Breaking News:

Post-Draft Dynasty Ranks: TE

Rotoworld

Our final installment of post-draft dynasty rankings will cover the tight end position.

Click it here for quarterback, running back, and wide receiver rankings.

As the league has evolved over the past few years, tight ends have been converted from extensions of the offensive line into oversized wide receivers. Like fullbacks, tight ends with little to no receiving skills are having trouble finding regular snaps. Instead, teams are sacrificing extra protection for their quarterbacks in exchange for another set of hands in the passing game.

The transition continues each year. Back in 2008, 19.7 percent of league-wide targets were directed at a player listed as a tight end. This past season, the mark was up to 21.5 percent. That may not seem like a huge boost, but had that 1.8 percent increase not occurred, a total of 308 targets would’ve been lost by tight ends during the 2012 season.

In fantasy circles, the increase in usage of tight ends as pass catchers has added depth to the position, but there are still a handful of superstars who stand above the rest. Of course, at the rate the league is going, it might not be long until our top tier grows even larger.

Note: Non-PPR scoring is assumed. Each player age listed is as of September 1, 2013, which will be near Week 1 of the upcoming season.

Tier 1

Rk

Name

Team

Age

1

Rob Gronkowski

NE

24.3

2

Jimmy Graham

NO

26.8



A broken (and re-broken) arm held Gronkowski to only 11 games during the 2012 season, but durability concerns (even ones that could stretch into the 2013 season) are not enough to keep the most-dominant tight end in football out of our top spot. Also an elite blocker, the 24-year-old Gronkowski has an absurd 37 career touchdowns in 42 regular season games. Averaging more than one touchdown-per-game over the last two seasons, the massive 6’6/265 “Gronk” will be force-fed the ball in the red zone as long as he’s in the league.

Despite the fact that Graham was the top-scoring fantasy tight end, 2012 was actually a bit of a disappointing season. His catches, yards, and touchdowns all took a dive. Of course, coach and offensive guru Sean Payton was out of action. The boss returns in 2013 and Graham will, again, be Drew Brees’ favorite target. The 26-year-old is in the prime of his career.

Tier 2

Rk

Name

Team

Age

3

Aaron Hernandez

NE

23.8

4

Jason Witten

DAL

31.3



Basically a wide receiver, Hernandez usually lines up in the slot, especially when Rob Gronkowski is healthy. Hernandez missed six games due to injury this past season, but finished fifth among all tight ends in fantasy points-per-game. A half year younger than Gronkowski, locked up through 2018, and with Wes Welker out of the picture, Hernandez will continue on as a target monster in New England for a long time.

Although he’s allergic to the endzone, Witten is a pass-catching machine, setting the all-time tight end record with 110 receptions this past season. That comes after not missing a single game while putting up 64-plus receptions each of the past nine years. Witten’s age (30) and bizarre touchdown deficiencies (three scores in 2012) are all that keep him from the top-tier conversation.

Tier 3

Rk

Name

Team

Age

5

Kyle Rudolph

MIN

23.8

6

Vernon Davis

SF

29.6

7

Greg Olsen

CAR

28.4

8

Dennis Pitta

BLT

28.2



Rudolph had a volatile 2012 season, but he makes for a strong cornerstone dynasty tight end because of his skills, age (23), and heavy involvement in the Vikings’ offense. The only real concern here is the Vikings’ poor quarterback situation. Rudolph’s resume is short, but the upside here is massive…Like Rudolph, Davis’ 2012 season was the definition of a roller coaster. The good news is that he and Colin Kaepernick finished the year up strong. There’s reason to believe that he’ll join Michael Crabtree as the young quarterback’s go-to targets going forward. Davis’ upside keeps him in our top-six, but note that he’s the second-oldest player among our top-12 tight ends.

Fresh of a season in which he played almost every offensive snap, Olsen will enter 2012 as one of Cam Newton’s top-two targets. With Carolina struggling to find competent long-term receiving options, it’s fair to expect a heavy dose of targets for Olsen over the next few years… Pitta’s 2012 breakout season was a bit of a surprise because he had spent the first two seasons of his career buried behind Ed Dickson. The promotion led to Pitta quickly taking over as Joe Flacco’s No. 3 option in the passing game. With Anquan Boldin now with the 49ers, Pitta is a contract extension away from being one of Flacco’s top targets over the long-term.

Tier 4

Rk

Name

Team

Age

9

Jared Cook

SL

26.3

10

Tyler Eifert

CIN

22.9

11

Jermichael Finley

GB

26.4

12

Martellus Bennett

CHI

26.4



Cook signed a lucrative contract with the Rams during the offseason, locking him in as one of their featured offensive weapons. Poorly-utilized by the Titans, Cook is one of the most physically-gifted tight ends in the league. Starting in 2013, you can expect big receiving numbers from the 26-year-old…The Bengals made it clear that Jermaine Gresham is not in their long-term plans when they selected Eifert with the No. 21 overall pick in April’s draft. Eifert may need to wait a year before he’ll see every-down snaps, but it won’t be long before he’s heavily-involved as a pass-catcher in Cincinnati.

Finley is one of the most athletically-gifted players at the position, but inconsistent play has put his future with the Packers in question. Entering a contract year, the 26-year-old will surely garner a ton of attention on the open market, but he doesn’t figure to land in an offense as attractive as the one in Green Bay…One of the league’s most-underrated all-around tight ends, Bennett is an elite blocker and a plus pass-catcher. He landed a long-term contract from the Bears this offseason, which will allow him a full complement of snaps, including heavy involvement in the passing game. Only 26, Bennett’s arrow is pointing up.

Tier 5

Rk

Name

Team

Age

13

Dwayne Allen

IND

23.5

14

Owen Daniels

HST

30.8

15

Jordan Cameron

CLV

25.0

16

Rob Housler

ARZ

25.4

17

Tony Gonzalez

ATL

37.5

18

Heath Miller

PIT

30.8

19

Zach Ertz

PHI

22.8

20

Travis Kelce

KC

23.8



Following the 2012 draft, Allen’s fantasy football ceiling was in question because of the team’s decision to also draft Coby Fleener. Although Fleener’s potential emergence remains a concern, Allen is simply too good to keep off the field. An elite blocker and good pass-catcher during his rookie season, Allen has carved out a role as a long-term every-down tight end in the emerging Andrew Luck offense…Daniels is over the age-30 hump, but remains one of the league’s most-utilized receiving tight ends. Signed for another two seasons, and with Houston struggling at wide receiver behind Andre Johnson and rookie DeAndre Hopkins, Daniels won’t have trouble finding targets over the next few years.

Housler and Cameron enter the 2013 season in very similar boats. They were drafted in the middle rounds of the 2011 draft as potential impact pass-catchers at the position, and are now in position to enter the 2013 season No. 1 on their respective team’s depth chart. Housler took over as Arizona’s starter last season; his involvement in the passing game progressed throughout the year. Coach Bruce Arians has already expressed his intentions of utilizing Housler as a pass-catcher. Cameron was buried behind Ben Watson last season, but the veteran is now with the Saints. New Browns head coach, Rob Chudzinski, and offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, have a history of heavily involving their top tight end in the pass game. Both players are upside TE2 options.

Gonzalez is back with the Falcons for one more year after briefly contemplating retirement. Although he’s a solid top-five redraft option, know that you’re only getting one year out of him in dynasty…Miller was a strong TE1 option during the 2012 season, but he’s now 30-years-old and may miss a chunk of the upcoming season due to a torn ACL. One of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets, Miller is worth stashing on your bench until his return. Assuming his knee heals as expected, he’ll have a few more productive years left in the tank.

Entering April’s draft, Ertz and Kelce were widely considered the top all-around tight end prospects not named Tyler Eifert. Both saw their post-draft fantasy value nudged in the right direction thanks to ideal landing spots. Ertz latches on with Chip Kelly where he’s in line to take over as the Eagles’ long-term (and potentially short-term) every-down tight end. Kelce heads to Kansas City where he’s likely to take over as the team’s top tight end at some point this year. Both players have potential to enter the TE1 conversation by the end of the 2013 season. Tier 6

Rk

Name

Team

Age

21

Jermaine Gresham

CIN

25.2

22

Antonio Gates

SD

33.2

23

Coby Fleener

IND

24.9

24

Brandon Pettigrew

DET

28.5

25

Fred Davis

WAS

27.6

26

Brandon Myers

NYG

27.9

27

Dustin Keller

MIA

28.9

28

Zach Miller

SEA

27.7

29

Marcedes Lewis

JAX

29.3

30

Delanie Walker

TEN

29.0



A disappointment (mostly as a blocker) since entering the league via the first round of the 2010 draft, Gresham’s future with the Bengals is in serious jeopardy after they selected Tyler Eifert in the first round of April’s draft. Gresham is still only 24, but it’s hard to imagine him finding a more-prominent offensive role on the open market next offseason…Gates made it through the 2012 season healthy, but he’s closing in on 33 and the Chargers are no longer the offensive juggernaut they were a few years back. He’ll continue to see a ton of Philip Rivers’ targets, but Gates’ days as a slam dunk impact TE1 are over.

Fleener was a second-round pick last season, but the strong play of Dwayne Allen has his short-term upside in doubt. A skilled pass-catcher, it’s way too early to write Fleener off, but he’ll need to make major strides in order to play anything more than a complimentary role over the next few years… Pettigrew hasn’t quite lived up to expectations since Detroit selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft. He remains involved in the Lions’ passing game, but would be well off the fantasy radar if they didn’t throw the ball so often. Now 28, and having ranked in the top-10 among tight ends in drops each of his first four years in the league, Pettigrew’s arrow is point the wrong direction.

Davis re-upped with the high-scoring Redskins, but only for one year. In addition to his long-term home, durability is a question mark, especially since he’s coming off a torn Achilles. The good news is that he’s only 27 and figures to land a pass-catching role wherever he lands… Myers exploded on to the scene as a pass-catcher with Oakland this past season, but his blocking was plain awful. He’ll need to be better in that area if he wants to hold down an every-down role in what is a promising situation with the Giants.

Keller’s supporting cast improved greatly when he upgraded from the Jets to the divisional-rival Dolphins during free agency. He isn’t much of a blocker, but can hold his own to the point that an every-down role is in the cards. A decent receiver and still in his prime at 28, Keller figures to be Ryan Tannehill’s second or third read over the next few years…Walker has had on-and-off drop issues over the last few years, highlighted by a 2012 season in which had the worst drop rate at the position. He was still able to land a job as the Titans’ starting tight end as a product of his elite blocking skills. He’ll see a handful of targets each game, but his ceiling is low and he’s closing in on 29.

Miller and Lewis each find themself in a similar situation. Both are veteran starting tight ends who are eyeing larger roles in their respective team’s passing game this season. Miller and Russell Wilson finally built some chemistry during the later stages of the 2012 season, but the acquisition of Percy Harvin will likely stand in the way of any further role expansion. The new coaching staff in Jacksonville is expected to make the underrated Lewis a bigger part of the passing game, but the team’s quarterback situation remains a mess.

Tier 7

Rk

Name

Team

Age

31

Jordan Reed

WAS

23.1

32

Ladarius Green

SD

23.3

33

Brent Celek

PHI

28.6

34

Gavin Escobar

DAL

22.5

35

James Casey

PHI

28.9

36

Tony Moeaki

KC

26.2

37

Jacob Tamme

DEN

28.4

38

Scott Chandler

BUF

28.1

39

Taylor Thompson

TEN

23.8

40

Lance Kendricks

SL

25.6

41

Vance McDonald

SF

23.2

42

Jeff Cumberland

NYJ

26.3

43

Luke Stocker

TB

25.1

44

Ed Dickson

BLT

26.1

45

Dion Sims

MIA

22.5

46

Chris Gragg

BUF

23.2

47

Virgil Green

DEN

25.0

48

D.J. Williams

GB

24.9

49

Kellen Davis

CLV

27.8



With Fred Davis on a one-year deal, a strong rookie season from Reed could have him in the team’s starting lineup as early as 2014…The physically-intimidating Green is the probable heir apparent to 32-year-old Antonio Gates…The 28-year-old Celek may stick around for the 2013 season, but he’s the clear long-term odd man out after the Eagles signed Casey and drafted Zach Ertz. Casey will provide Chip Kelly with the Swiss army knife, but his ceiling is capped by his volatile role and the aforementioned Ertz…Escobar projects as a strong pass-catching tight end, but very much like Martellus Bennett from 2008-to-2011, the rookie will have trouble finding work behind indestructible Jason Witten.

Moeaki will be two years healed from a torn ACL when the 2013 season kicks off, but his long-term prospects with the Chiefs took a major hit when the club selected Travis Kelce in April’s draft... Tamme is now 28-years-old, will lose snaps to Wes Welker, and is in jeopardy of losing his role as a situational receiving tight end to Green. Green hasn’t played a ton thus far in his career, but he has a future ahead of him as an H-Back…Chandler’s role in unclear because of a torn-ACL he suffered during the later stages of the 2012 season, as well as, the new coaching regime in Buffalo…Thompson has some decent upside as a pass-catcher, but he’ll need to unseat Delanie Walker in order to see a fantasy-relevant volume of targets over the next few years…The Rams’ acquisition of Jared Cook significantly lowered the fantasy ceiling of once-highly-regarded pass-catching prospect Kendricks.

In an effort to replace Walker, the 49ers selected McDonald in the second round of April’s draft. He’s a good pass-catcher and figures to develop into a capable every-down player…Cumberland is a name to watch after the Jets failed to re-sign or replace Dustin Keller. Cumberland, a decent pass-catcher, is only 26 and is atop the team’s tight end depth chart…Stocker was the Bucs’ starting tight end last season, but he caught only 16 balls, working mainly as a blocker. His role as a receiver figures to expand in 2013 with Dallas Clark out of the picture…Dickson is stuck behind Dennis Pitta, but will be an unrestricted free agent at age-26 next offseason.

Sims is more of a blocker than a receiver, but he could work his way into an every-down role if the team moves on from Dustin Keller after the 2013 season…With Chandler recovering from a torn up knee, Gragg is a name to watch in the race for the Bills’ starting tight end job… Jermichael Finley only has one year left on his deal, which puts Williams in position to potentially replace him as the Packers’ top pass-catching tight end. With Aaron Rodgers under center in Green Bay for the long-term, Williams is obviously worth a stash…If Jordan Cameron stumbles in Cleveland, Davis is next in line for a massive workload in an offense that loves getting the ball to the tight end.

Tier 8

Rk

Name

Team

Age

50

Julius Thomas

DEN

25.2

51

Garrett Graham

HST

27.0

52

Adrien Robinson

NYG

24.9

53

Joel Dreessen

DEN

31.1

54

Hayden Smith

NYJ

28.3

55

Andrew Quarless

GB

24.8

56

Brandon Bostick

GB

24.3

57

Orson Charles

CIN

22.6

58

David Paulson

PIT

24.5

59

John Carlson

MIN

29.3

60

Mychal Rivera

OAK

22.9

61

Nick Kasa

OAK

22.8

62

Anthony Fasano

KC

29.3

63

Ben Watson

NO

32.7

64

Jake Ballard

NE

25.7

65

Charles Clay

MIA

24.5

66

Tony Scheffler

DET

30.5

67

Evan Rodriguez

CHI

24.9

68

Anthony McCoy

SEA

25.7

69

James Hanna

DAL

24.1

70

Michael Egnew

MIA

23.8

View Comments (1)