2013 Pre-NFL Draft Fantasy Football Player Rankings - Tight Ends-  04/02/13

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Come check out our Pre-NFL Draft edition of the Tight End Rankings for 2013!!!

 

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2013 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings - Pre-NFL Draft Edition

 

 

 

2013 Pre-NFL Draft Tight End Rankings

 

 

If you want to take home the trophy, you have to stay ahead of the game, folks. Winning fantasy football championships ain't easy, but can be a heck of a lot simpler if you make it a year-round process instead of just a seasonal hobby.

 

The 2013 NFL Draft is coming up on Thursday, April 25th, but even though the rookie additions may change future rankings, we still know where most of this year's free agents have signed and shouldn't be deterred from learning as much as we can about the upcoming season.

 

I decided not to try and project any rookies in the rankings below as it would be too difficult to assess their value without having the slightest idea where they might be playing. Either way, there will be many more installments of player rankings in the coming months, so enjoy this pre-draft rendition and let us know what you think.

 

 

 

Rob Gronkowski - Pyro Character

1.     Rob Gronkowski (NE) – When Gronk is healthy, not even Jimmy Graham compares from a fantasy perspective. Double-digit touchdowns in his first three seasons and well into the double-digits in fantasy points per game during the last two are hard statistics to argue with. However, health became an issue with the big man last year as a fractured forearm kept him out of five important games for fantasy owners down the stretch. He’ll be fully healed by the time New England heads to camp, so it should be too much of a worry for 2013. The departure of Wes Welker could have been huge for Gronk this season, as Brady would have depended on his tight ends like crazy if the Pats didn’t make a move. However, the signing of Danny Amendola will help compensate for Welker’s loss, though I still believe both Gronk and Hernandez will benefit with Amendola needing a year to mesh with the offense. It’s nearly unheard of to take a tight end in the first round of fantasy drafts, but Gronk should be worth it this year considering the difference between him and the rest of the league.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Jimmy Graham - Pyro Character

2.     Jimmy Graham (NO) – The top two positions are relatively close here, but Graham is still a touch behind Gronkowski at this point. The sheer volume of targets he receives is disturbing and the subsequent receptions and yardage definitely keeps him high above the rest of the field, but he’s not quite the touchdown machine Gronk is, so you have to rank him one slot behind. With his 2012 ankle and wrist injuries behind him, I believe Jimmy comes back with a huge 2013 season and it’s very possible he ends up atop my rankings before the summer is over.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Jason Witten - Pyro Character

3.     Jason Witten (Dal) – Witten broke Tony Gonzalez’s tight end record of 102 receptions in a season by making 110 catches for the Cowboys in 2012. If there weren’t a major concern over his lacerated spleen in the preseason, it wouldn’t have been much of a shock, either, as Witten had put up 94-plus receptions in three of the previous five years while averaging 88.8 per season during that span. 2013 should be another high-volume year for Witten and though I doubt he hits the 110-mark again, he should be able to make up for it by snagging more than the measly three touchdowns he grabbed in 2012.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Aaron Hernandez - Pyro Character

4.     Aaron Hernandez (NE) – He’s not even the top tight end on his own team, but if you miss out on either Gronk or Graham, Hernandez will definitely be the top tight end on yours. Lining up all over the field, Aaron is a nightmare for opposing defenses to keep track of and in all sense and purposes, he’s barely what the NFL would call a “tight end” at this point. He’s actually received more targets per game than Gronkowski has since they both came into the league in 2010 and though he may not be as prolific as Gronk in the touchdown category, he still has 18 in his first 38 games in the league. To put that in perspective, Jason Witten has just 23 TDs in his last 80 games. Missing 10 games in his first three seasons makes him an injury risk and thus puts him one notch below Witten in my rankings, but when healthy, I’d take him over every tight end not named Gronkowski or Graham.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Tony Gonzalez - Pyro Character

5.     Tony Gonzalez (Atl) – Not that I didn’t expect it, but I’m psyched that Gonzalez decided to come back for at least one more go at a Super Bowl ring (signed a two-year, $14 million contract). Being the best tight end in NFL history and a total class act, you’d be hard-pressed to find a guy in the league more deserving of one. As far as his fantasy value this year, I don’t expect him to catch 93 balls for 930 yards and eight touchdowns again, but he should still put up enough stats to stay in the top-5 tight ends. The Falcons signing of Steven Jackson may hurt him a bit with Jackson likely to take on a larger role than what Michael Turner took on last season. One of Gonzo’s better attributes right now is his ability to move the chains, but with Jackson now in the fold, I expect him to lose some opportunities there, as well as maybe a few red zone chances, too. Overall he should be fine, but I wouldn’t expect a monster swan song campaign.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Vernon Davis - Pyro Character

6.     Vernon Davis (SF) – 2012 turned out to be a major dud for Mr. Davis, but his 11 catches for 210 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers last two playoff games gives us some hope for a nice comeback this upcoming season. Having Colin Kaepernick at QB for the entire year will certainly help as well, but what’s even more promising is that he now basically has the tight end position all to himself with Delanie Walker signing on with the Titans during the offseason (second-year, undrafted TE Garrett Celek is his backup). I fully expect his targets to come back up into at least the 90-100 range from a measly 61 in 2012 and with that sort of attention, Vernon could return to his dominating play from a few years ago.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Dennis Pitta - Pyro Character

7.     Dennis Pitta (Bal) – Pitta put together a real nice third season in the league last year, and it’s very possible it gets even better in 2013. He flirted with top-10 status early with Cam Cameron as the offensive coordinator, but became a beast when Jim Caldwell took over in the middle of the season, so it’ll be a bonus to have Caldwell in place from Day One this year. Another huge bonus for Dennis is that WR Anquan Boldin is no longer on the team, so Pitta should see a bunch more targets over the middle of the field as well. With the Ravens’ defense losing over half their starters this offseason, it wouldn’t shock me to see the team having to play from behind more often in 2013 which of course, means more passing and more opportunities for Pitta as well.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Dustin Keller - Pyro Character

8.     Dustin Keller (Mia) – Dustin Keller has all the talent in the world but hasn’t been in a situation where he’s been able to use it on a consistent basis. Keller nursed an up-and-down 2012 campaign, with most of it being on the down side due to his early-season injury woes. Having Mark Sanchez as his quarterback certainly didn’t help, either, but he won’t have to deal with that problem anymore after signing on with the Dolphins this offseason. Being a one-year contract, Keller will have a ton of motivation to prove his worth, so he’s got that going for him. Also, with speedy wide receivers Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline lining up on the outside, Keller should have a ton of room over the middle to show his stuff. 2013 has all the makings of another top-10 year for the guy.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Kyle Rudolph - Pyro Character

9.     Kyle Rudolph (Min) – Rudolph was a monster in the red zone last year tying Jimmy Graham for second in the league with nine touchdowns grabs. The only problem is that’s about all he did. He failed to put up 70 yards in any one week and had 10 games (including the Vikings playoff game) where he caught three or fewer passes (also had three with zero receptions). He did, however, put in his best work when Percy Harvin was out of the lineup, as evidenced by his 18 catches and three touchdowns on 26 targets during a three-week stretch without Harvin in the middle of the season, so that could be promising for 2013. He has incredible hands and can make a circus catch with the best of them, so I can’t help but think that the Vikings coaching staff will find a way to get him more involved this season.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Antonio Gates - Pyro Character

10.  Antonio Gates (SD) – There was a time last season where I was convinced it would have been best just to take Gates back behind the shed and shoot him. He used to be one of the most dependable horses in the stable, but last year was downright awful. Now of course, the blame can no doubt rest equally on the shoulders of lame-duck QB Philip Rivers, but Antonio still looked a bit slow to me. That being said, a new coaching staff and a healthy corps of wide receivers should aid in the turnaround I expect out of Gates in 2013. He won’t ever be the dominant force he once was, but a return to low-end starter status should be in the offing.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Greg Olsen - Pyro Character

11.  Greg Olsen (Car) – I had no doubt that Greg Olsen would put up better numbers in 2012 than he did in his first season for Carolina, but I didn’t expect him to be fifth in the league in fantasy points after 15 weeks. He ended up in eighth while setting career highs in catches (69), yards (843) and most importantly, fantasy points. His talent is undeniable being a former first-round pick, but he has trouble with consistency usually putting up just as many duds as week-winners. Still, he has as good a shot as any to end up in the top-10.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Martellus Bennett - Pyro Character

12.  Martellus Bennett (Chi) – The Black Unicorn joined the Chicago Bears in the black and blue division this offseason and could be in line for the best season of his career in 2013. With 6’4” Brandon Marshall lining up on one side of the field and 6’3” Alshon Jeffery on the other, Bennett should see plenty of room over the middle and see a bunch of targets from Jay Cutler because of it. With a new pass-oriented head coach in Marc Trestman running the show, Bennett’s looking like a pretty good candidate to have a breakout.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Owen Daniels - Pyro Character

13.  Owen Daniels (Hou) – Owen Daniels is now on the wrong side of 30 years old and was really losing steam towards the end of 2012… until the playoffs arrived. All of the sudden, Daniels was a world-beater again catching 18 passes for 172 yards during the Texans’ two post-season games. He seems to have some juice left in the tank, but I’d have a real tough time depending on it lasting throughout the season, especially with his injury history. He may end up with nice numbers again in 2013, but I’d just as soon take a chance on a youngster with upside.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Jared Cook - Pyro Character

14.  Jared Cook (StL) – Cook is a beast of a man and a downright scary specimen to face as a tight end. He’s a lot like Vernon Davis in that he can run like a wide receiver, yet is far stronger and harder to bring down than any WR you’ll ever see. He was horribly underutilized during his run in Tennessee, but Jeff Fisher and the Rams should turn that around in St. Louis. Sam Bradford will also be an upgrade on his quarterback situation, so if you’re looking for a breakout type of a guy to take a chance on this year, Cook certainly has the ability to fit the bill.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Jermichael Finley - Pyro Character

15.  Jermichael Finley (GB) – Finley, though a disaster for the first part of 2012, actually played pretty decent down the stretch putting up over 50 yards in six of his last seven regular season games. Of course he completely disappeared in the playoffs, but there’s certainly some hope heading into the new year. He has the ability to do some serious fantasy damage any given week, but his inconsistency, lack of rapport with Aaron Rodgers and lack of red zone trust by his QB are turn-offs enough to keep him outside starter status.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Jermaine Gresham - Pyro Character

16.  Jermaine Gresham (Cin) – Jermaine Gresham seems to have improved over his first three years in the league, but he’s still prone to a few duds throughout a season and will only give you a few double-digit performances each year. The advancement of wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and/or Marvin Jones could take some defensive coverage away from him in games, but will also take away some targets as well. He’s about as vanilla as it gets in the world of fantasy and I really can’t see him rising up much higher than this because of it.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

Brandon Pettigrew - Pyro Character

17.  Brandon Pettigrew (Det) – Brandon Pettigrew was no slice of apple pie for his fantasy owners last season putting up numbers weak enough for a 20th overall ranking. His yards per catch are still disturbingly low, but you have to like his chances for a decent bounce-back season in what is sure to be a high-scoring Detroit Lions squad. His ceiling still isn’t very high, however, and likely isn’t worth looking at as more than a backup in 2013.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

 

Fred Davis - Pyro Character

18.  Fred Davis (Was) – Davis’ 2012 season was cut short when he tore his Achilles in the Redskins seventh game of the year. He wasn’t doing much yet anyway as he was having a hard time getting involved in the new RGIII-run offense, but he still has a ton of talent and if re-signed by Washington, could be a prime candidate for a nice comeback. With Griffin expected to run less in 2013, there should be more opportunities for Davis this time around, especially with the lack of WR talent beyond Pierre Garcon. Follow his situation to see if he not only signs on with the Redskins, but how his Achilles is coming along during the summer.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  +1 (was #19)

 

 

Jordan Cameron - Pyro Character

19.  Jordan Cameron (Cle) – Cameron is an immensely talented athlete with a history on the basketball court, and we all know how former basketball players do at the tight end position (Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham, etc.). He’s young and hasn’t quite been utilized yet, but that should change this season with both Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner on the Cleveland Browns staff and each having a history of maximizing their tight end talent. Should Cameron nail down the starting slot by Week 1, he certainly has the ability to have a breakout season and depending on how things go in OTAs, could end up inching closer to my top-10 throughout the summer.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  -1 (was #18)

 

 

Brandon Myers - Pyro Character

20.  Brandon Myers (NYG) – I would venture to say that Brandon Myers was the biggest surprise of the 2012 fantasy season seeing how he only had 32 catches for 250 yards and zero touchdowns during his first three years in the league. However, I don’t believe his breakout carries over into 2013, as he’ll be joining a New York Giants squad that doesn’t incorporate or need the tight end nearly as much as Oakland did. Fighting for targets with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks won’t yield the same numbers as they did fighting Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore.

 

MOVEMENT SINCE OUR FIRST SET OF PYRO® RANKINGS:  Even - No change

 

 

 

Tight Ends 21-32

 

 

21.  Tony Moeaki (KC) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

The main concern with Tony continues to be injuries, as he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this offseason and has consistently dealt with various ailments all the way back to his college days at Iowa. Another concern is the Chiefs’ signing of Anthony Fasano to a four-year deal in March, though Moeaki is a far superior pass-catcher and overall offensive threat, so I’m not too worried there. New KC quarterback, Alex Smith, has a tight end-friendly arm, so look for Moeaki to be more involved in the offense this season. 


22.  Rob Housler (Ari) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

Watch out for this kid, and if you skimmed over that first line, I’ll say it again -- WATCH OUT FOR THIS KID! I’ll tell you right now that his position in these rankings will NOT stay as is for very long. In fact, I can easily see this 6’5”, 250-pound speedy mismatch of a tight end climbing into my top-15 or so in the coming months. The addition of QB Carson Palmer could be huge for Housler this season, especially when you look at what Palmer did for an inferior TE like Brandon Myers last season.


23.  Dwayne Allen (Ind) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

Though taken one round later in last year’s draft than fellow Colts tight end, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen outplayed him in nearly every aspect of the game during their 2012 rookie season. The question I have with Allen heading into 2013 is what sort of effect the hiring of Coby Fleener’s Stanford OC Pep Hamilton will have on Allen’s offensive involvement in relation to Fleener’s offensive involvement. Of course, that’s what the offseason is for, so I’ll let you know the answer soon enough. 


24.  Brent Celek (Phi) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

Can Brent Celek bounce back from his dreadful 2012 season? He’s still young (28 years old) and talented enough to do so and as luck would have it, new coach Chip Kelly likes to use the tight end position quite a bit in his offense. If the Eagles don’t draft a tight end that can challenge Celek as a starter within the first couple of rounds, Brent could be a decent sleeper who could be had late in fantasy drafts. 


25.  Zach Miller (Sea) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

I love the way Zach Miller ended his 2012 season with the Seahawks, catching touchdown passes in two of the last four regular season games and then dominating the two playoff games to the tune of 12 receptions on 15 targets for 190 yards, one touchdown and one two-point conversion. Conventional wisdom would say that Miller is up for an increased role in the ‘Hawks offense this season, but I’m not so sure with the recent addition of Percy Harvin to the mix. 


26.  Coby Fleener (Ind) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

Fleener has all the necessary tools to become a fantasy force for years to come, but his rookie season was plagued by injuries and his over-usage as a blocker. I expect all that to change with the hiring of his former Stanford OC, Pep Hamilton. Fleener has some serious sleeper potential if Hamilton uses his 6’6”, speedy tight end as more of an outside-the-box mismatch in 2013, as I expect him to do. 


27.  Marcedes Lewis (Jax) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

Marcedes has the requisite measurables to create mismatches all over the field, but because of his above-average pass-blocking skills, he isn’t utilized as an offensive weapon very often. If he’s given the chance this season, it’s possible he could surprise and come up with another 10-TD season like he did in 2010, but I’m not holding my breath. 


28.  Delanie Walker (Ten) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

Walker has never been much of a fantasy option during his seven years in the league thus far, but 2013 could prove to be his best chance at becoming one. If the Titans were serious about getting their tight end more involved in the offense this year (as they were telling Jared Cook before he left), Walker could have a top-20 season. 


29.  Jacob Tamme (Den) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

The addition of Wes Welker to the Broncos offense puts Tamme out of the question as a viable fantasy option this season, as Welker will undoubtedly steal most of the over-the-middle work within the weekly game-plan. 


30.  Jeff Cumberland (NYJ) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

With Dustin Keller signing on with the Dolphins, Cumberland is the only real option on the Jets current roster to replace him in the starting lineup. He did fine coming in for the injured Keller last season, but I don’t expect his status as the team’s starter to last as they will likely be drafting for the position’s future in the first few rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft. 


31.  Luke Stocker (TB) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

After being drafted in the fourth-round in 2011, Luke Stocker once again had a quiet offensive season working mostly as a blocker with Dallas Clark running the routes. At this point, however, Clark has not been resigned to the team, so Stocker may finally get his chance with only Tom Crabtree pushing him for the starting nod. Still, I wouldn’t expect too much here just yet. 


32.  Joel Dreessen (Den) -   MOVEMENT:  Even - No change

Though I currently have Jacob Tamme ranked higher, I actually believe that Dreessen will receive more playing time this season than him. My reasoning behind this is due to both the addition of Wes Welker as Manning's main over-the-middle option in the passing game and Dreessen's superior blocking skills over Tamme. Eventually, I'm sure the two Denver tight ends will be switched in my rankings, but I'd like to see how things shake out a bit in the offseason first.

 

33.  James Casey (Phi) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

Casey actually has some decent offensive skills, though they were rarely on display during his four years in Houston. That being said, Eagles new coach Chip Kelly likes to use his tight ends and recently likened Casey to the Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez, so it’s possible he finds a niche somewhere within this Philly offense.

 

34.  Tony Scheffler (Det) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

It was possible, almost likely even, that the Lions would release Scheffler during the offseason to save themselves a little salary cap room. It hasn’t happened yet, though, so even though his fantasy value is minimal, at least it’s still there with his being a part in a high-flying offense like Detroit’s.

 

35.  Garrett Graham (Hou) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

Graham has never been referred to as being a special player by any means, but with James Casey gone and the 30-year-old Owen Daniels slowly turning into a house of cards, Garrett may get a chance at some point during the season to gain some fantasy relevance.

 

36.  Ed Dickson (Bal) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

Back in 2010 when both Dickson (third) and Dennis Pitta (fourth) were selected in back-to-back rounds, it looked like Dickson was going to be the man to win the starting job. He did well enough in 2011 to make believers out of some, but Pitta ran away with the job last season while Dickson was used more as a blocker along the line. However, now that Anquan Boldin is gone, it’s possible the Ravens decide to use his pass-catching skills a bit more, though I still wouldn’t expect a whole hell of a lot unless Pitta gets injured.

 

37.  Lance Kendricks (StL) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

Kendricks looked like he was finally getting a hang of things toward the end of last season, but the Rams brass decided to jump on the superior athletic talent of Jared Cook this offseason, thus relegating Kendricks to backup duties in 2013.

 

38.  Jake Ballard (NE) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

The reason I have Jake Ballard in these rankings after being out of football since 2011 is simple. He will be the direct backup to Rob Gronkowski in the New England Patriots offense this season and from what I can tell, it’s no sure thing Gronk will be ready to play by Week 1.

 

39.  Ben Watson (NO) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

Watson signed on with the Saints in March and will serve as Jimmy Graham’s backup for the 2013 season. Though 32-years-old, he showed to still have a bit of juice left with the Browns last season and in an offense like New Orleans runs, it wouldn’t shock me to see him end up with 4-5 touchdowns even as a second-stringer.

 

40.  Heath Miller (Pit) MOVEMENT:  +1 (was Unranked)

I have to put Heath Miller on this list simply so that people don’t forget him. Yes, Heath completely blew up his knee in late December last season to the tune of a torn ACL, MCL and PCL, but if he can make it back to play at all in 2013, he’ll immediately jump back into the starting lineup and be a favorite for Big Ben again in no time with no other real promising tight end on the team.


 

 

The list above will undoubtedly be turned inside out and on its head over the next 5-6 months, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bitch and moan or simply express your opinion over who should be ranked where and why. In fact, I encourage the input (no matter the type), so leave your comments below or email me at alpert@pyromaniac.com.

 

 

- Who would YOU rank in your top-10? -

 

- Who do you think will boom and should be moved up in the rankings? -

 

- Who do you think will bust and should be moved down? -

 

Let us know so we can discuss it and maybe even bring it up in our next podcast!

 

 

 

dawgmatica pyro character - jeremy alpert

 

by Dawgmaticå

 

 

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- 04/02/13

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