Tight Ends-A One Man Show?


A few months ago, the tight end class was considered fairly deep, and you could wait to draft one until the later rounds.  But, after an Aaron Hernandez arrest and Rob Gronkowski surgery, the TE class is fairly muddled, and many think the depth is lacking now.  After Jimmy Graham, there are a ton of question marks, and you will see rankings that are completely different from each other.  After Graham, you can basically draw the next 4-5 names out of a hat-I don’t think there will be much difference.  I would definitely consider taking Graham in the second round, and maybe even at the end of the first in a PPR league.  He is that much better than everyone else this year, unless Gronk comes back from surgery with a vengeance.

Vernon Davis has gotten a ton of hype this year after his dynamic playoff performance with Kaepernick under center.  However, he was a complete non-factor during the regular season for Kaepernick’s starts.  Reports out of San Fran have mentioned how good their chemistry is, so it should be interesting to see if he finally fulfills his vast potential.  I keep waffling back and forth on whether to target him or not.  I think Davis is the ultimate boom or bust player.  He can be unstoppable one game and see one target the next.  However, without Michael Crabtree for most of the season, he is the only proven big play weapon the Niners have, as Anquan Boldin is a possession receiver.  I really do think he will finish in the top three for TEs, but you do have to wonder if the hype is starting to go a little overboard.

Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez have been reliable TE options for years.  Gonzalez put up great numbers last year, but I just don’t think those will be repeated this year.  Steven Jackson is much more of a receiving threat out of the backfield compared to Michael Turner, and Tony started to fade a little as the season went on.  He decided to come back for one more year, but basically doesn’t have to go to training camp.  I think he is being very overrated this year, and I won’t be touching him unless he is by far the best option available and slides a few rounds right into my lap.  I’ve seen him go as high as round five, and in my eyes, he should be picked more towards rounds 8 or 9.  Witten should still produce at a high level, but his isn’t nearly as valuable in a non-PPR league.  He always gets a ton of targets, but very few TDs.  The yardage and receptions should be there, but the TDs are always the big wild card.  If he adds a few scores, he could be extremely valuable.

The biggest wild card in the TE class is Gronkowski.  Before his back surgery, you could almost flip a coin between him and Graham for the top TE spot.  Now, he almost certainly will miss week one, and may miss a few more games after that.  Even when he does come back, he may not be 100% and may take a few weeks to get up to speed.  If he comes back strong, you’ll have a huge midseason acquisition.  I’ve seen his value fluctuate in mock drafts, as he has gone anywhere between rounds 4-7.  Personally, I wouldn’t consider him until after round 5, and at that point in my mind, the reward outweighs the risk.

After the top 5, the talent drops off drastically.  If you don’t get one of the top 5, I would recommend waiting until the end of the draft for your TE.  I don’t think the difference between Greg Olsen and Martellus Bennett will be more than 2-3 points a week.  I do think Jermichael Finley will surprise people this year.  He was a bust the past two seasons, but now that so many people have soured on him, he is available for a discount.  He is also playing for a new contract, so that should help keep him motivated.  Jordan Cameron may have a breakout year, so his ranking has been gaining steam recently.  The same applies to Zach Sudfeld in New England, as he may slide into Gronk’s role, and then Hernandez’s slot once Gronk is back.  It feels weird ranking Gates so low after so many years of dominance, but he is now almost a fantasy afterthought.  He may have a solid game here and there, but he is nearing the end of his career and is stuck in a pathetic offense.

That wraps up my final positional breakdown.  My last one will combine kickers and team defenses.  It won’t go into as much detail since these two positions, while still important, won’t make or break your team, and the best options each year are usually available on the waiver wire.




Below are my top 15 Tight Ends for this season:

  1. Jimmy Graham
  2. Vernon Davis
  3. Jason Witten
  4. Rob Gronkowski
  5. Tony Gonzalez
  6. Jermichael Finley
  7. Kyle Rudolph
  8. Greg Olsen
  9. Jordan Cameron
  10. Owen Daniels
  11. Fred Davis
  12. Antonio Gates
  13. Martellus Bennett
  14. Jared Cook
  15. Zach Sudfeld

About Ryan Lewis

I've been participating in fantasy sports for almost a decade. I first started off doing only fantasy football and baseball, but soon grew to love fantasy basketball and hockey as well. For fantasy football, I've participated in a variety of leagues, such as standard, PPR, and auction over the years. In the past 5 years, I've even branched out to fantasy golf and fantasy NASCAR. I've been a die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan for 23 years, which has had many ups and downs.

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