It may seem insane-ludi-ridiculously early for fantasy football ranks, but with the NFL draft beginning Thursday, it's time for a refresher. In the final part of a special four-part series, the Noise tangos with TEs, and gets you a leg up on scoring extra beer money this fall. Team Huevos, shout, shout, let it all out in the comments section below.
Last year, NFL teams averaged 231.3 passing yards per team per game, the highest mark by a wide margin in the league’s 91-year history. Offensive coordinators, no longer satisfied saddling workhorse running backs, have put the onus on QB arms. Pitch counts are higher. Points are more plentiful. And a certain offensive position, once an almost exclusive function of the run, has evolved into a tried-and-true weapon of mass destruction.
Tight ends are wrecking havoc over the modern NFL game.
Just a few years ago when trailblazers Shannon Sharpe, Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates fell off the draft board, most owners essentially punted the position. How TEs were handled paralleled viewpoints on defense and kicker. Streaming based on matchup was a common strategy. Because of the week-to-week unreliability of hotheads like Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow it only made sense to follow such an approach.
However, due to the abundance of wide-bodied, uber-athletic, soft-handed, fast-moving tight ends available in today’s game, perceptions have definitely changed. Oversized targets are matchup nightmares, indispensable weapons in the pass game. Almost every franchise has one. Those that don’t desperately want one. Suffice it to say, they are similar to criminal attorneys during any given NFL offseason – in high-demand. Just ask Cleveland's Quentin Groves.
Unsurprisingly, because of the position's vast talent pool, it's Grand Canyon-deep entering 2013. Yes, Jimmy Graham stands in a class by himself, but concentrating on RB or WR in the early rounds is the money move. The questionable long-term health of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez only supports that notion. Think about it. Suitable producers like Brandon Myers, Fred Davis and Brandon Pettigrew are going well after pick No. 125 in initial drafts.V-A-L-U-E!
This year at TE, patience will profit.
Pumping the pigskin juices, here are my top-25 tight ends entering Thursday's NFL draft:
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