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Winslow still a quality fantasy option
In the past, Kellen Winslow has been a very good Fantasy player in leagues that award points for receptions. In 2006 he caught 89 passes, and a year later, he hauled in 82 receptions. He has caught 75 or more passes in two of the past three seasons. Winslow has admirably posted respectable Fantasy totals despite combating various injuries throughout his career. He has still managed to play 16 games in each of the past three seasons.
The Seahawks will carefully watch Winslow’s health, as they have to monitor the knee issues that have been lingering through most of his career. When it counts, though, Winslow has been on the field in recent seasons, and he has looked good in training camp when he has been practicing. The team will judiciously watch his practice time and reps, so they can keep him fresh for game days. Fantasy players will still confidently roll out Winslow as a No. 2 tight end this year in PPR formats.
The Seahawks are hoping that Zach Miller can re-emerge as the pivotal figure in the passing game that he was during his Raider days. Miller caught 126 balls in his final two seasons with the Raiders before arriving in Seattle last year. The team’s ideal plan is to use them in tandem to challenge defenses with two potential receiving threats. Miller will have to shake off the effects of a recent mild concussion, yet it was clear in the exhibition opener that Matt Flynn will look for frequently when he is on the field. Miller’s name cannot be forgotten by savvy Fantasy leaguers, even if he goes undrafted.
Winslow and Miller are familiar names at the TE position from years past, but what is unfamiliar is the newfound presence of two guys far above the rest at the position. For the first time in Fantasy Football history, you now have to consider a pair of TEs as early as the later stages of the first round. Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski are coming off historic seasons for tight ends, and they can put up numbers on par with any No. 1 Fantasy wide receiver in the game. Both players soared past the 1,300 yard and 90-reception marks last season.
Graham finished one catch away from 100 receptions, and Fantasy players salivate at the prospect of him being just as good or a bit better in 2012. He can score more than 11 TDs he did last year, and there’s little reason ro believe he should drop off at all. He is a prime target for one of the most prolific offenses in the game. With the addition of Brandon Lloyd and the potential for Aaron Hernandez to stay healthy over a full season, you may see Gronkowski’s overall numbers slide a bit. Gronkowski may not score 17 TDs again, but he is still the unquestioned No. 2 TE behind Graham. Gronkowski is going in the second round on average in NFL.com drafts, with Graham in the third, where he is a terrific value.
Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates should be the next TEs to consider when Graham and Gronkowski are off the board. Davis can score seven or more TDs, and if Gates stays healthy, he is still definitely one of the elite TEs in Fantasy Football. Hernandez has tremendous upside in the New England offense, and could actually outscore all besides Graham and Gronkowski. Jason Witten is still solid, and Brent Celek is underrated. Fred Davis and Jermaine Gresham are two of the best upside values this year are. Both should enjoy breakout years as top targets in their respective offenses.
Jermichael Finley has all the tools to succeed, and could rise as hoped if he can develop more consistency. Brandon Pettigrew should be a good red zone target for the Lions. Tony Gonzalez can still get the job done, and Coby Fleener has a lot of promise in keeper and dynasty leagues. Jacob Tamme should at least be serviceable in his first year with Denver, reunited with Peyton Manning. Jared Cook and Kyle Rudolph are some of the sleeper types being pegged by Fantasy experts this year.
OWENS AND EDWARDS: Since we last covered the WR position, the Seahawks added Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards to the split end mix. Owens missed the 2011 season after a significant knee injury, but has shown flashes of his past form in some practices. He’s certainly worth a late-round selection, especially in larger leagues. Edwards caught a 39-yard TD pass in the preseason opener, and Fantasy players should keep him in mind as a potential free agent addition in post-draft periods. Golden Tate is still very much in the forefront of the team’s plans, and his preseason progress should be monitored as well. We will continue to stay on top of this situation and tell you how it affects your draft strategies. For now, Doug Baldwin should still be the first Seahawk WR off the board in any draft, and you can take fliers on the others when the late rounds roll in or on free agency.
SEAHAWKS FANTASY HISTORY: John Carlson’s 2009 season was a landmark TE campaign in Seahawks Fantasy annals, as he caught seven TD passes. Carlson caught over 50 passes and scored 12 times in his first two seasons in Seattle.
NEXT WEEK: The great, late round Seahawks defense, and special teams.
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