Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. But seriously, who doesn’t? Not too long ago, fantasy relevant tight ends included Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, and… yeah. So ultimately what ended up happening was, somebody would reach, take Gates way to early and start a run, or everyone punted on tight end and four people ended up getting really good value for their pick late. The position entirely, however, has changed.
Positional Depth: B+. You actually have a couple guys out there in Gronk and Graham that are potentially worthy of second round picks, and a whole bunch of other guys who are performing fantasy wise at a WR2 or 3 level. If you end up with one of the premium guys in the second round, you are looking good. Even if you’re the 12th guy to pick a tight end, it’s not the end of the world. That said, pick right. This is going to be a key position this year.
Guys to Stay Away From: Tony Gonzalez is not getting any younger. His production is showing signs of dropping and, while he is still a good player, that doesn’t quit matter as much in fantasy. Another trendy pick is Colby Fleener. The Luck/Fleener tandem is appealing storywise, but a rookie tight end who is chasing passes from a rookie quarterback does not usually end up being a significant fantasy contributor.
Breakout Year: Jared Cook. The South Carolina product has big play ability as he showed on multiple occasions last year. And whether it’s Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker throwing to him, he can go get it. His numbers will be tempered slightly by the Chris Johnson oriented offense Tennessee runs, but he is primed for a big year. You heard it here first. Or second. Or last. Doesn’t mean it isn’t correct.
Tip to Remember: Past success IS an indicator of future success, even with quarterback changes, coaching changes, team changes. When a guy who isn’t getting too old has a history of solid play but ends up in a new situation, there is nothing to say he won’t benefit. Take the Redskins’ Fred Davis. Hard worker. Good hands. Good enough speed for respectable yards after catch numbers. And while RG3 IS a rookie, he’ll need a security blanket. And Davis is just the kind of mature veteran who will do what it takes to make sure his rookie signal caller has an outlet. 80 receptions, or even 90, is a very real possibility, as are 8 tds to go along with it. Also, don’t let the fact that Tom Brady has Gronk deter you from snagging Aaron Hernandez a bit later on in your draft. He’s not at Gronk’s level, but he is a very good player with good hands and good instincts. He will, barring injury, be a top 12 tight end.
Don’t Forget About: John Carlson. I honestly don’t know what all the fuss is about Kyle Rudolph. Apparently, the Vikings figured out he may not be anything beyond just a good role player, which would explain why the Vikes went out and got the uber talented Carlson, whom the Seahawks were idiotic to let go, even if they did replace him with Zach Miller. Also, if you are really really really looking to take a late flier on someone at this position, Michael Hoomanawanui on the Rams has all the tools to put up great numbers if he can stay healthy and the O line can keep Bradford off of the turf. Lance Kendricks is a prime example of a high draft pick by an incompetent regime and Hoomanawanui is better in every way… again, if he can stay healthy. Stay tuned for kickers and defense, which will be rolled into one article since I doubt anyone cares enough to read either.