These 2012 Fantasy Football Tight Ends Rankings will be updated often throughout the summer, so make sure you check back from time to time. Also, be sure to check out my other 2012 Fantasy Football articles, which will include sleepers, busts, tons of 2012 Fantasy Football mock drafts and other material. Follow me @walterfootball for updates.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. Bye: 9. JULY 31 UPDATE: Nothing really happened recently to Rob Gronkowski to warrant a stock down, but I want to drop him in my rankings because of the off-the-field stuff plus Brandon Lloyd really clicking with Tom Brady plus the injury he's recovering from.
I'd normally say that picking a tight end late in the first round is crazy talk, but Rob Gronkowski is the very rare exception. The Gronk posts receiver-type numbers at the tight end position, which makes him incredibly valuable. The only downside is that he is unlikely to match his 2011 numbers (90-1,327-17) because Brandon Lloyd was acquired via free agency.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 80 catches. 1,150 yards. 12 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 187.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 267.
Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints. Bye: 6. AUG. 26 UPDATE: With the Saints showing no visible signs from the Bountygate ramifications, Jimmy Graham looks like he's poised for a monstrous 2012 campaign. He saw eight targets from Drew Brees in one half of action against the Texans, hauling in three of them for 48 yards and a touchdown. Graham dropped two balls, but drew a pair of pass-interference penalties (one was called; one wasn't despite Bradie James' mugging). He also had a 57-yard completion wiped out because of an illegal-touching infraction.
I loved Jimmy Graham as a fantasy sleeper last year, and even I was way off on his projected numbers. Graham posted receiver-like stats, catching 99 balls for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he's unlikely to match those numbers this season because of Bountygate.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 92 catches. 1,200 yards. 11 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 186.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 278.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. Bye: 7. AUG. 10 UPDATE: Antonio Gates looks great. He's completely healthy for the first time in years. He caught both of his targets in his preseason debut, collecting 29 yards and a touchdown. He's bound to have a big season - until his annual injury, of course.
There have been glowing reports about Antonio Gates out of Chargers' camp. Reporters and players alike have proclaimed Gates to look as great as they've seen in years. Gates figures to have a terrific start to his 2012 campaign, but avoiding injury will of course be the main concern.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 74 catches. 1,070 yards. 10 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 169.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 245.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers. Bye: 9.
Vernon Davis started slowly, but finished the 2011 season on a tear. The reason for this? Davis admitted that he had issues learning Jim Harbaugh's offense at first, but mastered it once the playoffs came around. Now entering his second year with Harbaugh, Davis is poised for a monstrous 2012 campaign.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 73 catches. 960 yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 144.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 217.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers. Bye: 10.
Jermichael Finley was widely considered a top-three tight end going into last season, but disappointed, catching only 55 balls for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. However, he was coming off a knee injury, so he should be better in 2012. He's a nice buy-low candidate if you can't get one of the elite tight ends.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 64 catches. 910 yards. 8 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 139.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 203.
Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots. Bye: 9.
Aaron Hernandez caught 79 balls and seven touchdowns in 14 games last year. I'd expect those numbers to stay the same in a full slate because of the Brandon Lloyd signing. Even still, Hernandez is a solid TE1 despite being the No. 2 tight end on his own team.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 78 catches. 920 yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 134.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 212.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys. Bye: 5. AUG. 16 UPDATE: Jason Witten is out for the rest of the preseason and his status for the opener is now in doubt because of internal injuries he suffered during a tackle from Rolando McClain in the preseason opener. I'm only dropping Witten a little bit because he'll likely be back in Week 2 or 3.
Jason Witten had 79 receptions in 2011 - the first time he failed to register at least 81 in a single season since 2006. The problem was that Tony Romo had three dynamic receivers to throw to. Well, Laurent Robinson is gone, so things should be back to normal.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 83 catches. 910 yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 127.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 210.
Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Lions. Bye: 5.
You have to love Brandon Pettigrew this year if you're a believer in the Madden Curse. Once Calvin Johnson goes down with an injury or is abducted by aliens, Matthew Stafford will look toward Pettigrew more often.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 85 catches. 840 yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 126.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 211.
Jared Cook, TE, Titans. Bye: 11.
Jared Cook had one hell of a finish to his 2011 campaign. He caught 21 balls for 335 yards and a touchdown in the final three games. That's definitely a sign of things to come; Cook always had talent, but just had to get it together mentally. He did so, and now he's ready to be a solid fantasy TE1 going forward.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 66 catches. 840 yards. 6 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 120.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 186.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons. Bye: 7.
Tony Gonzalez looked done in 2010, but somehow bounced back to catch 80 balls for 875 yards and seven touchdowns. Gonzalez is arguably the best tight end of all time, but even he has to slow down eventually. He turned 36 back in February, so it's certainly possible he could regress in 2012.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Stats: 72 catches. 740 yards. 7 total TDs.
Projected 2012 Fantasy Points: 116.
Projected 2012 PPR Fantasy Points: 188.