The Tight End Position Used to be a Fantasy Football Afterthought.
More and more NFL teams have landed freakishly athletic options at the TE position. They are big, fast - and are able to produce in the redzone. If you are entering your draft thinking, 'Who Cares about my TE?' Think again. You don't have to land Graham to be able to get a leg up on the majority of your league-mates. Let's take a deeper look at the TE position, with a dive into our initial top 24 list.
1) Jimmy Graham
Hands down the top option at TE. Worthy of a first round pick.
When healthy, he is right up there with Graham. Keep a close eye on information that the Patriots are providing throughout camp...if they give any at all. Personally, I like rolling the dice on Gronk this year - there is potential value there.
Julius flourished working with Peyton Manning last season and I expect another big year from the Broncos TE. His role could even expand with Decker now gone. For those that miss out on Graham but want a relatively safe, elite TE - Thomas is your pick.
4) Vernon Davis
Davis reached the endzone 13 times last year and while I feel that number will be difficult to duplicate, he should be the 4th TE of all re-draft boards.
5) Jason Witten
Witten is the model of consistency at a fairly volatile position. He has finished in the top 6 among TE scoring in each of the past four seasons. Many expect a bit of a rebound from Romo (including us as noted here) - and if Romo has a big year it is hard to imagine struggles from his favourite target not named Dez Bryant.
6) Greg Olsen
Olsen seems to fly under the radar in fantasy circles, but this may be the year that changes in drafts. There isn't much talent for Cam Newton to work with in the passing game, which will likely make Olsen the #1 target by default. With many targets, expect another very solid season from Olsen.
2013 was a tale of two seasons for Cameron. In the first half he seemed to be able to get open at will - posting stats that rivaled some of the best at the position. As the season went on though Cameron all but disappeared. Sure, instability at QB for the Browns didn't help - but this is a big season for Cameron.
8) Dennis Pitta
Pitta missed the majority of action last year for the Ravens - and their offence not only missed a beat - they looked extremely lost at times. Pitta works as a great insurance blanket for Joe Flacco, and has a knack for getting open, especially in the endzone. He can safely be drafted as a reliable #1 TE option for your team.
9) Zach Ertz
Ertz falls under the higher upside, but more risk type of play...precisely the type of player that I like when looking at TE's. Historically, there isn't a lot of difference once you pass the first 5-6 TE's off the board - so give me the guy with upside potential. Ertz fits that bill and thensome. If Nick Foles can keep on rolling at the helm for the Eagles, Ertz will be a big part of that.
10) Jordan Reed
Concussion problems linger for Reed after he was only able to suit up for 9 games in 2013. He has a lot of talent, and I wouldn't be too worried about the Redskins adding Desean Jackson to the offence - if Reed is healthy, he will still see his share of targets and thensome.
11) Charles Clay
Clay had a great 2013 season, actually finishing as the 7th ranked scoring TE for the year. He is a focal point of the offence for the Dolphins, and I expect more of the same from him this year. He acts as a safety blanket for QB Ryan Tannehill and has the ability to make plays once the ball is in his hands. He's a good value play at TE, and one that I like a lot more than most.
12) Kyle Rudolph
Norv Turner has a history of making TE's flourish in his system. Can Kyle Rudolph be the next one? There are a couple things to like about what Rudolph has done lately: A career high in TD's in 2012, and he was on pace to set his all-time single season yardage mark last year before the season was cut short with a foot injury. If Teddy Bridgewater can break camp as the starter, Rudolph could provide the young QB with a very, very large safety blanket.
13) Heath Miller
Miller is very steady and is never going to hurt you at the TE position - but he likely isn't going to win you any games either. He could be a good safe target as a TE2 for anyone that takes a flier on Gronk.
14) Eric Ebron
Ebron is a massive talent but it's not often that rookie TE's light the world on fire. He could see favourable matchups down the middle of the field, and is someone that dynasty or keeper leagues will definitely want to keep an eye on.
15) Ladarius Green
Many envision Green seeing more targets than Gates this year and I can't really argue with that. I love his upside...if he gets the chance.
Had an ugly training camp incident, but he is a focal point of the Bears passing attack. With the firepower they have outside at WR - Bennett almost always sees single coverage.
17) Antonio Gates
Sad to say, but slowly but surely this ship is sinking. A great career, but probably best avoided this year. Let some one else draft the 'name'. Sure he still caught 77 balls for 832 yards last year, but I really do expect those numbers to dwindle.
18) Delanie Walker
Walker had some big games down the stretch for the Titans last year. He is probably best left on the wire except for those in the deepest of formats as his upside is limited, but he is worth keeping an eye on as a bye week replacement or a bench stash for those with deep benches.
19) Dwayne Allen
Allen is working his way back from injury - and likely won't see a ton of targets as the Colts really do have a lot of options for Andrew Luck to throw the ball to. He should see the bulk of playing time this year, if healthy at TE as he can block and catch well. Saying that, he's likely just a bye week replacement.
20) Jared Cook
Lots of talent, but how many years has everyone been saying that for? Leave Cook for someone else that was sold on him in years past.
21) Tyler Eifert
Eifert is likely a year away from a fantasy breakout. Jermaine Gresham still remains in town, and as long as the Bengals keep splitting their reps and targets - Eifert's 2014 fantasy upside is limited.
22) Jace Amaro
More of a dynasty play at this point in time - but the Jets are dying for play makers and Amaro has the potential to be one.
23) Garrett Graham
It would be a disservice to Graham to not have him in my top 24 at the position, but there is next to no upside if he ends up on your roster. Sorry Garrett.
24) Tim Wright
Very small for a TE - but runs very good routes. Will be curious to see how his chemistry with McCown develops over camp as there aren't many TE's that can create seperation like he can. He could easily be off the next edition of the list if playing time looks to be an issue.