@WHUDEY’s Tight End Rankings
written by T (@WHUDEY)
Last year we saw the Tight End position used a TON in a lot of offenses across the league. With the league being a copycat league, look for many more teams to use 2 TE Sets to further take advantage of the weak linebacker play and new rules geared toward the offense airing it out.
(Red: avoiding at all costs, Green: I’m All-in , Blue: Sleeper)
1a. “Gronk” (NE): a TE so talented, he now goes by one name like Madonna and Beyonce. When he isn’t partying hard like an episode of ‘Jersey Shore’, there is no question he is an elite TE. Look for teams to game-plan toward him week-in and week-out..but I don’t think that A. many teams have a guy on their personnel to challenge Gronk in the Red Zone (he is a size mismatch at his position) and B. Brady doesn’t even care if he is double-covered (his hands are that ridiculous). He remains Brady’s favorite target in the Red Zone…without question.
1b. Jimmy Graham (NO): The former basketball player of out the U showed great promise as he put all of his game together a year ago. The route running, the speed, and the rest of the intangibles he possesses allow Brees to trust him on any down and in any situation. His development in the route running department is going to give linebackers and safeties fits all year. Having either of these two TE’s (Gronk and Graham) gives you a great advantage over the rest of your opponents. Side note: I’ve been seeing Graham taken as the first TE a lot in mocks this summer.
3. Antonio Gates (SD): With VJax in Tampa, Gates becomes Rivers’ favorite and most comfortable target. Sure, Gates may have lost a step, but he still has great hands and I don’t believe that Rivers has lost faith in him one bit. If he stays healthy, he has the best chance of coming close to what Gronk and Graham were a year ago.
4. Vernon Davis (SF): This man has always been the main option in the SF passing game for the last 7 to 8 years. With the addition of Moss and Manningham, this may be the thing to free him from double coverage for good. Now I know the question is if we trust Alex Smith enough, but my response for you is that Harbaugh will not put him a position to fail so Davis could become a consistent threat to score week-in and week-out.
5. Aaron Hernandez (NE): It’s very tough to place him here, but he is listed as a TE. If there is one thing I have learned about Bill Belichick, it’s that he is a believer in playing his best players no matter the position. He even had Hernandez lined up as a running back in the playoffs last year. The “hoodie”, much like Urban Meyer did at Florida, understands Hernandez is a freak of an athlete, and I look for him to be split out wide more this year as a WR. The addition of Shaincoe allows for him to roam instead of being asked to block, and it wouldn’t shock me if he and Gronk switch roles this year in terms of TDs. With the knowledge of his usage, he will be an excellent play every single week, as long as he can stay on the field.
6. Jermaine Gresham (CIN): So far, I’ve managed to keep my “Homer-ism” in check but the Pro Bowl TE will look to make great strides at returning to Pro Bowl Status. One of the minds I respect most in Mike Mayock of the NFL Network believes this kid will go down as one of the greats at his position. Of course I’m all-in, but he could be a very sneaky play to draft late. I look for the Bengals red zone offense to use him as the first go-to option, and it can’t get any better in terms of ADP.
7. Jason Witten (DAL): There is no doubt that he catches passes with the best of them, but when it comes to red zone production, Romo just isn’t looking his way like he used to. Granted they don’t have Roy Williams split out wide anymore, but the emergence of Murray will mean Witten blocks more. He may be serviceable in a PPR league, but in standard fantasy leagues…I’m staying away.
8. Brandon Pettigrew (DET): With Stafford under center, this offense is explosive and he looks Pettigrew’s way a lot. I can see him being very valuable as defenses clamp down on Megatron in the red zone.
9. Jermichael Finley (GB): Other than the 3 TD game last year, he really disappointed fantasy owners. What works in his favor is that Mr. “Discount Double Check” hasn’t lost hope, and any of “A-Rodg’s” weapons can contribute at any time. I’m sure he wants to step his game up from a year ago, but he’s still being drafted ridiculously high. Good luck nabbing him a reasonable draft slot…
10. Brent Celek (PHI): I have a soft spot for Celek, but it’s Vick and his lack execution in finding him on a consistent basis that worries me. Some think this is the Cincinnati Bearcats Alum’s breakout year, but sorry, I don’t see it. Sure, he will have his match ups, but nothing more.
11. Jared Cook (TEN): This is the guy that could breakout much like many of the Titans skill players. This will be an even greater play if Jake Locker takes over (seriously folks, watch the tape on this guy…he is a gamer) and would really bode well for entire offense.
12. Fred Davis (WAS): He was on his way to being considered a top-5 TE last year (despite having Rex Grossman at QB) before he got suspended. One thing that is for certain is that rookie QBs lean heavily on the TE in the NFL, and having RGIII as his QB should really pay huge dividends for anyone who grabs him this late.
13. Jacob Tamme (DEN): This is a no-brainer. The Coach, Peyton Manning, snagged him from the Colts and with those two already having a great working relationship. Peyton trusts him and if you’re in a deep league (or the last to roster a TE), don’t forget this guy.
14. Greg Olsen (CAR): He has been underutilized in the NFL since he has been here. The release of Shockey leaves him as the man at the TE for this football team. I see him as the first passing option in the red zone much like my boy “Gresh” above. It’s simple, really…if Cam gets better, then so does Olsen. With Steve Smith demanding so much attention, this will leave Olsen open in a lot of favorable matchups this year versus opposing teams DEs, LBs, and Nickel CBs.
15. Tony Moekai (KC): After suffering a season-ending injury a year ago, look for him to play a very important role for this offense as he did two years ago. Romeo Crennel loves using the TE in the passing game — especially in the red zone. I guess I should have him in blue but, I wanna watch how the Chiefs use their weapons in training camp first.
16. Tony Gonzalez (ATL): The elder statesmen of the position, this future HOF can still play. Is he being used as much? No, but he doesn’t miss games and will have his favorable matchups as the season wears on. *Props* to him for having a wonderful career. Can the Falcons send him out the right way with a Super Bowl ring? Guess we’ll have to see…
17. Owen Daniels (HOU): Ok, I understand that, yes Matt Schaub LOVES throwing to his TEs. But I also understand that Owen hasn’t been the healthiest option at the position in the last few years. It’s a gamble on both ends here – with his health and Matt’s ultimately boasting his fantasy production. There’s too many variables for him to be trusted.
18. Dustin Keller (NYJ): I really like Keller for his skill set – its just that the offense isn’t gonna be the same as year’s past, so it’s hard to even imagine him being used enough each week to be fantasy relevant.
19. Coby Fleener (IND): Everyone knows he was Andrew Luck’s best buddy in college. Grabbing him helps Luck be comfortable from Day One knowing he has at least one target out there that he can he trust besides Reggie Wayne. Will they score enough TDs for him to be a solid play week-in and week-out? It’s not likely, but I’m staying positive.
20. Dallas Clark (TAM): The former Colt got tossed aside like trash in this “What have you done for me lately” NFL. Sure, he was a great fantasy TE with Peyton, but his role with Freeman is still unclear. I don’t see him being a focal point with VJax and Co. being more explosive, but he will have his matchups where he WILL shine…just pay attention.
21. Ed Dickson (BAL): I think if he puts it all together, the glorified Trent Dilfer in Joe Flacco will make this guy a household name. Remember how I mentioned in my RBs rankings that I believe Harbuagh gets a little too cute in the red zone, shying away from the run and going pass? Well, THIS guy will benefit from that!
22. John Carlson/Kyle Rudolph (MIN): I like Ponder a lot more than others (sure myFlorida State bias plays into that), but what I saw from him down the stretch a year ago, leads me to believe that maybe the Vikings have got themselves a QB. Utilizing a double-TE set will give Ponder the comfort he needs to stay in the pocket, and having two TEs with similar skills sets gives the defense yet another thing that they must plan against. I love Rudolph a bit more than Carlson, because he has a bit more speed.
23. Lance Kendricks (STL): Here’s the sleeper everyone LOVED a year ago. The question on him is if he can catch the damn ball. I sure hope he got his act together over the off-season, because this is Sam Bradford’s put-up or shut-up year and he’lll need Kendricks to be a consistent option so the WRs can mold their roles around him.
24. Kellen Winslow (SEA) : Yeah, he is a F#$%#King Soldier, but I’m not buying the QB situation. Sure, they may use him a ton, but will he put in the work to be successful? Maybe he does, but the until we see clear usage-patterns where he is involved heavily…don’t bother.
Written exclusively for FantasyTrade411.com by T (@WHUDEY). T was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and is an elite fantasy gamer that you can find hosting Perusing the Perimeter (Thurs. 6 – 7:30) and Bracket Coverage (6-8PM) on the F2A Network. You can follow T on Twitter at @WHUDEY.