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FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT KIT

2013 Player Rankings: Tight Ends
Updated: September 4, 2013
Top 10's:        
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Tier 1
Jimmy Graham - NOS YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 1
Keeper: 1
Auction 10: 18%
Auction 12: 18%
2010 NOS 15 31 356 11.5 5 1 3  
2011 NOS 16 99 1310 13.2 11      
2012 NOS 15 85 982 11.6 9      
Avg   15 72 883 12.1 8 0 1 0
Proj NOS   95 1200   10      

Graham was bothered by a wrist injury last year and had surgery on it back in January. He "only" ended up with 85 receptions for 982 yards and nine scores. A drop from 2011 when he finished with 99-1310-11 but he still ranked 2nd or 3rd best in the NFL depending on league scoring. 2013 will be a contract year and the Saints will wait until the end of the season to start that negotiation which debates getting paid like a tight end or like a wide receiver. Graham should be healthy and motivated to have a big season.

Jason Witten - DAL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 2
Keeper: 9
Auction 10: 10%
Auction 12: 12%
2010 DAL 16 94 1002 10.7 9      
2011 DAL 16 79 942 11.9 5      
2012 DAL 16 110 1039 9.4 3      
Avg   16 94 994 10.7 6 0 0 0
Proj DAL   88 950   6      

Witten may be getting up there at 31 years of age but he certainly is not slowing down. He led all tight ends last year with 110 catches for 1039 yards and scored three times. All that after starting the year as a question mark because of a ruptured spleen that never really got in the way. He had a career mark with 14 more catches than any other season. He remains one of the lowest risk tight ends even though he may have to share some with the rookie Gavin Escobar and at some point will show his age. For the last six years, Witten has been a lock for a top 5 season if not top 3.

Tier 2
Vernon Davis - SFO YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 3
Keeper: 3
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 8%
2010 SFO 16 56 914 16.3 7      
2011 SFO 16 67 792 11.8 6 2 -5  
2012 SFO 16 41 548 13.4 5      
Avg   16 55 751 13.8 6 1 0 0
Proj SFO   65 740   8      

(+Upside) What to expect from Vernon Davis? His stats took a nosedive last year until Colin Kaepernick started. After one good game, Davis disappeared almost entirely from the passing game. Just when he had been completely written off, he topped 100 yards in each of the last two playoff games including six catches for 104 yards in the Super Bowl. The loss of Michael Crabtree to injury for most of the year will likely help since Kaepernick was getting chemistry with his tight end at the end of 2012. Davis is 29 this season and should have one or two good years left. He cannot be counted on as an elite tight end but he'll merit a fantasy start from a position largely devoid of productive players. Davis was one of the best fantasy tight ends from 2009 through 2011. He has some upside to reach that level again.

Jared Cook - STL YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 4
Keeper: 4
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2010 TEN 16 29 361 12.4 1      
2011 TEN 16 49 759 15.5 3      
2012 TEN 13 44 523 11.9 4      
Avg   15 41 548 13.3 3 0 0 0
Proj STL   57 850   6      

(+Upside) Cook's best season was in 2011 when he caught 49 passes for 759 yards and three scores when he was last with Jeff Fisher. 2012 fell back to 44 receptions for 523 yards. Now Fisher has acquired his favorite tight end for a whopping $38.5 million over five years with $19 million guaranteed. That makes him the sixth highest paid tight end in the NFL. Cook was a third round pick by the Titans back in 2009 and his potential remains open for more. He's 6-5 and 248 pounds and yet runs a wideout-like 4.4/40. In trying to load up the offense with more weapons for Sam Bradford, Fisher went out and bought Cook at a very high price. Expect a new career mark for Cook who will play with Bradford instead of Jake Locker.

Tony Gonzalez - FA YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 5
Keeper: 12
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2010 ATL 16 70 656 9.4 6      
2011 ATL 16 80 875 10.9 7      
2012 ATL 16 93 930 10.0 8      
Avg   16 81 820 10.1 7 0 0 0
Proj FA   82 800   6      

They managed to coax him back for one final shot at a ring. And why not? Granted, Gonzo is 37 years old but he comes off his best season in the last four years when he caught 93 passes for 930 yards and scored eight times. His stats were lower in the second half of last year though and he only had one game over 65 yards in the final nine games. But he scored four times in the final eight games and even scored in both of the playoff games. Maybe not a ton of upside here, but the age-less wonder is a lock to remain one of the better fantasy starters.

Rob Gronkowski - NEP YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 6
Keeper: 2
Auction 10: 6%
Auction 12: 6%
2010 NEP 16 42 546 13.0 10      
2011 NEP 16 90 1327 14.7 17 1 2 1
2012 NEP 11 55 790 14.4 11      
Avg   14 62 888 14.0 13 0 1 0
Proj NEP   72 740   7      

(-Risk) Gronkowski not only broke his forearm but surgeries to add plates resulted in an infection. He needed a fourth operation on his arm and should be ready for week one even if he misses some of training camp. If the infection was to reappear, his status for the season could be in jeopardy. With the loss of Wes Welker, Gronk's role as a possession receiver is even more important. This is definitely one player to watch and ensure he is healthy and ready to play because he could have yet another big year. In May, doctors said the infection was finally gone. He also needed back surgery but is expected to be ready at least by week one. Gronkowski makes for the ultimate risk/reward player this year. If he is healthy and stays healthy, he is a lock to be a huge difference maker in tight end. If not - you have to waste an early draft pick.

06-15-13 Update: Gronk had back surgery this week and there are six weeks of recovery and then six more to regain strength and conditioning. That makes the season opener in jeopardy and he'll no doubt miss training camp time. He may miss part of the season. He's a very risk draft pick until more certainty exists and the Patriots are hardly known for being forthcoming about the status of any player.

08-05-13 Update: Gronkowski still has not put on a uniform yet and there is speculation he may start the year on PUP. He's just too big of a risk to take.

Jermichael Finley - FA* YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 7
Keeper: 6
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 5%
2010 GBP 5 21 301 14.3 1      
2011 GBP 16 55 767 13.9 8      
2012 GBP 16 61 667 10.9 2      
Avg   12 46 578 13.0 4 0 0 0
Proj FA*   65 750   4      

Finley enters a contract year and is coming off a disappointing season where he fell from his 55-767-8 stat line of 2011 to only 61-667-2 last season. He recorded a career low of just 10.9 yards per catch but the plan is to use him more lined up in the slot or out wide since Greg Jennings is gone. The reality is that Finley was not that different last year than any other than 2011 which featured career marks in yards and scores along with most of the rest of the NFL that year. Even in his best year ever he only ranked 10th among tight ends and 12th last year. He remains a low-end tight end starter.

08-01-13 Update: Finley has had a great camp so far and drawn good reviews.

Tier 3
Greg Olsen - CAR YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 8
Keeper: 5
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 5%
2010 CHI 16 41 404 9.9 5      
2011 CAR 16 45 540 12.0 5      
2012 CAR 16 69 843 12.2 5      
Avg   16 52 596 11.4 5 0 0 0
Proj CAR   64 670   5      

Olsen had a break-thru season in 2012 when he ended 4th in the NFL in tight end receiving yards (843) along with 69 catches and five touchdowns. He started the season much better than he ended. His final seven games produced right around 50 yards in each and he scored just twice in that time. Olsen provides solid consistency for a tight end and there's plenty of fantasy value in that. But he's unlikely to improve on those numbers because the Panthers need to run the ball more often and better. And much of Olsen's success came earlier in the season when Newton was being overwhelmed by the playbook which had been expanded too quickly. That led to more dump-off passes to the tight end. Solid but not a difference maker for a fantasy team.

Antonio Gates - SDC YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 9
Keeper: 11
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2010 SDC 10 50 782 15.6 10      
2011 SDC 13 64 778 12.2 7      
2012 SDC 15 49 538 11.0 7      
Avg   13 54 699 12.9 8 0 0 0
Proj SDC   60 640   5      

Gates turns 33 and after 11 seasons he is a lock for the Hall of Fame. What he is not a lock for is a big season this year or ever again. He has not played a full season since 2009 and while his chronic foot problems seemed better last year, he still suffered a rib injury and ended with 49 catches for 538 yards for the lowest totals since his rookie season in 2003. He also produced a career worst 11.0 yards per catch which has been on the decline since 2010. Last year the Chargers needed Gates worse than ever and he responded with only one game over 59 yards. He had scored in only three games through week 14 until ending the year with a score in each of the last three games - though never more than 44 yards in any of them. He has a name and the Chargers need him again. But it is a risk better to allow someone else to take.

Jordan Cameron - CLE YEAR TM GMS CAT CYD YPC CTD CAR RYD RTD
Huddle Rank: 10
Keeper: 8
Auction 10: 3%
Auction 12: 3%
2010                  
2011 CLE 8 6 33 5.5        
2012 CLE 14 20 226 11.3 1      
Avg   11 13 130 8.4 1 0 0 0
Proj CLE   60 640   5      

(+Upside) Cameron may end up as everyone's favorite sleeper tight end and it could be justified (though less likely to make him a value pick). The Browns offense is now directed by OC Norv Turner and HC Rob Chudzinski who together can claim some responsibility for the success of Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen. Just last season, Chudzinski saw Olsen go from a career blocker in Chicago to posting a stat line of 69-843-5 in Carolina as one of the most productive TE's in the NFL. Cameron enters his third season but has only 26 catches and one touchdown so far. That is certain to ramp up sharply this season as the 6-5 receiver will be used in multiple ways to help the offense. Cameron is definitely one to watch but he only managed 16 catches in his one season at tight end at USC. He's only worth taking as a backup to see what develops.

   
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