2012 fantasy football profiles and projections (TEs 1-12)

Statistical projections are provided by EA Sports

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Gronkowski is coming off the best fantasy season of all time at the tight end position, recording 90 catches for 1,327 yards with an incredible 18 total touchdowns. What makes his stats even more amazing is that Gronkowski finished with more fantasy points than every wide receiver in the league other than Calvin Johnson - that makes him an even more valuable fantasy asset. A matchup nightmare for defenses, Gronkowski will continue to be a huge target for Tom Brady all over the field. While he might be hard-pressed to duplicate his immense touchdown total, it's still going to be tough to pass on the big tight end if he falls past the middle of Round 2.

Graham surpassed his 2011 sleeper expectations to finish with career bests across the board, including 195 fantasy points. That was second to Rob Gronkowski at the position and a full 60 points more than the third-best tight end. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Graham is a massive and reliable option in the pass attack for Drew Brees, not to mention a tough player to defend. That's part of the reason he led his position in targets with 149, which was 23 more than the second-most targeted tight end, Brandon Pettigrew. With a quarterback like Brees under center in a pass-laden offense, Graham should continue to find success in 2012. He'll come off the board no later than Round 3.

One of the league's most talented young tight ends, Hernandez posted career bests in catches, yards and touchdowns in his second pro season. What makes that even more impressive is that he did it in just 14 games and while in the same offense as fantasy superstar Rob Gronkowski. A wide receiver in a tight end's frame, Hernandez causes matchup problems all over the football field for the opposition. It also doesn't hurt that he has a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady throwing him the football, either. Hernandez, who averaged just over eight targets per game, will come off the board in the middle rounds as a surefire No. 1 fantasy tight end.

Heading into last season, Gates was considered the top tight end in fantasy football. But after another year that included time missed due to foot issues - he's been out of a combined nine games over the last two years - Gates has seen his stock slide. When he is out on the field, though, the veteran is still productive. In fact, he finished seventh in fantasy points among all tight ends in 2011 and averaged a respectable 9.2 points per game. That's just half a point per game less than Aaron Hernandez, who finished third at the position. While durability is an issue, Gates remains one of the league's best fantasy tight ends and is worth a fifth-round selection.

Finley is coming off his best statistical season, posting career bests in yards and touchdowns while also tying a personal high in receptions. Still, he was seen as a disappointment in most fantasy leagues due to his lack of consistent production - 43 percent of his stats came in just three games. The veteran also finished fifth in the league in dropped passes, so he left some opportunities on the field. On a positive note, you can't look past the fact that Finley still ranked fifth in fantasy points at his position. He's also just 25, and the fact that Aaron Rodgers is under center makes Finley that much more attractive in drafts. He'll have middle-round value.

Davis was the top-scoring fantasy tight end in 2009, but his yardage, touchdown and fantasy point totals have all declined in each of the last three seasons. The veteran dealt with more double teams than ever before last year, which was part of the reason he failed to lead the 49ers in receptions and receiving yards for the first time since 2008. Davis did finish on a high note, though, posting 292 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 29.2 yards per catch in two postseason contests. While he's not likely to return to his 2009 form, his scorching finish is a cause for optimism. Look for him to come off the board in the middle rounds on draft day.

Witten, the top-scoring tight end in fantasy football in 2010, experienced a decline in statistical success across the board last season. His reception and yardage totals were his worst in the last four years, despite the fact that he ranked fifth in targets at his position. Still, Witten was sixth in fantasy points among tight ends and remains one of the better options at what has become a much more productive position than in seasons past. With that said, he has lost some of his luster in an offense loaded with weapons like DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Barring a setback from a spleen injury in the preseason, he's still a No. 1 fantasy option.

Fantasy owners looking for a potential breakout candidate at the tight end position should look no further than Davis, who has all the look of fantasy star in our nation's capitol. In 12 games last season, he was on pace to finish with 117 targets, 79 receptions and 1,061 yards before a suspension cost him the final four contests. He was also on pace to record over 127 fantasy points, which would have ranked him a very impressive fourth at the position. It's that sort of statistical upside that makes Davis such an intriguing option in fantasy drafts, especially for those owners who would rather wait until the middle-to-late rounds to draft a tight end.

Gonzalez experienced a rebirth of sorts last season, posting 80 catches for 875 yards with seven touchdowns while also finishing fourth at his position in fantasy points. The future Hall of Famer was also the sixth-most targeted tight end in the league, proving that he was still a major part of the pass attack, even with both Roddy White and Julio Jones in the mix. With Gonzalez being 36 years old and entering his 16th NFL season, however, it's tough to envision a scenario where he is able to surpass - or even duplicate - his 2011 totals. He's still a No. 1 fantasy tight end, but don't reach for him before the middle-to-late rounds in most drafts.

You wouldn't think this by looking at his 2011 totals, but Tamme might be the biggest sleeper in fantasy football among tight ends. His move to Denver, where he'll be reunited with Peyton Manning, is a potentially huge move from a statistical perspective. Remember, Tamme caught nearly 70 passes in 2010 despite starting just eight games in the absence of Dallas Clark. While he could lose some snaps to Joel Dreessen, Tamme is the best pass-catching tight end on the Broncos roster and will benefit from the rapport he has with Manning. Fantasy owners looking to wait on a tight end would be wise to target the Kentucky product in the middle-to-late rounds of most drafts.

Pettigrew quietly posted career bests in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season, due in part to a hot finish down the stretch. In his final four games, he put up a combined 27 catches for 302 yards and scored two touchdowns. That strong stretch catapulted him into the top 12 in fantasy points among tight ends in standard leagues, while moving him to an impressive sixth in PPR formats. Pettigrew can be inconsistent at times, which keeps him from being a surefire No. 1 option, but the combination of a pass-laden offense and a talented, young quarterback in Matthew Stafford makes him a high-end No. 2 with added value in PPR leagues.

Over the last two seasons, Keller has put up great numbers in the first few weeks of the season only to fade into mediocrity down the stretch. In 2010, he averaged 4.7 catches for 63.5 yards and scored five touchdowns in his first four games. He would go on to average three catches for 36.1 yards with no touchdowns the remainder of the season. Keller was also hot to start 2011, averaging 4.5 catches for 65.2 yards with two touchdowns. During the next 12 contests, he averaged 3.9 catches, 46.2 yards and scored three times. It's that inconsistency that makes Keller tough to trust as a regular fantasy starter, so don't take him before the latter rounds.

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