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So here we are, at the end of our top 20 journey.  It feels like only earlier this week we started our 2012 fantasy football rankings…which is exactly what happened so I guess that makes sense.  Tight End for a standard league is fairly deep this year.  Typically a top 20 for this position would lead to as much consternation and drinking as ranking kickers did for me this year but all and all, it twernt that bad. Oh and by the way, those of you calculating at home are going to notice that the mathematical drapes won’t always match the ranking carpets in this top 20.  Some of it will be due to injury risk and others in realizing I have high aspirations that may not come to pass.  All that said, just realize I didn’t accidentally reorganize my spreadsheet and then dump it up here so please don’t do a lot of ‘yeah, but this guy is lower than that guy and that guy is listed as scoring less points than this guy’ in the comments.  I mainly ask this of you as trying to figure out who this and that guy is can be really confusing.  Couldn’t you just  use their names?  Oh and I already know the discrepancies quite well.  So without any more blah blah let’s see how the top 20 Tight Ends shape up for 2012 fantasy football.

Rankings based on receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns

1. Rob Gronkowski - See top 20 for 2012 fantasy football for Rob Gronkowski projections.

2. Jimmy Graham - See top 20 for 2012 fantasy football for Jimmy Graham projections.

3. Jermichael Finley - This is the start of the next tier for tight ends and goes to Witten.  I call this tier the ‘next best thing’ because these three are dwarfed by comparison to the two above them but are still great in their own right.  Jermichael should’ve given us that big year by now.  That’s what everyone keeps saying, at least, and yet he finished 5th in TE scoring last year.  Why does everyone rag on this guy so much?  It’s hard to be in the tier above him when he’s competing for touches with the likes of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson.  Don’t playa hate, appreciate!  2012 Projections: 65/910/8/0/0

4. Aaron Hernandez - For having an injury plagued and ‘down’ year by some standards, Hernandez sure did fine delivering as the third best TE for fantasy football last year.  A pro-rated year over 16 games would’ve netted him over 1000 yards, 90 receptions, and 8 touchdowns.  He may lose some targets to Brandon Lloyd but is that really enough to remove him from the top 5?  Nay, says I.  2012 Projections: 75/825/7/50/0

5. Jason Witten - Steadier than my hand after 5 cups of coffee…hrm, maybe I should switch to decaf.  He’s pretty much been a lock for 950 yards and 80 receptions ad finitum.  For those who don’t speak Latin that means ‘a long flippin time’.  2012 Projections: 85/950/5/0/0

6. Vernon Davis - Vernon is the start of the next tier and it goes to Gonzalez.  I call this tier the ‘solidarity’ tier because these guys always seem to hover around the top 10 for their position even if they have a down year.  Speaking of down years, Vernon kinda had one but still landed in the top 10.  See how my tier makes sense?  It’s like I knew what I was talking about.  2012 Projections: 70/850/6/0/0

7. Tony Gonzalez - Seriously, who is this guy’s strength and conditioning coach?  He deserves an award as Tony at 36 goes on to play in his 16th season having only missed 2 games for his entire career.  Doesn’t Tony know football is a violent sport and requires at least one year of having missed the season with a torn ‘insert random letter’ CL?  Thankfully he doesn’t for us.  2012 Projections: 75/775/6/0/0

8. Fred Davis - This tier is for Fred and Fred alone.  I call this tier the ‘catch a shooting star’ tier because I think he’ll outperform pretty much everywhere he’s ranked this year, including my rankings.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for talented rookie QBs and their hot, young tight ends.  Maybe I should’ve acronym’ed tight end in that last sentence.  Nevertheless, Davis was on pace for nearly 80 receptions and 1000 yards before getting suspended for the final 4 games of the season.  Pepper those stats with a few more touchdowns and what do you get?  Since I’m currently out of pepper I honestly don’t know,  but I do know I like the Franchised Freddie this year.  2012 Projections: 75/975/7/0/0

9. Antonio Gates – This is the start of a new tier and goes just to Gates.  I call this tier the ‘old grey Charger he ain’t what he used to be’ tier because Antonio has not found the same fountain of youth Tony did with Ponce De Leon back in 1513.  Yes, that was an old joke and a poorly constructed one at that.  Deal with it.  He’s lower on my rankings than most places because I can project him for these numbers but we can’t count on him playing enough to get them.  Gates has missed 9 games over the last two seasons.  He’s been good when he plays.  That ‘when’ just rolled it’s ankle and is out for 5 weeks.  2012 Projections: 70/910/7/0/0

10. Brandon Pettigrew - This is the start of the next tier and it goes to Daniels.  I call this tier the ‘scoring is boring’ tier as these four – despite being important parts of their respective offenses – don’t catch many touchdowns.  Pettigrew was second in tight end targets last year behind Graham and ahead of Gronkowski.  However, there was a slight 11 to 5 to 17 touchdown discrepancy between the three that swayed their scoring on the year.  I almost ranked Brandon closer to Fred because of that target stat but in the end couldn’t justify it.  You could almost say I Petti’grew’ out of the idea…but I suggest you don’t.  Bad puns are my job!  2012 Projections: 75/750/4/0/0

11. Brent Celek – Celek’s 2011 had more up and down to it than that one movie about that lady who does things in Dallas.  Can’t quite remember her name…Deirdre?  But I digress.  He had a strong second half and I see it carrying over into 2012.  I also see his projections.  They’re right after this period.  2012 Projections: 70/850/6/0/0

12. Dustin Keller - Keller had a strong year last year.  Basically, I think he repeats while two guys move above him.  His only blemish is who is throwing to him, not his ability to catch it and that might become more muddled if Mark Sanchez gets off to a bad start and Tim Tebow takes over.  Eh, why did I rank him here again?  2012 Projections: 65/780/5/0/0

13. Owen Daniels - It was nice seeing what Daniels could do over the course of nearly a full season.  It would’ve been nicer to see more of it with Matt Schaub and even more of it in the end zone but, hey, that’s what this tier is for.  2012 Projections: 60/720/4/0/0

14. Jermaine Gresham- This is the start of the next tier and it goes down to Tamme.  I call this tier ‘teen-ranked superstars’ as any of these three could easily jump into the top 10.  I liked Gresham last year for deeper leagues and he didn’t disappoint, finishing 13th on the ESPN player rater for TEs.  If Jermaine can turn some of his team’s red zone target towards him (31.1% in 2011) into a couple more touchdowns, you’re looking at a nice tight end grab…again with the need for acronym.  2012 Projections: 65/650/6/0/0

15. Jared Cook - Now we’re cookin!  Alright, I don’t know where I was going with that.  What I do know is Jared gained a lot of yardage – 757 receiving yards in 2011 – with only 49 receptions last year.  If Kenny Britt comes back healthy and ready to go, Jared might go from Sous Chef to Chef De Cuisine.  Yeah, I’m still trying cook jokes.  2012 Projections: 60/780/4/0/0

16. Jacob Tamme - Not to say that I disagree with JB and his assessment of Jacob going into the year, but I’m a bit more cautious about Peyton Manning than…well, seemingly everyone in the fantasy football Universe.  That said, I put Tamme here as JB gave you his ceiling and I think I’m showing you his floor.  I’m no architect but the metaphorical house in that last sentence might have some structural issues.  2012 Projections: 65/650/5/0/0

17. Greg Olsen - This tier goes from Olsen to Miller and I call it the ‘I wish we’d stopped at top 15′ because I seriously don’t think there’s much left in the tank around here.  Olsen might surprise and haul in a few more touchdown passes from Cam Newton this year but I was kind of expecting him to haul in more than he did last year and it didn’t happen.  All and all, I think he’s bye week fodder and nothing more but during that week, this can be your team avatar.  Which is cool, I guess.  2012 Projections: 55/650/5/0/0

18. Ed Dickson – Ed started the year strong and then started ceding some of his touches to Dennis Pitta over the course of the second half of the season.  That’s what happens when you go with a two tight end set and your quarterback isn’t Tom Brady.  I think Ed regains some of his first half luster and puts up a good line but you’re not drafting him in a standard league so are you even reading anymore?  Yeah, I thought so.  2012 Projections: 60/600/5/0/0 (<— me being hopeful.  :D <— me happy these rankings are almost done.)

19. Coby Fleener - I think Andrew Luck is going to have a hard time staying up on his feet this season.  That’s going to make it hard to pass the ball farther than 10 yards.  Thankfully, he brought his security blanket from college along with him to Indy.  It’s pink with flowers and has Hello Kitty on it.  He’ll snuggle with it after the game while crying.  Oh and he’ll throw to a guy he knows in Fleener a lot too.  2012 Projections: 50/575/4/0/0

20. Heath Miller - I am going to keep this brief.  The Steelers are saying their upping their passing game.  I say it doesn’t change Heath’s end line all that much with all the talent they have at wide receiver.  See, I told you I’d keep it brief.  Who says I’m only good for filler?  2012 Projections: 50/575/3/0/0

And now to talk about a few guys who missed the cut but should have a bit of verbage written about them.

Kellen Winslow - I’m sure you’re all wondering why he’s not in my top 20.  My main rebuttal is Zach Miller led the Seahawks Tight Ends last year in receptions with 25.  From 2008-2010, Miller had averaged 60 receptions a year.  So what changed?  The team he played for, of course.  Hate to be the fly in your Winslow love ointment but he now plays on the same team Miller plays on.  When you factor in he’s only averaged 4 touchdowns per season even when he played for a team that targeted him quite frequently, there’s good reason to avoid Winslow for fantasy football this year.  2012 Projections: 50/550/3/0/0

Dallas Clark - I almost put Clark in at 20 but went with the more obviously sexy choice in Miller…or not.  Clark used to be part of a top secret group known only as ‘The Fantasy Elite’ but someone blew his cover and now he’s living the life of a typical civilian like the rest of us poor schmucks.  Remove the part about top secret groups and replace ‘his cover’ with ‘out his lower leg’ and you get the idea of what I’m trying to say.  It may be he has a bounce back year but I wouldn’t waste a draft pick on it with how deep TE is in a typical league.  2012 Projections: 60/600/4/0/0 (<—-That’s me being optimistic while this —-> is me scarring your prefrontal cortex)

Martellus Bennett - Martellus was supposed to break the notion that he was a lazy guy and not committed to the sport.  The only thing he broke was the OTA scales when he tipped in at 291.  He’s got a great set-up with Eli Manning at the helm, but I fear he’ll eat every $1 pizza stand out of business more than I do what he’ll bring to the field at this point.  2012 Projections: 35/450/4/0/0

Tony Moeaki - I drafted him back in 2010 in a very deep league and simply fell in love when he made this catch.  Then he got hurt and missed work for 2011, the Chiefs signed Kevin Boss and now everyone thinks he’s worth nothing.  Ok, I guess I didn’t rank him in the top 20 so I’m not exactly giving him the vote of confidence here either.  However, there could be value here in deeper leagues.  Click whatever it is you need to click to put him on your watch list.  You may be wanting Mo-eaki than less by the time the season’s done.  I’m almost certain you want less bad puns at this point too.  Lucky for you, this post is done!  2012 Projections: 50/575/3/0/0

  1. David_KOA says:
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    @Sky,
    To start the offseason for us fantasy football GM’s, I was targeting three guys Celek, Daniels & Cook. Now as we are getting closer to draft time and able to delve deeper into the numbers from last year. I have replaced Jared Cook with Greg Olsen on that list.

    Looking back at Greg Olsen last year it was really was a tale of two halfs. From week 1-8: 3.7 catches, 44.8 yards, .5 TD’s with 6.5 targets
    From week 10-17: 1.7 catches, 22.6 yards, .12 TD’s with 4.6 targets

    When looking into the new year and what we can expect from Greg Olsen. He plays in an offensive gameplan that likes to feature it’s TE(a lot), no more Jeremy Shockey and the fact they don’t have a true WR2 opposite of Smith. A top 12(or higher) season at his position(fantasy) should not shock people and you add his current asking price of round 13.08(17th) TE off the board.

    The TE position brings a lot of value after you get into the double digit rounds of your drafts. Of course I would love me some Rob Gronkowski but I also need RB’s. If I miss out on Gronkowski, I will be targeting one of the three above and the top 12 or higher upside they present my team with.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @David_KOA, my only problem with Olsen is we’ve been waiting for a breakout for a long time. It’s not that I don’t like his abilities but he’s had good quarterbacks in the past and has done relatively little with it. The great thing is his price makes it easy to monitor and either draft late or put on your radar depending on the size of your league.

      • David_KOA says:
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        @Sky,
        What you have type above is all true when talking about Olsen. Yet, we can not forget that he was stuck in a Mike Martz led offense while in Chicago. I would have to say the situation that is in front of him in 2012 is the best yet. You mix the reward with the low risk cost(12 teams) and it seems very nice.

        On a side not to my first post. I was wanting to type top 10or higher for Greg Olsen. if anybody cares lol

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          @David_KOA, Oh for sure I can’t argue that. Overall, I put him in the monitor section for a standard 10 team league but he’s definitely worth rostering/considering in a deeper league than that. I mean, it’s He-Man!

  2. The Jewru says:
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    Brandon Lloyd is really good. No way Gronk beats Graham. Finley at 3? Cmon

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Gronk and Graham are in the same tier. Whoever is the best won’t really matter by the time the season’s done. Same with Finley/Hernandez/Witten. If it makes you feel any better, I saw someone ranked Brent Celek #3.

  3. Cole says:
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    Man I can’t remember a year in which RBs (WRs too) are in such flux. I can’t argue with your rationale on the top 20 RB post, but that didn’t even include helu or green-ellis who i both like. It makes the top 4 RBs or another position like QB more important in the first round, no?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Yeah, the Bengals stated it was going to be a RBBC with Bernard Scott. Even if BJGE is the goal line back, he just doesn’t play for a powerful enough offense to make that much of a service without full time reps. I like Helu but the Redskins have stated Tim Hightower is the starter if he comes back healthy.

      Quarterback is deep this year. I’d concentrate on filling RB in the first round or taking Megatron. I’d say my cutoff for willingly taking an RB in the first round would be Trent.

  4. David_KOA says:
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    @Sky,
    So you have nine RB’s plus Calvin Johnson that you will be considering in the first round. You say that you will not be drafting any of the top five QB’s in your top 11 overall.

    My question is who will you be considering with picks 11 & 12 in the first round of fantasy drafts? Is it the two TE’s(Gronkowski & Graham)? Or is it one of those two with Fitzgerald mix in?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Yeah, Gronk/Graham/Fitz are all part of the same tier for me so I would definitely consider it, though preferably Fitz.

      • David_KOA says:
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        @Sky,
        You also have to factor in the scoring and format for any league you take part in. In a basic QB-2RB-3WR-TE non ppr format, I believe Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady belong in the first round. I would consider both in the middle of the 1st to be honest.

        I know RB’s are scares after the big three(Foster, McCoy & Rice) and people want to get their hands on Mathews, MJD, CJ?K & etc… Also we here about the depth at the QB position with the likes of Matt Ryan.

        All three of those backs coming off the board after the big three come with serious questions. Wether it be durabilty, workload or age. Yes, it is nice to hope you can wait and grab a Matt Ryan in the 7th or later. What if an owner get nervous and pulls the trigger on him in the 6th round. Then you are looking at rolling with Big Ben, RGIII or Jay Cutler as your QB1. Not looking so good now?

        What I am trying to say is its not a bad thing to go with the proven production. If you are in the middle to late part of the draft, go and click Rodgers and Brady’s name. You still have an excellent shot at landing a Matt Forte or Jamall Charles as your RB1. Or pair one of the two with Gronkowski and have a clear upperhand at QB & TE over your competition.

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          Sure, that’s why I have them in the first on my rankings. There does come a time when you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face and I get that. As always, your draft will determine what moves you can/should make. It’s all about seeing where there is weakness and knowing how much you’re willing to gamble.

  5. Anthony says:
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    @SKY: Can you recommend a few sites for expert mock drafts? Im still unsure of what draft stratedgy i will be taking in this upcoming 2012-2013 season and would like to look over a few mock drafts and hopefully one will stick with me. Please let me know!

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      You meaning results from some, I assume? We’ll be doing a few here on the site. We’ve already had one that JB did with Scott Pianowski and other industry types and we posted about it here:

      http://football.razzball.com/first-expert-2012-fantasy-football-mock

      We have a few others lined up but we’re working on getting them posted to the site.

  6. Lone Wolfpack says:
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    Where is Kyle Rudolph? He is the same height and weight as graham and gronk and he is in an offense that will feature the double TE… I know Ponder is no Brady or Brees, but how is he not poised to explode?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Tight End is really deep this year. I had him outside my top 20 and had so many other guys to talk about, he just never came up but you’re absolutely right. Hrm…sounds like a sleeper post might be in order.

      • Lone Wolfpack says:
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        @Sky, can’t wait for it. I just traded Crabtree for him in my Dynasty League… I have seen the video of Rudolph running away with a 97 yard TD catch in college and the video of his catch last year… dude has beast written all over him.

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          Yeah, if Harvin doesn’t become a distraction/holdout, I already liked Ponder for 2012 (why I highlighted him in the QB rankings). Now I’m kicking myself since I didn’t mention Rudolph the purple-jerseyed tight end…as you can see, I’m abusing you with ideas for a sleeper work up.

          • Lone Wolfpack says:
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            @Sky, haha, well I think Harvin getting traded/holding out could be a blessing for Rudolph because then he becomes the #1 option. Minnesota beat writers were talking about how amazing the repoire between Rudolph and Ponder was in OTAs. I certainly don’t think we are talking about a top 5 TE top end, but eventually, depending on how the Vikings develop, he could be top 5 or even top 3 in the next few years.

            • Sky

              Sky says:
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              Maybe. For me, I’d love it if Harvin draws the tougher match up which would give Randolph a higher percentage of success with the targets he does get but either way, he should be good.

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