In the past I’ve hinted (or maybe more than hinted) at the fact that TEs are overvalued in fantasy football to a great degree. I think that is especially the case this year because of the dramatic emergence of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. In many of the dynasty and redraft mocks I’ve been a part of so far this offseason these two guys go in the very first round. We’ve all got TE fever. Except I don’t. And I’ll tell you why.
First off the simple fact of the matter is there are tons of talented TEs in this league both old and young. There is top tier talent (VD/Jermichael/Graham/Gronk), guys who put up consistently high numbers (Witten/Gates/Clark), and guys that are young with loads of potential (Rudolph/Cook/Gresham). Every year there is more youth and talent entering at the position. Many of the guys coming in are experienced and athletic pass catchers built like bigger, meaner wide receivers (Coby Fleener is as exciting as anyone this year). And it’s relatively easy to secure the top TE in your rookie draft year after year. Usually a 2nd round pick will do it.
If you add to all this the fact that nearly every league requires just one TE as a starter. Then consider the improvement of the passing game in the NFL and the gaining popularity of dual TE sets these guys are all getting more love. Finally, do the math and there is no reason to take a TE as early as I’ve been seeing in mocks. There are a lot of viable TEs to choose from and only 12 starter slots to fill.
Another thing to consider with TEs is the unreliable fluctuation in production at the position. A number of guys rise and fall from the top tier every year. Fairly recent examples of this are Brent Celek, Mercedes Lewis, and Owen Daniels. The argument can be made that Hernandez, Graham, and Gronk could fall into this category. They are all very young and very talented and should have good careers but TE production isn’t necessarily something you take to the bank. At the very least one of the three probably will disappoint. If you’re drafting them in the first round and they do drop dramatically in production you’re in a bind. You could draft a much safer starter at RB, WR, or even QB with that pick.
Now I don’t totally hate tight ends I just think we’re over-hyping them for the reasons I’ve outlined above. There are some really amazing talents at the position right now. Graham and Gronk truly are outstanding and are the tops at their position. But there is more talent at the tight end position right now than I can remember seeing for a while. For that reason it makes sense to wait and get good value later. Getting Gates, Witten, Finley, Vernon, or your other favorite guy 5 rounds later is a much better play and you still get a very good player with potentially similar production. So take my advice or leave it. But let me know if you agree or disagree. In the meantime I’ll continue spreading my tight end hate to those who will listen.