regression, save for injuries derailing many of these guys.

Every team would kill to have one, and as such, every Fantasy owner wants to have one. Some might even reach for one. That's the urge you must fight.

It's all about value

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!

There's only one rule you must follow with tight ends this season, and it's applicable in all formats, all league sizes and all other draft strategies. Ready? Here goes: You reach, you lose.

Some secret, huh? You probably didn't need me to tell you to not reach for a tight end. Fine, then take (or leave) my advice: you should never panic on drafting a tight end this summer because no matter when you need a reliable one, one (or two) will be there. It's probably the only position in Fantasy Football we can confidently say that about aside from kickers and DSTs.

To Graham or to Gronk?

The top two tight ends to go off draft boards this summer will be Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, and not necessarily in that order. But what is definite is that it will take an unprecedented draft pick to land one of them. You should expect nothing less after they both set records for the biggest seasons by a tight end in NFL history. In Fantasy, Gronkowski finished third and Graham sixth overall among non-quarterbacks in standard formats. Expecting a minimum of 10 Fantasy points per week from them isn't out of line (Gronk averaged 14 Fantasy points per week last year, Graham averaged 11).

Everyone expects both to continue their dominance at the position in 2012. That's why their average draft position has been between 20th and 25th overall. Are they worth a second-round pick? In PPR leagues and leagues that count tight ends as receivers, most definitely. But in standard formats they might be worth a late second-round pick. What's funny is that their position sort of costs them some value -- most leagues only start one tight end, so there's only so much demand for them. Plus if you're spending a Top 25 pick on a tight end, you're definitely passing up on some great talent at the other key Fantasy positions. You will see others in the league get sick value on tight ends later in the draft, too. The smaller the league and the simpler the format (i.e. no points for receptions or special scoring for tight ends), the less emphasis there is on getting one of them. Remember: You reach, you lose.

Still need some guidance? Do this: Before you go into your draft, make a list of players you wouldn't hesitate to take before Gronkowski or Graham. That way when you're up in Round 2 (or 3) you'll have an idea of whether or not to take a tight end versus another position.

By the way, I'd take Graham over Gronkowski in every format. Gronkowski will remain a huge factor in the Patriots passing attack but expecting him to repeat his 90-catch, 1,327-yard, 17-touchdown effort from last season seems like a stretch even for him. The addition of Brandon Lloyd should take away some opportunities. Graham, meanwhile, could have more opportunities as the Saints have yet to replace Robert Meachem effectively in their offense. He seems to have a better chance to get close to the 99 catches, 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns he had last season.

Rest of the best

The smaller the league, the better opportunity you'll have to draft a quality starting tight end at a good value if you pass on the elite two tight ends. That's because the position is considered deeper than ever with talent that should put up stats close to each other.

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.

Here's an example from last year: Aaron Hernandez finished as the third-highest scoring tight end but was just 37 points higher than Fred Davis, who played two fewer games than Hernandez. Davis finished 10th among tight ends -- six other players scored in-between them. The takeaway is that there's not a ton of difference between this next crop of tight ends, just a matter of personal confidence you have in them.

Remember that we're looking for bargains here. If someone in your league chooses to take Aaron Hernandez or Antonio Gates before Round 4, let them. We've seen Hernandez fall to Round 5 and Gates to Round 6! These guys have 75-catch, 900-yard, eight-touchdown potential. Vernon Davis, Jason Witten and Jermichael Finley are projected to finish a touch south of the numbers for Hernandez and Gates and are accordingly Round 6 or 7 bargains (Witten's spleen might push him into Round 8, which is real nice). They're all very much worth owning but should only get picked up when the time is right.

When waiting is winning

Whether you purposely mean to wait for a tight end or just happen to go round after round without one, you shouldn't be disappointed. Because of the explosion of tight ends last year and the copy-cat nature of the league, there's an absolute slew of players with potential to put up some nice numbers. The types of tight ends who are left -- guys like Brandon Pettigrew, Jermaine Gresham and Jacob Tamme -- still have those fine qualities teams are looking for from the position. They just don't have the same expectations ... but that doesn't mean they can't outperform them.

In the quarterback tiers and strategy piece I floated the idea of waiting for a quarterback and then taking two in the middle rounds. The thinking behind it is to not only have some flexibility with starters from week to week but buy low on a couple of high-upside passers and hope to strike gold. It's good if you hit on one of them but if you hit on both, you've got some trade bait.

Point is, you can do the exact same thing and give yourself two shots at unearthing the next Rob Gronkowski. Wait and wait for one and then take two. You could even do a combination and go with a "safe" veteran like Tony Gonzalez and pair him with a young budding superstar like Kyle Rudolph. Both can be had with picks starting in Round 9. It's a low-risk strategy in that neither tight end will cost you a valuable pick, not to mention the majority of Fantasy owners tend to draft just one tight end, so there should be plenty of bargains left.

The only catch: It would be a challenge to wait until late on both quarterbacks and tight ends. You're probably better off picking one of the two positions to wait on and splurging on the other.

Tiering the tight ends

Elite Tier Excellent Tier Great Tier Good Tier
1,000+ yards, 10+ TDs 850+ yards, 7+ TDs 750+ yards, 6+ TDs  
Jimmy Graham Aaron Hernandez Tony Gonzalez Brent Celek
Rob Gronkowski Antonio Gates Jermaine Gresham Kyle Rudolph
  Vernon Davis Brandon Pettigrew Jared Cook
  Jason Witten Jacob Tamme Dustin Keller
  Jermichael Finley Owen Daniels Greg Olsen
    Fred Davis Coby Fleener
      Kellen Winslow
     

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

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman returns Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:50 pm ET) Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman was back at practice Thursday after missing the last five games with a foot injury. He looked good running pass routes early in the session, per ESPN.

It remains to be seen if Hillman is healthy enough to play Monday night at Cincinnati.


Cam Newton dominates first-team reps Thursday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) After splitting reps with Derek Anderson on Wednesday, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton dominated the first-team snaps at practice Thursday, reports NFL.com. The Associated Press said Newton "did not appear to have any problems throwing the ball and moved around well."

A car accident nine days ago left Newton with two fractures in his lower back. He sat out Week 15 and watched Anderson throw for 277 yards and a touchdown in a win over Tampa Bay.

Newton will address the media later on Thursday. Coach Ron Rivera has said he hopes to name a starter Friday for Sunday's game against Cleveland.


Peyton Manning leaves practice to get treatment on thigh
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:18 pm ET) Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning stretched with the team Thursday, then left practice to get treatment on his injured thigh, reports the Denver Post. Manning had to leave the Week 15 win at San Diego due to the thigh injury but returned quickly and finished the game.

The paper said Manning went in for "normal treatment" and did not suffer a setback. "No reason for concern yet," the paper said, adding Manning is expected to practice Friday. ESPN.com called Manning's absence a "planned rest day."

Manning gets an extra day to prepare for Week 16 as Denver visits Cincinnati on Monday night. He has one touchdown pass over his past two games.

The Broncos are laying 3 or 3.5 points at Vegas sportsbooks.


Broncos elevate TE Dominique Jones
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:04 pm ET) The Broncos promoted tight end Dominique Jones to the active roster. He's played in 13 career games, catching three passes for 42 yards.

Giants RB Rashad Jennings sitting out as expected
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:54 pm ET) Giants running back Rashad Jennings (ankle) missed another practice Thursday as the team prepared for Sunday's game against the Rams. It's unclear if Jennings will even travel with the team to St. Louis, reports The Star-Ledger.

Rookie Andre Williams will start if Jennings can't go. Williams has run for 568 yards and six touchdowns, but averages 3.2 yards per carry.


Texans WR Johnson appears ready to roll for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:40 pm ET) Texans standout wideout Andre Johnson has passed concussion protocol and seems set to return to game action against visiting Baltimore on Sunday.

Johnson, who missed the Week 15 loss to Indianapolis, needs 267 yards receiving in the last two games to reach 1,000 for the third consecutive season.


Wright out, McDougald in for Buccaneers in Week 16
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:29 pm ET) Buccaneers strong safety Major Wright is set to sit again Sunday against Green Bay with a rib injury. It will be his second straight absence from game action.

Bradley McDougald will start in his place.


Colts WR Hilton still red-lighted Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:26 pm ET) A hamstring problem has Colts star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton out of practice again Thursday. Hilton had been considered likely to return Wednesday or Thursday, but remains out.

There is no indication, however, that he will be sidelined for the Sunday game at Dallas.


Report: QB Cam Newton likely Panthers starter on Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) Cam Newton is the likely starter at quarterback for the Panthers against visiting Cleveland on Sunday, according to The Associated Press. That prediction is based on his workload Thursday in practice.

Newton is recovering from a back injury sustained in a car accident last week. He returned to the field Wednesday. The team is expected to name a starter Friday between Newton and former Brown Derek Anderson.


Colts CB Davis overcomes groin issue to practice Thursday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:02 pm ET) A groin ailment did not keep Colts cornerback Vontae Davis off the practice field Thursday.

Davis, who has four interceptions on the season, appears set to play in Dallas on Sunday.


 
 
 
Rankings