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5 Reasons to Draft Aaron Hernandez in Your Fantasy Football League

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 25, 2016

5 Reasons to Draft Aaron Hernandez in Your Fantasy Football League

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    Were it not for the ridiculous seasons turned in by teammate Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints, we'd all be talking a lot more about New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in fantasy circles this season.

    However, it's high time that the "other" tight end for the Patriots got his moment in the sun, so here are five reasons why fantasy owners should give serious consideration to adding Aaron Hernandez to their squads this year.

1. Hernandez Had a Fantastic 2011 Season of His Own

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    Rob Gronkowski garnered most of the headlines with his record-setting 17 touchdown catches last year, but it's not like Aaron Hernandez spent the 2011 season sitting on his hands.

    Although Hernandez was the eighth-most targeted tight end in the National Football League last year, the third-year pro made the most of the targets he did get.

    Hernandez finished the year with 79 catches for 910 yards and seven touchdowns, good for a third-place fantasy finish at his position, trailing only the aforementioned Gronkowski and Graham.

2. Tom Brady's 6,000-Yard Passing Season

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    I can't lay claim to that admittedly bold prediction, as it's the intellectual property of none other than Bleacher Report's own Sigmund Bloom.

    I'm not going to sit here and say that I believe that the New England Patriots signal-caller will reach that incredible benchmark, but before you call it crazy, keep in mind that not too long ago people would have said the same about a quarterback throwing for 5,476 yards in a season.

    Um, that just happened.

    It's entirely within the realm of reason that given the array of weapons at his disposal, Brady could make a run at Drew Brees' passing-yardage record.

    If that occurs, then all of New England's receivers will benefit, Hernandez included.

3. Hernandez Will Up His Touchdown Total This Year

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    Tom Brady threw a ridiculous 24 touchdown passes to tight ends last year, with 17 going to Gronkowski, the most ever in a season by a player at his position.

    However, record-setting seasons are just that for a reason: They don't come along every year, particularly for the same player.

    That sets the stage for a statistical regression of sorts for Gronkowski, and while New England's wide receivers will benefit some from that, it will be Hernandez who reaps the lion's share of the rewards in the red zone.

    It wouldn't be at all surprising to see Hernandez record double-digit touchdowns in 2012, which would be a nice boost for his fantasy football value.

4. The Patriots' Passing Game Will Be Terrifying

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    I almost feel bad for defensive coordinators that will have to game-plan against the New England Patriots this season, as although their rushing attack may be average at best, their passing game is set to be the stuff of legend.

    With a future Hall of Famer calling the plays and a receiving corps that includes the likes of Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and newcomers Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney, the Patriots have assembled an aerial juggernaut.

    Single coverage will get you eaten alive. Double coverage will leave a guy wide open.

    It's the NFL equivalent of the Kobayashi Maru, and Hernandez is going to be one of the beneficiaries of the numerous defensive breakdowns—both physically and quite possibly nervously.

5. The Price Is Right

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    If you want Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski this season, then you'd best be prepared to pay a hefty price, as you'll be lucky if either is on the board when your second-round pick rolls around.

    However, Hernandez's present ADP at is the 51st overall pick, or early in the fifth round of 12-team fantasy football leagues.

    That's comparable to such tight ends as Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers and Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers.

    Given that I expect Hernandez to outperform both of those tight ends in 2012, that makes the 22-year-old a nice value play for fantasy owners scared off by the steep sticker price for the "big two."

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