Tight Ends are placed in three separate rankings, Gronk, Graham, and everyone else. Who is #1? Which site has Gronk first? Which site has Graham first?
If you are lucky enough to get one of those two guys you have no issues at the tight end spot. But if you don’t land one all is not lost. Those two are going in the late 1st to early 2nd rounds.* If you are taking them that early there is a likely chance you are not as deep at another position, most likely running back. For you guys that resist temptation and hold your ground there are still some great values out there for your TE spot, and you should be much stronger at atleast one of the other positions than someone who took Gronk or Graham. Read along and draft accordingly as my Fantasy Top 10’s concludes with the Tight End position.
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1. Jimmy Graham: I will preface my rankings by letting everyone know that Graham was in the #1 spot even before Rob Gronkowski’s various medical issues this offseason. Graham has been a fantasy stud at the TE position the last two years, even while dealing with a wrist injury for most of last year. If it weren’t for Gronkowksi, Graham would be the standard-bearer at this position. 2013 brings Head Coach and Saints offensive play-caller Sean Payton back into the fold. With the departures in recent years of Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson and the offseason issues of promising young WR Joseph Morgan, Drew Brees will be relying on his foursome of Graham, Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles even more this year. I fully expect Graham to post numbers more similar to his breakout 2011 season.
2. Aaron Hernandez: Call Hernandez unheralded I guess. Playing in the shadow of Gronk, Hernandez quietly had a breakout season in 2011 also. 2012 was a different story as injuries caused him to miss six games. With Gronk likely to miss a few games at the beginning of the season there are a few boys in Beantown I think will benefit, but none more than Hernandez. Look for Tom Brady to target him early and often as the rest of the new signees adapt to the complex Patriots scheme. I see better numbers than his 2011 campaign of 79 910 7 this season as long as the injury bug doesn’t bite him again.
3. Jason Witten: People just keep counting on Witten to start aging and slow down and what does he do? He goes out and catches over 100 balls for the first time in his career. Witten finished with his second most yards from scrimmage total in his career last year as QB Tony Romo force-fed him and Dez Bryant the ball. Until someone else steps up to take his place I see it happening again this year. With Head Coach Jason Garrett’s job likely on the line this season and the Cowboys playing in a tough division I can see a lot of come from behind games with Romo slinging it 40-50 times a game. If Witten can increase his redzone scoring he could possibly have an amazing season.
4. Tony Gonzalez: I’m nicknaming him “Top 5 Tony” as that is what he does. He simply goes out every year and has a top five season statistically. Brushing off retirement to make one last Super Bowl run, I expect more of the same. Read what we predicted for Tony’s season in our Head to Head
5. Rob Gronkowski: Now don’t freak out and think I’ve lost my mind having him this low. I simply think he will miss a few games at the beginning of the season and have a lower total scoring output than the four above him. That being said, his value is great right now. People are passing on him and he is falling into the fourth rounds of some drafts. Be smart and grab him. He could be the difference between winning and losing a championship at the end of the season. I would much rather have him for the last 8 games than the first 8, wouldn’t you?
6. Dennis Pitta: Dennis had a great season for a TE last year, coming into his own and grabbing a firm hold on the starting job. He also became a redzone target for Joe Flacco, developing some great chemistry. With the trade of Anquan Boldin to San Francisco in the offseason, Pitta should be in for even more targets, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him climb up this board another few spots.
7. Kyle Rudolph: Rudolph’s season was predicated on two things last year; Adrian Peterson getting the Vikings into the redzone, and Christian Ponder’s struggles, which led him to look for Rudolph often. Rudolph caught 9 TDs out of only 53 receptions with under 500 yards. For fantasy football purposes, that’s efficiency! Maybe Kyle slides a little with the additions of Greg Jennings and Cordarelle Patterson, but maybe Ponder still looks for his crutch when they get in that redzone.
8. Rob Housler: I have been shouting his name for the past three months when talking about the ultimate sleeper at the TE position. If you are a Cardinal’s fan, you noticed Housler was open all the time last season. You also noticed the QBs couldn’t get him the ball. 6’5″ 250 lbs with 4.49 40 speed, he can manhandle a DB and outrun a LB. Last season in Indianapolis, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener combined for 71 catches, 802 yards and 5 TDs. That’s getting into top 5 territory. Housler is not sharing time with anyone and if his blocking improves this offseason he will simply not leave the field. Combine all of this with QB Carson Palmer’s propensity to find his TE in garbage time, adds up to a breakout top 10 season in my book.
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9. Vernon Davis: The proverbial “when will the talent shine consistently” player. Davis has had flashes of brilliance, even seasons. But then he disappears. It will be interesting to watch the 49er’s offseason to see if Davis can find some chemistry with QB Colin Kaepernick, especially with Michael Crabtree expected to miss the 1st half of the season. This year could very well be make or break for Davis in a 49er’s uniform. If he can’t find some chemistry with Kaepernick maybe they let Davis go and find someone who can.
10. Dustin Keller: This is another guy I’m really high on this year. He has had some decent seasons in New York and showed he has some talent. I feel he landed in a great spot in Miami. I’m higher than most on Ryan Tannehill’s prospects, and Keller could be his go to guy. With Reggie Bush gone I expect Keller to take over as Tanny’s checkdown target and don’t forget, concrete footed Anthony Fasano caught 41 passes and 5 TDs in this offense last year.
*This article was started before the news of Gronkowski’s pending back surgery came out.