NFL Soup|Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football Draft Advice: Do You Draft Rob Gronkowski or Jason Witten? 

It’s a common dilemma. You’re sitting there in the fourth or fifth round, have a good start at running back and wide receiver, and see that two really nice tight ends are staring you in the face. They’d love to be on your 2013 fantasy football roster, but they need you to put them there.

Jimmy Graham in all of his glory was taken in round two, so now it’s down to this: take the chance but get great value with Rob Gronkowski, or pass up the red flag and get the guy who set an NFL record for receptions by a tight end last year in Jason Witten.

Ease back, fair friend. You don’t have to make that decision alone. We’ve got you covered, as Taylor Smith and I take on both sides and debate which is the better option. After the facts and our opinion our out there, then it’s ultimately up to you”

The Case For Rob Gronkowski (Kevin Roberts)

I think we know that in a perfect world Gronk would be healthy and this wouldn’t be a debate. Considering Witten has never scored 10 touchdowns in a season and Gronk has done so in all three seasons he’s been in the league, however, I’m not sure there’s much to go over.

Yes, there’s the threat of Gronk (back) missing a few weeks to start the season. However, all signs point to a full recovery and a mid-September return. That would potentially put him at about 13 games to start with, and after racking up 11 scores and 790 yards in just 11 games in 2012, that really doesn’t bother me.

Witten did set an NFL record with 110 receptions a year ago and he’s always a PPR threat and yardage fiend. None of that will change. However, Witten hitting 100 receptions is an aberration. He won’t do that again, as the Cowboys will only get stud receiver Dez Bryant even more involved, while the offense also hopefully gets more balanced with a healthy DeMarco Murray.

But we’re just playing a guessing game with Gronk’s injury and expected amount of games, just like we’re playing a guessing game with Witten’s touchdowns – which have been have been at five or less in five of the last season seasons.

The real argument here has to be this: which do you prefer, snagging the best tight end in the game in the fourth or fifth round and getting someone to replace him to start the year, or get Witten for the entire season?

Considering Witten did what he did last year and he was still just the 5th overall tight end, while Gronk was #2 (behind Jimmy Graham by just 9 points), I think the answer is pretty clear.

The Case For Jason Witten (Taylor Smith)

While Jason Witten may not have the fantasy upside of notorious freak tight ends like Gronk or Jimmy Graham, he’s still been as steady as they come for the last decade now. Though it seems like he should be nearing 40 by now, Witten just turned 31 in May, and still has many, many years left in those legs.

He hasn’t missed a game since 2003, and that includes last season, even after lacerating his spleen during the preseason. Just typing that is painful. Yet he played through it, and wound up setting a new career-high with an absurd 110 catches, which was by far the most by a tight end in 2012. Considering the uncertain nature of Gronkowski’s health situation, perhaps Witten is the safe pick. The only downside of Witten’s insane ’12 season was that he found the end zone just three times, which was his fewest total since 2009. Fortunately, however, there’s almost no way that number doesn’t go up. He scored 14 total touchdowns in 2010 and 2011 combined, and he has a history of following up low-TD years with bounce-back numbers.

While Dez Bryant will draw most of the headlines, Witten is primed to have yet another stellar season for the Cowboys. If he can get those touchdown totals up, there’s plenty of impetus to take him as the No. 2 TE in fantasy behind Jimmy Graham. Gronkowski has higher upside, for sure, but also comes with substantial risk.

Who do you think the pick should be. Commet below and hit us up on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin and @NFLSoupTaylor!

About the author: Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts owns and operates NFL Soup and heads the fantasy football division of the site. In 2012, Roberts finished 16th overall in Fantasy Pros expert fantasy football rankings. In addition to running the fantasy football section of the site, Roberts contributes to NFL Soup’s NFL Draft coverage and breaking news reporting. Follow Kevin on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin

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