Tight end is a real son of a bitch in fantasy football. It seems like if you don’t take the God amongst men that is Jimmy Graham, you might as well not even draft a tight end. Luckily, the reality isn’t quite as depressing, as there are quite a few tight ends that are actually quite talented and don’t forever bow to the greatness that is Graham.
Graham’s awesome. We get it. He’s basically an elite wide receiver playing the tight end position. He just doesn’t get paid like one. Bazing!
But he’s not the only tight end who slaps people around and they thank him for it. Rob Gronkowski, in the rare event that he doesn’t have a broken back, infected forearm or a mangled knee, is just as dominant. Heck, he might even be better than the Hercules-like Graham. Yeah, I said it.
So, to get this ball of tight end death match rolling, here’s some logic tossed your way: don’t draft Jimmy Graham in the first round. A first round pick is exactly what you’d need to get him thanks to his ridiculously inflated value. Instead, wait a round or two and get The Gronk. He offers just as much upside if he can stay healthy, and you can go get an elite RB or WR before spending a 2nd or 3rd round pick on him.
And if you don’t like that option, here’s an even better one: wait until rounds 3-5 to go get Jordan Cameron or Julius Thomas. Heck, even Vernon Davis is in the mix there in round five, as well.
A couple of reasons why: a first round pick is valuable as balls. You don’t want to spend it on a tight end who just got paid a fat check and no way in hell is going to turn around and drop 16 touchdowns on the league for the second year in a row.
He surely has the role and talent to make me eat my words, but career years are called career years for a reason – because they rarely happen again and they damn sure don’t normally come around in back to back seasons. So, prepare to be a scorch disappointed, Jimmy Graham owners.
Naturally, these other guys provide better value, as Thomas, Davis and Cameron all finished inside the top-5 a year ago, and all had over 130 fantasy points. In a normal world where Graham doesn’t blow up all over everyone, their numbers look pretty good. I do understand that compared to Graham’s they come off as dog shitty, but that’s not really the case.
The point is, these other guys are still elite tight ends and are still threats to repeat top-5 numbers, just like Graham. But say you go for door number three, just as I suggest, which guy do you actually go for?
I’m going to rule Vernon out of the running right off the bat. For one, his name sounds nerdy. Sorry, Vernon and all Vern’s out there, but it does. Not that Julius and Jordan don’t carry their own weight in weirdness, but it’s less. Also, the Vern is in a run-heavy offense with a quarterback who still can’t throw consistently from the pocket, plays in a grab ass division and also has more competition than ever with Michael Crabtree sporting two healthy Achilles tendons, Stevie Johnson appearing to have some semblance of life left and Anquan Boldin still proving that 40 year olds do make good receivers.
I’m sorry, did you need more? Davis also dropped 13 touchdowns for just the second time ever a year ago. He’s good and he’ll be fine, but he’s not going to be as safe or have the upside as Cameron and Thomas.
So, that brings us to those two dudes. Which is the guy to draft?
It’s actually pretty simply. It’s got to be Julius. I do like that Cameron can be had all the way in round five and sometimes later, but Thomas is already at a solid value in round three, and he also can slip into the fourth round if you get lucky.
Here’s the why: Cameron blossomed in Norv Turner’s vertical and tight end-friendly system in 2013. Norv Turner is now dead to the Browns, coaxing life out of the passing game in Minnesota with his magical little fingers. Or maybe they’re thick, stubby and even big fingers. But there’s coaxing being done. I swear!
Point being, Cameron’s offense has changed, his coaches have changed and heck, his quarterback has even changed. Cameron also didn’t do a whole hell of a lot after the first six weeks (he did dominate those weeks, mind you) and now he may have to wade through the murky waters of a 2014 season sans Josh Gordon. That might end badly.
Julius, on the other hand, is like the guy that sacrificed himself for the masses and went to a heaven filled with virgins. That’s a fantasy in so many ways, and this, too, is fantasy football. Thomas has seen nothing bad change around him. Peyton Manning is still ageless, Montee Ball is a RB upgrade and Eric Decker freaking left. Targets are coming. More red-zone opportunities have been cleared up. The raw, wet behind the ears Thomas we at times saw even when he was mopping up the opposition, has only gotten better. It’s like teaching a bear how to search the internet, folks. He already could kill you as he pleased. Now he knows how to find you, too.
Julius Thomas is a freak. We’re in agreement on that. His offense is a freak system, too. Everything around him is freak-ish. He’s going to be awesome, and the value is insane. Draft accordingly.