The Pro Wrestler Part 6 (The Real Story, Not a Hollywood Story)

Part 6 in the series

By: Mr. Holmes

It was January 18th 2000, or there about, in Sault Ste Marie, MI at the Kewadin Casino where my first match took place. My trainer, Mike Shaw, was asked to be the booker on a couple of big shows.  The first was at the Kewadin in the Sault and the second was in Marquette,MI at the High School.  I had been training for only three months, but Mike told me I was ready for my first match in front of people.  I was excited–I would be wrestling my buddy the Irish Luchador Billy Mcneil.  What I was even more excited about was my mom was coming to my first match, and all my friends made plans to take a trip to my second match in Marquette.

kewadin casino

Kewadin Casino

The first match was scheduled for Saturday; the second obviously on Sunday.  My boys came up to Marquette on Friday to spend a couple of days in Marquette and party at the club I bounced at.   My friends got to Marquette late Friday. They were gonna pick me up and I was gonna stay with them at their hotel for the night; then I was off to my first ever match while my friends would stay behind party for the day. Then on Sunday I would meet back up with them and hang out for a while before the second show started in Marquette.

I would be wrestling Billy both nights and Mike told us we would be splitting the victories and he did not care which one of us won where.  I thought it would be cool for my friends to see me win for the first time so I told Billy I would do the job (lose) in the Soo and go over (win) in Marquette.  Billy was cool with that; quite frankly, neither of us gave a damn who won we just wanted to get in there and hopefully perform well. mshs1

My friends got to my house at around 11:00 on Friday night. As I looked out the window I saw the van doors open up and smoke of all kinds billowed out. We went to their hotel and of course chaos ensued.   I did not partake in any of the festivities of course as I was nervous about my debut the next day.   Within the first couple of minutes at the hotel, the ironing board was completely destroyed by my friends performing flying maneuvers off their beds onto it (the power of alcohol).  Said ironing board had its serial number removed and sent down the elevator by itself.   As the party wound down around 4AM my friend Jason and I were the last two up in one of the adjoining rooms. I was up because I was nervous about the day coming up and Jason was up because he couldn’t stop talking about how sweaty his hands were as he fought off the urge to puke (he did battle and win, by the way. Nice job, Jason). In hindsight it may have not been the best way to prepare for my first professional wrestling match. The weekend would be a success but more hilarity ensued, which I will get to next time.

Jason held his puke like a champion that night. That is my championship belt Jason has on and I had the bruises to prove I earned it. That is another story.

By the way, for those who have been asking (and there have been literally one or two of you) I am currently no longer wrestling for UPW in Michigan or anywhere for that matter.   In the coming blogs, I will continue my story as a pro wrestler, but next time I will take a break from my story of how it all started and tell you the story of how it all ended.

To be continued…

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The Pro Wrestler Part 5 (A Real Story, Not a Hollywood Story)

Part 5 in the series

By: Mr. Holmes

So, I left off my last post explaining how I met my best friend in pro wrestling, Supreme Brett Powers.   Like many of my good friends in pro wrestling, I met him after he beat the shit out of me.  It’s funny, you meet a guy in wrestling, and the more you beat the shit out of each other, the more money you make, and the more money you make the better friends you become.  Weird, huh? That is pro wrestling.

I started working with Brett early on in my training and he threw the most devastating clothesline I have ever felt–it could crush concrete.   I quickly figured out, however, that Brett was just like all of us–still learning and did not mean any harm.  Brett is, personality-wise, my perfect friend, the yin to my yang.   I have known him since 2000 and have never had one cross word with him.  Early on, though, I was very shy with all the other students in the school. We trained together and that was it.  I was and still am a very private person and it takes a while for me to get comfortable and open up with new people.  So, we trained together but then I was quickly paired with the Irish Luchador Billy McNeil.

Wrestling-wise me, and Billy clicked right away. Our chemistry in the ring as opponents was fantastic, so Mike kept us working together.  To be honest, Billy and I progressed quicker in the school than anyone else and were just more comfortable working with each other.  Mike would often give us more practice time in the ring than everyone else because he could see potential in us right away.   We were allowed to train extra days or come in a few hours before the school started and get extra work in.   Early on I became very good friends with Billy and we hung out quite a bit after a while.

During this time, Brett was progressing, but wasn’t quite at my or Billy’s level.  I was always friendly with Brett, but he lived in Escanaba and I lived in Marquette so we never hung out while I lived in Michigan.  Very early on in my career, Brett and I were friends but not how we would become later on.  Trust me, in my coming blogs Brett will be prominently featured. (Hope you read that Supreme)

I got a pretty nice break meeting and getting to work with Billy McNeil early in my career.  My first week training at the school he wasn’t there; he was on the road in Wisconsin having one of his first matches with someone named Judge Jesse, which of course is interesting because as I type this, the current UPW Tag Champions are Mr. Holmes and, you guessed it, Judge Jesse.  There was a buzz with the other students about how good Billy was and I was getting nervous waiting to meet the top student. I never seen him and did not know what he looked like.

About a week or so after my first days of training, I was getting comfortable with everyone at the school, and then Billy walked in with his then-girlfriend Rachel.  Billy was all of 5’10” and about 140 pounds. But I was intimidated none the less.  I figured since I just started and was so huge, surely I would not be working with the top student right away.  Of course Mike saw something in me early and within minutes I was in the ring with the top student practicing spots and immediately we clicked in and out of the ring.    He would be my very first opponent in front of a crowd.

Come check out UPW Wrestling Nov 3rd at the Delft Night Club in Escanaba, MI

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The Pro Wrestler Part 4 (A real story, not a Hollywood story)

Part 4 in the series

By: Mr. Holmes

Needless to say I was very nervous walking to the school; so many thoughts were running through my head.  I thought if I could just get in the ring and take that first bump maybe I would be ok.  The school started at six. Of course, I got there at 5:30 as I had no idea how long it would take for me to walk down there.  Mike was not there and neither were any of the other students. But, who was there was all the muay thai students setting up the ring at the gym.

It was my first day so I did not know who to talk to or anything. So, I was standing there waiting for Mike when this asshole comes up to me and says, “Get out of here you fat fuck.”  At this point, I kind of freaked. I was a young kid and not very confrontational so I just said “fuck this” and left.  I have become much harder since then and if that same thing happened today I probably would be in jail for assault.  What saddens me is that I never ran into that guy again for the whole year. Maybe he died or maybe he moved. In all the time of me going to that school I never saw him again.

I walked home like a little girl and started to pack my bags when there was a knock on my door. It was Mike; I explained what happened to him, (I left out the part of the muay thai guy shaming me) telling him I was there and nobody else was so I told him I thought I went on the wrong day.  He said he was just running late that day and I should start tomorrow at six.  In a very odd way, Mike Shaw always had the ability to calm me down and make me believe in myself without ever being an asshole. I think he knew my psyche right away and knew what I was going through.

The next day, I got to the school the same time Mike did.  We talked for a while and we walked in the school.  Some of the other students were there and already in the ring warming up taking different moves.  Some were working on hip tosses.  A hip toss is when one person sticks his arm underneath the armpit of another and flips him over so one person is lying flat on their back.  The person taking it basically does a front flip with the person giving the maneuver guiding them over.  I thought, no way my 380 pound (at the time) fat ass could flip over; boy was I dead wrong.   I barely touched any of the other students that day.  Mike got in the ring with me and started showing me the very basics like locking up, running the ropes, taking bumps, and basic chain wrestling.  I would see and learn later on that this was very rare for Mike, as he hardly ever physically got in the ring. The first day went very well; I was kind of a natural at it.

I was a natural at it because of countless hours of studying wrestling tapes from all over the world.  I watched all wrestling shows and tapes twice–the first for entertainment as of course I was a huge fan, the second in slow motion to study how they did things.   I was ahead of the game before I even stepped foot in the ring.   I studied all information on the internet, television or in magazines on pro wrestling in preparation for wrestling school.

Before I get back to the story, I owe thanks for much of my early prep to the person who is (besides my wife of course. Don’t get mad honey!) my best friend in the entire world, my first cousin Steve.  When we were little kids growing up we would “fake wrestle” at the backyard of grandparents’ bar, Joe’s Lucky 13.  Steve was the best athlete that I had ever seen.  He was an outstanding amateur wrestler and played varsity baseball as a freshman. The list goes on and on. He loved watching pro wrestling.  He got me into it.  He was five years older than me and we were both only children at the time, so I was his de facto little brother.  He terrorized me for years when we were kids, making me fake wrestle all the time with him when I didn’t want to.   I got the snot kicked out of me by Steve when we were kids but I never hated him. He was my hero and my role model when I was growing up and in writing this I am so happy he did that.  He made me into a man and developed my love for pro wrestling.  He taught me how to play every sport and to be tough.  I just want to thank him here and say I love you.  I could not have had this amazing story and fulfilled my dreams without youimage.

So, I was a natural on day one. Then I got my clock cleaned taking a clothesline from this 5ft 11′ blond haired kid who weighed maybe 160 pounds at the time.  I thought to myself, who is this asshole and by god does he know this is entertainment?!  He called himself Supreme Brett Powers and he talked like he was a game show host.  Needless to say I was not fond of him the 1st day I met him.  Given time, though, I became so close to him that he stood alongside me the day I was married.  That story comes next week…thanks for reading!

October 6th, come to Escanaba, MI at the Delft Night Club for UPW Pro Wrestling featuring the King of the U.P. tournament and watch as Judge Jesse and Mr. Holmes take on Romeo Valentino and Vito Von Guido in a Police Brutality Match (handcuffs and nightsticks are legal) for the UPW Tag Team Championship. Doors open at 6:00p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Check out UPW’s page for more info: http://www.upwprowrestling.com/

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The Pro Wrestler Part 3 (A real story, not a Hollywood story)

Part 3 in the series

By: Mr. Holmes

I get home from work and get the mail and there it was: finally a reply from Mike Shaw and his pro wrestling school.

Shamrock Bar a popular hang out for students at NMU now closed

He had all the information I always needed. He helped me get an apartment and a job working as a bouncer at this college nightclub called the Shamrock in Marquette, MI.  We set everything up in a couple weeks.  My parents helped get me a U-Haul for my few items, and before I knew it the day was there. I was 20 and moving out, and not to go to college or to live with a girl or a buddy.  I went from living in a town of 365 people to moving to a different state that I had only visited once.  I knew absolutely nobody, and I never really lived on my own so it was going to be tough.  I remember saying goodbye to my mom. She was crying, which of course made me cry too.  I had to do it though; I was chasing my dream.

I got to my apartment on a Saturday, and my lovely landlords didn’t have the power turned on. After my step-father at the time (a real loser by the way) left it all hit me.  Here I am in a different state by myself in the dark with no power.  I found the local store, bought a Gatorade and some batteries for my radio and cried myself to sleep.

The next day I went and found the wrestling school. I noticed the bus station was right across the road, I thought about just buying a ticket and going home.  You have to realize I wasn’t prepared to live on my own. I never paid all my bills, bought my own food, or got the power and phone turned on. Plus, I had horrible anxiety about having to go to this wrestling school in a few days, not knowing what to expect.

The next day I stayed at the local Ramada because I needed fax machines and copy machines to get stuff together to get my power turned on.   That day, Kelly Shaw, my trainer’s wife, stopped by the hotel to pick up the $500 deposit for wrestling school.  I was so nervous I could barely look her in the eye.  She told me some time later she thought for sure I would never make it in the school, and I would never be a pro wrestler because I was so shy.

The next Monday morning I was told by the power company I had to come to their office in person to get it turned on.   I begged them to let me give me the info over the phone because I did not drive at the time (we will get to that later) and had no idea how the buses ran and was too shy and nervous to ask someone for help. So, I walked it.  From the hotel to power company then back to my apartment was a 15 to 20 mile round trip.  I started out early morning, and when I got to the power company of course it took 30 seconds of giving them information I could have given them over the phone.  I got home late in the afternoon, but now I finally had power.

So far my experience had not been fun.  There was a make or break moment coming, though. I was going to wrestling school the next day. With the experience I already had in Marquette, this was it. If that first day did not go well, I was on the first bus home.

Mike Shaw

Rest in Peace Mike Shaw. You will be missed.

P.S. This blog and my life is all due to the Shaw family, especially my trainer Mr. Mike Shaw. Mike died two years ago yesterday, September 11th 2010.  RIP Mike. I hope this and everything I have done in wrestling has made you proud.

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The Pro Westler Part 2 ( A real story, not a Hollywood story )

By: Mr. Holmes

Continuing on, the night before I was set to make the big trek to Cleveland, I got hammered with all my boys. I was so excited; I had around $1500 in my pocket to get me started and hopefully fulfill my dream of becoming a pro wrestler. I did not drive at the time, so the next day my step father drove me the eight hours down to Cleveland while I slept off the previous night.

I was so young and dumb at the time it was scary. I was so new to the real world. I grew up in this small town bubble and this was my first taste of life outside of Wisconsin. As soon as I arrived, I found the school; it was in the middle of the ghetto in Cleveland, houses and businesses were boarded up and there were homeless and trash on all the streets. It was too much of a culture shock to me.  Remember, I did not drive, so I planned on walking every place I had to go. I was not mature or ready enough for where I was.

I got the clincher that night. The person who was gonna train me called me to see if I had arrived. He then informed me I would be the first person he was ever gonna train. He had lied to me and presented himself as a real wrestling trainer. The next morning, as my step father was getting ready to leave, I told him to hang on because I was going back with him. I felt so dumb that I fell for this man’s shit. I knew enough about the wrestling business that I didn’t want to start my career off like this, to be poorly trained by some shmuck.  I felt horrible leaving. I felt like I let all my friends and family down. There was this big build up and then 24 hours later I am home. I felt like a failure before I even started. I know secretly most of my family and friends probably thought that would be it, that I would get a normal job or go to school and move on with my life. But I was determined to try again!

I was depressed about the situation. I still felt horrible, and plus I wasted the money I had saved drinking with my friends. I finally shook the feeling, and a few months later, by the grace of god, I met George and Sharon Thorne.

George and Sharon owned a rental property and appraisal business in the Green Bay area.  My step father and uncle were working there, and one day I went to a temp agency to find a job. I didn’t drive of course, so after the temp agency appointment I went and waited at the office where my step dad was working.  He was training to become a real estate appraiser at George and Sharon’s. There were a few hours before it was time to go home.  I was bored and the people in the office were swamped and asked if I could help out by doing a small task; I said sure. George took a liking to me, and a day or two later he called and offered me the job I so desperately needed.

If it wasn’t for the Thornes I would never have become a wrestler. They offered me a non-physical job in the office where I could save up money to try the wrestling thing again. I would work for him for the next nine months. I know they may never see or read this but I want this in writing: thank you George and Sharon for letting me live my dream. They will be integral in my future as well.

Meanwhile, I was sending out letters again to find a wrestling school. I sent another one to Mike Shaw in Marquette, MI.  About a week later I received a letter from Mr. Shaw that would change my life forever.

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2012 Fantasy Football Prep 101: Sleepers and Busts

Sleepers by definition are typically players that outperform their generally perceived value. Now some people think that sleepers are players that few people have heard of and might be fantasy football relevant.  I would call those type of players deep sleepers and in a league of 10 to 12 teams deep sleepers do not usually need to be considered until they “wake up”.  That being said here are my sleepers for the 2012 fantasy football season.

SLEEPERS

Brandon Pettigrew: He very well could be the Rob Gronkowski, or at the very least, Jimmy Graham of this season. He is on a pass first team with a top quarterback. He has a top flight wideout beside him to take some of the attention of the defense and he has received increased redzone looks.

John Skelton: He should beat out a very pathetic looking Kevin Kolb to become the starter in Arizona. That being the case he will have an outstanding wideout to throw to in Larry Fitzgerald. Last year the Cardinal quarterbacks threw for nearly 4000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Building off the experience from last year he should be able to improve those TD numbers and cut down on the INTs.

Greg Little: Brandon Weeden is an unknown quantity. What is known is that he should be throwing the majority of his passes to Little. With the addition of a legitimate running back in Trent Richardson the passing game should be better than last year when Peyton Hillis was hurt for much of the year.

Cedric Benson: The Green Bay Packers signed the veteran running back. Normally someone signed this late in the preseason is just roster fodder or battling for a backup spot. Not in this case. Alex Green is coming off a knee injury and James Starks has yet to show that he can be a starter in the NFL. I think Benson will push Starks and eventually take the starting job. In the very least he will get the majority of goalline carries something that the Packers were unwilling to give to Starks last year.

Kyle Rudolph: Another tight end on the sleeper list. Why? Well because tight ends were fantasy gold last year if you were lucky enough to have one of the top ones. I think that Mr. Rudolph has a chance to join the low end of those top tight ends. This is because his quarterback, Ponder, needs a safety blanket like Rudolph to throw to. I expect Rudolph to get a lot of redzone looks this season.

Antonio Brown: I know many of you are thinking how can Brown be considered a sleeper. He had over 1000 yards last season, but only 2 touchdowns. I expect that number to go up, dramatically. This should be especially the case considering his chief competition for touchdowns has been a hold-out for much of training camp.

Robert Meachem: He has Phillip Rivers as his quarterback. There is no established #1 receiver in San Diego and I think that Meachem will end up being Rivers primary target all season.

Doug Martin: Tampa Bay is ready to make a change. They are tired of Blount, especially the fumbles, and will look to give Martin a chance to prove himself. I think Martin takes that chance and runs with it. 1000 yards and 8 TDs is not out of the question if Blount is completely out of the picture. That might not happen so 700 yards and 5 TD might be more what happens. Still worth a late round flyer.

Tim Hightower: Looked like he would be the man last year for the Redskins and then he got hurt. He is still recovering from that injury but I believe come the 1st week of the season Hightower will be the starter and primary goalline back. The only concern is the injury and the potential of RG3 of stealing goalline plunges.

Willis McGahee: McGahee had a decent season last year losing opportunities to the likes of Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and Tim Tebow. He now has a legitimate threat in quarterback Peyton Manning to take eyes off of him. This could be the chance McGahee has been waiting for.

A bust by definition is a player that under performs compared to common expectations. That being the case here are my fantasy football busts for the 2012 season.

BUSTS

Torrey Smith: Smith will get the majority of the defensive game planning geared towards him in pass defense. With Boldin showing his age defenses will key on Smith. Couple this with Ray Rice in the the backfield and I do not see Smith having a season close to last year. Expect a big regression.

Matt Forte: Forte got paid. Last year Chris Johnson got paid and look what happened. The biggest concern looking at Forte is the addition of Michael Bush to the Bears’ roster. Bush will steal carries especially around the goalline. This will diminish Forte’s value immensely.

James Starks: The addition of Cedric Benson to the Packers’ roster says two things. One, that the Packers’ running backs are not very healthy right now. Two, that the Packers’ are not convinced Starks can handle the load. Last year Starks was less than impressive in a shared backfield. I think he is looking at sharing a backfield again if not losing out entirely and becoming a backup.

Andre Johnson: He will get his yards if he stays healthy but he has yet to have a season with double digit touchdowns. People continually place him in the upper class of receivers but unless you are in a league the really rewards receptions and receiving yards over scoring he just does not justify that status.  Additionally he is coming off an injury that might slow him down this year.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Two words HOLD OUT. Hold outs rarely turn out for NFL players. This is especially the case for NFL running backs. IF he plays this year he will be a shadow of his 2011 self. I would stay away from any hold out player. The longer the hold out the farther away I would stay.

Percy Harvin: Migraines! Plain and simple he will miss games. Everyone sees him as this tremendous value as a deep threat and return man but his inability to stay healthy combined with a run first offense led by Christian Ponder means that his value is less than many other receivers that might not be household names.

Tim Tebow: Tebow-mania aside his have very little fantasy value. You do not get points for having a quality locker room guy on your squad. People he is a backup quarterback. If somehow he is able to unseat Sanchez this is about what you can expect maybe 1800 yards and 10 passing touchdowns, 600 yards and 5 touchdowns rushing. If that sounds good to you go ahead and snatch that up. He reminds me a lot of the next player on the list, Mike Vick.

Mike Vick: Another player that continually gets overvalued. Vick had career seasons in 2011 and 2010. He passed for a career high in yards in 2011. In 2010 he passed for a career high in touchdowns  and rushed for a career high in touchdowns.  Based on his 2010 season people were expecting more. They shouldn’t have. Prior to joining the Eagles, Vick had never passed for over 3000 yards or over 20 touchdowns. Now many would point to running ability as the counter to his lower passing numbers.  The yardage is nice but aside from 2002, 2006 and 2010 he has not rushed for more than 3 touchdowns in a season. The 9 he had in 2010 was a career high which was previously 8 in 2002 when he was a much younger man.

Mike Wallace: Same thing as MJD, he is a HOLD OUT! In his absence Antonio Brown has asserted himself as a go to receiver. It may be just my perception but players that hold out seem to get hurt and have sub par years. I could be wrong.

LaGarrette Blount: He is on his last legs in Tampa Bay. They may give him the chance to start the season as the #1 but I feel that he will be solidly outproduced by Martin.

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2012 Fantasy Football Prep 101: Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski is a fantasy stud. Here we see his audition for the movie Magic Mike. I think this may need to be the new trophy of shame for lowest scoring team replacing the Tweeder pic.

As we proceed with the Fantasy Football Preview for 2012 we now will look at tight ends. Tight Ends are typically an afterthought in many fantasy football leagues. In most leagues teams do not have a specific slot for starting a tight end. Instead the tight end is considered a wide receiver. In leagues like that only the highest performing tight ends have any value. In the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League we do have a slot for a starting tight end. We also allow tight ends to be started in the wide receiver category. Needless to say tight ends have quite a bit more value in a league like ours than in a typical league. Still last year anyone that was lucky enough to have Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez was happy in any league format. As with the previous previews and predictions it is important to take a look at how the players scored the year before. Now in the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League tight ends score 1 point for every 25 yards receiving and 6 points for any touchdown scored. They can also get 1 point for every 25 yards rushing and every 50 yards passing, 2 points for a conversion, and 3 points for a passing touchdown. Those things rarely happen so they were not included in this analysis. Below is how the tight ends in the NFL scored last year in our scoring system:

Rob Gronkowski had an unbelievable season last year. And I mean unbelievable.

Like I am looking at the stats right now and I still don’t believe that they are not the result of a season on Madden or Super Tecmo Bowl (The greatest sports game ever! I will get into this in another post). The really silly thing is the year Aaron Hernandez had being on the same team as Gronkowski. Combined the Patriot tight ends had over 2200 yards and 24 touchdowns for 173 fantasy points. Flat out unbelievable. Imagine if that was one player. What is almost equally unbelievable was the season that Jimmy Graham had. Two tight ends over 1300 yards and double digit touchdowns. These elite tight ends might need serious early round, like 1st round, consideration. Last years biggest disappointment was Jermichael Finley. Many thought that he would be the dominate tight end of the 2011 season, but he was plagued by drops all season. It was evident that as the season progressed Aaron Rodgers possessed less and less confidence in Finley. Old man river Tony Gonzalez had a great season which I personally thought surprising. Antonio Gates almost made it through a season, he played in 13 games, which was equally surprising. Let’s look at some projections for the 2012 season. Here are some of my own devising:

Now I know what you are all thinking…..How does Aaron Hernandez project out ahead of Rob Gronkowski. The thought is that if last years numbers were more evenly split and if teams focus on Gronkowski then Hernandez will benefit though in the end they will have similar numbers. Call me crazy. Anywho here we see that there are 5 tiers of tight ends. Tier 1 is made up of last year’s elites. All three, Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Graham could easily repeat the success as last year. Well with the exception of Gronkowski who should not be able to totally repeat the previous year, who could. These three tight ends should garner early round consideration, maybe even 1st round. I would say that the high end for these player should be the 2nd round. The tier 2 player should get consideration in the 4th to 6th rounds. The tier 3 players should be available in the later middle rounds like rounds 9 through 11. After the top three tiers there is really no reason to draft a tight end the players in the 4th and 5th tiers should be available in free agency and can be picked up as needed or as they become fantasy relevant.

The cream of the crop are the same as last year. The two Patriot tight ends could have interchangeable stats next year. Either one could have a special year or they could simply split last year’s stats and each have a fine year. Jimmy Graham is exciting mostly because unlike Gronkowski he doesn’t have a Hernandez to steal his looks. Of course the downside to that is that defenses will be able to key on him in a way that they cannot afford to key on Hernandez and Gronkowski. Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis are in the 2nd tier and should have solid season with the potential of something special developing.

Watch out: Antonio Gates is always a crap shoot as to whether he will make it through a season uninjured. If he does he could have a special year. Expect him to play in a maximum of 14 games. Tony Gonzalez is really getting up there in age. With Julio Jones, Roddy White and the running game all competing for yards he may be the one left out. Brent Celek plays on a team with Mike Vick and LeSean McCoy both of whom will be doing the majority of the scoring in the redzone which will take away from Celek’s value.

Keep an eye on: The most intriguing and potentially exciting tight ends are Brandon Pettigrew and Jermaine Gresham. Both of these young tight ends could have an exceptional year in 2012. Pettigrew is on a pass first team and could get more redzone looks this year. Gresham is the safety blanket for a 2nd year quarterback and should also get more redzone looks.

Rookies: I don’t see any rookie tight ends at this point that are worth considering taking more than a late round flyer on. Stay with established starters.

Handcuffs: Are you kidding? Well if you are lucky enough to pull it off go ahead and handcuff Hernandez and Gronkowski.

TOP 10

#1 Rob Gronkowski The Gronkster should have another monster year this year but I cannot see him even coming close to 17 touchdowns but he very well should top 1000 yards and possibly double digit touchdowns. 

#2 Jimmy Graham Graham had a season that was nearly identical to Gronkowski’s last year, aside from the touchdowns. I think he has the best chance of repeating his success from the previous season. The downside is that he could be looking at a lot of defense keying on him.

#3 Aaron Hernandez Hernandez is poised to have Gronkowski’s 2011. If teams forget about him he is going to make them pay.

#4 Jermichael Finley Couldn’t hold on to the ball last year. If he can earn Rodgers’ trust again he will have a great year. If he can’t he will have a season similar to last year.

#5 Antonio Gates The man. Well at least he was before injuries got the best of him. Still Phillip Rivers loves to throw the ball and if Gates can stay of the injured list he should get a large amount of looks.

#6 Vernon Davis If the Niners were smart they would throw the ball to Davis alot. Last year they were not as smart as they have been in the past. I hope the figure it out this year. In the picture Davis is doing his best Gladiator impersonation “Are you not entertained?!”

#7 Brandon Pettigrew If Matt Stafford stays healthy Pettigrew will have a great year. Matt Stafford rarely stays healthy. Last year was the exception. 

#8 Jason Witten Consistent performer that relies on Romo staying healthy. Witten year in and year out is a top fantasy tight end.

#9 Tony Gonzalez Old Man River. He is old. Somehow last year he was a top performer at the tight end position. Matty Ice likes to throw the ball and maybe he’ll remember to throw some Tony’s way.

#10 Jermaine Gresham Gresham is intriguing for a couple of reasons. Mostly because he had a good year in 2011 and Andy Dalton and the rest of the offense should be better. Still there is always the concern of the sophomore slump for Dalton which would affect Gresham’s value.

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