Last year I drafted New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski 151st overall (11th round) in my only fantasy football draft in 2011. Gronk's 17 touchdowns, along with my first-round pick LeSean McCoy, carried me all the way to the championship. In 2010, I drafted Marcedes Lewis 203rd overall (he scored 10 touchdowns), but hopefully I already had your attention with my Gronkowski pick in 2011.
Both Gronk and Jimmy Graham were TE ADP winners in 2011. Their unprecedented years now require a second-round pick if you want one of them on your team. So a big question is: Which tight ends will provide you with the best value in the 2012-13 season?
Aaron Hernandez is the first player to come to mind. Hernandez may have had the quietest seven-touchdown, 900-yard season ever. This was primarily because his 6'6" teammate scored 17 TDs and amassed over 1,300 yards.
With BenJarvus Green-Ellis in Cincinnati, Belichick will be forced to depend even more heavily on Tom Brady's arm, offering a lot of touchdown potential once again for Patriots receivers.
Hernandez should be the biggest beneficiary of defenses double-teaming Gronkowski. He could very well surpass Gronk in TDs in 2012, yet you can wait until the fifth round to draft him.
Jared Cook has the Jimmy Graham kind of build, standing at 6'5" and 248 pounds. Cook has steadily improved with each season, and last year he doubled his yardage and receptions from 2010. The 759 yards in 2011 proved that he belonged on fantasy teams, but his mere three touchdowns left something to be desired.
The fourth-year player out of South Carolina has been on sleeper lists before, but with the improved situation at quarterback (Jake Locker replaces the aging Matt Hasselbeck) and a strong chance for a bounce-back year for Chris Johnson, Cook is primed for a breakout year.
Tony Gonzalez may be the most accomplished tight end around, but due to the emergence of young bloods like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, Gonzo is actually underrated with respect to his average draft position. Although he has managed to score at least six TDs and gain 650 yards in each of the last four seasons, you can draft Tony toward the end of the sixth round (in 12-team leagues).
With Michael "The No Longer Burner" Turner likely to regress in production, Matt Ryan will be forced to throw even more this year. In other words, there will be more than enough passes to go around for Julio Jones, Roddy White and Gonzalez.
Considering Tony has missed only one game in his entire 15-year career, he may be one of the safest and best value picks out there.
Written by Justin Hasan on WinMyFantasyLeague.com.
Comment below or email him at JHas@WinMyFantasyLeague.com.