Fantasy Football Rankings 2012: Top 10 Tight Ends
After Calvin Johnson gets drafted in your league's fantasy football draft, which receiving target are you going to go with next?
No. Try a tight end.
Tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham have revolutionized the position where tight ends can now be considered first-round draft picks in fantasy football leagues.
With the 2012 NFL season starting in a week, here is a list of the top 10 fantasy football tight ends.
10. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
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At the age of 36, Tony Gonzalez is still getting it done.
2010 was a bit of a down year for Gonzalez, but he came back strong last season. After catching 80 passes for over 800 yards, Gonzalez proved to fantasy football owners that he still has what it takes to be a top tight end in the NFL.
This season the Atlanta Falcons are expected to become more of a passing offense, so Gonzalez's numbers should only get better.
9. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
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Despite having wide receivers like Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, Jason Witten continues to be Tony Romo's favorite target.
In his last five seasons, Witten has never had less than 79 receptions and has had three seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards.
Witten dropped a couple of spots because his health is in question right now, but he should be healthy for the 2012 season.
8. Fred Davis, Washington Redskins
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Even though he was suspended for four games last season, Fred Davis still had close to 800 receiving yards and 59 receptions.
Davis will have Robert Griffin III throwing to him and I would expect Davis to be one of his favorite targets. With RG3's speed and his ability to roll out, Davis should be getting a significant amount of looks in the Washington Redskins offense.
7. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
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When you look at Jermichael Finley, he has all the physical tools to join the elite tier of tight ends with Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.
At 6'5" and a 4.6 40-yard dash time, Finley is a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Until last season, Finley had always had trouble staying healthy. In his first full season, he recorded 55 receptions, over 700 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Being a part of the Green Bay Packers offense also makes Finley one of the top tight ends in the NFL.
6. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
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Though Vernon Davis has not been able to match his 2009 season where he recorded 13 touchdowns, he continues to put up solid numbers that keep him a top-10 tight end.
Davis does not crack the top five, though, because he is in an offense that loves to run the football and is an average quarterback at best.
Do not be too worried about Mario Manningham or Randy Moss taking away targets from Davis. Those two should help Davis get open more now that defenses cannot focus solely on him.
5. Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos
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You are hearing it here first. Jacob Tamme will be one of the biggest break-out fantasy football players in 2012.
Tamme will be the starting tight end in the Denver Broncos offense with Peyton Manning throwing to him. Everyone knows Manning loves throwing to his starting tight end. Back when Manning was with the Indianapolis Colts, he made Dallas Clark one of the best tight ends in the league.
In fact, during the 2010 season when Clark got injured, Tamme filled in for him as the Colts starting tight end. In his next 10 games, Tamme recorded 67 receptions and over 670 receiving yards.
Do not be surprised if Tamme records at least 70 receptions and 900 receiving yards.
4. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
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Before tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham came onto the scene, Antonio Gates was the face of the tight end position.
Gates' best days are behind him due to his numerous injuries, but he is still more productive than most tight ends in the NFL.
If Gates can stay healthy for a full season, then 2012 will be a bounce back year for him. He is the top receiving target for Philip Rivers in the San Diego Chargers offense now that Vincent Jackson is gone.
3. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
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Coming off of a fresh five-year contract extension, Aaron Hernandez is quickly becoming one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
As the second option of the New England Patriots two-headed tight end monster, Hernandez still gets a significant amount of targets. Had Hernandez not missed two games last year, he would have finished with over 80 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards.
Stats like those are better than most wide receivers, which makes Hernandez the No. 3 fantasy football tight end.
2. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
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Ninety-nine receptions. Over 1300 receiving yards. 11 touchdowns.
You would think these are the stats of an All-Pro wide receiver, but they are Jimmy Graham's 2011 stats.
Being the No.1 receiving option in the New Orleans Saints pass-heavy offense, Graham is an absolute fantasy football beast.
Whether you go with Graham or Rob Gronkowksi, you really cannot go wrong. It is like going with Arian Foster/Ray Rice or Tom Brady/Drew Brees.
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
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There is no slowing down the Gronk-Train.
Two years in the league and he already has 27 touchdowns. In 2011, Rob Gronkowski led the NFL with 17 touchdown receptions.
When the New England Patriots are in the red zone, you know the ball is going to Gronkowski and no defense can do anything about it. He is too physical for a defensive back and has too much speed for a linebacker to try to cover him.
If you are drafting towards the end of the first round of your league's fantasy football draft, I would seriously consider drafting Gronkowski.