I used to save picking a Tight End in my fantasy drafts until I had at least 2 RBs and 2WRs, but the position is evolving and so is their fantasy relevance. These top 2 guys are so good and so similar I couldn’t even make it a 1 and 2 it has to be 1a. and 1b. They’ll be gone by the third round so don’t wait on them.
I’d take them as high as the second but not in the first. After Gronk and Graham I’d wait until round 4 or 5 before wasting picks on the other guys. You can grab the sleeper pick as late as round 12 if you’re Luck-y (you’ll get that once you read who it is) but the more and more preseason games this kid plays the less of a sleeper he is going to be. Well here it goes, top 5 Tight Ends followed by some stragglers, a sleeper and my Do Not Touch list.
1a. Jimmy Graham, NO Saints -Only reason I’m putting him ahead of the Gronk is because the Pats have added so many distractions in the offseason. Brandon Lloyd, Donte Stallworth and the various running backs that the Pats have acquired/promoted should take away from Gronks touches. Also, the Saints lost Meachem, so that’s just a couple more touches for Jimmy. It’s not traditional to think that losing good players will boost the ability of another player, but when it’s the Saints and Jimmy Graham you can assume that.
1b. Rob Gronkowski, NE Patriots– Gronk will have another monster year in terms of catches and receiving yards, but don’t expect him to have 17 TDs again. Both Gronk and Graham will have 1,000 yards. I legitimately think that they are the same value, so my advice is when someone takes the first guy off the board immediately grab the next one because it’s a long way down after these two.
3. Antonio Gates, SD Chargers– Once regarded as the best TE in the game (as in last preseason). I’m not going to read into his injury from last season, but the Chargers did get thinner at WR and unlike the Saints who have plenty of WRs to distract the secondary this could mean that Gates gets more double coverage. He’s the best of the second-tier guys but still nothing compared to that top-tier.
4. Vernon Davis, SF 49ers- The Niners are rejuvenated and well balanced. Their receivers (Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham) are insanely talented but wildly inconsistent, Vernon should be the one constant on this team as far as fantasy points.
5. Brandon Pettigrew, DET Lions– More focus on Megatron will automatically make Pettigrew open more often. He has the second best hands on the Lions and is their second best receiving option.
If you miss out on these guys don’t hesitate to grab Jermaine Gresham (CIN Bengals), Jermichael Finley (GB Packers aka boom or bust), Aaron Hernandez (NE Patriots, but he’s so versatile it sometimes doesn’t translate to fantasy points), Fred Davis (WAS Redskins) and Tony Gonzalez (ATL Falcons, he almost beat out Pettigrew for that 5 spot depending on Matty Ice’s year).
Now for the sleeper: Coby Fleener, IND Colts– this guy played with Luck at Stanford and Luck is looking pretty good early one so their success is going to go hand in hand.
I wouldn’t touch: Jacob Tamme (DEN Broncos), Dustin Keller (NY Jets), Dallas Clark (TB Buccaneers) or Jason Witten (DAL Cowboys) even though they might have high ceilings their floors aren’t worth the headache.