|Fantasy Football 2012: Top 5 Tight Ends to Target in
the NFC East
|By Jason Shen
June 29, 2012
While the NFC East is full of intriguing prospects you’ll want to acquire during your quest for
fantasy glory, this segment zeroes in on the tight ends of the division.
Although tight end talent is plentiful amongst these four teams, it is not evenly spread.
As you continue to read, you’ll begin to notice that two non-starters have made their way onto
this list at the expense of one giant omission (pun intended).
5. Clay Harbor
As the Philadelphia Eagles’ number two tight end, one may assume that Clay Harbor’s fantasy
value is directly linked to the health of Brent Celek, but this is far from the truth.
With left tackle Jason Peters expected to miss the entire season, Philadelphia will utilize Harbor
as another blocker to alleviate quarterback pressure.
After experiencing plenty of success in 2011, the Eagles are looking to employ more two tight
end sets during the upcoming season. This means that Harbor should be on the field for more
than just 29.7 percent of all offensive snaps in 2012 and will see his opportunities rise
The 6’3” tight end should become a solid red-zone option for Michael Vick and receive a
healthy number of targets with such dangerous weapons surrounding him.
Keep the third-year pro on your fantasy radar, but don’t roster him until he’s proven to be reliable.
4. John Phillips
After a promising rookie season, John Phillips missed all of 2010 with a torn ACL. This
upcoming season marks the second year that the fourth-year pro will be removed from that
Martellus Bennett’s departure to the New York Giants means that Phillips gets an automatic
upgrade in playing time and fantasy value.
As the third tight end on last year’s team, Phillips spent time lining up as a blocker, as well as in
the backfield. His ability to play Jason Garrett’s hybrid H-back position makes him even more
difficult to account for on a team with playmakers at every position.
Since it’s no secret that Tony Romo has an affinity for his tight ends, you can safely bet that
Phillips becomes a targeted commodity in more ways than one.
3. Brent Celek
On a Philadelphia Eagles team with explosive wideouts and an emerging star at running back,
the man in the middle is often overlooked.
Although fantasy owners had to wait until Week 8 for Brent Celek to amass 50 receiving yards
in one game, he is not just some consolation prize for those who miss out on the elite class of
fantasy tight ends.
By overcoming a slow start, Celek finished the year strong and collected 62 receptions, 811
yards and five touchdowns while playing the entire season with a sports hernia and torn labrum
in his left hip.
After undergoing successful offseason surgery to fix both nagging injuries, he should return as a
top candidate to make the Pro Bowl and as one of the most reliable options at his position.
2. Jason Witten
Jason Witten has been in discussions as the number one fantasy tight end for nearly the past
decade, but isn’t the one to target in the NFC East. His team’s high profile and renowned
reputation work against him by inflating his average draft position, which tricks owners into
overpaying for his services.
We’ve already previously mentioned the expected impact that teammate John Phillips is going
to have, yet chances that Witten falls out of the top-three tight end selections in your draft
This is largely in part due to his durability and consistency. Not including his rookie season,
Witten has played in every single game and averaged over 82 receptions, 945 yards and five
touchdowns during the past eight years.
If you prefer to pay a premium price for a safe option at tight end, then by all means, stick with
1. Fred Davis
It’s not often you find a tight end that gets targeted like a No. 1 wide receiver, but Fred Davis is
definitely that kind of commodity. Before serving his four-game suspension to close out the
season, Davis was on pace for 79 receptions, 1,048 yards, four touchdowns and 117 targets.
With Jammal Brown, Kory Lichtensteiger and Trent Williams returning to the offensive line as
starters and Robert Griffin III taking over quarterback duties, expect Davis to truly breakout
during his first year atop the depth chart.
As RGIII transitions to the professional level, the fifth-year USC product will be expected to act
as his safety valve. This in turn will allow Davis ample opportunities to become the dynamic
playmaker he’s already shown he can be.
If you’re looking for a tight end that comes with a limitless ceiling and is his team’s top receiving
threat, skip all the brand names during your draft and go with “Freddy Franchise”.