James Hanna, TE Dallas Cowboys
Schedule difficulty based on schedule-adjusted, positional defensive ranking. Top DEF = 1, bottom DEF = 32.
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The eight-time Pro Bowler caught a NFL-record 110 catches for a tight end in 2012, and his 1,039 receiving yards tied for fourth-most in league history at that position.
He was targeted just once in 2012 and it resulted in a touchdown. Meanwhile, the top four red-zone scorers last season were tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski, Heath Miller, Kyle Rudolph and Tony Gonzalez. Dez Bryant led the Cowboys with three red-zone scores, tied for 18th in the NFL.
The story points out that Witten's responsibilities are different in the red zone. There are times where he has to help block a defensive end or outside linebacker and, by the time he releases into the field of play to become a target, quarterback Tony Romo has already gone through his progressions. The Cowboys hope the offensive line improves in 2013 so Witten won't have to chip in as much. And with a focus on two tight-end sets, perhaps James Hanna or Gavin Escobar will block so Witten can become a target. It all spells good news for owners of Witten, who is easily a top-five TE in any format, but we especially like him in PPR formats, ranking him second behind stud Jimmy Graham.