Dynasty Fantasy Football TE Rankings (08/06/2012)

Welcome to The Dynasty Guy’s Inaugural TE Rankings for the 2012 season. These rankings assume a PPR scoring format and are intended for dynasty leagues only! While the upcoming season is taken into consideration, players are ranked on a 3+ year horizon. Act accordingly! If you want to know who is better this year, go look at redraft league projections. Make sure to scroll all the way down for analysis/commentary.

Click to show rankings…

1 – Jimmy Graham – NO

2  – Rob Gronkowski – NE

3 – Aaron Hernandez – NE

4 – Vernon Davis – SF

5 – Jermichael Finley – GB

6 – Brandon Pettigrew – DET

7 – Jermaine Gresham – CIN

8 – Fred Davis – WAS

9 – Kyle Rudolph – MIN

10 – Jason Witten – DAL

11 – Coby Fleener – IND

12 – Antonio Gates – SD

13 – Brent Celek – PHI

14 – Ed Dickson – BAL

15 – Jared Cook – TEN

16 – Greg Olsen – CAR

17 – Dustin Keller – NYJ

18 – Owen Daniels – HOU

19 – Jacob Tamme – DEN

20 – Jordan Cameron – CLE

21 – Tony Moeaki – KC

22 – Rob Housler – ARI

23 – Tony Gonzalez – ATL

24 – Martellus Bennett – NYG

25 – Marcedes Lewis – JAX

26 – Ladarius Green – SD

27 – Lance Kendricks – STL

28 – Dwayne Allen – IND

29 – Heath Miller – PIT

30 – Zach J. Miller – SEA

31 – Julius Thomas – DEN

32 – Kellen Winslow – SEA

33 – Kellen Davis – CHI

34 – Dennis Pitta – BAL

35 – Anthony Fasano – MIA

36 – Kevin Boss – KC

37 – Scott Chandler – BUF

38 – Michael Egnew – MIA

39 – Jake Ballard – NE

40 – Joel Dreesen – DEN

41 – Charles Clay – MIA

42 – Taylor Thompson – TEN

43 – Luke Stocker – TB

44 – Adrien Robinson – NYG

45 – Orson Charles – CIN

46 – Delanie Walker – SF

47 – Chris Cooley – WAS

48 – Ben Watson – CLE

49 – Tony Scheffler – DET

50 – Dallas Clark – TB

51 – Evan Rodriguez – CHI

52 – DJ Williams – GB

53 – John Carlson – MIN

54 – Evan Moore – CLE

55 – Todd Heap – ARI

56 – Randy McMichael – SD

57 – Visanthe Shiancoe – MIN

58 – Virgil Green – DEN

59 – James Hanna – DAL

60 – Niles Paul – WAS

61 – Jeremy Shockey – FA

62 – Cameron Morrah – SEA

63 – Daniel Fells – NE

64 – Jeff King – ARI

The Elite

Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski-

Both put up monster seasons last year. Each had over 90 catches and 1,300 yards. Gronk finished with 17 TD’s compared to Graham’s 11. Gronk’s TD total was 9 more than the 3rd place finisher and both finished with over 20 more receptions than the 10th place finisher in that category (V. Davis). They also outpaced the rest of their peers by a minimum of 350 yards on the season. The separation between Gronk/Graham and the rest of the field is blinding.  If placed into the WR pool, they would have finished 3rd and 4th in fantasy scoring.

Besides positional scarcity, the other key factor to consider when building a team or evaluating a player is to calculate his relative value compared to a replacement level player at that position. They are so far ahead of their competitors that they each scored 100 points more than the average of the next 10 tight ends. That equates to an average of over +6 points per week. For comparison, Calvin Johnson only outpaced the rest of the top 10 WR’s by 90 points (+5.6 points per week), and Welker followed at + 3.9. That means that Gronk and Graham were actually more valuable to fantasy teams than Calvin Johnson was..  To put it another way… Only two players came within 100 points of Gronk/Graham 300ish point mark on the season (214, 209 and 203), but 6 came within 100 points of Calvin’s 360 (333, 289, 284, 277, 269 and 260).  Their dominance is clear and there is no end in sight.

Tier 2

Aaron Hernandez and Vernon Davis

79 receptions, 942 yards and 5 touchdowns. Not bad for a TE sitting second on the depth chart, eh? Hernandez was able to finish 4th among TE’s despite missing two games and playing behind the most dominant TE to ever don Zubaz shorts. There are some concerns about him though. The patriots refused to rework his contract and if he were to move to another team, his value would definitely take a hit. He’s super talented, but he derives more of his value from Brady and the system than Gronk does. He’s valued just under the elite guys because of his unclear future and the fact that he cedes redzone targets to the Gronk.

Vernon Davis is the most athletically gifted TE in the NFL. After learning new offensive systems year after year in SF, Davis started to figure things out at the end of the season. After a slow start season, VD put up three consecutive 100+ yards performances (week 17 and the first two rounds of the playoffs), including 7/180 and 2 TD’s against New Orleans and 3/112 and 2 TD’s against NYG. Davis was able to do all of this despite the short comings of his QB and the fact that defenses were able to key in on him constantly. This year, the 49ers have added legitimate WR’s to their roster and even if Randy Moss isn’t what he used to be, he’ll open up more room for Davis. Some owners are concerned that there won’t be enough targets to go around, but Alex Smith, Harbaugh and Co. know that Davis is their best weapon and I expect his numbers to climb considerably over last season. If Davis were to ever play with a QB on the level of Brady/Brees/Rogers, he’d easily move up into the elite tier.

Tier 3

Jermichael Finley, Brandon Pettigrew  and Jermaine Gresham (the almosts)

Jermichael Finley could arguably be moved up into the next tier, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations. In his 4th season, he put up 767 yards on 55 receptions and scored 8 touchdowns. His targets and catch rate just aren’t high enough to provide elite level production. There are a lot of weapons in GB and it has a negative impact on his fantasy value. I have a better feeling about 

Brandon Pettigrew – Despite DET’s considering him an ‘extension of the running game.’ His target levels are obscenely high (126) and currently he is the 2nd best receiving weapon on the roster. Calvin Johnson can’t catch all of Stafford’s passed. In standard formats, his value falls just a little, but he’s definitely an asset in PPR leagues.

Jermained Gresham  is almost identical to Pettigrew physically (6’5″, 260), but he hasn’t put up numbers to justify this ranking. A full offseason working with Andy Dalton should provide the boost that we are looking for. I expect Gresham to finish in the top 10 among TE’s this year and at only 24 years of age, he has a lot of dynasty value.

Tier 4 and below

If Fred Davis can keep his head out of his ass, he has breakout potential. I don’t know how confident I am in his head-extraction abilities… Witten & Gates are both top 10 TE’s right now and they are definitely commodities for anyone with a short term window of contention. If you are a fringe playoff team or worse, I’d be moving them. Brent Celek has always been solid, but has never really emerged like most would like him to. Mike Vick and the eagles seemed lean on him more after week 6 of last year. His best game up to that point was a 4/42/1 performance against the Redskins. His WORST game after that was a 2 catch, 52 yards game against the Cowboys where he was able to nab a TD. He closed out the season well, scoring a TD in each of his final three games. He could be in line for a pretty big uptick in yardage and catches this year.

Long Term Bets…

Oh Kyle Rudolph, how I love thee.  Reports out of camp have been excellent and I don’t think Ponder will have any difficulty hooking up with Rudolph early, often and continuously throughout the season. He was a premier TE prospect coming out of Notre Dame and he’s in line to breakout. Go get him. Now.

Ed Dickson has been a favorite of mine and if Flacco were replaced with say, a semi-accurate QB, he could be a huge producer. Unfortunately, Flacco IS his quarterback and Flacco isn’t accurate. Things always get better though. Dennis Pitta broke his hand and Dickson should have every opportunity to solidify a role as the primary TE receiving option.

Coby Fleener – You already know about him.

Who to watch?

Jordan Cameron and Rob Housler. Cameron has been hyped for his ‘potential’ for quite a while now  but was never able to see the field last year. He’s still 3rd on the depth chart,  but he has a couple things working for him. He’s been outstanding in camp and his path to the top of the pecking order isn’t all that complicated. Ben Watson is nearing 80 years of age and has a history of concussions. One more and he might hang them up. He’s also a FA after this season, so even if Cameron is only used sparingly this year, he should be in line for a starting gig in ’13. Housler has a similar situation in Arizona. He’s behind Todd Heap on the depth chart, but that probably wont last long. Heap had to take a pay cut in order to avoid being cut and he hasn’t done anything to impress the Cardinals’ brass. I expect Heap to be gone at the end of the season and Housler should be able to assume a prominent role in the offense. How much that role is worth will be largely dependent on who is playing quarter back for the Cards, but we’ll cross that bridge next year.

I’m not buying Jared Cook. Taylor Thompson might be starting next year. Thompson is a converted DE and the TItans have liked what they’ve seen so far. Russ Lande with the Sporting News even mentioned his name in the same breath as Gronk. If you have a taxi/developmental roster spot, he’s an excellent candidate.

Delanie Walker… I’ll just put that out there. He’s used primarily as a blocker in SF, but he does have talent. He’s a free agent next year and could end up somewhere with a more prominent role on offense. Keep an eye on him.



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