Fantasy Football 2013: Players to Love; Tight Ends

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

 

You know, for the past few seasons, outside of the top three or four guys, the tight end position could pretty much be wrapped up into one word.

Blah.

This year, there is no exception, and in fact, it’s even worse. The tight end position has been absolutely decimated during the preseason. Guys like Dennis PittaHeath Miller, Dustin Keller, and Rob Gronkowski are all some of the significant injuries at the position, and of course, we all know what happened with Aaron Hernandez. I don’t think I need to dive into that too much. The point is that this position is no longer deep, and quite frankly, if I don’t wind up getting Jimmy Graham, I’m most likely going to be the last person to grab one. There just isn’t too much of a difference between the number five tight end and the number 12. For instance, in 2012, the number four tight end (Jason Witten) only scored 29 more fantasy points than the number 14 guy in Martellus Bennett. Anyway, let’s get to the tight ends I love for the upcoming season.

This shouldn’t take too long …

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers: Olsen is coming off of a career 2012 campaign, in which he set career highs in yards and catches. He really produced for fantasy owners, especially during Cam Newton’s magical play down the stretch. Over the course of the season, Olsen finished sixth in both targets among tight ends, as well as fantasy points among tight ends. Outside of Steve Smith, Olsen is the main weapon of choice in the Panthers passing attack. Olsen’s combination of size and speed makes him a favorite target for Newton over the middle, and if he can finally break out and start to become more of a red zone threat, he will have some serious top-five fantasy potential.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: While it’s clear as day that Davis is one of the most athletic and talented tight ends in the league, my reasoning for liking him in 2013 is mostly based off of volume. I mean, with Michael Crabtree sidelined, Davis and quarterback Colin Kaepernick won’t have a choice but to be looking for each other. Last year, Crabtree was clearly Kaepernick’s guy, as he targeted him over 60 percent of the time. However, he won’t be there, and Davis is easily the best receiving option on this roster. Davis will likely line up in more ways for the team to get him to ball, whether it be in the slot, outside, anything. While his excellent blocking will be a necessity for a run-heavy football club, Davis should coexist much better with Kaepernick in year two together. At 29-years old, Davis still has a ton of upside, and he and his signal caller are already developing that chemistry that was missing most of last season.

Brandon Myers, New York Giants: Who would have thought that Myers would have finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in 2012? Not me, that’s for sure. Myers came out of nowhere, becoming one of the waiver wire darlings of the year. The gifted tight end hauled in an impressive 79 balls for 804 yards and four scores, all while being targeted a healthy 105 times. Keep in mind, that was on a less than pedestrian Oakland offense with a serviceable, not great, Carson Palmer tossing him the rock. Now, the move to New York should warrant the attention of fantasy owners everywhere. Despite having a poor 2012 season, Eli Manning is an upgrade over Palmer at quarterback, and is also a guy who typically likes to include his tight ends in the passing game a lot. For instance, Martellus Bennett was targeted a solid 90 times last season alongside Manning, Kevin Boss was targeted 69 times in both 2009 and 2010 with Manning, and how about Jeremy Shockey? This guy was a monster with Manning back in 2006 and 2007, where he averaged about 103 targets over those two seasons. Myers, meanwhile, is a guy with terrific hands, catching the highest amount of passes among tight ends with 50 targets last season. The Giants will pass the ball a good amount this season, and considering the fact that Hakeem Nicks (sadly) just can’t ever seem to stay healthy, Myers may be very busy this season.

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns: What once was a sleeper is now already a hot commodity in the fantasy world. Many fantasy analysts have been high on Cameron since before the NFL draft, and I am one of them. First of all, the dude is simply a freak athlete, which is always intriguing. Standing at a whopping 6’5″, 245 lbs with massive hops, Cameron (a former basketball star) has the ability to dominate in the red zone. I mean, seriously. Go check out this dude’s Youtube clip of him throwing down some vicious dunks. Anyway, Cameron now has the opportunity to step in and assert himself as a breakout player in 2013. Wideout Josh Gordon is suspended for the first two games of the season, which simply means more targets for Cameron. And secondly, he is in an ideal system for tight end production. New head coach Rob Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator in Carolina last year, and helped Olsen post career numbers. He’s also helped other tight ends in the past:

Tight Ends Under Rob Chudzinski

Year Player Team Catches Yards Average TDs
2000 Jeremy Shockey MIA 40 519 13.0 7
2004 Aaron Shea CLE 26 252 9.7 4
2005 Antonio Gates SD 89 1,101 12.4 10
2007 Kellen Winslow CLE 82 1,106 13.5 5
2011 Greg Olsen CAR 45 540 12.0 5
2012 Greg Olsen CAR 69 843 12.2 5

 

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner also has a history of producing quality tight ends. Just ask Antonio Gates. With the current state of the tight end position, Cameron seriously has top-10 fantasy potential. Let’s just hope Brandon Weeden isn’t awful, but so far in the preseason, so good.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

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