The tight end position was hit by a huge shockwave a week ago: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots suffered a broken forearm that all but destroyed his fantasy value for 2012, leaving fantasy owners scrambling to plug a gaping hole in their lineups late in the season.
Those fantasy owners need to think fast, so for both their benefit and that of other owners, here's a look at a few less-than-obvious options that could be set to post statistical outings that, while they may not single-handedly win you a game, won't lose it for you either.
Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders (at CIN)
With a number of injuries to wide receivers early in the season, the Oakland Raiders were forced to lean more heavily on fourth-year tight end Brandon Myers. And he has responded by becoming one of quarterback Carson Palmer's favorite targets this year.
Myers has already set career highs across the board, averaging five receptions a game. And after reeling in six catches for 55 yards and a touchdown a week ago, he is a very attractive Week 12 fantasy start.
Not only does Myers get the sort of dependable targets that limit his downside, but the Raiders also travel to face a Cincinnati Bengals team that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. TEN)
When Chad Henne entered the game at quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, it didn't take long for him to lead them into the end zone. And on that touchdown pass, it was tight end Marcedes Lewis with whom Henne connected.
The 28-year-old Lewis went on to haul in three passes for 40 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
It appears that Henne looks to the seventh-year veteran with some regularity, especially in the red zone. That could bode very well for fantasy owners with a hole at the tight end position, as only two teams in the National Football League allow more fantasy points to the position then the Tennessee Titans, whom the Jaguars play host to on Sunday.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (at CHI)
After getting off to a hot start this season, the fantasy production of Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph had tailed of sharply. But the second-year pro got back into the swing of things last week, reeling in a season-high seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
The reason for this rebound is apparently quite simple, as head coach Leslie Frazier relayed to Mike Wobschall of the Vikings' website recently that the team was looking to get Rudolph more involved offensively.
“We do want him included in our pass game,” Frazier said. "We want him involved. We have to figure out a way to get him involved.”
Hopefully for fantasy owners, that commitment to keep Rudolph involved will continue Sunday against the Chicago Bears, who are susceptible to being thrown on over the middle and who have been a top-10 fantasy matchup for tight ends in 2012.