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Fantasy Football Today

Will Eric Ebron break the rookie tight end trend?

By Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com

In the last 11 years only three rookie tight ends have scored 92 or more Fantasy points, about what it would take to crack the top 12 and be considered a No. 1 TE. (Last year's No. 12 TE, Delanie Walker, scored 93).

Rob Gronkowski produced 114 points in 2010, the greatest season ever by a rookie TE. Aaron Hernandez scored 92 that same year, and John Carlson put up 92 in 2008. Gronk and Hernandez are the only rookie TEs to clear 75 points the last five seasons.

Washington's Jordan Reed would have done it last year but missed the last six games with a concussion.

Now comes North Carolina's Eric Ebron. The 6-4, 250-pounder runs a 4.6 forty, has a knack for hurdling defenders and makes spectacular one-handed grabs. (See video above). He looks like the only rookie TE with a shot to be a Fantasy starter, though some will argue for Texas Tech's Jace Amaro too.

A consensus first-round pick, Ebron's athleticism has been compared to that of Gronk and Jimmy Graham. He caught 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns last year.

If he goes to the Bills (No. 9 overall), Ebron would start right away over the lumbering Scott Chandler. General manager Doug Whaley said the tight end position is "trending toward those basketball, athletic guys that can position their body, go up and get balls, take balls away from smaller defenders. There's less of an emphasis on the blocking at the tight end position nowadays. That's the way it's going and you've got to get with the times."

Buffalo's priority is to develop EJ Manuel. Tight ends and running backs are "great friends" to a quarterback, Whaley said, adding the Bills need a "size receiver" to help Manuel.

The Buccaneers (No. 7), Giants (12), Rams (13), Jets (18), Dolphins (19), Falcons and Packers all have been linked to Ebron. His biggest upside would be with the Giants or Falcons.

Ebron is currently being drafted as the 14th TE in early drafts on myfantasyleague.com, between Tyler Eifert and Charles Clay. Ideally you'd draft Ebron as a second TE in the late rounds and see how fast he develops.

But with a steep dropoff after the top 10 TEs, Ebron could rise higher, especially if he lands in a good situation. Then we'll see him coming off the board as a low-end TE1.

 
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