2014 Fantasy Football Rankings (August 1st update): Tight End (TEs)
Here are my updated fantasy football tight end rankings (standard scoring):
Looking back to last year, Graham arguably had the best season of his career even though he fell short of his previous career highs in both receptions and yards. He finished the season with 86 catches for 1,215 yards, but he had a career-best 16 touchdowns. It was only the second time in NFL history that a tight end had at least 16 touchdowns.
Not only did Graham lead all tight ends in all three statistical categories, but he had nearly 300 yards more than the tight end with the second-most yards (Cleveland's Jordan Cameron, 917). In addition, he led all players, regardless of position, in touchdowns; Denver's Demaryius Thomas was second with 14.
Over the past three seasons combined, Graham has a total of 270 receptions for 3,507 yards and 36 touchdowns; that equates to an average stat line of 90/1,169/12. A lock for a monster season at a position with only a few studs, Graham is worthy of consideration at the end of Round 1 of fantasy football drafts.
With more surgeries than I can count on one hand over the past two seasons, the biggest concern for Gronkowski is durability. That said, he was not was placed on the PUP list to start training camp and all indications are that he will be active for Week 1 after tearing his ACL last December.
Missing games to start and end last season, Gronk played in only seven games, but he averaged 84.6 yards per game and 15.2 yards per reception, both of which were career highs. More than anything, Gronkowski is a dominant force in the red zone as he has a total of 43 touchdowns in 50 career games.
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Among tight ends, there was no bigger fantasy bargain than Denver's Julius Thomas as TE23 in 2013. Despite ranking ninth at the position in targets (89), only two tight ends had more fantasy points than Thomas last year: Graham and San Francisco's Vernon Davis.
Of course, Thomas won't be nearly as cheap (or cheap at all) in 2014 after last year's breakout season. Along with Graham and Davis, he was one of three tight ends with double-digit touchdowns and finished with 65 receptions for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns in his 14 regular-season games last year.
4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Davis finished with 52 receptions for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. It was the second time that he finished with double-digit touchdowns and he tied his previous career high of 16.3 yards per reception. If there is a frustrating part of owning Davis, however, it is that Davis doesn't get the amount of targets on a weekly basis that I'd expect considering how much of an athletic mismatch he is.
5. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
It was a tale of two halves for Cameron. In the first half of the season, Cameron finished with 49 receptions for 596 yards and six touchdowns. While he had a huge Week 14 vs. the Patriots (9/121/1), the second half was a huge disappointment overall: 31/321/1. From Weeks 9 to 16, Week 14 was the only week he had more than four fantasy points.
The good news is that Reed has been cleared from the concussion symptoms that forced him to miss an extended period of time last season. The bad news is that it took so long to gain that clearance and he's had a number of concussions dating back to his days with the Florida Gators.
When he was on the field, however, he was highly productive: 45/499/3 in nine games. That's a full-season pace of 80/887/5, which would be especially impressive as a rookie. As I tweeted a while back, only two rookie tight ends — Mike Ditka and Jeremy Shockey — have ever finished with 887-plus receiving yards. If he can stay healthy, Reed has top-five upside at the position.
Witten set seven-year lows in receptions (73) and yards (851) last season, but he finished with eight touchdowns, the second-highest total of his career. Two seasons ago, Witten set a single-season tight end record for receptions (110).
In an offense that should be one of the league's best (unfortunately due in part to a defense that should be one of the league's worst), I see a bounce-back season for Witten in the range of 80-90 receptions and 900-975 yards.
In the past two seasons, Olsen has 142 receptions for 1,659 yards and 11 touchdowns. While he lacks the upside of some tight ends, he's extemely safe and should be a lock for 70/800/5 or better.
One of four tight ends to lead his team in receiving last season, Olsen should benefit again from the lack of elite options among Panthers wide receivers. All of the team's wide receivers with a reception last season are no longer on the roster. Even though the Panthers signed a few, as Richard Sherman would call them, mediocre receivers in free agency and drafted Kelvin Benjamin in the first round, Olsen should once again lead the team in receiving.
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The hopes of a breakout season that many had expected were dashed in July when Pitta suffered a hip injury that nearly kept him out for the entire season. Back in 2012, Pitta finished with 61/669/7 and I expect him to set career highs across the board in Gary Kubiak's tight end-friendly offense in 2014.
While injury cut his season short after Week 9, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph was a bit of a disappointment in the first half of the season when he did play. In eight games, Rudolph finished with only 30 receptions for 313 yards and three touchdowns. In half of his eight games, Rudolph had two fantasy points or less.
Things are looking up for Rudolph as new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offenses have typically allowed tight ends to prosper like Cameron last year and Antonio Gates (and others) before him. In addition, the days of Christian Ponder starting are over. With 12 touchdowns in his past 24 games, Rudolph has had red-zone success, but we should see an all-around improvement in production from him in 2014.
Solid as a rookie (36/469/4), big things could be in store for Ertz in his second season. It's typically difficult for tight ends to make a huge impact as a rookie (as noted earlier), but Ertz has also focused on his blocking to help keep him on the field for more snaps. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly has cited Ertz as one of the biggest beneficiaries of DeSean Jackson's departure from the standpoint of being more involved in the offense.
If you're looking for a tight end with tremendous upside and flash, Miller's not your guy. If you're looking for an undervalued option if you wait on the position, then he fits the bill. Another year removed from his knee injury, Miller should be frequently targeted by Ben Roethlisberger and I have him projected for a stat line of 68/751/5.
With the injury to Dustin Keller last season, it opened up an opportunity for Clay, who scored more fantasy points than all but six tight ends with a 69/759/6 line last season. Going into 2014, Clay is a borderline TE1/TE2 and a solid late-round option for those in deeper leagues.
Walker set career highs last year with 60 catches for 571 yards and six touchdowns and he expects bigger things for himself in 2014. He recently said on NFL Network that he's looking to do something only three other tight ends did last season: "I’m looking to catch 80 balls this year."
We saw a glimmer of Green's upside last year when he had nine catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns in a three-game span. Especially with the relative lack of depth at receiver behind Keenan Allen, Green has the potential for a breakout season in 2014.
More TEs: Continue to TEs 16-50
More 2014 Fantasy Football rankings:
- 2014 Fantasy Football QB rankings
- 2014 Fantasy Football RB rankings
- 2014 Fantasy Football WR rankings
More of our 2014 fantasy football resources:
- 2014 fantasy football mock draft simulator
- 2014 fantasy football strength of schedule
- 2014 fantasy football projections
- 2014 fantasy football profiles
- 2014 fantasy football average draft position (ADP)
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