Tight End Revolution

For the first time I can remember it was the consensus in fantasy football drafts that two tight ends would go in the first two rounds. The reason for that being two guys: New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and New England tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Much of this due to the success of Graham and Gronkowski the previous year receiving the pigskin from two of the best quarterbacks in the game in Drew Brees and Tom Brady. The two tight ends both had over 90 receptions for over 1300 hundred receiving yards and combined for 40 receptions that resulted in 20 yard gains or more. With the average number of receiving touchdowns for all other tight ends at five, the two tight ends also found the end zone at an uncanny rate last season with Gronk scoring 17 times and Jimmy Graham getting into the end zone 11 times last season. They both are finishing the revolution of a position that was started with basketball player turned tight end players like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.

Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham

What was once a position that looked for guys like Mike Ditka, Ozzie Newsome and Dave Casper—players that were looked for to block first and catch second, is now a position that looks for the receiver before the blocker. This season Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end to ever receive 100 touchdowns in a season and that fact is just a symbol of the tight end revolution that has gone on over the years. He also showed why tight end is a hard position to predict putting himself just below Gronk in tight end production.

Should these tight ends be going as early as the first or second round?

At the start of the season I hardly considered taking a tight end with one of my early picks due to the recent success of the two players and the depth at the position in my PPR league. I was targeting Jason Witten or Vernon Davis in the fifth or sixth round. Fortunately I was able to grab Witten. Luckily, Witten has been as close to a Black Friday bargain as I could get, offering me a large helping of value in the spot that I took him. Atlanta’s Gonzalez and Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller have helped those who drafted them ranking as the number two and number five tight ends in fantasy football this year.

In all leagues Gronkowski has scored the most points of any tight end but looking at PPR leagues it’s hard to separate him (or Graham) from those taken rounds after he’s gone off the board. Gronkowski has averaged 18.6 points a game this season before going down with his forearm injury. Tony Gonzalez has averaged just two less points and Jason Witten has averaged only four less points. While guys like Heath Miller, Owen Daniels and Brandon Myers have averaged six less points.

In standard leagues where touchdowns are given great value, Gronkowski would be a hard guy to look past. Before Gronkowski, Randy Moss was the only other player to receive 28 touchdowns in his first two seasons. He is also the only tight end to ever lead the league in receiving touchdowns and is the first tight end to ever have 10 touchdowns or more in his first three seasons.

However, if you want more reasons to wait on a guy like Gronkowski in your PPR leagues here are five more reasons:

  • Doug Martin
  • Adrian Peterson
  • Brandon Marshall
  • A.J. Green
  • Reggie Wayne

All of these position players were drafted after Gronkowski, yet scored more points than him this year.

As for Graham, there were 22 players (either RB or WR) that scored more points than him this year. Eric Decker, Randall Cobb, Trent Richardson, C.J Spiller and Vincent Jackson are five guys that shared that.

While having the top guy at a position is always a plus, if that position is tight end I won’t feel as comfortable with my team unless I have a top guy at quarterback, running back or wide receiver. I’d much rather have a chance at a top 5 guy at each position rather than the top tight end. I’d rather grab my TE once I’ve checked off on each of the other important offensive positions.

Even though Gronk is a touchdown machine, it’s ideal to wait a few rounds before taking a tight end off the board. Getting a productive tight end other than Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham is easier said than done.

For those who will be without Gronk these upcoming weeks here are a couple tight ends worth a start that may be available:

  • Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
  • Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos
  • Brandon Myers, Oakland Raiders
  • Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens

Have any questions or want to share something that happened in your league? Hit me up on Twitter @ThisJustM or tweet The Couch directly @FantasyCouch to share your opinion or ask us questions with playoffs coming up.

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