Let's be honest: The 2012 season was not a pleasant one, in general, for the tight end position. Whereas New England Patriots media star Rob Gronkowski and the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham delivered record-breaking performances in 2011, and pushed their way into the second rounds of ESPN average live drafts, neither player was able to duplicate the success, mainly due to injury. In fact, these fellows were again the top two tight end scorers, but after combining for 420 standard fantasy points in 2011, they came back with 283. That's a big difference.
The problem was that nobody else really stepped up. In most weeks, fantasy owners could count the number of double-digit scorers at tight end on one hand, and few players were consistent all year long. Alas, every fantasy team needs a tight end, and in ESPN standard leagues, the adjustment was made to include the position among flex options, though few tight ends deserved the designation week to week.
Now that we've recapped (and previewed for 2013) the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions, it's time to take a look at the tight end position to close down our position analysis. Enjoy your fantasy football offseason!
Tight end MVP: Unlike the other positions, tight end offers no obvious choice. Gronkowski came within five points of Graham's position-leading total, and did so while missing five games, so he was productive when active. Graham missed no games, but a wrist injury held him back. However, these were second-round picks! Tony Gonzalez yet again outperformed his draft-day rank quite easily, finishing third at the position in scoring despite being an eighth-round pick. Man, he'd better not retire this offseason! Dennis Pitta, Heath Miller and Owen Daniels were pleasant surprises, but Gonzalez, second at the position in receptions, third in yards and targets, and tied for fourth in touchdowns, gets the nod.
Tight end LVP: One could certainly argue, based on draft position, for Graham, who went scoreless in two weeks, and from Weeks 11 to 16 didn't reach double digits once. But he still led the position in scoring! Antonio Gates and Jermichael Finley went fourth and fifth, respectively, at the position on draft day, and neither finished close to the top 10. But Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers gets the nod because, unlike Gates and Finley, he started the season well, raising expectations and giving owners comfort that was hard to shake. And after reaching double digits in fantasy scoring four of the first five weeks, Davis went in the tank. He topped three fantasy points one time after that. He gets the LVP designation.