Drafting and finding a quality tight end in fantasy football is always a bit tricky. Fantasy owners must decide if they want to invest an early round selection on a tight end such as the Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham; or use a mid-round selection on players such as Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley or Aaron Hernandez.
All of the players listed above are desirable options for fantasy owners when trying to fill their tight end position, yet how many of them are truly elite players?
The answer is just two, Gronkowski and Graham. After the record-breaking seasons put together by those two last season, there is no doubt that they sit atop the tight end hierarchy in fantasy football.
The tough question for fantasy owners is after Gronk and Graham are off the board, then where do you turn for tight end?
Here is a suggestion, look past the guys like Witten, Davis, Finley and Hernandez to target a lesser known tight end from the Philadelphia Eagles named Brent Celek.
Last season, Celek got off to a terrible start, catching just nine passes for 73 yards and no touchdowns in the first five games of the season. However, come week six, the light turned on for the Eagles tight end and from that point on he turned into a valuable fantasy option.
Over the last 11 games of the season, Celek caught 53 passes and racked up 738 yards, to go along with five touchdown receptions.
Thus over the last 11-games of the 2011 season, the former Cincinnati Bearcat averaged 4.8 catches and 67 yards per game, which by itself is an average of a little over 10 points per game.
If we take it a step further and project those numbers for a 16-game season and Celek would have caught 76 passes for 1,072 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
It is just a projection and you may be asking yourself if Celek can really produce at that level for the entirety of a 16-game season – the to that question answer is a resounding yes. Why you might ask? Because he has done it before. Back in 2009, Celek produced very similar numbers to the projection above, catching 76 passes for 971 yards and eight touchdowns.
Those are dominant fantasy numbers for a tight end and even though Celek’s play dropped off in 2010 and at the start of 2011, the light came on and he finally clicked with quarterback Michael Vick.
Even with his slow start to the 2011 season, Celek still managed to finish fifth among NFL tight ends in receiving yards and finished in the top-12 among tight ends in targets, yards per reception and touchdowns.
Furthermore, Celek has proven over the course of his career to be a consistent and reliable option. In five NFL seasons, he has caught 64 percent of his targets for an average of 8.1 yards per target, a solid number for a tight end.
Therefore, keeping all that in mind here is the FantasyPPR.com 2012 projection for Celek: 65 receptions, 875 yards and six touchdowns.
That projection for Celek amounts to approximately 188 fantasy points in Point Per reception leagues, which would have ranked him seventh at the tight end position and ahead of Finley, Gates and Davis, three players, who are being drafted much, much higher.
If you look at the average draft position of Celek compared to those three tight ends, the results are staggering. According to fantasyfootballcalculator.com, Gates ADP is round 4, while Finley and Davis are going in round 5. Celek on the other hand is not coming off the board until round 12.
Finding a steal such as Celek is like walking across pure gold and fantasy owners absolutely have to take advantage of a sleeper with that kind of value, especially at a position where elite players are few and far between.
The truth is that after Gronk and Graham, there are no other dominant fantasy tight ends, so do not reach on a tight end early because the value that comes with a player like Celek in the 12th round, is simply too great to pass up.