The tight end has become an even more valuable position over the past few years and having a high caliber one who performs better than most wide receivers can make the difference between being a fantasy team vying for a playoff spot or a fantasy team vying for title. So here is a look at the top 10 at the position.
1. Rob Gronkowski – This is almost a no-brainier if it weren’t for Jimmy Graham who is arguably 1B to Gronk’s 1A. Tom Brady’s affinity for going to his tight end grew into a love affair last season, especially with Rob Gronkowski, setting records for the tight end position in TDs and yardage in a season. There were people who wondered if Gronks 10 TD rookie season was an aberration and he proved that it wasn’t. He is safe to take as the number 1 tight end in fantasy drafts and may be worth taking as your first receiver off the boards.
The Good – He was easily Tom Brady’s number 1 receiver and should continue to be this season.
The Bad – The Patriots add depth to the wide out position and Brady will continue to spread the ball around.
2. Jimmy Graham – Now for 1B. He will likely be taken directly after Gronkowski is taken in most drafts. With a frame like a power forward and a low 4.5 40 time, Graham has the skills of an elite wide receiver at the tight end position. Like Gronk, Graham exploded onto the scene last year in his 2nd year as a pro. He is nigh uncoverable by a linebacker or safety (and some corners for that matter). Draft him with ease and a smile.
The Good – He is and should remain this season, Drew Brees’ favorite target on a pass first team.
The Bad – As stated before, the only thing to not like is that the ball will get spread around in New Orleans as it does in New England.
3. Antonio Gates – It’s been awhile since Gates has not held the mantle of top fantasy tight end, but he is far from done. After battling injuries for the last 2 seasons, Gates reportedly come into training camp healthy and ready to go. Gates continues to be a top target for Philip Rivers, and should be in line for another strong season.
The Good – When healthy he is a lock in each game for big numbers, and owners should expect to see double digit TDs on the season if he remains healthy throughout.
The Bad – Gates injury issues have been mostly related to planter fasciitis which has a tendency to linger. Owners taking Gates should be weary of this throughout the season.
4. Vernon Davis – The signing of Randy Moss should do wonders for freeing Davis from double coverages. He has been the 49ers top receiving option for the past couple of seasons, and the signing of a legitimate threat to draw coverage should boost his stats as long as the team can get consistency from Alex Smith.
The Good – Davis has top 3 tight end potential and showed how he could dominate towards the end of last season.
The Bad – Davis has top 3 tight end potential and a sub-par QB throwing to him.
5. Jason Witten – He is one of the more solid and steady producers at his position. Drafting Witten you know what you’re going to get in receptions and yards. He is a safety valve for Tony Romo and should remain an active part of the offense.
The Good – With Laurent Robinson gone Witten should get a bump in looks with no clear cut favorite for the WR3 position in Dallas currently.
The Bad – He has been up and down with the amount of receptions, especially in the red zone. With the team committing to DeMarco Murray, the red zone opportunities could go either way.
6. Aaron Hernandez – It’s rare to have to receivers in the top 10 in fantasy, and even rarer to have 2 tight ends. However, Hernandez is worth it, he has been utilized as a tight end, a wide receiver, and even at the running back position in New England. The Patriots will look to get him the ball, and with Josh McDaniels returning to Foxborough you can bet that Brady will be heaving the ball around. He will be a strong consolation prize to those who miss out on Gronkowski.
The Good – The Pats will move him around between the wide out and tight end position keeping him involved throughout the game.
The Bad – He will still be second fiddle in New England.
7. Jermichael Finley – With a lot of high hopes coming into the season last year, Finley did very little to stand out on a high flying team where is one of their biggest targets. However, his ceiling still remains high as will look to redeem himself coming into this season and it doesn’t hurt that his quarterback is one of the best in the league.
The Good – He has enormous potential and athletic abilities that could make him a top flight tight end, and is in a system that could highlight those attributes.
The Bad – Like many others, he has a tendency to disappear in games.
8. Fred Davis – The waters get a little bit murky after the top 7. Davis is a legitimate starting fantasy tight end, but the fact that he could disappear from your roster with one failed drug test could make most owners uneasy. All that aside, he has a lot of talent and potential to breakout this season. With RG3 coming in to Washington this year, Davis could become the safety blanket for Griffin as most tight ends are for rookie quarterbacks.
The Good – Davis proved tough to cover last season and could quickly become Griffin’s favorite target. Also he is being drug tested 2-3 times a week according to some sites which should be a good sign coupled with the fact that he is in a contract year.
The Bad – Failed test equals 1 year suspension.
9. Tony Gonzalez – Ever the vigilant player, Gonzalez should remain a valued option in Atlanta, but will take a back seat to Julio Jones and Roddy White. He will, though, remain a solid 3rd option in the passing game for the Falcons. We keep writing off Gonzo each season, as he is 36, and he keeps putting up solid numbers for the position. If you miss out on the high caliber tight ends, he should be a solid filler.
The Good – He’s a savvy, Hall of Fame bound veteran and is in an offense that is going more vertical.
The Bad – The new offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, has not been known for utilizing his tight ends.
10. Brandon Pettigrew – He has the size, speed, and talent to be a great fantasy tight end. He put up 83 receptions and could be valued higher in PPR formats. He is a great blocker though, which can sometimes be more beneficial for the team to utilize, but does squat for fantasy owners hanging by a thread. His ceiling is high in the Lions offense.
The Good – Outside of Megatron, of course, Pettigrew is one of Stafford’s favorite targets.
The Bad – Many of his receptions are dump offs meant to get first downs and not for bigger plays.
A few notables that are on the bubble, but didn’t make the top 10: Jacob Tamme/Brent Celek/Jermaine Gresham/Owen Daniels.
About the Author
Written by David Willow
My name is David Willow. Your NFL and Fantasy Jedi. I have lived in Dallas, TX most of my life. I have been following both football and basketball since I was a child. I love being able to research and analyze different players and teams. I've been a fantasy sports enthusiast for around 8 years with some titles to back that. I have a Bachelors degree in History with a minor in English. Other hobbies include me being part of an acting workshop for five years, playing guitar, and working out. Hit me up with any comments, questions or opinions.