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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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2012 Fantasy Football Prep 101: Quarterbacks

Fantasy Alert….

It is that time of the year again and for many of us we will soon begin our annual Fall tradition of scouring the net or forking over cash to buy a book to prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. Well I say nuts to that. I have shelled out the cash and read the articles and I say who better than I to prepare myself and other for the world of fantasy football.  Now as a veteran of the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football league which is now entering its 15th year I think that I have accumulated some wisdom. Hell I used to hand score all the games and then make paper copies and deliver them to the individual teams. That was life before the inter-web.  But I digress, you are here either by complete accident or you want some fantasy football knowledge. We will first look at the quarterback position,

When preparing for the upcoming season I always like to go over the past year’s stats. Now the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League has the following scoring system: Rushing TD 6 points, Passing TD 3 points, Rush Yards 1 point for every 25 yds. Pass Yards 1 point for every 50 yds. Some leagues subtract points for interceptions or reward more point for passing yards and touchdowns, but let’s be honest here the quarterback position already is overly weighted in our league and I would hate to see it given more importance.

Let’s take a quick look at last year performances.

After looking at these stats it is apparent that last years cream of the crop were Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Mathew Stafford. Not a lot of surprises here except maybe for Cam Newton. He was a steal in our league last taken in one of the last rounds. Stafford was also a bit of a surprise mostly because of the sheer number of snaps he took. (He gets hurt alot)

The most disappointing player from last year was Mike Vick as he was taken early and was outperformed by many of the quarterbacks available much later on in the draft. Of course anyone that has watched Mick Vick’s career knew the previous year, 2010,  had been a fluke and that there was no way he would repeat it.

Now it is always a good idea to take a look at preseason rankings and projections. Here are some of my own devising…

From the projections there are four tiers of players. Tier one players, in red, are the cream of the crop. Tier four players, in gray, should not be on you team under any circumstance unless you are playing in a 32 team fantasy football league.(Unlikely) We see Aaron Rodgers as the top projected QB. Drew Brees is second but I would be cautious with all the tomfoolery going on in the Big Easy.  Cam Newton is due for some regression, but still unless he completely falls apart in his sophomore slump he will be a top QB. A word of caution about Eli Manning. Last year was  a career year and he is due for a regression also. Any player in tier one I would use a 1st or 2nd round pick on. The players in the 2nd tier are late mid-round players. You should load up on position players first unless there is a run on QB and you are in serious trouble of having Christian Ponder as your starting QB.

Sad Sad Ponder

This brings us to the rookie QB. Typically I stay away from rookie QBs like the plague and anything involving Sarah Jessica Parker. Cam Newton is the reason to consider a rookie. Is he the new normal or was he a fluke? Andy Dalton also had a serviceable

Don’t get me started

year. My two cents is to get an established guy and then take a chance later that way you are not overpaying for a dud and if the guy pans out you look like a genius for stealing him late. For every Cam Newton there is a Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder out there. If I were to take a change it would have to be on RG3. His skill set and the situation he is going into make the possibility for success within the realm of reason.

Obvious handcuffs… I would say that if you take Mark Sanchez you have to take Tim Tebow. Other than that I don’t see any other obvious handcuff situations.

This guy will be stealing fantasy points from Jet running backs and quarterbacks all season, as well as, stealing my heart.

Now the moment you have all been waiting for….Normy’s top ten fantasy QBs for the 2012 season.

#1 Aaron Rodgers: Mustache nuf said! Ok so he has his entire offense coming back, drafted a bunch of defense, Donald Driver now has slick dance moves and MUSTACHE!

#2 Tom Brady: There’s no crying in football. Well for Tom we will make an exception. He is also returning to a great situation coming off one of his best seasons ever.  Should be a no-brainer.

#3 Matt Stafford: As the picture shows buyer beware. He has a tendency to get hurt and for long stretches of time. Still last year he was healthy and had a monster year. Which will it be this year?

#4 Drew Brees : Confusion, contract dispute, scandal, bounties and no head coach. Someone could get a steal if he fall too far for any of these reasons.

#5 Cam Newton Last year was amazing . There is little chance that he can repeat but even with taking a step back he will be solid.

#6 Phillip Rivers He is Philip Rivers. What else is there to say.

#7 Tony Romo See above statement replacing Philip Rivers with Tony Romo

#8 Peyton Manning All time great QB on a run first team and with a head that is being held on with bungee cords. Good luck my friend though you won’t have that horse shoe on your helmet anymore for that. Oh and stay thirsty.

#9 Matt Schaub Great when he is healthy. In the picture you can see just how healthy he was last year. Still should be back with all the weapons. 

#10 Eli Manning Won the Superbowl, had a career year. Due for a let down. Still he is better than the rest of the stiffs in the league and makes a decent looking chick. Well maybe in New York.

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