The 2012 NFL season hasn't exactly been favorable to tight ends. Both Rob Gronkowski (injured) and Jimmy Graham have had down seasons by their standards. Vernon Davis has been inconsistent at best, while up-and-comers such as Brandon Pettigrew have failed to take that next step.
It pretty much has been a guessing game thus far this season as it relates to the tight end position. With that in mind, here are my top five fantasy players at tight end for Week 13.
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
You can never really go wrong with starting this future Hall of Fame tight end. While Gonzalez has struggled to an extent in the last two games, he put on a show the last time Atlanta took on the New Orleans Saints. Gonzalez accumulated 122 yards, two touchdowns and 24 points in that Week 10 loss.
Meanwhile, the Saints rank 30th against the pass at over 300 yards a game and yield the 18th most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Expect a huge game from Gonzalez tonight. I am looking at something to the tune of 100 yards and a score, which makes him legit TE1 material.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
This 2011 breakout star is having a down season by those standards. He is averaging just over 10 fantasy points per outing and is coming off a two-game stretch against the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers when he put up a total of 62 receiving yards and 12 fantasy points.
Graham did have a whopping 147-yard, two touchdown performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10, helping New Orleans hand them their first loss of the season. Atlanta does rank 13th against the pass and are No. 16 against opposing tight ends. I still think that Brees will look to his favorite target in order to rebound from a disappointing Week 12 loss. Triple digit yards and a score here.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
Surprisingly, the Indianapolis Colts have yielded the least amount of yards to opposing tight ends in the National Football League. That doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense considering that Indianapolis is ranked No. 19 against the pass. Pettigrew, on the other hand, has had a disappoint fantasy season thus far. He ranks 17th among tight ends in points and is averaging just 4.5 fantasy points in his last four outings.
Those factors seem to indicate that Pettigrew will struggle against the Colts this week. Well, think again. Titus Young is going to miss another game due to disciplinary issues and Nate Burleseon is already out for the season. Matthew Stafford is going to have to find some success in the middle of the field with defenses honing in on Calvin Johnson on the outside. I am expecting a breakout performance from Pettigrew here.
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos
This former Indianapolis Colts tight end has been pretty irrelevant in terms of fantasy football. He ranks 24th among tight ends in points and has scored a total of two touchdowns in 11 games. With that in mind, it is important to go outside the box when determining which tight end to play considering how bad this position has been thus far in 2012.
Denver is going up against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense that ranks 32nd in the NFL and is going to be without its only legit starting corner in the form of Eric Wright. You can definitely expect Tamme to hang on the coattails of a huge day by Peyton Manning.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
It's hard to imagine, but Bennett is just outside TE1 production thus far this season. That being said, most of this production came early in the season. The talented but enigmatic tight end is averaging just over three fantasy points in his last eight games after starting the season out strong. This has led many fantasy owners to completely forget about him.
Not so fast, my friends.
The Giants go up against a 31st ranked Washington Redskins pass defense that is yielding the most yards and targets to tight ends in the NFL this season. I am expecting a surprising performance from Bennett.