Posted: 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013
By Dan Ciarrocchi
Things are always uncertain in fantasy football, but for the tight end position, that's an understatement. With the exception of Jimmy Graham and Jason Witten, question marks arise up and down this particular list of positional rankings.
That isn't to say there isn't tremendous production on the horizon for tight ends this year, only that fantasy owners will have to look a little harder to find it. That's why we're rolling deep this summer, and providing rankings for the top 50 tight ends:
1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: He's still the best option at the position and a lock for at least 90 catches and 1,000 yards if he stays healthy, and it's why he's a fringe first-round pick at the moment.
2. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: At 30 years old and beginning the 2012 season with a ruptured spleen, all he did was lead the Cowboys in targets and receptions. If anyone's going to cut into Dez Bryant's share of the touchdown category in Big D, it's Witten.
3. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons: Can any tight end catch a ball in traffic better than Tony Gonzalez? He won't gash defenses for monster gains at this stage of his career, but he will once again be looked upon to move the chains and catch touchdowns in Atlanta.
4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: Davis has had boom-or-bust potential from week-to-week throughout his career, but the 49ers will need him to step up in Michael Crabtree's absence. He certainly has the capability to do so.
5. Rob GronkowskiNew England Patriots: If injuries weren't a concern, he would top this list. Unfortunately, they are a very real concern, but even if he winds up playing just ten games this season, he could still produce more than many other tight ends could do in 16. Only Jimmy Graham topped his point total in standard leagues in 2012, and that was with Gronkowski missing five games.
7. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers: Olsen was more opportunistic in his second year with the Panthers, catching 24 more passes for 303 more yards than he did in 2011. The remarkable thing is, these numbers came on just 14 more targets. Is this a sign that he's turned a corner, or that he could regress more toward the 45/540/5 season he had two seasons ago?
8. Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams: His first target of the preseason came versus the Packers on Satuday, and goodness, he made it count. The resulting 37-yard catch and run is exactly the type of play Cook enthusiasts have come to expect from the tight end who possesses great burst for a man his size. Big upside here.
9. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: On the rare occasions where the Vikings don't decide to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson near the goal line, Rudolph will likely be the main target. His 53 catches and 493 yards were underwhelming in 2012, but he has the talent to improve upon these numbers with steadier quarterback play.
10. Fred Davis, Washington Redskins: He's a full-go after missing the second half of the 2012 season with a torn Achilles tendon. Keep in mind that he caught nearly 60 passes for 800 yards in just 12 games in 2011, and now he's in an offense even more tailored toward getting tight ends open. He's averaging a 12th-round selection in leagues as of now, and if he gets anywhere close to his 2011 numbers, that's thievery.
11. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns: The former college basketball player has dazzled this preseason, showing terrific vertical ability and a penchant for catching touchdowns. He's oozing with upside, learning under a head coach and offensive coordinator with long histories of utilizing tight ends.
12. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers: After logging nine drops a season ago and 12 in 2011, Finley's going to be chided for drops over the course of the season, and that's just who he is. But if Finley can capitalize on those elusive goal line targets, he could be a top 10 tight end.
13. Brandon Myers, New York Giants: Eli Manning has gotten production from the likes of Jake Ballard and Kevin Boss, and now he has Brandon Myers to play catch with. With Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle on the roster, Myers won't catch 79 passes like he did in Oakland in 2012, but he won't need to in order to be productive in this offense.
14. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears: Speaking of Giants tight ends, Bennett quietly made himself a viable week-to-week option with his former team and should be so once again in Marc Trestman's offense. Should be a nice volume play this season with decent upside.
19. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: He just looks like a shell of himself at this point, and the Chargers receiving corps is a shell of what it used to be as well. Gates will get his targets if he's on the field, but you're better off letting him be someone else's problem in your league.
20. Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals: The Carson Palmer acquisition had the fantasy worl buzzing about Housler, but he's had a quiet summer so far. Upside remains, but expectations should remain tempered.
22. Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks losing Percy Harvin for significant time gives Miller a boost, but even so, there are just too many mouths to feed for Miller to accumulate the opportunities a top-tier fantasy tight end normally would.
23. Ed Dickson, Baltimore Ravens: No Anquan Boldin and no Dennis Pitta means it's time for someone not named Torrey Smith and Ray Rice to step up in the passing game. Should Dickson remain on track for a Week 1 return, he could be that guy.
24. Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos: Expectations for Tamme came back to earth after logging a good-but-not-great statistical season upon being reunited with Peyton Manning. He makes a nice bye-week play in a pinch, but not much else as of now.
25. Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly will look toward his tight ends to pick up the slack left by the injured Jeremy Maclin. Problem is, the Eagles are carrying four pass-catching tight ends on the roster, and Celek might not get enough consistent opportunities.
26. Zach Sudfeld, New England Patriots
27. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
28. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
29. Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
30. Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
31. Anthany Fasano, Kansas City Chiefs
32. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
33. Luke Stocker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
34. Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets
35. Tony Scheffler, Detroit Lions
36. David Ausberry, Oakland Raiders
37. Kellen Winslow, New York Jets
38. Joel Dreessen, Denver Broncos
39. Logan Paulsen, Washington Redskins
40. Lardarius Green, San Diego Chargers
41. Dion Sims, Miami Dolphins
42. James Casey, Philadelphia Eagles
43. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
44. Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
45. Tony Moeaki, Kansas City Chiefs
46. Lance Kendricks, St. Louis Rams
47. Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers
48. Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens
49. Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
50. David Paulson, Pittsburgh Steelers