Fantasy Football: TE Rankings (1-12)

 

Dennis Pitta may be celebrating a lot in 2013 as he emerges as a top TE.

Dennis Pitta may be celebrating a lot in 2013 as he emerges as a top TE.

  1. Jimmy Graham, NO – Graham had a tough season in 2012 after suffering a high ankle sprain in week 5, but he still caught 85 balls and scored 9 times. Most starting tight ends can’t come close to Graham’s worst-case-scenario season. As a red zone monster playing with Drew Brees, Graham is a virtual lock for close to 1,200 yards and double digit scores. He gives his owners a huge advantage at the tight end position, and that makes him worth a second round pick.
  2. Rob Gronkowski, NE – Like Graham, Gronkowski is an elite QB’s favorite target in the red zone, and that’s unusual for a tight end. Gronkowski would be a top 20 overall player if he were healthy, but nobody is sure how quickly he can recover from back surgery. Monitor his health closely, but he can still finish as fantasy’s #2 tight end even if he misses regular season games.
  3. Jason Witten, DAL – Witten was a PPR stud in 2012, notching 6 or more catches in 11 games. He doesn’t score many TDs, but he’s an ironman who will catch between 80 and 100 passes.
  4. Tony Gonzalez, ATL – Just when it looked like Gonzo was starting to slow down, he has increased his reception totals in each of the last 3 seasons. On the down side, he’s 37-years-old and will likely skip training camp. Julio Jones is emerging and Gonzalez has averaged fewer than 11 yards per catch every season in Atlanta. Can you really bet against him, though? He has great chemistry with Matt Ryan, especially in the red zone, and the Falcons aren’t fazing him out at all.
  5. Dennis Pitta, BAL – Pitta is definitely on breakout alert. With Anquan Boldin gone, Pitta will have to pick up much of the slack in short-to-intermediate routes. He’s Joe Flacco’s best friend and has shown substantial improvement every year he has been in the league. He’s not as established as the names ahead of him on this list, but he could wind up being a steal.
  6. Vernon Davis, SF – Colin Kaepernick hardly looked in Davis’ direction for much of 2012, but that changed in the playoffs. Kaepernick’s favorite target in Michael Crabtree also went down, leaving Davis as the most talented pass catcher in the Bay. He has a ton of upside, but chemistry remains a concern.
  7. Greg Olsen, CAR – Carolina’s Rob Chudzinski – who loves throwing the ball to tight ends – has moved on, but he wasn’t the only reason for Olsen’s success. Olsen is Cam Newton’s clear-cut #2 option in the passing game and can easily repeat his69/843/5 line in 2013.
  8. Jared Cook, STL – Cook has always been a disappointing fantasy player, but a change of scenery could help him immensely. The Rams didn’t pay him $35 million to be a decoy, and they seem to be finding very creative ways to get the ball in his hands. He hasn’t proven he can produce like a TE1, but he has a very high ceiling.
  9. Kyle Rudolph, MIN – Rudolph emerged as a red zone star in 2012 but didn’t rack up the yards with Christian Ponder throwing him the ball. The Vikings won’t magically turn into the Greatest Show on Turf, but with Percy Harvin in Seattle, Rudolph should at least have a few more opportunities to catch the ball. He’s a low-end TE1.
  10. Jermichael Finley, GB – The Packers have soured on Finley a bit, but he remains a very talented player on a very good offense. Given how productive Aaron Rodgers is, I have to write off Finley’s 2 TDs in 2012 as a fluke. He has to share the ball a lot and will drop his fair share of passes, but he’s a good bet to reach low-end TE1 status.
  11. Antonio Gates, SD – It’s a bit sad to see the once-dominant Gates hobble around on one foot and notice that his QB has already been sacked before he gets out of his break. He can’t stay healthy and his offensive line can’t block, but Gates is still Gates. The tough, savvy player is still a pretty big part of the offense and could salvage some TE1 value.
  12. Jordan Cameron, CLE – Instead of listing a player like Owen Daniels or Brandon Pettigrew who is a lock for mediocre stats, I’m taking a boom-or-bust pick here. TE guru Rob Chudzinski is in Cleveland and figures to throw the ball to Cameron a lot, especially down the field. A former Combine star, Cameron has the speed and height to stretch the field and take fantasy football owners by surprise. He might not do anything, but his upside is pretty good for a mid-to-late round pick.
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