2013 Preseason Player Rankings: TE

  1. Jimmy Graham (NO) – On a tier by himself among tight ends this season, Graham should be able to well surpass his numbers from last year now that he has a healthy wrist and Sean Payton back calling the plays.
  2. Vernon Davis (SF) – I’m buying high on Davis this year. Pound-for-pound, Davis is one of the most physically gifted players in the league. With CK7’s favorite target – Michael Crabtree, out for a good chunk of the season, Vernon Davis has been lining up at WR in training camp to fill the void. Though the two failed to connect for anything resembling fantasy value in the final weeks of the season (an ugly 5 catches for 61 yards and 0 TDs in the final 6 games), it finally came together in the playoffs. For those anticipating Anquan Boldin to pick up the slack on his own, keep in mind he averaged a pedestrian 600 yards and 4 TDs per season as a Raven. Davis will need to be productive in order for the ‘Niners to put up points, and with a serious lack of alternative pass-catchers, this could be a career year for him.
  3. Jason Witten (Dal) – Hauled in an absolutely outrageous 110 receptions last year. While he may not get as many red zone looks as you would expect (never posted a season with double digit TDs, and only scored above 7 once), he is a PPR monster.
  4. Tony Gonzalez (Atl) – For a guy pushing 40, putting up 930 yards and 8 TDs last season was one hell of a feat. While he should remain a favorite option of Matt Ryan, you would have to think that some regression is in line.
  5. Rob Gronkowski (NE) – If healthy, there is no doubt that he would be ranked as the top tight end. The problem is, he currently isn’t healthy, and no one knows when/if he will be. Initially, thoughts were that Gronkowski would find a spot on the PUP list, forcing him to miss the first 6 weeks. However, there is reportedly now a chance that he could be ready much sooner. As Tom Brady’s most trusted and established target, it’s a shame that his forearm and back have plagued him so terribly, because with the rest of New England’s pass-catching options now finding work in Denver and jail, there was a very good chance Gronk would have had a career season, and possibly challenged every TE record in the books. For now, don’t consider drafting him as a starting tight end until more is heard about the status of his injury. Target him in the double digit rounds as someone to stash for the late weeks/playoff time.
  6. Kyle Rudolph (Min) – Was far and away the favorite red zone target of Christian Ponder last season. With good hands at 6’6”, 260lb – it’s not really hard to guess why. His frame and skillset works perfectly in tandem with the redzone play-actions and bootlegs the Vikings love to run, and teams love to bite on (primarily cause they won’t stop AP if they don’t). Having said that, his value relies almost solely on TD potential in an offense built around a runningback.
  7. Greg Olsen (Car)
  8. Martellus Bennett (Chi) – The Bears have been notoriously horrible at incorporating a pass-catching tight end into their offense. Hopefully Marc Trestman can change that. If Bennett has a strong preseason, expect his stock to rise dramatically. As the way things stand, he would currently appear to be the #2 target in the offense behind Brandon Marshall.
  9. Jordan Cameron (Cle) - 8/23: True to form, Turner has implemented Cameron in a big way in preseason. Has immense sleeper value at the TE position. Norv Turner likes his tight ends, and throwing the ball downfield.
  10. Brandon Myers (NYG) – Posted a very respectable 79 reception/806 yard/4 TD line last season in a very mediocre Oakland offense. The move to New York (or North Jersey, if we want to get technical) should only help him. Gets a nice value boost in PPR formats, and has a good chance to see more red zone looks.
  11. Zach Sudfeld (NE)Update 8/23: Sudfield has seemingly been the Patriots go-to TE in preseason. At 6’7″ he provides a huge threat in the red-zone  and could  be in for a huge season with the Patriots struggling for receiving depth.
  12. Antonio Gates (SD) – Gates isn’t getting any younger, and Philip Rivers isn’t getting any better. You know what you’re getting here.
  13. Owen Daniels (Hou) – I legitimately checked three different depth charts to make sure that Houston had not gone out and picked up another TE after James Casey left. Daniels has always been a good tight end, but one whose fantasy value has been weighed down by the Houston system. An increase in his targets could likely happen, but there is nothing to indicate a “breakout” of any kind is in the cards.
  14. Rob Housler (Ari) – Bruce Arians used his tight ends quite a bit last year in Indianapolis, and he loves to throw the ball down-field. Housler has reportedly been crushing it in training camp, and if he continues to be heavily utilized in preseason, expect his draft stock to soar.
  15. Jermichael Finley (GB) – Every league has a guy who has taken Jermichael Finley expecting it to be the year he “figures it out” and “finally capitalizes on that potential”, or my personal favorite, “he is catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, he’ll be a stud for sure!” If, like me, you’re done buying into the fact that he plays on a good team and once-upon-a-time had a good scouting report, I wouldn’t draft him as a #1 TE. On the upside, Mike McCarthy has said that Finley is having an incredible camp. His high potential ceiling warrants a later round flier on him, but in the event of another all-too-familiar implosion, QB-quarrel, etc., make sure you have an alternative.
  16. Jared Cook (StL) – Has a history with Jeff Fischer, but has largely failed to live up to expectations. The St. Louis beat writers, columnists, and coaching staff all seem to love the guy, but he wasn’t even targeted once in the first preseason game. If he starts to turn it on in the latter stages of preseason, expect his draft stock to skyrocket. At 6’5”, he figures to be a primary red zone target in what is an otherwise undersized offense.
  17. Dallas Clark (Bal) – Wait and see how bad Ed Dickson’s injury is, and how much Clark is utilized in preseason. Baltimore is horribly lacking short-mid range passing targets, and Clark was brought in, along with another former Colt, Brandon Stokley to fill that void. The fact that Clark had played, and thrived in Jim Caldwell’s Indianapolis system helps.
  18. Brandon Pettigrew (Det) – Has reportedly slimmed down and adopted a healthier diet in efforts to improve upon his career-worst 2012 numbers. Playing with Matthew Stafford in an offense that utilizes the run game as an afterthought can’t hurt him.
  19. Brent Celek (Phi) – He has been playing with the starters in training camp under new HC, Chip Kelly, but it is no secret that hotshot rookie TE, Zach Ertz is vying for his job.
  20. Coby Fleener (Ind) – Despite coming up short against fellow-TD Dwayne Allen last season, reports from Pagano suggest that Fleener’s workload could double this season. After all, he is a fellow Stanford alumnus with his OC and QB.
  21. Tyler Eifert (Cin) – This kid was a monster in college, and has been showing great separation and ability to catch the ball in traffic early out of the gate. With rumors swirling around about Andy Dalton’s lack of arm strength, Eifert is a prime breakout candidate for 2013.
  22. Zac Ertz (Phi) – Much higher upside than Celek, worth a flier in deeper leagues.
  23. Marcedes Lewis (Jax) – A talented TE on a bad team.
  24. Jake Ballard (NE) – They have to still use a TE somewhat, right?
  25. Heath Miller (Pit) – Productive, and trusted in the red-zone by Roethlisberger when healthy
  26. Dustin Keller (Mia) – 8/17: Keller blew out his knee completely; PCL, MCL, and ACL with a dislocation to top it all off. Will be out for the season. Keep in check to see who the Dolphins decide to roll with at TE. Keller has looked sharp in preseason, and has seemingly earned the trust of Tannehill. With the down-field nature of Mike Wallace, there is a decent chance that Keller could emerge as a favorite short-midrange weapon of the sophomore QB, and end up being a steal in drafts.

About John Warmkessel

Operator & head writer for 1UP Fantasy Sports. Contact me at the email provided, or via the contact form on the home page of the website. Follow on twitter @1UPfantasy for up to date player advice, gameday Q & A, and more.
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