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Strength of schedule: NFL fantasy football tight ends

Other positions: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers

 

The NFL.com FPA ratings are based on the strength of a player's schedule using the average fantasy points their opponents allowed against the six major fantasy positions the previous season. For example, the Buffalo Bills allowed an average of 11.72 fantasy points per game to tight ends in 2011. As a result, any tight end that faces them this season is rewarded 11.72 points. Since Rob Gronkowski faces them twice as an AFC East opponent, he receives 23.44 points. The bigger the point total, the easier the schedule. While these ratings are not the be all, end all in determining a player's stock, they can still be useful when picking between players with similar value and looking for those ever-elusive sleepers.

Did FPA work for tight ends in 2011?: All but three of the 32 NFL teams saw a 2.5-point decrease or increase in FPA from 2010-2011, so the theory was almost perfect when it came to tight ends. The biggest change came in Philadelphia, where the Eagles allowed 3.41 fewer fantasy points per game. The Texans were close, surrendering 2.98 fewer points to the position. On the flip side, the biggest increase in points allowed came in Green Bay, where the Packers gave up 2.71 more per game. That proves just how stagnant fantasy points allowed to tight ends were from 2010-2011. With that said, 75 percent of defenses still allowed more fantasy points to tight ends at some level.

Note: Favorable opponents allowed an average of eight or more fantasy points in 2011. Unfavorable opponents allowed an average of fewer than seven fantasy points.

1. Owen Daniels, Texans (128.22 points)
Favorable opponents - Jaguars (2), Titans (2), Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers.
Unfavorable opponents - Patriots, Lions, Ravens, Broncos.
2012 Outlook: Despite the attractive schedule, Daniels still isn't more than a No. 2 fantasy tight end this season.

2. Coby Fleener, Colts (127.32 points)
Favorable opponents - Jaguars (2), Titans (2), Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers.
Unfavorable opponents - Texans (2), Patriots, Lions.
2012 Outlook: With an extremely favorable schedule, Fleener becomes an even bigger sleeper in fantasy land.

3. Jared Cook, Titans (127.07 points)
Favorable opponents - Jaguars (2), Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers, Chargers.
Unfavorable opponents - Texans (2), Patriots, Lions, Steelers.
2012 Outlook: Notice a trend with AFC South tight ends? Cook will be a big sleeper candidate at his position.

4. Jimmy Graham, Saints (126.10 points)
Favorable opponents - Buccaneers (2), Panthers (2), Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Packers.
Unfavorable opponents - Broncos, Eagles, 49ers.
2012 Outlook: As if you need another reason to draft Graham, he has one of the best slates among tight ends.

5. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (124.59 points)
Favorable opponents - Titans (2), Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers.
Unfavorable opponents - Texans (2), Patriots, Lions, Bengals.
2012 Outlook: Lewis won't be more than a No. 2 fantasy option in deep leagues, even with a good schedule.

6. Lance Kendricks, Rams (124.48 points)
Favorable opponents - Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers, Redskins, Buccaneers.
Unfavorable opponents - 49ers (2), Cardinals (2), Patriots, Lions.
2012 Outlook: Kendricks has definite upside, and a favorable slate adds to his deep sleeper draft value.

7. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (124.46 points)
Favorable opponents - Bears (2), Packers (2), Jaguars, Titans, Redskins, Buccaneers.
Unfavorable opponents - Lions (2), Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams.
2012 Outlook: Rudolph has some deep sleeper value, so consider him in the late rounds in drafts.

8. Greg Olsen, Panthers (123.87 points)
Favorable opponents - Buccaneers (2), Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Bears.
Unfavorable opponents - Broncos, Eagles.
2012 Outlook: The schedule will be helpful, but Olsen is too inconsistent to be a No. 1 fantasy option.

9. Brent Celek, Eagles (123.09 points)
Favorable opponents - Cowboys (2), Giants (2), Redskins (2), Buccaneers, Panthers.
Unfavorable opponents - Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Lions, Cardinals.
2012 Outlook: Celek was resurrected in fantasy land last season, and a nice slate improves his 2012 stock.

10. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (122.85 points)
Favorable opponents - Bears (2), Packers (2), Jaguars, Titans.
Unfavorable opponents - Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Eagles.
2012 Outlook: Facing weak divisional opponents and the AFC South helps Pettigrew's future draft value.

11. Jason Witten, Cowboys (122.53 points)
Favorable opponents - Giants (2), Redskins (2), Bears, Packers, Bears.
Unfavorable opponents - Eagles (2), Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Lions.
2012 Outlook: Witten will remain a legitimate No. 1 fantasy tight end this year, regardless of schedule.

12. Martellus Bennett, Giants (122.50 points)
Favorable opponents - Cowboys (2), Redskins (2), Buccaneers, Panthers, Packers.
Unfavorable opponents - Eagles (2), Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, 49ers.
2012 Outlook: If Bennett earns the starting job, he'll have some deep sleeper value with the Giants.

13. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons (121.89 points)
Favorable opponents - Buccaneers (2), Panthers (2), Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins.
Unfavorable opponents - Broncos, Eagles, Cardinals, Lions.
2012 Outlook: The old veteran remains a No. 1 fantasy tight end, but he won't be an elite option.

14. Kellen Davis, Bears (121.72 points)
Favorable opponents - Packers (2), Jaguars, Titans, Panthers, Cowboys.
Unfavorable opponents - Lions (2), Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams.
2012 Outlook: Davis had five touchdowns in 2011, but he's still not much of a fantasy option overall.

15. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (120.78 points)
Favorable opponents - Bills (2), Dolphins (2), Jaguars, Titans.
Unfavorable opponents - Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Broncos, Ravens.
2012 Outlook: The schedule won't change the value of Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez in fantasy drafts.

16. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs (120.16 points)
Favorable opponents - Chargers (2), Buccaneers, Panthers, Bills.
Unfavorable opponents - Broncos (2), Bengals, Ravens, Steelers.
2012 Outlook: Moeaki's value hinges on his return from a torn ACL more than his strength of schedule.

17. Ben Watson, Browns (120.00 points)
Favorable opponents - Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Bills.
Unfavorable opponents - Bengals (2), Ravens (2), Steelers (2), Broncos, Eagles.
2012 Outlook: Neither Watson nor Evan Moore will have much draft value, regardless of the upcoming slate.

18. Dustin Keller, Jets (119.85 points)
Favorable opponents - Bills (2), Dolphins (2), Jaguars, Titans, Chargers.
Unfavorable opponents - Patriots (2), Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Steelers.
2012 Outlook: Keller has borderline No. 1 fantasy tight end value, but he's too inconsistent to be much more.

19. Dallas Clark, Buccaneers (119.22 points)
Favorable opponents - Panthers (2), Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins.
Unfavorable opponents - Broncos, Eagles, Rams.
2012 Outlook: Clark has had added value in PPR leagues, but he's still no more than a fantasy reserve.

20. Anthony Fasano, Dolphins (118.95 points)
Favorable opponents - Bills (2), Jaguars, Titans.
Unfavorable opponents - Patriots (2), Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams, Bengals.
2012 Outlook: Fasano did post five touchdowns in 2011, but he's still a mere reserve in fantasy land.

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21. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals (118.77 points)
Favorable opponents - Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Dolphins, Jaguars.
Unfavorable opponents - Ravens (2), Steelers (2), Broncos, Eagles.
2012 Outlook: Playing in the AFC North hurts, but Gresham still has plenty of upside as a fantasy option.

22. Vernon Davis, 49ers (118.47 points)
Favorable opponents - Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers, Giants.
Unfavorable opponents - Cardinals (2), Rams (2), Patriots, Lions.
2012 Outlook: The NFC West was very tough against tight ends in 2011, but Davis remains a clear No. 1 option.

23. Brandon Myers, Raiders (117.73 points)
Favorable opponents - Chargers (2), Buccaneers, Panthers, Dolphins.
Unfavorable opponents - Broncos (2), Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Jaguars.
2012 Outlook: Clearly, Myers isn't going to have any fantasy value in standard fantasy leagues this season.

24. Heath Miller, Steelers (117.32 points):
Favorable opponents - Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Titans.
Unfavorable opponents - Bengals (2), Ravens (2), Broncos, Eagles.
2012 Outlook: Miller, who has scored a combined four touchdowns in the last two years, has little appeal.

25. Ed Dickson, Ravens (116.63 points)
Favorable opponents - Chargers, Cowboys, Giants, Redskins.
Unfavorable opponents - Bengals (2), Steelers (2), Broncos, Patriots, Texans.
2012 Outlook: There's definite upside with Dickson, but this difficult schedule won't help his draft value.

26. Jermichael Finley, Packers (116.41 points)
Favorable opponents - Bears (2), Jaguars, Titans, Giants.
Unfavorable opponents - Lions (2), Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams.
2012 Outlook: The schedule won't do Finley any favors, but he remains a No. 1 fantasy tight end in all drafts.

27. Antonio Gates, Chargers (115.80 points)
Favorable opponents - Broncos (2), Buccaneers, Panthers, Titans.
Unfavorable opponents - Bengals, Ravens, Steelers.
2012 Outlook: The fact that Gates has been prone to injuries lately is far more pressing than a poor slate.

28. Todd Heap, Cardinals (115.65 points):
Favorable opponents - Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers.
Unfavorable opponents - 49ers (2), Rams (2), Patriots, Lions, Eagles.
2012 Outlook: Heap was once a No. 1 fantasy tight, but at this point he's not even draftable in most leagues.

29. Kellen Winslow, Seahawks (115.36 points)
Favorable opponents - Bills, Dolphins, Bears, Packers, Cowboys, Panthers.
Unfavorable opponents - 49ers (2), Cardinals (2), Rams (2), Patriots, Lions.
2012 Outlook: Winslow's value all but disappeared last season, and he's not about to return to prominence in 2012.

30. Fred Davis, Redskins (115.32 points)
Favorable opponents - Cowboys (2), Giants (2), Buccaneers, Panthers.
Unfavorable opponents - Eagles (2), Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Rams.
2012 Outlook: The schedule isn't pretty, but I still think Davis can be a nice breakout tight end for owners.

31. Jacob Tamme, Broncos (114.41 points)
Favorable opponents - Chargers (2), Buccaneers, Panthers.
Unfavorable opponents - Bengals, Ravens, Steelers, Texans, Patriots.
2012 Outlook: Tamme has some real sleeper appeal with Peyton Manning under center, but the schedule is difficult.

32. Scott Chandler, Bills (111.50 points)
Favorable opponents - Dolphins (2), Jaguars, Titans.
Unfavorable opponents - Patriots (2), Texans, 49ers, Cardinals, Rams.
2012 Outlook: Chandler had six touchdowns in 2011, but he's going to be barely draftable in future leagues.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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