Fantasy Football Draft Guide 2014: Tight Ends

Tight Ends

 

Context

 

Tight End is very similar to quarterback this season. I either want to take a guy from Tier 1, or wait to be the last guy to pick from the position. Except Tier 1 for TEs consists of one man and one man only: Jimmy Graham. He’s far and a way the best player at his position, and I have no problem whatsoever if you decide to spend a first round pick on him.

 

If you do decide to take Graham at the end of round 1 you are going to have an advantage at TE every single week, and since fantasy football is all about matchups, having that advantage is key. However, make sure you know that there is undoubtedly going to be a weak spot somewhere else on your roster. Another TE will most likely not be picked for a few rounds, which means you are going to have to play catch-up filling the rest of your roster.

 

       Tier 1                                                     Tier 3

Jimmy Graham                                        Jordan Cameron

Jason Witten

Greg Olsen

       Tier 2                                                 Tier 4

Rob Gronkowski                                  Dennis Pitta

Julius Thomas                                     Jordan Reed

Vernon Davis                                       Kyle Rudolph

 

Jimmy Graham or wait, people. Jimmy Graham or wait.

 

Top 3

 

  1. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints (no. 10 overall)

 

After fighting through a well-publicized contract fiasco this offseason, Jimmy Graham has finally been paid and is ready to work. His historic output from 2013 (86/1215/16) will be hard to replicate, but Graham will certainly be the Saints’ number 1 target once again this season. With Marques Colston closer to the end of his career than the beginning and the Kenny Stills/Brandin Cooks combination still very young, Jimmy is the best option Drew Brees has. As I stated before, I have no problem spending a late first rounder on Graham, just know that the rest of your roster might suffer in other areas.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 9.16.57 PM

 

  1. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots (no. 32 overall)

 

Believe me, I love Rob Gronkowski just as much as the next guy. Actually, considering I’m a Patriots fan, I love him even more than the next guy. Yet despite my homer-ness, Gronk will not be on any of my fantasy teams this season (at least at his current value). Injury risks aside (although more on that in a second), a 3rd round pick is just not good value for the Patriots’ TE. At that point in the draft, I’d much rather take a playmaking WR or a stud RB2 that can provide some stability to my roster. Let’s face it, Gronk just isn’t that much fun to own anymore. After not missing a game during his first two seasons as a pro, Gronk has missed 14 contests over the last two years combined. If he stays healthy for 16 games, there’s no doubt that Rob will put up double-digit touchdowns and immaculate yardage totals to boot. But forgive me if I don’t want to check the notoriously bogus Patriots injury report week in and week out.

 

 

  1. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos (no. 33 overall)

 

Although Rob Gronkowski gets all the coverage on the injury front, Julius Thomas has been a frequent visitor to the doctor’s office as well. In fact, in the prior two seasons before last years’ breakout campaign, Thomas played a total of just 9 games due to constant foot ailments. The dude even missed two games last year with a knee issue. The fact of the matter is that Thomas is in a great situation in Denver; Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, and Emmanuel Sanders take up all the attention so Julius will see constant single coverage. The only caveat to having such a good supporting cast is that the Broncos’ TE most likely peaked last season. There’s just not enough passes to go around for him to catch more than 70 balls and 1,000 yards, not to mention the injury risk involved in picking Thomas too early.

 

3 Sleepers

 

  1. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers (no. 83 overall)

 

How does this sound? Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, and Kelvin Benjamin. That, my friends, makes up the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. The Panthers’ turbulent offseason has been well documented (see Newton, Cam), yet the one beneficiary to all the turmoil may be Olsen. Considering the less than stellar WRs on the roster, Olsen will be forced to carry the load as the only proven target. While he’s less talented than guys like Vernon Davis and Jason Witten, his situation might just enable him to out-produce them in 2014.

 

  1. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings (no. 105 overall)

 

As a 6’6 human being with better than respectable speed, there’s a lot of potential wrapped up in the Vikings’ TE. In his first two seasons as a pro, Rudolph enjoyed success to the tune of 12 TDs. Yet last year a broken foot hampered his progress and caused a wildly disappointing junior season. His problems so far have been a terrible QB situation and an uncreative offense that didn’t get him the ball nearly enough. Now enter Norv Turner, the same man who constructed Jordan Cameron’s breakout season last year and coached up some guy named Antonio Gates for many years before that. If Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater can be marginally effective, a big year is in store for Kyle Rudolph.

 

  1. Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers (no. 160 overall)

 

Not often does a number 2 Tight End on a team get consideration for sleeper status, but Green is a special case. At 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, he runs a 4.53 40. That is all.

 

Buyer Beware

 

  1. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers (no. 54 overall)

 

After Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis was the top scoring fantasy TE last season. So why the buyer beware tag you ask? Well for starters, his 52 receptions in 2013 put him tied for 13th among tight ends (behind guys like Timothy Wright and Scott Chandler). Colin Kaepernick just doesn’t look for Davis as often as his other receivers. Where Davis’ real value comes is in the touchdown department. His 13 scoring grabs were second in the league for his position. But if I’m drafting a TE with a high pick, I want a guarantee that he will be the focal point of a team’s offense. That’s just not the case with Vernon. While the touchdowns are tantalizing and the name is sexy, you can get 85% of Davis’ production for a fraction of the cost in the later rounds.

 

  1. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers (no. 189 overall)

 

See Green, Ladarius.

 

TE Ranks: Top 15 (With Stock Watch)

 

+ = Stock Up

* = Stock Neutral

– = Stock Down

 

  1. Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints (+)
  2. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots (-)
  3. Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos (*)
  4. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers (*)
  5. Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns (*)
  6. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys (-)
  7. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers (+)
  8. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins (+)
  9. Dennis Pita, TE, Ravens (*)
  10. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings (+)
  11. Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears (-)
  12. Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers (+)
  13. Eric Ebron, TE, Lions (*)
  14. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles (+)
  15. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers (-)

 

 

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