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Fantasy Football 2013 Top 15 Tight Ends

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Top 15 Tight Ends

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The tight end position is not on most people's minds in the first couple rounds of Fantasy Football drafts. It's a position that can fly under the radar and not be the focal point of a team, and yet it's a position that can make or break a Fantasy season.

Everybody is going to nab at least one big-time wide receiver and running back. It's the big-name tight ends that can separate a Fantasy team from the rest of the league. Getting someone like Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski early can add a huge weapon to a team. Particularly when added to an already potentially potent wide receiving core.

But that's not to say that someone like Owen Daniels, who could be set for a breakout year, should be jumped on in the third round. It's all about timing with tight ends. On the list of Fantasy tight ends, which one is the tipping point between confidence and iffiness?

There's no shame in taking a quality tight end before the middle rounds. There's even less shame in drafting one of the top three or four guys in the first couple rounds. It's a premium position, and can be the deal breaker on whether or not a team makes the journey into the Fantasy postseason.

So far this preseason, Aaron Hernandez has obviously fallen out of the rankings, which is a shame because he would have been the second best tight end on the year. Dennis Pitta is out for the year as well, so that's two top-15 guys that can safely be removed from the radar

Here are the 15 guys that can give a team that extra push out of a position that's in high demand

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15. Ed Dickson

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Ed Dickson fell out of grace with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 with the emergence of Dennis Pitta. But prior to that, in 2011, Dickson saw 89 targets. Now with Pitta out for the year, there's no reason why Dickson can't fill the void and produce 2011-like numbers if not better. He may not be a premium No. 1 tight end, but he's a good guy to grab as a security blanket.

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14. Brandon Pettigrew

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Brandon Pettigrew was primed to build upon a decent 2011 season, and with the injuries to Detroit Lions receiving targets, he had every opportunity to do so. It just never happened for him. On one of the premier passing teams in the league, Pettigrew should have reached Fantasy stardom by now. There's always that hope that this is the year. Not a No. 1 tight end by any means, Pettigrew still sees targets and this could finally be his year.

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13. Martellus Bennett

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Martellus Bennett is a freakish athlete. He has yet to make an elongated stay on a team, yet each team he plays for he impacts. The Chicago Bears have a lot of weapons, but the fear becomes whether Bennett may be used more to help out an offensive line that is just terrible. Jay Cutler has plenty of targets, that's for sure, but it'll be hard to ignore a target that is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds in the red zone.

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12. Brandon Myers

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Brandon Myers broke out on an Oakland Raiders team that was just awful. So when Myers moved to play alongside Eli Manning and the New York Giants, he grabbed some attention. Manning is keen on making his tight ends succeed, as he did with guys like Kevin Boss and Martellus Bennett. Myers could see the same spike in production and could turn into one of the top breakout Fantasy players of 2013.

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11. Kyle Rudolph

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Kyle Rudolph could be so good if he was on a more consistent passing team. With quarterback questions surrounding Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson will again carry the team on his back. But he can't carry it every play, and Ponder will have to throw it on occasion. Rudolph welcomes Greg Jennings into the passing attack, and that should free up massive space in the middle of the field for him to roam. Rudolph is a No. 1 tight end, but beware of a passing attack that may be sluggish at times.

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10. Antonio Gates

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Antonio Gates used to be the hands-down No. 1 tight-end for several years back in his prime. But now that the San Diego Chargers are permanently in offensive limbo, his numbers have dwindled. That being said, the guy still puts up seven touchdowns a season, but the yardage totals may be lacking. Gates still has the skill set to succeed, but the question becomes whether Philip Rivers has the skill set to get him the ball. He's still a reliable No. 1 tight end but a good back up would be advisable.

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9. Greg Olsen

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Greg Olsen has more time under his belt that he's used to mesh with Cam Newton. He was Cam's No. 2 target in 2012, and seeing as how the Carolina Panthers didn't add any big name toys for Newton to play with, Olsen should continue to see as many targets. That being said, he only saw five end zone targets all year, a number that makes Fantasy owners terrified. Touchdowns are everything in Fantasy, but his yardage totals are what keep him afloat in the top tight end list. Olsen is a quality starter, but the lack of touchdowns leaves tons of room for improvement.

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8. Jermichael Finley

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Jermichael Finley has the tools and the team to be a Fantasy stud. After a prolific 2011 season, 2012 was far from what was expected of him. In a passing attack like the Green Bay Packers, there are tons of opportunities to score, as nearly every touchdown comes through the air. Yet Finley managed just two on the year. It had to have just been a fluke year. With Greg Jennings moving away from the Pack, Finley has one less target to compete with. Look for Finley to return to near-2011 numbers.

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7. Jared Cook

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Jared Cook is about to go crazy for the St. Louis Rams this year. He has tremendous athletic ability and is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, with a 4.49 to boot. Big guys aren't supposed to run that fast. This is the biggest guy on the field by far, as the Rams receivers are very undersized. Cook comes over from a feeble Tennessee Titans offense where he still managed to scrounge together four touchdowns. The Rams passing attack still has some kinks to work out, but Cook could be the fix to a lot of those kinks. Rest assured that Cook can hold his own as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end.

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6. Owen Daniels

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Owen Daniels has been undervalued as a tight end for far too long. He's battled injuries throughout his career and his touchdown numbers may leave owners wanting more, but his yardage totals should be enough to stem any hefty criticism. He finds plenty of space in the middle of the field with Andre Johnson taking the majority of the coverage. Daniels rarely practiced last year due to injury and he still finished as the eighth overall tight end. He's going to improve on those numbers as long as he stays healthy.

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5. Vernon Davis

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With the injury to Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis is going to be the go-to guy for Colin Kaepernick. There is no questioning the skills of Davis, what raises questions is his chemistry with the second-year starting quarterback. What puts those questions to rest is his playoff repertoire with Kaepernick, where he had two 100-yard games. Davis can be the top tight end in the league with his size and speed, he just needs the consistent targets. That can be delivered in 2013, and Davis can definitely be relied upon as a top-tier tight end.

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4. Jason Witten

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Jason Witten is about as consistent as they come as far as tight ends are concerned. He was the only tight end to exceed 1000 yards in 2012. That's a huge number for a tight end. With Dez Bryant and Miles Austin calling all defensive backs attention, Witten finds a lot of open space. Even with his touchdown numbers on the decline, his yardage numbers keep him secure as one of the top tight ends available.

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3. Rob Gronkowski

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Rob Gronkowski should be No. 1 on this list, but with his injuries and off-field issues, he's fallen to third. The main concern with Gronk is when he'll be ready to play. If he's ready by Week 4, he's still an intriguing early-round pick, but obviously someone is needed to fill in for those first four weeks. Gronk has very little competition as far as receiving targets are concerned, and Tom Brady's penchant for throwing to the party-hard tight end is no secret. Rest assured that Gronk could put up 2012-like numbers even in a shortened season.

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2. Tony Gonzalez

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There's nothing bad that can be said about veteran Tony Gonzalez. He seems to get better with age, with touchdown numbers consistently numbering around eight. His yardage totals always fall just shy of 1000, and his targets never seem to drop either. Even with guys like Roddy White and Julio Jones, Gonzalez still remains as one of the top threats the Atlanta Falcons have in the passing game. Matt Ryan loves Tony Gonzalez, and years seem to have no effect on the guy, so go ahead and grab Gonzalez and kiss tight end worries good bye for the 2013 season.

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1. Jimmy Graham

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No surprises here. Jimmy Graham is as good as a No. 1 wide receiver, but he doesn't have to take up a precious WR slot. The New Orleans Saints are hungry. With head coach Sean Payton back from his suspension, the Saints could run rampant over the entire NFL. But as can be expected, it won't be their defense that wins games. Jimmy Graham is the focal point of that offense. He may be the first tight end in Fantasy history that is worth a first-round pick.