Last season, the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski led a class of tight ends that revitalized the position’s role in many teams’ offensive schemes as he set a new NFL record for touchdown receptions by a TE with 14. His numbers made him not only the top ranking player at his position, but put him right there near the top of the list of all receivers in fantasy leagues.
If you aren’t fortunate enough to snatch Gronk in this year’s draft, there are plenty of other great options in the strong group that will be on display in the 2012 season:
Aaron Hernandez is the dynamic other half of the Patriots impressive dual-tight end look. Hernandez provided Tom Brady with another great option in addition to Gronkowski and the dependable Wes Welker. Of course, his value is diminished a bit by having to share the spotlight, but he is still sure to have ample opportunity to deliver big plays for the Pats.
Jimmy Graham leads all TEs in receptions, racking up more than 1,300 receiving yards and scoring 11 TDs in 2011. If it weren’t for Gronkowski, he would be the clear cut #1 TE for this year’s fantasy rankings. He still may end up being the best if he manages to maintain his high level game, especially with Robert Meachem gone.
Jason Witten had a mediocre campaign last season, coming up short up 1,000 receiving yards and only 5 TDs. He is more talented than he sometimes gets credit for, and is still one of the more durable options in this category, having started every game for the last five seasons. Also, Tony Romo loves him. Like every year, the optimism for Dallas is high, and so it should be for Witten too. He will be a solid contributor.
Jermichael Finley was plagued by dropped-ball syndrome and hurt by the emergence of Jordy Nelson last season. Going into 2012, those problems will spark doubts, but there should be no questions about his awesome skill set. Finley is looking for a bounceback season, and he may break out since he is now reached the magical point of a full season removed from his knee injury.