Fred Davis – ADP 8 (Finish 44) – Fred Davis was suspended four games in 2011 and still finished 12th for fantasy tight ends with 59 receptions for 796 yards and three touchdowns. Last season he missed nine games with an Achilles tear, which coupled with Robert Griffin III learning the ropes, didn’t make for much production early in the season.
His injury is the main concern going into this season. If he has no setbacks and is their starting tight end week one, he could be a steal for fantasy where he is currently going as the 20th tight end off the board.
Brandon Pettigrew – ADP 9 (Finish 22) – I was really high on Pettigrew last preseason and I shouldn’t have been, as you can tell by his finish. His numbers aren’t even serviceable in two tight end leagues. Pettigrew had 102 targets which ranked him seventh for tight ends, yet he caught only 59 of those which ranked him 11th. While that 57.8% catch rate ranked him 35th with tight ends with over 30 targets.
Of course Matt Stafford wasn’t the best quarterback in the league last season, but Pettigrew made his fair share of beds to sleep in. But the fact is, Pettigrew is still young and still the starting tight end for a pass happy team (they led the league in tight end targets) and his touchdowns are sure to go up from his miniscule three from last season. It’ll be hard to trust him, but it will also be hard for him not to have some value with an ADP that is surely to be closer to 20 than 10.
Tony Gonzalez – ADP 10 (Finish 3)– The old man isn’t quite using a walker yet and it seems like he could run a 14.5 40 and still catch 80 passes for 800 yards and 6-8 touchdowns. He came out of retirement so you could draft him again in fantasy! But his upside is still nothing compared to the Patriots tight ends and Jimmy Graham, so don’t overspend based on his strong 2012.
Those were the top 10 tight ends in ADP, and now I’ll take a look at who went from outside the top 10 ADP to finish in the Reality Top 10.
Heath Miller -- ADP 19 (Finish 4) – Miller was one of the more surprising players of last season with a career year for yards and touchdowns. He saw the most red zone targets of any tight end in 2012 with 20, which accounts for his high touchdown numbers. He tore about every ligament known to mankind in the last game of the season, so his chances of starting the season are tough. I wouldn’t look for a repeat performance even if he were healthy, so I’m avoiding him this season.
Greg Olsen -- ADP 16 (Finish 6) – Olsen had a nice season after finally getting the starting job to himself. His 69 receptions for 843 yards was a career high, which seems about right going forward. He had five touchdowns for the third year in a row, but he had his most targets ever with 102. That could easily convert into a few more touchdowns this season as long as he sees similar looks.
Dennis Pitta -- ADP 35 (Finish 7) – Pitta had to share targets with Anquan Boldin and Ed Dickson last season, but still finished as the seventh best fantasy tight end. With Boldin gone he should see an uptick in targets, as well as red zone targets which Boldin had nine of last season.
Owen Daniels -- ADP 13 (Finish 8) – Daniels saw the fifth most targets for tight ends with 104 last season, but only caught 62 of those for a poor 59.6 percentage. He finished with 716 yards and six touchdowns and with DeAndre Hopkins coming to town, it seems that Daniels will have a little more competition in an offense that much rather run when it gets near the end zone than not.
Kyle Rudolph -- ADP 21 (Finish 9) – Rudolph caught 14 of 17 red zone targets for nine touchdowns last season. That was by far the best percentage in the league and the reason he finished in the top 10. Now, if only he can get more targets on the other parts of the field, he’ll have a lot of room to rise in the fantasy rankings.
Brandon Myers -- ADP Undrafted (Finish 10) – Of the tight ends that had over 45 targets, Myers led them all with his 75.2 catch percentage by catching 79 out of 105 targets. That just nosed out the king of catch, Tony Gonzalez.
He now goes to New York to have Eli Manning throw him the ball, which should be a good thing.
So four of the top 10 ADP tight ends finished in the top 10. After the top guys it becomes pretty shaky and the total fantasy points don’t vary too much and a slight change in scoring can move them around quite a bit. For the most part tight ends were mediocre last season. In retrospect, streaming tight ends probably would have worked better than starting one of them over and over, i.e. beating your head against a wall.