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Fantasy Fix: Top 12 TEs

This week, I present the last chapter in my fantasy football preseason draft guide. Not that my list of tight ends can help you at this point, since the season starts today and all leagues have drafted, but I guess you can still check your own results against my rankings for posterity and satisfaction (mine, that is).

My top 12 TEs (after the first 12, it's mostly just a crap-shoo):

1. Rob Gronkowski, NE: Most experts say he can't do better than last year's 1,327 yards receiving and 17 TDs, but even 1,000 yards, 10 TDs might make him the best TE.

2. Jimmy Graham, NO: He's ranked ahead of Gronkowski on many draft sheets, and could easily have another 1,310-yard, 11-TD season, assuming the Saints manage to keep their heads.

3. Antonio Gates, SD: Fading, but still a strong threat, and while the Chargers were a mess last season, Gates is injury-free for the first time since 2009, when he netted more than 1,100 yards.

4. Aaron Hernandez, NE: If defenses swarm Gronk, Hernandez could surpass 1,000 yards himself, and he could also get more RB touches this year with the backfield a sore spot for the Pats.

5. Jermichael Finley, GB: Delivered a great 2011 season - just not one that met the massive hype - with the third-most TDs among TEs at eight. He will be the league's top TE at some point.

6. Vernon Davis, SF: A strong postseason made people forget he had a down year, his worst in four years. Will his four postseason TDs make turn him into a scoring threat to open 2012?

7. Jason Witten, DAL: A spleen injury likely sidelines him for Week 1, but he's still the most reliable cog in the Dallas offense.

8. Brandon Pettigrew, DET: A key metric for him is receptions over the last three seasons: 30, 71, 83. His teammate and the NFL's best WR, Calvin Johnson, only had 13 more catches last year.

9. Fred Davis, WAS: A TE is usually assumed to be a rookie QB's best friend, and if RG-3 can read the field, he should find Davis often.

10. Tony Gonzalez, ATL: The Falcons now have two top WRs, but Gonzalez was fifth in receiving yards among TEs last year, and is in the right offense for him to stay busy at age 36.

11. Brent Celek, PHI: He was probably the most reliable receiver in a wildly inconsistent offense last year. The Eagles WRs will be better this year, though Celek should still be good for 800 yards.

12. Jermaine Gresham, CIN: Six TDs last year with a rookie QB elevated Gresham's status, and he's really the Bengal's No. 2 receiver after A.J. Green, and will benefit if Green gets hounded.

Sleeper Pick: Kyle Rudolph, MIN: He was much more of a sleeper a few weeks ago, but many team owners have caught onto the building hype that he's presumed to be almost a No. 2 receiver this year, catching balls when Percy Harvin is catching his breath.

Could Be A Waiver Wire Gem: Greg Olsen, CAR: He's getting drafted in some leagues, and QB Cam Newton looked to him fairly often last year. The key will be if Newton starts looking for him more in the end zone.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report lists Gronkowski among its top injury risks this year. Why? Because karma says so.

* A Yahoo! Contributor Network post points out the obvious about how that one guy in your league who insisted in taking Maurice Jones-Drew in the first round actually had the right idea.

* Fantasy Knuckleheads likes the Bears' defense Week 1 against a rookie QB and last season's worst team.


Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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