This is the first of a few positional rankings that will be coming to you courtesy of millerhour. The formula was extremely simple and did not require much thought on my part at all. I looked at the top performers from last year and gauged how well I thought they could repeat that success and filled in some spots where I thought others In the top ten performers would drop out. I then analyzed their schedules, supporting casts and probability of injury and assessed a grade of 1-3 for each category, 1 being the most favorable grade and 3 being the least. I discerned their schedule and supporting cast grades in relativity to their counterparts on the list and their injury rating stand-alone. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the top ten quarterbacks for the 2012 fantasy football season.
1. Drew Brees - New Orleans Saints: The loss of Robert Meachem will hardly be noticed with the development of Mark Ingram as a pass-catcher and the ability of players such as Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham to fill the slot receiver position. Brees has the benefit of playing some sub-par defensive teams throughout the season and has shown many times he can play a full NFL season.
2. Tom Brady – New England Patriots: Possibly the best supporting cast of the group to include household names such as Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker, two more fantasy football studs. Losing Ochocinco was addition by subtraction, and to fill his spot they inked Brandon Lloyd over the offseason. They play in a relatively defensively weak division but have some tough road games. Also their ability to put up points quickly could keep them running the ball more in the later quarters, diminishing Brady’s possible points.
3. Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers: Possessing a supporting cast that rivals that of Brady’s helps Rodgers fantasy production. They have the benefit of playing the entirety of the AFC South; which houses one of the best defenses in the league and then a bunch of bottom half clubs. They do have some tough games on the schedule, but Rodgers is one of those quarterbacks that can make a great defense look mediocre. I gave him the injury rating I did because of his concussion history; one more could put him out for a very long time.
4. Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions: Has arguably the best receiver in the league in Calvin Johnson at his disposal. Promising young players in Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew and skilled veteran Nathan Burleson. Benefits from nearly the same schedule Aaron Rodgers plays against. He does have a spotty history when it comes to injury so be wary of that.
5. Eli Manning – New York Giants: The loss of Mario Manningham is not as big of a deal as some would make it out to be. He was a solid third receiver but can easily be replaced. The tight ends that started dropping like flies towards the end of the season and into the offseason is a much greater concern. Ahmad Bradshaw is not necessarily known for his acuity at receiving but he can make an impact in that aspect of the game as well as running to keep the defense honest. A solid offensive line and a ferocious defense should help him have many opportunities to put points on the fantasy board. His schedule is favorable and he should be a great pick up in the early second round (late in the first if you’re in a larger league.)
6. Tony Romo – Dallas Cowboys: Romo’s schedule rating should look something similar to Eli’s, the main reason it does not is the fact that Romo has to play the New York Giants twice a year. Luckily for Romo Dez Bryant’s mother’s suit against Dez was dropped and it appears he is getting a “slap on the wrist”. The Cowboys possess one of the best tight ends of the last decade in Jason Witten and have a great offensive line. Tony should live up to all fantasy expectations this year, he actually has pretty good numbers throughout the regular NFL season.
7. Michael Vick – Philadelphia Eagles: The players around him are a question mark, can they stay grounded and play well? His top offensive weapons, Jeremy Maclin, Desean Jackson and Lesean McCoy are all extremely young but have enormous potential. Vick has an aggressive playing style and this sometimes leads to him having bumps and bruises. He has a pretty easy schedule when it comes to defenses he will be facing and if healthy could be a top 5 fantasy quarterback.
8. Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers: Cam broke onto the scene last year like a first-pitch homerun; he gets into the first game of his NFL career and throws for over 400 yards. Throughout the course of the season he was a major threat throwing and running the ball. He set an NFL record for rushing touchdowns and there is no reason he should slow that down this season. Because of how much Newton takes off and uses his feet this opens him up to a greater threat of injury; much like that of Michael Vick. He has proven reliable pass catchers with names like Steve Smith and Greg Olsen, and two capable running backs to take some pressure off of him by rushing and can also catch the football.
9. Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers: Lost his best playmaker and the Chargers replaced him with Robert Meachem? I guess we’ll see how that roster decision treats them. If Ryan Mathews can stay healthy they will have a great balance to their offense. They play a few teams that have a lot of talent on their defense but have an uncanny ability to sometimes play far below their potential. Rivers isn’t made of glass, but then again he isn’t an iron man either. One of these days one of those little nagging injuries he plays through will become something greater.
10. Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos: Earlier when I was checking out the schedule for Peyton this year I mistakenly googled “Indianapolis colts schedule” and saw they were playing the Chicago Bears first game of the season and was thinking “something is wrong here”. I quickly realized my mistake and put in the right team name. Denver has a rough road ahead when it comes to the teams they play but If they can keep their quarterback upright and alive he will produce solid points. Manning has a knack for making the players around him look better than they really are, and that helps with the caliber of players they have at play-making positions.
A few players that might break into the top ten are as follows:
Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears: Has a new found wealth at playmaking positions and a re-tooled offensive line that includes promising young tackle Gabe Carimi. Also plays an extremely favorable schedule.
Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins: Has young talent all around him on offense and proven deep threat ability in Santana Moss. Also should use his feet more often than most quarterbacks and rushing yards are worth more points than passing yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Buffalo Bills: Should be recovered from his injured ribs he was playing through at the end of last season. A healthy Fred Jackson in the mix adds to the bounty of talent they have at receiver and running back. Also could be in a few shootouts, look for him to have some pretty big weeks.
Matt Flynn – Seattle Seahawks: When he played for Aaron Rodgers last year he put up huge numbers. The offensive talent in Seattle is not of the same caliber, but he could be a sleeper. Pete Carroll needs to just be done with all of the smoke and mirrors and anoint Flynn the starter for the regular season.
Below are the ratings I gave each player and the total. I broke the ties by using my own judgment call on where they should be placed.
Last edited by gopherguy22; 08-10-2012 at 04:56 PM.
Reason: Good suggestion.
To follow my quarterback rankings, I decided running back was a logical route to go next. Due to the fact that most fantasy lineups contain double the number of running backs that they do quarterbacks I doubled the number of ranked players. Pretty smart huh? Right. I tailored the criteria by which I rate them a bit to better reflect the value of a running back in today’s NFL. All ratings were still done relative to the other players ranked. I did have to give them scores between one and five in order to create more of a differential than there would have been with scores between one and three. Enough meaningless drivel, to the rankings.
1. Arian Foster – Houston Texans: Even the emergence of Ben Tate cannot move Foster out of the top spot in my rankings. He is the epitome of an all-around back and with the injuries that seem to keep hitting the Texans he is pertinent to their offensive success. His defensive counterparts are some of the best in the league and usually when teams are holding a lead late they hand the ball off to their running back who can keep the chains moving, Foster is arguably the best at the game in this regard.
2. Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens: Has put up some of the biggest numbers in the league every year since he took over for the Ravens as their main man. He plays a pretty rough schedule this year, but that probably will not slow him down much. He also was just signed long term, but does not seem to be the type to let that blow him off course like some major signees in recent history.
3. Maurice Jones-Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew is not a very happy Jaguar. He is holding out for a bigger contract because he feels (and most agree) that he deserves more upfront financial security. He has been the only consistent fantasy guy Jacksonville has had for a few years by piling up considerable yards and a respectable amount of touchdowns. If he does come back to play for the Jags soon he will be a great pick up, the team doesn’t have many other options on offense (Blackmon looks more bust than boom) and they play in the weak AFC South.
4. Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams: This team has been a mess for a few years, one of the few players the city of St. Louis could count on is Steven Jackson. He should benefit from the hard-working Jeff Fisher taking over and instilling an engaged attitude throughout the team. Similar to MJD, Jackson is a large part of the offense, and he should get a lot of touches this year. Taking into consideration the soft schedule he is slated to face and this could be a huge year for S-Jax.
5. Matt Forte – Chicago Bears: Ever since Forte has entered the league he has been carrying the Bears offense on his back. The only knock against him is that he is performs less than desirable in short yardage situations, particularly near the goal line. He has great hands, an impressive second-level burst and can make defenders miss in space. The new additions at receiver on his team should bring some defenders out of the box, but due to his already mentioned problems with punching the ball into the end zone and the recent acquisition of bruiser Michael Bush via free agency he shouldn’t be expected to score copious amounts of touchdowns.
6. Darren Sproles – New Orleans Saints: With all of the noise about the Saints and their former/locked out coaches and the players and all that jazz that was all over ESPN for months, I think some people forgot that Sproles set a record for all-purpose yards last season. He lines up all over the field and should get more chances in the slot now that Robert Meachem is gone. With Drew Brees at quarterback it doesn’t look like this offense will slow down anytime soon, and this is good news for fantasy owners of Sproles.
7. Reggie Bush – Miami Dolphins: One of the most hyped college players of the last decade has finally started to show he can live up to his potential. The Dolphins got rid of their most productive receiver in recent history and have quarterback questions. They also just released former standout Chad Johnson due to off-the-field conduct issues. This means Bush is going to have to shoulder the team, luckily for him they play what looks right now to be a favorable schedule for running backs. I guess we’ll see.
8. Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans: CJ2K is his nickname, but does anybody remember why? Oh yeah, before he signed an extremely lucrative contract he rushed for 2,000 yards in a single season, in that same season he also racked up over 500 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns. It was just a short few years ago, but ever since then he has been nothing like the player he was in 2009. The good news here is he hasn’t missed much time due to injury throughout his career.
9. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles: A rough schedule and explosive playmakers all around him are what sunk McCoy down to the ninth spot in this ranking. He is one of the fastest backs in the league with the ball in his hands and is extremely elusive. He is good at improvising and catching the ball, which fits the style of play of dynamic quarterback Michael Vick perfectly. They do play a rather tough schedule, but an offense like Philadelphia’s can produce against almost any defense.
10. Marshawn Lynch – Seattle Seahawks: Lynch surprised me and I’m sure many others by coming on strong late last season and putting up some great fantasy numbers. He has an enviable schedule due to playing in the NFC West. While this wouldn’t scare many people away, it is good to keep in mind that in Week 16 (the week of most NFL fantasy playoff championships) they are playing the 49er’s, who at that point in the season may be jostling for home field advantage and possess a stellar rushing defense.
11. Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings: In my mind still the best overall runner in the game but has struggled with injury issues the past couple of years. He plays on a young offense that is struggling to find its way in the powerful NFC North. The Vikings have a schedule most running backs would be comfortable facing. If Peterson could come back in Week 1 and produce to his full potential and avoid the injury bug he would be a top 3 RB pick.
12. Fred Jackson – Buffalo Bills: A broken leg derailed what was looking to be a career year for Jackson last season. The emergence of C.J. Spiller as a capable back will hurt Jackson’s production, as well as a healthy Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR corps. According to my amateur analysis Jackson might have the easiest schedule among the players on this list and he is a solid mid-third round pick in most leagues.
13. Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers: Frank is one of two trusted and respected offensive members of this team, he and Vernon Davis are unquestionably talented. If Alex Smith can get the ball to his retooled receiving platoon Gore should have some new lanes to run in. LaMichael James might steal some touches from Gore, as well as Brandon Jacobs near the goal line, but as long as he can stay healthy he should knock on the door of the upper echelon rushers this season.
14. Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders: One of the most dynamic running backs in the league on a team that has been struggling since they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in XXXVII. Carson Palmer came to the team midseason last year and is throwing the ball to some promising young talent. The Raiders have a rough schedule and has had recent injury problems. As long as he fully recovers he should have a solid year, but the quality of the team might hold him back from being top ten this season.
15. Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons: Turner has had a few fairly good seasons of late, and can be counted on to stay healthy. The high-quality receiving options make it silly for the Falcons not to throw the ball at least half the time, which keeps Turner’s touches down. The Falcons favorable schedule and his recent success makes it seem that Turner will probably do better than 15th among running backs this season, but I just don’t see it.
16. Jamaal Charles – Kansas City Chiefs: A much anticipated sophomore season was cut very short by a torn ligament (that same torn ligament cut short a much anticipated fantasy season for me). With Dexter McCluster looking more like a gimmick guy and Peyton Hillis being the big bruiser Charles looks like the surefire choice as their #1 running back. Even though Dwyane Bowe isn’t with the team now, he will be back and with all the attention he draws; along with up-and-coming tight end Tony Moeaki, Charles will find he has a lot of room to take his signature long strides. Charles is a solid #2 option and will probably be gone by the 6th round.
17. Demarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys: Forget Felix Jones, Murray is the new workhorse for “America’s Team”. His numbers are blown up a bit by a huge game against a weaker team, but 5.5 yards per carry is solid and if repeated he could have a lot of yards this season. They play a tough schedule, and he did have some slight injury issues last year, but if he can stay on the field this year he will be a great help to the Cowboys and whoever picks him up in fantasy.
18. Willis McGahee – Denver Broncos: After a couple years in Baltimore behind Ray Rice McGahee went to Denver and was put back into a starter role and flourished. The coming of Peyton Manning should push McGahee’s numbers higher than they’ve been since his first year with the Ravens. There will finally be a good balance on offense. As talented as McGahee is and as much as Manning will help his play, he will probably also hinder it. If you need proof look at all the running backs after Edgerrin James in Indianapolis.
19. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants: Playing in the NFC East and winning the division (not to mention the Super Bowl) are contributing factors to their tough schedule for the upcoming season. Bradshaw should have more opportunities to run the ball with big Brandon Jacobs heading to San Francisco to pilfer Frank Gore’s touchdowns. I wouldn’t take Bradshaw until the 6th round or later.
20. Ryan Mathews – San Diego Chargers: Was having a big year until he fell sick with the injury bug last season. Was healthy and primed to make big strides this season, until he broke his clavicle in his first preseason game. Mathews could be in the top five of these rankings if it weren’t for his trouble with staying on the field. Take him at your own risk.
Some other running backs who might show they deserve to be included on this list next year include:
Jonathan Stewart – Carolina Panthers: Has to share the backfield with DeAngelo Williams, but is extremely talented and playing on an improving offense.
Shonn Greene – New York Jets: No matter who plays quarterback, their mantra this year will be “run the ball”. This bodes well for anyone who picks up Shonn Greene midway through the draft.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Cincinnati Bengals: He should flourish in a system that is more running back friendly than his former team, the New England Patriots.
Trent Richardson – Cleveland Browns: How else will this team score any points?
What you are currently reading is the latest installment of my personal fantasy football rankings for the upcoming NFL season. Much like the running back issue, there are normally at least double the amount of roster spots dedicated to wide receivers as there are quarterbacks. Hence another top twenty ranking. The rating categories changed a little again; first when considering the teams schedule I tried to project which teams they may have to play catch up against late in the game and therefore will be passing the ball much more than running it. Also I dropped the “Versatility” category because it does not make as much sense to include it with the wide outs. To compensate I added an “Other” category; this category consisted of aspects such as age, off field issues and relationships with their teammates. For some reason it seems that wide receivers are the divas of NFL offenses, and I chose to reflect this in the rankings. Shall we?
1. Wes Welker – New England Patriots: Hard to argue with a man who has caught over 100 balls in 4 of the past 5 seasons. Also has one of the best quarterbacks ever in Tom Brady slinging him the ball. I’m looking for Wes to replicate his success from last year and be at the top when it comes to fantasy receivers.
2. Jordy Nelson – Green Bay Packers: Huge downfield threat for Aaron Rodgers last year and for many years to come. His 18.6 yards per catch average is fifth among receivers who caught at least 30 passes last season, he figures to catch more balls this year with an increased role and a decrease in reps for aging Donald Driver. Putting him above the next guy might be a mistake, but these rankings are all about potential for the upcoming season, not who I would pick to be on my team right now.
3. Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions: Part of the reason he is third and not second has a lot to do with the atmosphere of his team. The Detroit Lions keep having legal issues, and have collectively earned a reputation as a dirty team on the field. Although Calvin seems to me to be a hard working, responsible person who keeps his tongue in check; these kinds of distractions can cause issues in the locker room that could transfer to the field. If not for this his “Other” score would have been a 1.
4. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals: Larry is an honest and upstanding human being. He is also one of the most talented receivers to hit the NFL in the last decade. When he had a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback chucking him the ball (Kurt Warner) his numbers were at the top of the league. He still mingles around the top five with a lot of questions and poor play at the quarterback spot; which is the only reason he is ranked so high. Look for him to be consistently productive no matter who is throwing him the ball.
5. Steve Smith – Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton coming to town helped Smith the most. The dynamic Newton draws a lot of attention and keeps the defense on their heels. This gives Smith time to separate from defenders. Coup that with Newton’s strong arm and you have a top 5 QB/WR combination. Smith is getting old and it has to catch up with him sometime; but for now he should be a top 5 pick amongst wide receivers.
6. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons: One of many young WR studs that will be in top ten rankings for a few years now. He is on a team that has a balanced offensive system with a couple more than capable backs that they do not hesitate to hand the ball to. He also has arguably (some might argue anyway) the best tight end in history in Tony Gonzalez on his team and Roddy White on the other side. If not for these teammate handicaps he would be ahead of Steve Smith.
7. Marques Colston – New Orleans Saints: The best receiver on a team loaded with offensive talent finds his place at number seven on this list. Although Drew Brees is not happy with the way the league is handling the bounty scandal, he is happy with the money he will be receiving over the next five years. This bodes well for Colston, and really anybody who is on or cares about the Saints organization. Colston is probably a mid-second round pick.
8. Brandon Marshall – Chicago Bears: This does not seem right to me (putting a Chicago receiver in the top ten) but Marshall has put together an impressive streak of seasons with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 yards; five to be exact. Two of those seasons, his second and third in the league, he was catching passes from current Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for the Denver Broncos. In both of those seasons he had over 100 catches and over 1,200 yards. Considering these only these numbers it’s surprising he isn’t in the top five, but the Bears look to run the ball just as much or more than pass it this season; and Marshall has a slew of off the field issues.
9. Roddy White – Atlanta Falcons: White has been an amazing receiver his past few years in the league. He does however seem to have a lot of bumps and bruises slowing him down from week to week. If my predictions are correct he will be slightly behind Julio Jones in production for this season. Even behind Jones he should be in the top ten receivers for the season.
10. Victor Cruz – New York Giants: After playing sparingly in his rookie season Cruz finally got a real shot to impress due to injury at the position and he seized it and ran with it. He then salsa danced with it in the end zone. The main reason he is ranked higher than teammate Hakeem Nicks is because Nicks has a horrible history of injury. Cruz was placed on IR halfway through his rookie season with a bum hamstring but has shown no ill effects of it since.
11. Dwayne Bowe – Kansas City Chiefs: If he ever ends his holdout he could help the Chiefs challenge for the AFC West crown, not to mention put up incredible fantasy numbers. Bowe is one of the most talented receivers in the league, on a different team it is possible he would be among the top three in all main categories. Alas, he is on the Kansas City Chiefs, and is destined to have a great but not amazing season.
12. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers: Brown looks to be the new go to guy in Pittsburgh. Mike Wallace (Brown’s contender for main man) is unhappy with the amount of money he is receiving this year and has chosen to show the team his angst by not participating in any team activities. How long that will last is something that Wallace himself may not even know, but whether Wallace reports or not, Brown is primed to have a huge year for the Steelers and whomever is lucky enough to draft him.
13. Andre Johnson – Houston Texans: One of the best receivers of his time is slowly regressing. Not due to work ethic, talent or quality of play but because of age and constant injury issues. His most current being a groin injury that kept him out of the Texans preseason opener. If he can overcome these problems he will do much better than 13th this season, but as of right now his injuries make him a risk to take any higher than the third round.
14. Hakeem Nicks – New York Giants: The #1 receiver on the depth chart and the #2 receiver on these rankings for the Giants. Nicks broke a bone in his foot late in May, but was recently cleared to practice. He should be ready for the NFL season opener vs. the Dallas Cowboys, but if I were a betting man (which I am) I would put the limit on Nicks missing at least one game this season due to injury. Draft him at your own risk.
15. A.J. Green – Cincinnati Bengals: Another one of those young wide outs who should make an impact on the league for many years to come. He plays a pretty tough schedule, and has had minor injury issues in his only season in the NFL, but the upside on this player is huge. I myself would draft Green higher than some of these players (especially in a keeper league) but I cannot recommend that move to anyone else.
16. Dez Bryant – Dallas Cowboys: The main thing keeping him hovering around the bottom of these rankings is his attitude. The proof is in the pudding as they say, and Bryant’s pudding is disrespectful and egotistical. If he can keep his God complex in check this season he will have an opportunity to be at the top of the league. If he makes enemies in the locker room and/or on the field it could be a season of stomachache for Bryant owners.
17. Percy Harvin – Minnesota Vikings: The arrival of fellow receiver Jerome Simpson should help take some of the pressure off of the only reliable receiver the Vikings have had for a couple years. The main worry with Harvin is if he will be kept off of the field by his infamous migraine headaches. If Christian Ponder does a better job of adjusting to the NFL level of play Harvin could have a stellar year in the Twin Cities.
18. Miles Austin – Dallas Cowboys: Miles had a breakout season three years ago after a few years trying to find his niche with the Cowboys. Sadly for him his season was hampered by a troublesome hamstring last year. When he did play he performed well, but he wasn’t always on the field. The same problem is keeping him sidelined at the moment, but once he does hit the field he will produce.
19. Vincent Jackson – San Diego Chargers: Jackson has an immense talent reservoir, enough so that he could give some away and still be hanging around the top ten receivers in the league talent-wise. The problem with him is the team he is playing on. Quarterback Josh Freeman needs to play better than he did last year for Jackson to fulfill his potential. Another factor that may hinder Vincent’s success is the team philosophy, which looks to be run, run, run this season.
20. Kenny Britt – Tennessee Titans: Showed he could be a #1 wide receiver on most teams throughout the league last season and late the season prior before he was setback by a torn ligament in his knee. He should be returning at full strength this season. If he can stay out of off the field trouble and healthy he will be a top ten receiver in terms of stats. But that is two big knocks against him, let’s see if he can return to the form he showed right before the injury.
Some other players that may end up with better numbers than those listed above include:
Nate Washington – Tennessee Titans: If Britt is held back by whatever of the few problems he is facing Washington is primed and ready to take over.
Stevie Johnson – Buffalo Bills: It was hard for me to leave him off the top twenty. He is still young and is the most talented receiver on what looks to be a powerful offense who will be playing some weak defenses this season and might find themselves passing a lot to catch up to some of the powerful offenses they face.
Mike Wallace – Pittsburgh Steelers: If he hits the field and plays for a new contract, watch his numbers soar.
Pierre Garcon – Washington Redskins: Played very well considering the circumstances with the Colts. Also dominated during his first preseason game catching passes from Robert Griffin III.
As always, the numbers are listed below. #NFLFF2012
Is it me, or does it seem that the RB and WR pool takes a major plunge after the 3rd to 5th pick this year? Just seems like the elite pool has dwindled, especially with RB now that it's RB by committee.
I think you'll see a good 10 or 11 running backs that will be fairly close to each other in total points scored, but there will be a HUGE gap between 1-3 or 4 and then 5-10 for receivers. Same with the quarterbacks.
My favorite position to speculate on, the tight end. Last year we saw the finale of what has been an emergence of the tight end as an offensive weapon that should be feared as strongly as any other. More defensive coordinators across the league are game planning for individual tight ends than ever before. Their task is tough, how do you stop a 6’7” 275 pound player that can run like a wide receiver and could dunk a basketball if the hoop was 11 feet high or higher? I say good luck to them and good job to the tight ends who are bringing sexy back to the position.
1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots: The man who set the record for receiving touchdowns and yards in a season by a tight end is 23 years old and will be for the remainder of the season. He plays a cupcake schedule (not that it matters much with the mismatch he creates against any team) and plays in a system that caters to its strength, which he is. Well, next to Tom Brady he is the team’s strength. I could see him coming very close to repeating his numbers.
2. Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints: Second best among tight ends last year, ranks second this year. He is 25 years old and is entering his third season in the NFL. He is also a mismatch nightmare, using his incredible size and basketball background to shield defenders when going up high to snag passes. He has one of the best pure passers in the game throwing him the ball and a system that lines him up all over the field. Graham should be drafted higher than most top ten wide receivers.
3. Aaron Hernandez – New England Patriots: Playing “behind” Rob Gronkowski in New England’s offense suits Hernandez well. The Patriots utilize the double tight end set as much or more than most other teams in the league. When they aren’t in the double tight end formation they sometimes line Hernandez up as the fullback, running back or slot receiver. With all of the attention being paid to Gronkowski Hernandez is able to find holes in the defense, and Brady is usually able to find Hernandez. Aaron’s ability to run the ball is part of why he is ranked so high here.
4, Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers: Gates is also a former college hoops player and one of the best tight ends of his era. He fit the mold outlined by Tony Gonzalez with the Kansas City Chiefs and then some. Gates plays in a pass happy system with not many proven talented pass catchers around him. If Ryan Mathews can stay healthy (which seems pretty much impossible) not only will that help the Chargers as a team but it will take away from Gates potential productivity. Gates as well as Hernandez (and of course any tight ends listed from here on) are not worth drafting ahead of any elite wide receivers or running backs.
5. Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers: San Fran’s leading receiver by far last season faces some competition in the game of catching passes from Alex Smith. Future HOF’er Randy Moss has been added to provide depth to a less than stellar receiving corps. Michael Crabtree is finally playing in a preseason and the team drafted A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois in the first round of the most recent NFL draft. These are just a few of the prospective reception stealers from Vernon Davis. I would recommend taking him no earlier than the sixth round.
6. Jermaine Gresham – Cincinnati Bengals: I have seen many rankings where Gresham is not this high, and for good reason. Gresham landed this high in these rankings based off of his attendance on the field on Sundays and the potential for promising second year quarterback Andy Dalton to make better decisions and go through his progressions more smoothly and find Gresham in the seam more often than he has. Jermaine is an amazing talent and has the potential to be in the top 5 of fantasy tight end point producers.
7. Fred Davis – Washington Redskins: I cannot see this man’s name without thinking about the charges recently filed against him and Davis’s poor decision to represent himself. For more details check out what Mike Florio of NBC Sports Network had to say here. Davis is another young player that has the potential to make his team better, if he can play consistently play up to his own talent level. The arrival of Robert Griffin III should only help Davis, rookie quarterbacks like a safety valve and Fred is their best option in that regard.
8. Tony Gonzalez – Atlanta Falcons: As of right now the best tight end in the history of the NFL can still produce at a high level. The question begging is do the Falcons need him to perform? Atlanta has a slew of talented playmakers on offense and Gonzalez is in the twilight of his career. With age comes the increased risk of injury, and Gonzalez has problems staying on the field. Because of this he is a risk I would not take, but if healthy he will be a top tight end point man.
9. Brandon Pettigrew – Detroit Lions: Detroit has a rough schedule and Pettigrew will most likely have a rough time getting targets with Megatron on the field. Not to mention the emergence of young Titus Young and the play of sound veteran Nate Burleson. If Calvin Johnson will share the ball with his teammates it is possible Brandon will see his fair share of the wealth. His fantasy owners would sure appreciate it.
10. Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers: The most talented tight end on the most talented offensive system in the entire league. A healthy season for him could be a winning season for the people smart enough to draft him. His main issue is his attitude, he feels extremely entitled and runs his mouth more than anyone else on his team. That will not make friends with modest, humble and all-around nice guy quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers does throw Finley the ball, his owners would do best to pray that he catches it.
Some other tight ends that could fight their way into the top ten of tight end fantasy point men.
Dustin Keller – New York Jets: Lack of talent at wide receiver opens Keller up for more targets from Mark Sanchez. If Tim Tebow wins the starting job all bets are off. Also do not look for a lot of touchdowns from Tebow, as rumblings from the Jets sound as if Tebow will be running the offense near the goal line.
Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys: Could be in the top five if he plays the whole season. Everything hinges on his spleen.
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers: The undisputed #1 tight end on the Carolina Panthers now that Jeremy Shockey is no longer with the team. Cam Newton should find Olsen in the end zone a lot this season.
Jared Cook – Tennessee Titans: Talented young player who is coming into his own. Some stability at quarterback would give us a better idea of how his season will play out.
Scott Chandler – Buffalo Bills: Came on strong for the Bills late last year. It is hard to tell who will emerge as the #2 threat beside Steve Nelson, but Chandler looks as promising as any other Bills pass catcher.
Gopher, have to disagree w/your WR's. Calvin Johnson is by far the best WR, then it's a toss up between Wes and Steve Smith. Jordy Nelson isn't a top 5 WR though. And I wouldn't take anyone but Brady/Gronk/Wes from NE early; those are the only safe picks, the rest can be left out in the cold far to often. I like most of everything else though.
Gopher, have to disagree w/your WR's. Calvin Johnson is by far the best WR, then it's a toss up between Wes and Steve Smith. Jordy Nelson isn't a top 5 WR though. And I wouldn't take anyone but Brady/Gronk/Wes from NE early; those are the only safe picks, the rest can be left out in the cold far to often. I like most of everything else though.
If I had just ranked the receivers straight up based off talent and what I thought personally Megatron would have been #1. But when I decided to do this to give it some actual credibility and take away some subjectivity I based it off of a few different factors. I do agree with you that Smith could be top 3, but the number one thing I looked at was potential to produce this season, and he deals with a lot of minor injuries that could possibly hamper him coming up. Thanks for the comments, appreciated. I like some debate and any sort of criticism is welcome.