Fantasy Football 2013: Ranking the Top 15 Tight Ends

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Fantasy Football 2013: Ranking the Top 15 Tight Ends

jimmy graham
Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

To build a winning fantasy football team, you have to get production from every position. One of the toughest to get consistent production out of on a weekly basis is often the tight end position. While the role of tight ends seems to be growing on some teams, getting solid production from game to game can be a tricky proposition.

But it is far from impossible. Getting a solid tight end can be the difference between having a good team and a championship-winning team. There are solid options available if you know where to look. If you miss out on the elite group of pass catchers at tight end, you may get stuck with a massive hole in your lineup that can sink even the best lineup.

So who should you go after for your tight end needs? There are the obvious names that have distanced themselves as the elite at their position group in recent years and will likely continue to be the cream of the crop. But who fills out the next tier of talented pass catchers? If you miss out on the top tier of tight ends, it’ll be important to pick up another option that will at the very least give you adequate production.

Finding that missing piece to your team at tight end should be a priority on draft day. Knowing who to target will give you an indisputable edge. Without further ado, let’s count down the top 15 fantasy tight ends for the 2013 season.

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15. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

martellus bennett
Anthony Gruppuso - USA TODAY Sports

Last season with the New York Giants, Martellus Bennett failed to live up to expectations. He still put up solid numbers and flashed excellent playmaking ability, snagging 55 receptions for 626 yards and five touchdowns. He is an athletic pass catcher who can block and fills a major need in the Chicago offense. If Jay Cutler can get half-decent protection from his offensive line and spread the ball around a bit in 2013, Bennett could be a breakout performer.

3 of 16

14. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

Heath Miller
Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

He isn’t flashy, but Heath Miller is consistently productive. He turned in a career year in 2012, catching 71 passes for 816 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. He did suffer a nasty knee injury, however, in Week 16, tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL, meaning he likely won’t find the field until partway through the season. That doesn’t mean he won’t make an impact, and he could be a difference-maker down the stretch late in the year, especially considering the chemistry built up between Miller and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

4 of 16

13. Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams

jared cook
Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

Few tight ends can match the size and speed of Jared Cook. Despite that, Cook has failed to catch more than 49 passes in his four years in the league. The hope is that a change in scenery to St. Louis can ignite Cook’s untapped potential. Head coach Jeff Fisher has plans to use the tight end all over the field and really utilize his athleticism to its fullest extent. There is definite upside with Cook, but will he finally figure out how to turn that potential into production?

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12. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills

scott chandler
Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills employed a wide-open spread attack the lined Scott Chandler up all over the field. He responded with a strong season, catching 43 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns, but he will be coming back from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 16. All reports have him making it back for Week 1 of the regular season. There’s reason to be concerned, however, with how he will bounce back from knee surgery and the quarterback situation in Buffalo. Additionally, Chandler is a touchdown-dependent fantasy player, so beware.

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11. Brandon Myers, New York Giants

brandon myers
Kelley L. Cox - USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Myers was stuck in a bad situation in Oakland last season, but he still managed to be a top-six tight end in targets, catches and receiving yards. He hauled in 79 catches for 806 yards and scored four touchdowns and will now have the benefit of playing with Eli Manning and the Giants in a very tight end-friendly offense. He finished with the highest catch percentage of any tight end last season with at least 50 targets, but he may have to improve his blocking this offseason if he hopes to avoid the wrath of Tom Coughlin.

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10. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Gates might be losing a few steps in his later years, but he’s still a highly productive tight end who will put up points in fantasy. Last season, he caught 49 passes for 538 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He seems to have worked past his injury issues, but there’s concern about his age. He posted the lowest yardage total since his rookie season and is obviously on the decline. The question for those thinking of drafting him is whether or not he has one good year left in him.

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9. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

greg olsen
Jeremy Brevard - USA TODAY Sports

Greg Olsen found an excellent role with the Panthers in 2012, serving as the de facto No. 2 receiver for Cam Newton. He set career marks with 69 receptions for 843 yards, but he only found the end zone five times. Carolina has other options in the red zone, minimizing Olsen’s ability to score touchdowns. Despite getting the sixth-most targets among tight ends last season, Newton looked his way just five times near the goal line (with just one catch). He’s been great between the 20s, but his inability to get looks in the end zone hurts his value in fantasy.

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8. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

kyle rudolph
Dennis Wierzbicki - USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Rudolph sneakily turned in a very productive season in 2012. While he only caught 57 percent of passes thrown his way, he was efficient with the ones he came down with. He finished the year with 53 catches for 493 yards with nine touchdowns. That is the second highest total among tight ends last season. If he can come up with catches more consistently, Rudolph could turn into a strong tight end sleeper in 2013.

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7. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans

owen daniels
Thomas Campbell - USA TODAY Sports

Owen Daniels has quietly been an integral part of the Houston Texans’ passing attack for years. Last season, he caught 62 passes on 103 targets for 716 yards and found the end zone six times. He benefits from the Texans’ balanced attack with Arian Foster setting up play-action and Andre Johnson stretching the field and occupying defenders. He’s going to get plenty of opportunities in 2013 and will give a good return in any format.

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6. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens

dennis pitta
Greg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have committed to Joe Flacco as the leader of their offense, so he’ll need someone to throw to. Dennis Pitta is an athletic, physical pass catcher who can create matchup problems over the middle. Last season, he hauled in 61 passes for 669 yards and scored seven touchdowns through the air. With questions about the depth of the wide receiving corps, Pitta could become a favorite target for Flacco and turn in a career year in 2013.

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5. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

vernon davis
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

There are few players as boom or bust as Vernon Davis was in 2012. He had 12 catches of 20-plus yards, but he could disappear for long stretches, sometimes lasting for an entire game. He finished the year with just 41 catches for 548 yards and five touchdowns, but he has the potential to be a major contributor if given enough looks. The risk is that San Francisco’s read-option attack with Colin Kaepernick may not consistently look Davis’ way. If they do, however, Davis has the potential to put up serious numbers this season.

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4. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

rob gronkowski
Mark L. Baer - USA TODAY Sports

No tight end caught more touchdown passes than Rob Gronkowski in 2012, when he hauled in 11 touchdowns and recorded 55 catches for 790 yards. As the only tight end in New England, he should get plenty of opportunities to catch plenty of passes from Tom Brady, but health is a concern. Multiple surgeries this offseason on his forearm and back are cause for concern, but if he is healthy, look for a return to the 2011 Gronk, when he caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

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3. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

tony gonzalez
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

The ageless wonder, Tony Gonzalez, will be coming back for one more run with the Atlanta Falcons and should continue to be a top target for Matt Ryan. Last season, he caught 93 passes for 930 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He excels as a possession receiver and should continue to get a healthy portion of looks from Ryan in the passing offense. He scores touchdowns and catches a ton of passes, making him a solid pickup in just about every format.

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2. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

jason witten
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Jason Witten led all tight ends with 110 receptions (good for fifth among all pass catchers) for 1,039 yards in 2012, but he found the end zone just three times. He has proven to be a security blanket for Tony Romo, who relies on him heavily to move the football down the field. The lack of touchdowns hurt his value in fantasy, but he could be the most reliable tight end on the board and pay big dividends in PPR leagues.

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1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

jimmy graham
John David Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

Every receiver that plays with Drew Brees is going to get a nice boost to their fantasy value, and Jimmy Graham has the playmaking ability to take that boost and become the best tight end in football next season. He caught 85 passes on 135 targets in 2012 for 982 yards and scored nine touchdowns (tied for second most among tight ends). His athleticism in a pass-happy offense gives him boundless upside as he makes big plays down the field and finds the end zone regularly.

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Fantasy Football 2013: Ranking the Top 15 Tight Ends

jimmy graham
Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

To build a winning fantasy football team, you have to get production from every position. One of the toughest to get consistent production out of on a weekly basis is often the tight end position. While the role of tight ends seems to be growing on some teams, getting solid production from game to game can be a tricky proposition.

But it is far from impossible. Getting a solid tight end can be the difference between having a good team and a championship-winning team. There are solid options available if you know where to look. If you miss out on the elite group of pass catchers at tight end, you may get stuck with a massive hole in your lineup that can sink even the best lineup.

So who should you go after for your tight end needs? There are the obvious names that have distanced themselves as the elite at their position group in recent years and will likely continue to be the cream of the crop. But who fills out the next tier of talented pass catchers? If you miss out on the top tier of tight ends, it’ll be important to pick up another option that will at the very least give you adequate production.

Finding that missing piece to your team at tight end should be a priority on draft day. Knowing who to target will give you an indisputable edge. Without further ado, let’s count down the top 15 fantasy tight ends for the 2013 season.

2 of 16

15. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

martellus bennett
Anthony Gruppuso - USA TODAY Sports

Last season with the New York Giants, Martellus Bennett failed to live up to expectations. He still put up solid numbers and flashed excellent playmaking ability, snagging 55 receptions for 626 yards and five touchdowns. He is an athletic pass catcher who can block and fills a major need in the Chicago offense. If Jay Cutler can get half-decent protection from his offensive line and spread the ball around a bit in 2013, Bennett could be a breakout performer.

3 of 16

14. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

Heath Miller
Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

He isn’t flashy, but Heath Miller is consistently productive. He turned in a career year in 2012, catching 71 passes for 816 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. He did suffer a nasty knee injury, however, in Week 16, tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL, meaning he likely won’t find the field until partway through the season. That doesn’t mean he won’t make an impact, and he could be a difference-maker down the stretch late in the year, especially considering the chemistry built up between Miller and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

4 of 16

13. Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams

jared cook
Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

Few tight ends can match the size and speed of Jared Cook. Despite that, Cook has failed to catch more than 49 passes in his four years in the league. The hope is that a change in scenery to St. Louis can ignite Cook’s untapped potential. Head coach Jeff Fisher has plans to use the tight end all over the field and really utilize his athleticism to its fullest extent. There is definite upside with Cook, but will he finally figure out how to turn that potential into production?

5 of 16

12. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills

scott chandler
Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills employed a wide-open spread attack the lined Scott Chandler up all over the field. He responded with a strong season, catching 43 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns, but he will be coming back from a torn ACL he suffered in Week 16. All reports have him making it back for Week 1 of the regular season. There’s reason to be concerned, however, with how he will bounce back from knee surgery and the quarterback situation in Buffalo. Additionally, Chandler is a touchdown-dependent fantasy player, so beware.

6 of 16

11. Brandon Myers, New York Giants

brandon myers
Kelley L. Cox - USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Myers was stuck in a bad situation in Oakland last season, but he still managed to be a top-six tight end in targets, catches and receiving yards. He hauled in 79 catches for 806 yards and scored four touchdowns and will now have the benefit of playing with Eli Manning and the Giants in a very tight end-friendly offense. He finished with the highest catch percentage of any tight end last season with at least 50 targets, but he may have to improve his blocking this offseason if he hopes to avoid the wrath of Tom Coughlin.

7 of 16

10. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Antonio Gates
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Gates might be losing a few steps in his later years, but he’s still a highly productive tight end who will put up points in fantasy. Last season, he caught 49 passes for 538 yards and scored seven touchdowns. He seems to have worked past his injury issues, but there’s concern about his age. He posted the lowest yardage total since his rookie season and is obviously on the decline. The question for those thinking of drafting him is whether or not he has one good year left in him.

8 of 16

9. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

greg olsen
Jeremy Brevard - USA TODAY Sports

Greg Olsen found an excellent role with the Panthers in 2012, serving as the de facto No. 2 receiver for Cam Newton. He set career marks with 69 receptions for 843 yards, but he only found the end zone five times. Carolina has other options in the red zone, minimizing Olsen’s ability to score touchdowns. Despite getting the sixth-most targets among tight ends last season, Newton looked his way just five times near the goal line (with just one catch). He’s been great between the 20s, but his inability to get looks in the end zone hurts his value in fantasy.

9 of 16

8. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

kyle rudolph
Dennis Wierzbicki - USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Rudolph sneakily turned in a very productive season in 2012. While he only caught 57 percent of passes thrown his way, he was efficient with the ones he came down with. He finished the year with 53 catches for 493 yards with nine touchdowns. That is the second highest total among tight ends last season. If he can come up with catches more consistently, Rudolph could turn into a strong tight end sleeper in 2013.

10 of 16

7. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans

owen daniels
Thomas Campbell - USA TODAY Sports

Owen Daniels has quietly been an integral part of the Houston Texans’ passing attack for years. Last season, he caught 62 passes on 103 targets for 716 yards and found the end zone six times. He benefits from the Texans’ balanced attack with Arian Foster setting up play-action and Andre Johnson stretching the field and occupying defenders. He’s going to get plenty of opportunities in 2013 and will give a good return in any format.

11 of 16

6. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens

dennis pitta
Greg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have committed to Joe Flacco as the leader of their offense, so he’ll need someone to throw to. Dennis Pitta is an athletic, physical pass catcher who can create matchup problems over the middle. Last season, he hauled in 61 passes for 669 yards and scored seven touchdowns through the air. With questions about the depth of the wide receiving corps, Pitta could become a favorite target for Flacco and turn in a career year in 2013.

12 of 16

5. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

vernon davis
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

There are few players as boom or bust as Vernon Davis was in 2012. He had 12 catches of 20-plus yards, but he could disappear for long stretches, sometimes lasting for an entire game. He finished the year with just 41 catches for 548 yards and five touchdowns, but he has the potential to be a major contributor if given enough looks. The risk is that San Francisco’s read-option attack with Colin Kaepernick may not consistently look Davis’ way. If they do, however, Davis has the potential to put up serious numbers this season.

13 of 16

4. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

rob gronkowski
Mark L. Baer - USA TODAY Sports

No tight end caught more touchdown passes than Rob Gronkowski in 2012, when he hauled in 11 touchdowns and recorded 55 catches for 790 yards. As the only tight end in New England, he should get plenty of opportunities to catch plenty of passes from Tom Brady, but health is a concern. Multiple surgeries this offseason on his forearm and back are cause for concern, but if he is healthy, look for a return to the 2011 Gronk, when he caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

14 of 16

3. Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons

tony gonzalez
Daniel Shirey - USA TODAY Sports

The ageless wonder, Tony Gonzalez, will be coming back for one more run with the Atlanta Falcons and should continue to be a top target for Matt Ryan. Last season, he caught 93 passes for 930 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He excels as a possession receiver and should continue to get a healthy portion of looks from Ryan in the passing offense. He scores touchdowns and catches a ton of passes, making him a solid pickup in just about every format.

15 of 16

2. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

jason witten
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Jason Witten led all tight ends with 110 receptions (good for fifth among all pass catchers) for 1,039 yards in 2012, but he found the end zone just three times. He has proven to be a security blanket for Tony Romo, who relies on him heavily to move the football down the field. The lack of touchdowns hurt his value in fantasy, but he could be the most reliable tight end on the board and pay big dividends in PPR leagues.

16 of 16

1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

jimmy graham
John David Mercer - USA TODAY Sports

Every receiver that plays with Drew Brees is going to get a nice boost to their fantasy value, and Jimmy Graham has the playmaking ability to take that boost and become the best tight end in football next season. He caught 85 passes on 135 targets in 2012 for 982 yards and scored nine touchdowns (tied for second most among tight ends). His athleticism in a pass-happy offense gives him boundless upside as he makes big plays down the field and finds the end zone regularly.


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