Do you play Madden? Do you ever play on rookie or pro difficulty in order to boost player stats or break a record in franchise mode? Well, that was the equivalent of last season for the NFL. Teams turned the defense’s difficulty down to pro just to boost passing and receiving yardage and touchdowns. Similar to 2007, when defensive difficulty was turned down to rookie by Bill Bellichick for Tom Brady’s 50 passing and Randy Moss’ 23 receiving touchdowns, Rob Gronkowski tore apart defenses last year setting a record 17 receiving touchdowns for a tight end. Everybody is wondering if he can do it again. I’m here to tell you it’s not likely, and I wouldn’t even take him as my first tight end overall.
Disclaimer: Below are my rankings for the Top 20 tight ends for whom I would prefer with no respect to average draft positions from current mock drafts. The rankings apply to re-draft leagues and do not take into consideration keeper league rules. These rankings were done with my gut and the most up to date information as of the time of this writing.
As I was beginning to do research for this article, I stumbled upon the picture above. It seemed kind of an odd find, so I looked up who the girl in the picture was. Let’s just say I did some thorough research about her, and Bibi Jones is nowhere near as good at her job as Robbie is. We’ll just leave it at that.
Anyways, simply put, Jimmy Graham had more catches and targets than his New England counterpart last year. Plus, Graham doesn’t have another talented tight end breathing down his neck. With that said, The Gronk’s upside is too big to to ignore and let him fall any more than number two among tight ends, despite my personal beliefs of what his stats will likely be this year.
As for Antonio Gates, if he can maintain some sense of health, then has the chance to challenge Graham and Rob for the top spot, thus his potential cannot be ignored and must be drafted in the top tier. Unfortunately, if I were a betting man, I would say he plays under seven full games.
Solid. Be happy with whoever you get out of this group. Just before your pick, I would pull one of these three names out of a hat. At the end of the season, they’ll put up the numbers even if they weren’t consistent while doing it.
Jermaine Gresham is in a tier by himself between tiers 2 and 3, so consider him tier 2.5. He has the chance to break into the top 5 tight ends this season with an offense that will now have a full season under its belt. It was no small feat what he did last year when the Bengal’s main two weapons were both rookies who didn’t have an off-season because of the lockout.
Comparatively, I expect the same thing out of Jacob Tamme. Once Peyton Manning was on the Broncos, Denver needed to upgrade their tight end position because what they had was hot garbage. When Peyton Manning was asked whom he wanted from his two tight ends in Indy, he chose the younger and seemingly less experienced Jacob Tamme, skipping over Dallas Clark. It was a little shocking to see that move, but Peyton isn’t stupid by any means. He knows who is more talented and maybe just lacked the opportunity to prove it.
If you wait to get a tight end during the draft or auction, these players will get you by without a problem. With no pre-season hype so far, Tamme will likely be the easiest to acquire and for the cheapest price. If I promise you one thing, and one thing only this year, Jacob Tamme will outperform where he will be drafted (Based on average draft position and no injuries of course, don’t get crazy!).
Now some of you may point to Tony Gonzalez and say that he needs to be higher. And if this were two years ago, that would be true. A wise man once said, “I would rather get off the bandwagon too early than too late.” When you think about it, he’s bound to break down at some point, unless he’s doing DDP yoga, and my money is on this being the year.
Meanwhile, Jared Cook put together a pretty solid year and I would at least expect him to repeat his 49 receptions and 3 touchdowns. ALSO DON’T FORGET, Tony Moeaki is coming back off an early season injury that should be fully healed. He had similar production to Cook, only in 2010 as a rookie. Kansas City was preaching how often he would be in the gameplan last season before going down with an ACL injury.
I want to talk about Brandon Pettigrew, but the Detroit Lions being my “hometown team” doesn’t allow me to do so objectively.
I’ve had a slight fantasy football man crush on Greg Olsen ever since I saw him come out of college and do some of those drills that ESPN puts on every season before the NFL Draft. They were simple drills and passes, but he caught every single one of them, something no other tight end did that year. Since then, I’ve been waiting for Olsen to break out. Just when I thought he would get the chance while alone in Carolina, they went and signed Jeremy Shockey who sucked much of Olsen’s production last season making them both unusable in fantasy. Expect that to happen again this year, making me more miserable as his talent wastes away.
The giant unknown in this group is Dallas Clark. As said before, he was turned away from the Broncos which makes me wonder about his abilities. Also included is the question of how will he get used in Tampa Bay’s system.
Coby Fleener is my sleeper out of Tier 5. Fleener was a priority for the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL draft because he already has the chemistry with Andrew Luck as college teammates at Stanford. Again, as with former Colt, Dallas Clark, there’s a level of uncertainty with the new system in Indianapolis and how it will utilize tight ends. It’s possible that Fleener will have some early season success but may wind down as the season wears on and Luck becomes more comfortable with his other wide receivers.
As a super deep sleeper, look for Todd Heap, currently an Arizona Cardinal, to have some impact after having injury problems last season. The Cardinals coaching staff made it clear they wanted to get him highly involved, but it never came to fruition.
In the end, can’t we all just hope our fantasy teams bring us a Football Gronk kind of a year?
Let me know what you think in the comments section and don’t forget to check out my previous two Fantasy Flex Rankings for running backs and quarterbacks. Oh and feel free to follow me on Twitter @twoxtreme.