The remarkable numbers that Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham generated last season, significantly altered the way that fantasy owners regard the tight end position, and will prompt many to select that record setting tandem very quickly in this year’s drafts. While both Gronk and Graham have ascended to a lofty tier that easily transcends all other TEs, some high quality options will remain for those who choose not to employ a second or third round pick on each member of this elite duo. Conversely, there are other TEs that you should sidestep, as you move through the draft process. Here are five such options, which should be avoided when constructing your rosters.
Gonzalez assembled a respectable 2011 season statistically, finishing with the third highest number of receptions among all TEs (80), and ranking fifth at his position with 875 yards. He also generated seven TDs, although he did not find the end zone in his final seven games, including the postseason. You should expect that diminished TD production to continue in 2012 for Gonzalez, who will turn 36 during the season. Not only must he compete for targets with Roddy White, who led NFL in that category last year, but it is reasonable to expect an increased presence from the dynamic Julio Jones, who completely missed three contests, and barely participated in a fourth, due to a lingering hamstring injury. It will be exceedingly difficult for Gonzalez to match his yardage and reception numbers from last season, and it’s even more likely that his scoring output throughout 2012, will mirror the underwhelming stretch that frustrated owners in the latter portion of 2011.
After missing a total of 13 games in 2009-2010, Daniels managed to perform in 15 contests for the Texans last season. But even though his presence was heartening to owners, his production was largely a disappointment. He ranked just 15th in both receptions (54), and yardage (677). Worse, nearly 30% of those yards occurred in weeks 5 and 14 (189), and he was limited to an anemic 35 or less in nine different games. He also scored just three times, marking the fourth time in six seasons that he has failed to exceed that number. Even though fellow TE Joel Dreessen has departed for Denver, several factors exist that will limit Daniels’ production again this season. First, he remains in an offense that heavily accentuates the run. The Texans tied for the NFL lead with 34.1 attempts per game in 2011, and a similar approach should be expected. And when the team does throw to a TE, it could easily be Garrett Graham or James Casey, as Gary Kubiak will continue to employ numerous two TE sets. Don’t be the owner in your league who selects Daniels this summer, in hopes that he will resurrect his 2008 numbers.
When Carolina acquired Olsen from Chicago prior to the 2011 season, it was widely expected that he would thrive in first-year OC Rob Chudzinski’s offense, which makes frequent use of TEs. And initially he did, scoring three times in the Panthers' first five games, while averaging 55 yards in his first four. However, as his owners can verify, Olsen's productivity degenerated sizably after that. He only scored twice for the remainder of the year, and almost unbelievably, only managed to surpass the meager total of 25 yards four times. His 540 yards for the season, were extremely consistent with his career average of 504, and very indicative of what you can expect this year. Even though it’s unlikely that Jeremy Shockey will once again pilfer opportunities, there is no reason to believe that Olsen will play a major role in an offense that is currently comprised of Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and Steve Smith. That in turn will make it very difficult for him to deliver the numbers that you desire from your No.1 TE.
It may initially be difficult to believe, but this will be Winslow’s ninth season. And his most productive years appear to be behind him. He finished just 13th among all TEs in yardage with 763 last year. And he scored just twice, which was his lowest total since 2005, when a torn ACL resulting from a motorcycle crash, forced him to miss the entire season. While Josh Freeman could easily rebound from the enormous step backward that his production took in 2011 (16 TDs, 22 Ints.), Winslow will not be a major beneficiary if he does. Vincent Jackson was not signed to a contract worth over $55 million, so that he could watch Winslow snag passes from Freeman. The Buccaneers will also attempt to utilize the man that Jackson supplanted as the team’s No. 1 target (Mike Williams) in hopes of dramatically increasing his output from last season. And, new HC Greg Schiano’s plan of attack will also include an extensive degree of rushing. There are just too many reasons not to entrust your TE scoring to Winslow this season.
During his first four seasons, Chandler failed to score even one time. But after he collected six TDs in the initial seven games of 2011, he suddenly emerged onto fantasy owners’ collective radar. But the scoring dissipated with the same abruptness that it began, and a new drought kept him from the end zone for Buffalo’s final nine games. Opponents not only determined how to neutralize Chandler’s effectiveness in the red zone, but Ryan Fitzpatrick also faltered due to the adjustments that were made to counter his early success. If you exercise extreme patience in choosing your TE, and the first few tiers of options have been selected, Chandler’s name will likely to be among those that you will be considering. You should remember that his success will be dependent upon Fitzpatrick, who launched 14 Ints and just nine TDs in the second half of 2011. Then, quickly search elsewhere for your TE.