The tight end position was an apocalyptic deathscape in 2012, plagued by injuries and inconsistency maddening enough to drive fantasy owners to read, or spend time with their families – anything to forget the nightmarish doughnut your tight end just slapped onto your otherwise gorgeous roster.
That doughnut was filled with toxic waste and rat feces and the flaming shards of your shattered fantasy dreams.
But let’s not get dramatic.
I’m going to give you a four-month head start on something many fantasy ballers do every year. We’re going to take a peak at the best second-half tight ends of 2012. Sometimes, due to coaching changes, roster moves, and player trades, these strong finishes mean approximately nothing by September. These final eight weeks of the fantasy season can be at least somewhat predictive if the tight end’s situation is stable from 2012 to 2013.
A prime word of caution on drawing too much from a white-hot finish: Antonio Gates was the second highest scoring tight end for the final eight weeks of 2011, behind only Rob Gronkowski (by a stupefying 64 fantasy points). Gates, as owners know, was lifeless for large swaths of 2011, scoring five or fewer points in six of the Chargers’ first seven games of 2012.
On the flip side: Gronkowski was fourth in tight end scoring during the second half of the 2010 season, flashing mouth-watering potential for 2011. He delivered, as you well know, recording the best tight end season in fake – or real – football history.
- Jimmy Graham – 91 points
- Jason Witten – 72.3
- Greg Olsen – 71.6
- Heath Miller – 70.6
- Tony Gonzalez – 69.9
- Dennis Pitta – 69.3
- Brandon Myers – 65.9
- Rob Gronkowski – 61.4
- Jermaine Gresham – 58.2
- Antonio Gates – 53.9
Again, let’s not overestimate the predictive value of these top-10 second-half tight ends. I think we can throw out Myers from this group if we’re going to use it for 2013 tight end potential.
Myers’s quarterback situation is in flux, so much of his production was in the trashiest of garbage time, and Oakland used him as an extra blocker for chunks of the final four weeks. Myers and Gresham were the two lowest rated tight ends of 2012, according to Pro Football Focus.
Pitta and Olsen are the guys who stand out to me, besides the big names who would go early in any year. Their roles in their respective offenses seem stable. Opportunity was there for both in 2012: Pitta, thanks to a glut of early-season looks from Joe Flacco, totaled 90 targets, 10th most among tight ends. Olsen, with the third highest tight end catch rate from Weeks 8-16, fared even better, drawing 96 targets, good for sixth most among tight ends.
Pitta’s second half numbers were buoyed by a Week 15 explosion against the Broncos, most of it in garbage time, so keep that in mind. Even so, Pitta’s and Olsen’s second half numbers and offensive roles say they should retain some reliably high value headed into next season.