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1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Outlook: Whether your league uses standard or PPR scoring, Graham should be the first tight end off the board. In fact, no more than five wide receivers should come off the board before the New Orleans tight end. His contract situation created some ambiguity heading into July, but the Saints did well to resolve it, so all signs point toward another monstrous season.
Projections: 95 receptions, 1,303 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns, & 1 fumble
2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Outlook: Gronkowski probably won’t rack up as many receptions as Graham, but he’s a good enough red zone threat to potentially lead tight ends in touchdowns. That’s assuming he’s healthy enough to get on the field, a problem that’s frustrated fantasy owners over the last two years.
Projections: 79 receptions, 1,160 receiving yards, & 13 touchdowns
3. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
Outlook: Somebody has to fill Josh Gordon’s void, and that somebody is Cameron. The Browns can use him in a variety of ways, including at receiver. A potential 100-catch season is within the realm of possibility.
Projections: 98 receptions, 1,192 receiving yards, & 9 touchdowns
4. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Outlook: Now that Steve Smith is out of the picture, Olsen can emerge as Cam Newton’s primary receiving threat. He is a proven commodity both inside and outside the red zone.
Projections: 83 receptions, 971 receiving yards, & 6 touchdowns
5. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Outlook: Playing with Peyton Manning makes Thomas a threat to lead tight ends in touchdowns. He only receives a modest increase from PPR scoring, though, as Manning will utilize several different receiving targets.
Projections: 61 receptions, 805 receiving yards, & 11 touchdowns
6. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Outlook: Maybe Witten isn’t what he used to be, but Tony Romo still targets his tight end heavily when he’s looking for a big first-down conversion. Another 70-catch season is a good bet for this season.
Projections: 71 receptions, 875 receiving yards, & 5 touchdowns
7. Jordan Reed, Washington
Outlook: Last year, it took Washington a bit to realize what they had in Reed, but once they did, they targeted the rookie tight end heavily. Reed enters his second season entrenched as a top 10 fantasy tight end.
Projections: 69 receptions, 891 total yards (39 rushing), & 4 touchdowns
8. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Outlook: A healthy Pitta is a major boon to Baltimore’s offense, for the team lacked a possession receiver to move the sticks in 2013. This year, expect Joe Flacco to target Pitta often on third downs.
Projections: 66 receptions, 766 receiving yards, & 5 touchdowns
9. Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
Outlook: Cook didn’t distinguish himself in St. Louis, though he did play without Sam Bradford for most of his first season with the Rams. A healthy Bradford will help Cook produce arguably his best statistical season.
Projections: 59 receptions, 829 receiving yards, & 5 touchdowns
10. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Outlook: Ertz will improve in year No. 2, but he’s likely a year away from emerging as one of fantasy’s elite tight ends.
Projections: 56 receptions, 692 receiving yards, & 6 touchdowns
11. Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers
Outlook: The Chargers have high expectations for Green, who figures to supplant Gates as Philip Rivers’ No. 2 receiving target.
Projections: 54 receptions, 760 receiving yards, & 5 touchdowns
12. Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Outlook: Quietly, Clay emerged as a pretty good fantasy tight end a year ago. Another year with 60-70 receptions is very likely, given Miami’s dependence on throwing the football.
Projections: 61 receptions, 636 total yards (19 rushing), & 5 touchdowns
13. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
Outlook: Bennett is coming off career bests in receptions and receiving yardage. He may not quite match his ‘13 output this year, but he’ll come close.
Projections: 63 receptions, 677 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns, & 1 fumble
14. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Outlook: The Lions didn’t draft Ebron in the first round to sit the bench. The intention is for him to play a number of positions out of the gate. This is a lot to ask of a rookie, but he has the skill set to get the job done. Do the Lions have the patience for him to learn the playbook, though? The answer to that question determines Ebron’s worth.
Projections: 53 receptions, 722 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
15. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Outlook: It’s worth noting that since the emergence of Crabtree in ‘12, Davis has yet to catch 60 passes in a season. It’ll be interesting how San Francisco utilizes Davis with Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, and Stevie Johnson. There’s already a limit on targets, as San Francisco would rather lean on their running game. The talented receiving trio is a good thing for the franchise, but it only serves to muddle things up for Davis.
Projections: 45 receptions, 700 receiving yards, & 6 touchdowns
16. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Outlook: Walker is just a TE2 under PPR scoring. The Titans will build their passing game around their receivers, and not the veteran tight end.
Projections: 57 receptions, 581 receiving yards, & 5 touchdowns
17. Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
Outlook: Because Bill O’Brien’s offense is friendly to tight ends, Graham offers high-end TE2 upside this year.
Projections: 51 receptions, 597 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns, & 1 fumble
18. Jace Amaro, N.Y. Jets
Outlook: Early reports don’t look good for Amaro out of Jets’ camp. It’s early in training camp, though, so keep monitoring the situation. However, the rookie tight end needs to earn his starting job.
Projections: 51 receptions, 672 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
19. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
Outlook: Undoubtedly, the No. 2 receiving option in Pittsburgh, Miller (31) should improve from last year, given that he’s healthier this off-season. Nonetheless, Pittsburgh may rely more on the run this season than in years past, so his best fantasy days are behind him.
Projections: 59 receptions, 669 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, & 1 fumble
20. Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
Outlook: Having a tight end combination of Allen and Coby Fleener is good for Indianapolis’ organization, but it puts fantasy players in tough bind. Unless somebody goes down with an injury, the Colts tight end situation won’t achieve its true fantasy potential.
Projections: 51 receptions, 619 receiving yards, & 4 touchdowns
21. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Outlook: The Vikings just rewarded Rudolph with a contract extension. Now they need to reward him by developing a quarterback. Rudolph is a year away from returning to TE1 form.
Projections: 49 receptions, 509 receiving yards, & 5 touchdowns
22. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Outlook: Regardless of your league’s scoring, the presence of Jermaine Gresham is a hindrance on Eifert’s fantasy stock.
Projections: 51 receptions, 593 receiving yards, & 3 touchdowns
23. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Outlook: With Green progressing into a No. 1 tight end, Gates won’t come close to matching his 77 receptions from last season.
Projections: 53 receptions, 563 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns, & 2 fumbles
24. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
Outlook: Only draft Chandler if you’re desperate. While he’s coming off a career-high 53 receptions, Buffalo’s young receivers (Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods) will take priority over him in the passing game.
Projections: 46 receptions, 556 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns, & 1 fumble
25. Levine Toilolo, Atlanta Falcons
Outlook: Toilolo will attempt to replace the retired Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta, though Matt Ryan will focus on involving the No. 3 receiver (Harry Douglas) more than the new starting tight end.
Projections: 42 receptions, 416 receiving yards, & 5 touchdowns
1 point per reception
1 point per 10 yards receiving
1 point per 10 yards rushing
6 points per touchdown
-2 points per fumble