This year, the trend for TEs has significantly dropped in terms of being a passing option, unless of course, your name is Rob Gronkowski.
A year ago, the utilization of the TE was paramount, and a year before that we were able to see that trend begin to take shape. In 2011, however, most TEs are only averaging roughly four to five catches max, with the exception of a few players.
Through most of the 2011 fantasy football season, many have heralded Saints TE Jimmy Graham as the best TE in fantasy football, when really all along, it has been Rob Gronkowski not only creeping up on him, but also showing more fantasy consistency, which now rightfully has Gronkowski as the true number one TE.
After delving into Gronkowski a little more, take a look at who fell where in this week's rankings.
Rob Gronkowski - NE - #1: In his last two games, Gronkowski has exploded, catching 16 balls for 214 yards and three scores which is almost unheard of for a TE this year.
But what's more important is the fact that those numbers came against two very good defensive teams in the Giants and Jets, and as a whole, Gronkowski has shredded other fine defenses such as the Steelers, Cowboys, Chargers and Dolphins.
The moral is, nobody seems to have an answer for Rob Gronkowski.
At 6'6", 265 pounds, one would think that Gronkowski isn't very athletic or fast, but he is exactly just that—fast and athletic.
Gronkowski runs his routes like a receiver, and catches even the most difficult of passes putting him on pace for an unbelievable 87 catches, 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Good luck Chiefs!
Antonio Gates - SD - #2: Despite a rough season thus far from QB Philip Rivers, Gates remains a focal point for the Chargers passing game, especially in the red-zone, and end-zone.
This week, Gates and company square off against a Bears defense that is terrible against TEs, especially the large physical type.
The Chargers are could—and should—use an extra blocker out of the backfield to help contain those pesky defensive lineman, which almost always means more work ahead for the TE in scoring situation particularly.
If the Chargers prove me wrong and once again try to out-gun their opponent, it will be time to get rid of Norv Turner.
Jason Witten - DAL - #3: I remember when we were all looking at the initial projections earlier this year, and we all said that with so much younger talent at TE this season, Witten looks to be in-line for a down season.
Whelp! So much for that theory!
The only issue with Dallas I have right now—from a fantasy standpoint, that is—is the rise of Laurent Robinson and the continued success of Dez Bryant, which could cut into Witten's overall fantasy potential here.
However, history will show that Witten has dominated the Redskins from day one, and their should be plenty more of said dominance this week from Witten.
Jermichael Finley - GB - #4: I'm going to assume a scenario, so follow me here.
The Buccaneers are going to have to decide which aspect Green Bay's offense is better to contain, the outside receiving threats or the TE, and I can almost guarantee you, they will not focus on TE Jermichael Finley.
NFL coaches follow trends, and the "trend" has been the inconsistent usage of Finely and his services, by Aaron Rodgers. This notice should prompt the Bucs to focus their attention on the outside receivers, since the "trend" suggests more teams get hurt by them than the TE position.
The Packers are a team that basically let's the defensive coverage dictate where they will throw the ball, and if the Bucs decide to play contain, there will be nothing but wide open real estate for Finely to take advantage of.
I see a big day out of the man!
Jake Ballard - NYG - #5: Jake Ballard has been quietly rising up the fantasy charts for a few weeks now, and it may all spill over this week when the Giants host the reeling Philadelphia Eagles.
The Giants don't always use Ballard in the passing game, and he is usually a guy you figure as a low-end TE 2, averaging around five passes or so, but the Eagles are absolutely terrible at covering TEs this season.
To make matters worse, the Giants will have all three of their receivers healthy who will take on an Eagle defense that is likely to play a lot of man-coverage, and it is this potential strategy that could open up several doors for Ballard to exploit.
I wouldn't be surprised if Ballard has the best game of his season in this one.
And now onto the rankings.[table “120” not found /]