NFL

Fantasy Football 2013 Tight End Rankings: Why I Have Dwayne Allen over Kyle Rudolph

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Tight End is probably the one position where my rankings differ the most from the consensus that I am seeing in drafts. Take that for what you will. I have the clear top two–again–as Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, even with Gronkowski possibly missing some early games coming back from back surgery. Last year, I advised that if you were not going to get Graham or Gronkowski early, you should go with a platoon of Kyle Rudolph and Greg Olsen, two guys who were not being drafted as starters a year ago. They finished 9th and 6th in TE points, respectively, and depending on how you platooned with matchups, would have probably been among the best teams at tight end for very cheap.

[Previous Fantasy Rankings: Running Back (Mon), Quarterback (Tue), Wide Receiver (Wed)]

Oddly, now, I am in a position where I am recommending that Kyle Rudolph is overvalued going off the board around the 6th TE taken. I followed my own advice last year and had Rudolph in leagues I was in, and I am intimately familiar with how inconsistent he was playing with Christian Ponder. He had seven games where he had neither a touchdown or 30 yards receiving, including 3 goose eggs. Rudolph shows great hands near the end zone. He has also now averaged under 10 yards a catch for two seasons. My other concern is touchdown regression. Most of his value was tied in touchdowns (9), and even with that, he was not in the top 8 in points among tight ends. Yet, he is being drafted higher than that based on . . . attrition, I suppose (someone has to be there, and Rudolph made a pro bowl and is young).

Here is a list of the young tight ends (age 25 or under) since 1978 to average under 10 yards a catch while having at least 400 receiving yards. It is an inconsistent list of guys, and the next season, they went from an average fantasy finish of 13th to 23rd, averaging 447 yards.

You may not realize it ,but Dwayne Allen had 521 receiving yards last year as a rookie. Yes, that is more yards than Rudolph last year. In fact, the entire difference in their fantasy rankings a year ago was the touchdowns. Here’s a list of the rookies at age 23 or younger to have between 400 and 600 yards as rookies. The ones since 1990 averaged 56 catches, 670 yards, and 4.4 touchdowns in their sophomore years, and everyone except Doug Jolley finished in the top 13 in tight end points. (and I don’t think going back a few more years would hurt my position–Mark Bavaro and Ozzie Newsome are on the list).

I’m projecting Allen to come in a bit under that, but I’ve got him 10th on my board, and wondering what I am missing. He was far more productive than Coby Fleener, two years younger, and was supposed to be at the disadvantage because Fleener was the college teammate of Andrew Luck. Last year, when I interviewed Andrew Luck before the season, I could tell he was excited to talk about Dwayne Allen when most questions were, I’m sure, solely about Fleener. Yes, Allen has the foot injury, but all indications are he will be fine by the regular season. (Pagano said “Yeah, absolutely” when asked if Allen would be ready.) Allen seems like a major value buy, as a 23 year old who already had a 500 yard receiving season and has a young star quarterback.

At tight end this year, my recommendation is to either go big with Graham, or go value. If you want to go semi-cheap, I would go with a Jared Cook and Dwayne Allen platoon (Cook is going in about the 8th or 9th round). If you want a cheaper option, I would go Fred Davis and Dwayne Allen. Davis was averaging over 50 yards and almost 4 catches a game (no touchdowns) when he got hurt last year in the seventh game.

Here are the rest of the projections, using a 0.5 point per reception scoring format.

  1. Jimmy Graham, NO (188)
  2. Rob Gronkowski, NE (165)* even with possibility of missing early games, I have Gronkowski 2nd. That uncertainty would only affect where I took him relative to other positions.
  3. Jason Witten, DAL (150)
  4. Jermichael Finley, GB (141)
  5. Tony Gonzalez, ATL (135)
  6. Vernon Davis, SF (133)
  7. Jared Cook, STL (123)
  8. Greg Olsen, CAR (122)
  9. Antonio Gates, SD (119)
  10. Dwayne Allen, IND (118)
  11. Owen Daniels, HOU (116)
  12. Fred Davis, WAS (115)
  13. Kyle Rudolph, MIN (113)
  14. Brandon Myers, NYG (112)
  15. Martellus Bennett, CHI (111)
  16. Tyler Eifert, CIN (103)
  17. Jordan Cameron, CLE (102)
  18. Ed Dickson, BAL (100)
  19. Brandon Pettigrew, DET (98)
  20. Delanie Walker, TEN (96)
  21. Dustin Keller, MIA (89)
  22. Jacob Tamme, DEN (87)
  23. Heath Miller, PIT (86)
  24. Rob Housler, ARI (85)
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