The not-so-obvious world of NFL fantasy football TEs

The sky is blue. The earth is round. You need oxygen to live. Peyton Manning is likely to struggle in a postseason game when the temperature at kickoff is below 40 degrees. Some things are obvious. Unfortunately, the obvious is not always so obvious in the National Football League and fantasy football. In fact, things tend to change often from one season to the next. Sure, your fantasy superstars are almost always going to put up gangbusters totals in the stat sheets (well, unless you're Chris Johnson). However, drafting a fantasy team isn't as simple as looking back at the previous season's stats and making your selections.

Is Greg Olsen a lock to be a superstar again in 2013? Are you sold on Dennis Pitta as an elite tight end? Well, maybe past stats can help us find out what the future holds. Below is a look at the top 10 tight ends (based on points) in the last six years, and how those players fared the following season. The results and turnover percentage are well, not so obvious.

All of the numbers compiled are based on NFL.com's standard scoring system.

Positional overview: In short, the tight end position was an absolute disaster from a fantasy perspective. A total of six different players finished among the top 10 in fantasy points at the position compared to 2011. ... Since 2006, no fewer than six tight ends had finished in the top 10 in back-to-back years. Of the 2012 finalists, an amazing seven of those tight ends had an ADP of Round 15 or higher on NFL.com. ... No tight end has finished No. 1 in consecutive seasons since 2006, but Gronkowski and Graham have come close the last two seasons. Gronkowski was No. 1 (2011) and No. 2 (2012), while Graham was No. 2 (2011) and No. 1 (2012). ... Gonzalez has finished in the top five in six of the last seven seasons. The one year he failed to rank among the top five was 2010, when he finished eighth. Gonzalez is expected to retire at the end of the 2012 campaign. ... Witten, who has finished first in fantasy points at the position twice since 2007, has ranked no worse than eighth in each of the last six years. ... Gates has seen his final point total decline in each of the last three seasons.

Breakdown: The tight end spot used to be one of the more reliable in fantasy football, at least until 2012. While the turnover in the top five from 2011 to last season was 60 percent (Graham, Gronkowski, Gonzalez), just one other player (Witten) finished in the top 10 that was there the previous campaign. To put it in simple terms, there is a change occuring at the position. If Gonzalez retires and Gates' downward spiral continues, the "old guard" will be all but extinct sans Witten. At this point, owners can't trust former fantasy stars the likes of Vernon Davis, Finley and Celek. Even Hernandez, who has all the upside in the world playing alongside Tom Brady in New England, has failed to finish among the top 10 tight ends in two of his three pro seasons. One thing is for sure at an uncertain spot - some new names are bound to emerge.

New faces for 2012: The list of tight ends with the tools to finish among the top 10 in 2013 is a long one. Hernandez, if he can avoid the trainer's room, is an obvious choice. He could even wind up back in the top five in best-case scenario. Olsen, Pitta, Rudolph, Myers and Gresham are also candidates to improve their fantasy rank next season. The same holds true of Keller, who had finished in the top 10 in two straight years before suffering through an injury-plagued 2012 campaign. Heath Miller, who finished in the top four in 2012, is a question coming off an ACL operation.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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