By the end of the first round of fantasy football drafts in past years, all of the top running backs had been selected. Most franchises had a feature back that received the majority of the carries, and these players were taken at a furious pace.
Now, top quarterbacks possess the value in fantasy drafts. The NFL has become a pass-happy league and having a top QB should be a goal, not a luxury. Think of it this way: Aaron Rodgers is the new LaDainian Tomlinson. Drew Brees is the new Marshall Faulk. Tom Brady is the new Terrell Davis.
In 2011, 15 of the top 20 fantasy scorers were quarterbacks – including the first six overall. If you’ve got Rodgers, Brees, Brady, or Matthew Stafford this season, you’re almost guaranteed outstanding production, provided they remain healthy.
The value of elite receivers who play with these quarterbacks – Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, and Wes Welker, to name a few – has never been higher, and all are off draft boards between the first and third rounds.
The value of tight ends has also accelerated to the point where the top two from last season – Jimmy Graham of the Saints and Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots – are also being drafted in the top three rounds. Tight end has long been a sinkhole for fantasy teams; if you didn’t have a productive one, you could survive, because most teams were weak at that position.
Now, you have a noticeable advantage if you’ve got Gronkowski, Graham, or Aaron Hernandez.
Here are a few potentially overlooked tight ends to keep an eye on as the season kicks off:
Scott Chandler, Buffalo: An overlooked target who is developing a rapport with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota: A second-year player out of Notre Dame, Rudolph will be a favorite of Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder.
Jacob Tamme, Denver: Tamme backed up Dallas Clark in Indianapolis and had some productive days catching passes from Peyton Manning. Now with the Broncos, Tamme is teamed with Manning again and that means the potential for a big year.
Ed Ryan can be reached at