1. Jimmy Graham, Saints – Graham saw his FPts/G average drop from 12.3 in 2011 to 10.1 this past season but still shapes as the top rated fantasy tight end for 2013 with Sean Payton and Drew Brees leading the charge in New Orleans.
2. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Here’s what I said last year in assessing Gronk as the number two tight end: “He’s a beast but is he a beast that can stay healthy?” After two broken arms in 2012, that assessment holds.
3. Jason Witten, Cowboys – Witten was a PPR demon in 2012 with a career-high 110 receptions for 1,039 yards (the second-highest total of his career) and three touchdowns. For a player who has had such an illustrious career, it is hard to believe that he has topped six receiving touchdowns just twice ten years and that limits his fantasy upside.
4. Greg Olsen, Panthers – In 2012, Olsen finally fulfilled the promise the Bears saw in him when they used a late 1st round pick to grab him in the 2007 draft, hauling in 69 receptions for 843 yards (both career highs) and five touchdowns. The Panthers will have a new offensive coordinator in 2013 but expect more of the same from Olsen.
5. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots – Injuries limited Hernandez to a career-low 10 games in 2012 as he racked up 51 receptions for 483 yards and five touchdowns. His FPts/G averaged dropped 1.7 points to 7.8 but expect more in 2013. However, with Wes Welker likely back in the fold, Hernandez is barely hanging onto top-five status at tight end.
6. Owen Daniels, Texans – Daniels started the season strong with 555 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his first 10 games before slumping badly over in his last five (just 161 receiving yards – he missed one game). At 30 years of age, Daniels isn’t likely to improve on his production in 2013.
7. Dennis Pitta, Ravens – Pitta was the epitome of streaky in his breakout 2012 campaign, totaling 94 of his 109 fantasy points in eight games. Look for more production as he enters his fourth year in the league but expect the inconsistency to remain.
8. Brandon Myers, Raiders – Myers was a waiver wire find in 2012, finishing the season with the 5th most receiving yards amongst tight ends and as the 9th ranked fantasy player at his position. A free agent, Myers is expected back in Oakland and shapes up as a top-10 fantasy tight end in 2013.
9. Fred Davis, Redskins – An Achilles injury ended Davis 2012 season prematurely but he remains a young, talented tight end capable of putting together a breakout season in 2013. If only RGII had stayed healthy.
10.Vernon Davis, 49ers – Mercedes Benz talent, Lada production (am I dating myself there?) Davis has seen his yardage and touchdown total decline every season since his career-year in 2009 (965 yards and 13 touchdowns). With Michael Crabtree emerging as Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target, Davis rates as a low end TE1 in 2013. After a solid first game with Kaepernick under center (83 yards and a score), Davis managed just six receptions for 61 yards over his final six regular season contests.
11.Jermaine Gresham, Bengals – Gresham has improved upon his reception and yardage count in each of his three season but his performance still leaves something to be desired. At some point, a breakout seems likely but I’m not sold it will happen in 2013.
12. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – With nine touchdowns, Rudolph was tied with Graham for the second most touchdowns amongst tight ends. Unfortunately, his yardage total was a bit of a bust with just 493 receiving yards, the third lowest total amongst the league’s top 25 ranked fantasy tight ends. As you know, relying on touchdown production is generally a recipe for fantasy disaster.
13.Antonio Gates, Chargers – Gates couldn’t blame injuries for his poor performance this season as he put up his lowest FPts/G average since his rookie season way back in 2003. His reception total, total yards and touchdowns were either the lowest of the last nine years or tied for it. He also failed to top 59 receiving yards in 14 out of 15 games. Let the pylon in your pool grab Gates earlier than he should go.