Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fantasy Football Rankings - Top 5 TE's for 2012

1. Rob Gronkowski - Everyone knows Gronk had 17 touchdowns in 2011, but I didn't realize Gronk had also caught 90 balls.  He also had more receiving yards (1,327) than any other TE and the highest receiving yard average of any TE over 50 receptions (14.7). So I was thinking, he can't catch that many touchdowns again or even more for that matter. Then I looked at his previous year. He had 10 TD's on 42 receptions!!  Gronk is catching touchdowns for his career at a clip just over 1 out of every 5 receptions (2010 24% and 2011 19%). That's insane especially when you compound that by the fact he was targeted third most among TE's in 2011 (2 targets behind second) and caught the second most balls. Some could argue that the addition of Lloyd could help Gronk as Lloyd will draw attention outside thus creating a seam for Gronk to exploit.

2. Jimmy Graham - For 2012 PPR I would select Graham over Gronk, under the thinking of New Orleans losing Robert Meacham and Gronk having Brandon Lloyd added to the Patriots arsenal. Being fairly unpolished due to his basketball career; most believe Graham is only scratching the surface of his potential. In 2011 he was targeted the most out of all TE's with 149 targets and caught 99 of those to lead the league's TE class in receptions. That productivity allowed him to come just 17 yards shy of 1st among TE's in yards with 1,310. He was also second in TD's with 11 and only one of two (Gronk) to hit double digit TD's. Graham's role in the offense is expected to grow and he himself concedes that he left 30 receptions on the field last year.

3. Jason Witten - Of the leagues best TE's, I expect Witten to bring the better value in return than his eventual ADP.  The Cowboys lost Laurent Robinson who emerged last year as Romo's security blanket.  Laurent Robinson amassed 81 targets 54 receptions 858 yards and a whopping 11 TD's. The Cowboys have done very little to upgrade their #3 WR with Robinson's departure and also lost Martellus Bennett to the Giants. Witten still finished 5th in targets, 5th in receptions, 3rd in yards and had one of the 6th highest receiving TD totals at 5.  Absorbing some of Robinson's stats is a sure fire thing, so those targets and receptions should easily bump him to top 3 and with just 3 of Laurent's 11 TD's he would have had the 3rd highest TD total among TE's in 2011.

4. Antonio Gates - After receiving criticism that he was too heavy beginning 2011, Gates lost some weight and looked spry towards the end of the season. If Gates remains healthy for all 16 games he should absorb some of Vincent Jackson's and Mike Tolbert's receptions and receiving yards. Furthermore, this division's offenses have improved with the addition of Carson Palmer to Oakland, Peyton Manning to Denver, and Jamaal Charles back from ACL; so San Diego may need more production than ever from Gates to keep San Diego in the hunt.

5. Aaron Hernandez - The more versatile TE of the New England Patriots, Hernandez lines up out wide, in the slot and even in the backfield taking handoffs. Although missing two games each of his two years in the league, Hernandez proved very serviceable alongside the more popular Gronkowski.  Hernandez still managed 113 targets and was 8th of the 8 TE's to amass 100+ targets. He managed 79 receptions on those targets which was enough to tie him for 5th most. Hernandez finished 4th among TE's for receiving yards with 910 and tied for the 4th highest TD total of 7.  Hernandez on another team is a top 3 or 4 TE, but sharing the field with Gronk, Aaron bridges the gap between the elite and serviceable starting TE's.