The general consensus before the start of the was that other than guys like Antonio Gates and Jason Witten, tight ends would not have much of an impact on fantasy leagues.
A few guys would come along and change all of that in 2011, making it the year of the tight end in the NFL. These guys not only led their teams in receiving, but oftentimes they would be the leading fantasy scorers on their team for a given game. In some instances, these guys almost scored 30 points in one game!
Who were the NFL fantasy football MVPs that many times looked to line up next to the offensive tackle? These five guys were difference makers for almost every league they were owned in:
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
2011 Stats (Through 14 Games): 75 receptions, 1141 receiving yards, 15 TDs
Rumor has it that LeBron James is coming out with a new shoe line this winter called the Gronk Spikes, in honor of the celebration the Patriots' tight end does after scoring a touchdown. Gronkowski not only set the record for touchdowns in a single season by a tight end, but he may be the first tight end in NFL history to score multiple receiving TDs AND
add a rushing TD in the same game. There was no question that Gronk was one of Tom Brady's favorite red zone targets this season, and those teams that were lucky enough to own both Patriots no doubt found themselves playoff bound.
2. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
2011 Stats (Through 14 games): 87 receptions, 1171 receiving yards, 9 TDs
The only reason that Graham is not at the top of this list is that he has fewer TDs than Gronkowski. Graham, a rookie out of the University of Miami, not only leads all tight ends in receiving yards this season, but he is also fifth in the league in the same category. Graham has scored fantasy double digits in 8 of 14 games this season in most standard leagues(not to mention that his 87 receptions would come in pretty handy in a PPR league). Did I mention that he is just a rookie?
3. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
2011 Stats (Through 14 games): 68 receptions, 849 receiving yards, 5 TDs
Witten has been solid once again for the 'Boys, and it appeared he was the only consistent fantasy threat on a Dallas squad that was Jekyll or Hyde for most of the 2011 season. He continues to set the standard for tight ends in the NFL
4. Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
2011 Stats (Through 14 games): 68 receptions, 736 receiving yards, 6 TDs
It's not often that someone gets referred to as the other
tight end in New England, even someone as talented Hernandez. That was more than fine with Hernandez, however. The second year player out of the University of Florida teamed up with Gronkowski to form one of the more formidable units in the AFC east.
5. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
2011 Stats (Through 14 games): 74 receptions, 826 yards, 7 TDs
It had been thought before the season that Gonzalez was past his prime, merely a third down receiver nowadays. Gonzalez proved his critics wrong in 2011, not only catching 74 passes, but doing so while sharing targets with Roddy White and rookie sensation Julio Jones. Not too shabby.