In the past, having an elite tight end on your fantasy football team was hard to attain. There were only a few in the league considered to truly be offensive weapons. Over the years, the position has been revolutionized by a few pioneers, and it’s now deeper than ever. Which are worth drafting and which are worth keeping on the waiver wire? We help out by ranking the top 40 fantasy TEs.
1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
2013 statistics: 86 receptions, 1,215 yards, 16 TD
This was the easiest top-ranked player to place. Even though Graham is technically a TE, not many at his position are doing the things he’s capable of accomplishing. He lines up as a wide receiver almost two-thirds of the snaps he’s on the field for, and could very well be the first non-RB taken in many drafts.
2. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
2013 statistics: 39 receptions, 592 yards, 4 TD
Given New England’s other offensive weapons, Gronk could be even more dominant than Graham, but he can’t stay healthy for an entire season. He appeared in only seven games last year, still ranking 15th in TE fantasy point rankings. It was the first time he pulled in less than 10 TDs in a season, but averaged 84.6 receiving yards/game. He’s currently on track to play in Week 1. He’s a high-risk because of his injury history, but if he stays on the field, it will reap you huge rewards.
3. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
2013 statistics: 65 receptions, 788 yards, 12 TD
Playing with Peyton Manning has it’s benefits — the former basketball player pulled in those 12 TDs in just 14 starts, with eight of them coming in the red zone. Manning isn’t going anywhere, and plans on using Thomas just as much in 2014. This is a big year for him, as he’ll be needing a new contract before next season. If he puts together another year like 2013, he should end up being paid like one of the top TEs in the NFL.
4. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
2013 statistics: 52 receptions, 850 yards, 13 TD
He scored the second-most fantasy points of any TE last year because of his 13 TD catches, despite not catching as many passes as some of the other top point-getters. He’ll be used a lot in a more pass-friendly offense this season, but the return of Michael Crabtree and the trade for Stevie Johnson could decrease his overall targets.
5. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns
2013 statistics: 80 receptions, 917 yards, 7 TD
Cameron is another 25-year-old ex-basketball player with big-time potential. He had a great overall season in 2013, but most of his production came in the first eight weeks. The likely absence of Josh Gordon for an undetermined period of time should keep him involved in the offense. Even though Brian Hoyer has been named the starter, it’s undetermined how productive he’ll be with Manziel waiting in the wings for his chance.
6. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
2013 statistics: 73 receptions, 851 yards, 8 TD
If you want a durable and productive TE, Witten is your man. He hasn’t missed one game in his entire 10-year NFL career. His catches and receiving yards were the lowest last season since 2006, but did find the end zone an awful lot. Tony Romo loves throwing to his best buddy, so even if his targets are down, he should still be a consistent goal-line option.
7. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
2013 statistics: 45 receptions, 499 yards, 3 TD
Reed impressed in just nine games because a concussion cut his season short. The Redskins have a new offensive scheme with the hope that RGIII will return to his 2012 form, which should lead the 23-year-old to get plenty of targets as their featured TE. The arrival of DeSean Jackson and his presence with Pierre Garcon could limit his involvement to a degree, though.
8. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
2013 statistics: 73 receptions, 816 yards, 6 TD
Despite not getting targeted more than five times per game over a five-week span, Olsen still cracked the top-10 in TE fantasy points last season and was Carolina’s leading receiver. The Panthers have revamped their wide receiver situation, which should lead to at least another 100 targets for him in 2014 as the one familiar target for Cam Newton to throw to.
9. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
2013 statistics: 20 receptions, 169 yards, 1 TD
A hip injury limited Pitta to four games last season, but he still grabbed five balls per contest. He’s now healthy and is a breakout candidate for 2014. Joe Flacco is trying to bounce back after a tough season and will be leaning on his TE after struggling with the vertical game. Their TE’s were ranked seventh in positional fantasy points in 2012.
10. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears
2013 statistics: 65 receptions, 759 yards, 5 TD
His first year in Chicago produced his second-straight top-15 TE finish, but he’s still fighting for time with Jay Cutler since Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte are all on the same offense as him. That will lead to him being one of the top point-getters at the position, but possibility of being inconsistent.
11. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
2013 statistics: 30 receptions, 313 yards, 3 TD
Injury limited Rudolph to eight games last season, preventing him from building on his nine-TD Pro Bowl campaign in 2012. The QB situation is still up in the air, but he should see plenty of action and targets with Norv Turner coming in as the new offensive coordinator, who has a reputation for getting the most out of his tight ends.
12. Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers
2013 statistics: 17 receptions, 376 yards, 3 TD
Antonio Gates is still in San Diego, but the 34-year-old will yield some of his normal playing time to Green, who looked impressive in small sample sizes last season. His 6’6”, 240-pound frame will make him an attractive target for Philip Rivers. He has breakout potential to the level of Thomas and Cameron from 2013.
13. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
2013 statistics: 36 receptions, 469 yards, 4 TD
Ertz will once again be stuck behind Brent Celek in Philadelphia, but will get some time on the field because of Chip Kelly’s high-paced offense. He did make the most of his receptions, finding the end zone one in every nine catches. He’s also come on strong in two preseason appearances. If he continues progressing, he has possible breakout potential.
14. Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
2013 statistics: 69 receptions, 759 yards, 6 TD
Clay benefited the most when Dustin Keller went down with an injury in Miami, ranking seventh at the position in fantasy points. He doesn’t have much blocking potential, but his soft hands was something Ryan Tannehill needed during a tough offensive season in Miami. His breakout performance has earned him a starting role.
15. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
2013 statistics: 60 receptions, 571 yards, 6 TD
The Titans will continue keeping Walker heavily involved in the offense. He posted career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2013. Their run-first mentality and uncertainty at the QB position with Jake Locker doesn’t make him a sure thing, but Walker claims he wants to be a force at the position and catch 80 balls this season.
16. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
2013 statistics: 39 receptions, 445 yards, 2 TD
Eifert’s fantasy value has been stunted for now because he’s sharing time with Jermaine Gresham, but his pass-catching ability will force him onto the field. Cincinnati selected him with the 21st overall pick in last year’s draft, so they’re invested in his development. He should see more playing time this year and it won’t be too long before he officially eclipses Gresham on the depth chart.
17. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
2013 statistics: 58 receptions, 593 yards, 1 TD
Another year removed from his ACL surgery, Ben Roethlisberger said the “old” Miller was back during minicamp. Entering his age-32 season, that would be a huge lift for Pittsburgh. Don’t expect him to catch eight touchdown passes again like he did in 2012, which was a career-high. However, he did thrive in the first season of Todd Haley’s offense, which should mean good things in 2014, especially if the running game struggles out of the gate.
18. Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
2013 statistics: 1 reception, 20 yards, 1 TD
Taking another step forward after a solid rookie season in 2012 was prevented by a hip injury, limiting Allen to just one game last year. He should be an important target for Andrew Luck, but the emergence of Coby Fleener could force him to share more playing time than he’d like. His reputation as a good run-blocker could help his cause to be more involved in the offense than his counterpart.
19. Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
2013 statistics: 52 receptions, 608 yards, 4 TD
Allen’s injury vaulted Fleener into the lineup and he played admirably in 2013, posting the 13th-most fantasy points at the tight end position. His production will lead to him being used rather frequently, but the returns of Allen and Reggie Wayne won’t help him exceed his targets from last season.
20. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
2013 statistics: N/A
The Lions got much deeper at the TE position by drafting Ebron out of UNC in the first round. He joins Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria to a stacked Detroit offense. Pettigrew is viewed more as of a blocker, while Fauria was a red zone threat with seven touchdown catches despite just 18 receptions. Ebron will be compete with him to get targets, but he’s a skilled pass-catcher with athletic ability that will get playing time quickly.
21. Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams
2013 statistics: 51 receptions, 671 yards, 5 TD
Cook has the benefit of getting out of a questionable offense in Tennessee and into an improving one with the Rams. His first year as a starter went well, finishing as the 11th-best TE. If Sam Bradford can stay healthy, the 27-year-old may crack the top-10 this season. to make that happen, he must be more consistent by getting open regularly.
22. Garrett Graham, Houston Texans
2013 statistics: 49 receptions, 545 yards, 5 TD
Now that Owen Daniels is officially gone, it opens the way for Graham to make a larger impact being on top of the depth chart, but head coach Bill O’Brien could look to employ a two-headed TE attack more often than the organization has done in the past. The variable will be whether Ryan Fitzpatrick can be productive as Houston’s starting QB.
23. Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens
2013 statistics: 24 receptions, 252 yards, 3 TD
Daniels was limited to five games last season and his eight-year career with the Texans ended after being released. He’s backing up Pitta in Baltimore, but followed his old coach, Gary Kubiak, to the same organization. Their familiarity with one another should allow him to get more involved than a regular backup.
24. Ryan Griffin, Houston Texans
2013 statistics: 19 receptions, 244 yards, 1 TD
Selected in the 2013 draft, Griffin looks to increase his impact for Houston after showing what he can provide in the season’s final three games. Similar to Graham, Griffin’s production will depend largely on how Fitzpatrick performs and how the targets are divided amongst one another.
25. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
2013 statistics: 77 receptions, 872 yards, 4 TD
Gates has long been a top-producing TE throughout his career, but he’s now on the downturn. His 77 catches last season were the most since he grabbed 79 balls in 2009, but having Ladarius Green breathing down his neck won’t allow him to post that mark again. He’ll begin the year getting the majority of targets, but that should change reasonably quickly.
26. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
2013 statistics: 46 receptions, 461 yards, 4 TD
Gresham value is dropping fantasy-wise as he’s viewed more as a pass-blocker than pass-catcher. The Bengals still run a lot of two-TE sets, letting both him and Eifert getting on the field. However, if Eifert takes another step forward this season, Gresham will be on the bench. He was called for nine penalties last season, didn’t have much of an impact in the passing game, and had his issues being a trustworthy blocker.
27. Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers
2013 statistics: 32 receptions, 312 yards, 2 TD
The departure of Jermichael Finley has given the other Packer TEs a chance to prove themselves. Quarless will likely get the first crack because he has the most experience, albeit not too much (56 career catches). His lack of experience will allow you to snatch him off the waiver wire if he proves himself.
28. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2013 statistics: N/A
He’s entering his rookie season, but it’s clear the Bucs really value height in their pass-catchers. Already with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans on the roster (both are 6’5”), Seferian-Jenkins is another 6’5” target for Josh McCown. He doesn’t have the same skill set as Jimmy Graham or Gronk, but his height will make him a viable end zone target when in a favorable matchup.
29. Jace Amaro, New York Jets
2013 statistics: N/A
Amaro was a force at the TE position while teaming up with Johnny Manziel at Texas Tech, and the Jets grabbed him in the second round of May’s draft. He’ll immediately step in as the favorite for playing time over Jeff Cumberland. He’s not in the most high-powered offense, but New York is working to feature him in a number of plays to take advantage of his athletic ability. Amaro said he’d like to be like Tony Gonzalez (I mean, who wouldn’t?), and the Jets would be ecstatic if that’s how things shake out.
30. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
2013 statistics: 41 receptions, 416 yards, 2 TD
Detroit paid him $8 million guaranteed, so he’ll be seeing time on the field despite the selection of Ebron in May’s draft. However, he’s better-known for his blocking than his pass-catching. He was already competing for targets with Joseph Fauria, so the arrival of Ebron will make things even harder. He’ll be on the field more than Fauria, giving him more value, but it may not lead to more points.
31. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
2013 statistics: 53 receptions, 655 yards, 2 TD
After tearing his ACL in 2012, Chandler is coming back from yet another offseason knee surgery. He’ll be facing competition from Tony Moeaki and it’s undetermined whether he’ll regain his pre-injury form on the field.
32. Adrien Robinson, New York Giants
2013 statistics: DNP
Robinson has a size and speed combination that was attractive to the Giants, but he didn’t do a good job of separating himself from the pack during OTAs and minicamp. It’s been an open competition during training camp, with New York boasting one of the worst TE groups in the league.
33. Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
2013 statistics: 39 receptions, 454 yards, 1 TD
Housler shared time in 2013 with John Carlson at tight end, and he hasn’t done anything to merit jumping over him on the depth chart this year. He’s projected to receive approximately the same amount of targets from last season (about 50) and probably won’t be much of a factor in the red zone.
34. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
2013 statistics: N/A
A 2014 draft pick out of Iowa, Fiedorowicz will have a chance for some playing time with Daniels out of town. Even though Graham and Griffin will get a lot of the targets, he could force his way onto the field with his big size, large catch radius and outstanding blocking ability.
35. Brandon Bostick, Green Bay Packers
2013 statistics: 7 receptions, 120 yards, 1 TD
Finley’s departure could mean Bostick gets more involved in Green Bay’s offense, as well. Quarless may get the first stab at playing time, but Bostick averaged 17.1 yards per catch last season, despite just pulling in seven balls. His chances to make a connection and get in a rhythm with Rodgers has been thwarted by injury keeping him out of the preseason and questionable for the start of the regular season.
36. Jermichael Finley, Free agent
2013 statistics: 25 receptions, 300 yards, 3 TD
While Finley is talented enough to be a starting tight end in the NFL, his injury may prevent him that chance in 2014. He bruised his spinal cord last season during Week 7, ending his year with spinal fusion surgery on his neck. He’s still on the free-agent market, but could possibly find himself as a backup because his recovery is taking too long.
37. Mercedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
2013 statistics: 25 receptions, 359 yards, 4 TD
Coming back from injury, Lewis feels ready to make a big impact in 2014. Despite his $8.25 million cap hit, Jacksonville felt he was too valuable to let go. His presence made the entire team better, especially the run game. However, that doesn’t help his fantasy value.
38. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
2013 statistics: DNP
An underwhelming set of WRs will lead to a lot of TE use in KC. With Kelce and Anthony Fasano healthy, Andy Reid will employ more two-TE sets than last season. Fasano is technically the starter, but hasn’t been much of a pass-catcher in his career, which could open the door for Kelce to have more of an impact than expected. Kelce’s outstanding preseason will lead to head coach Andy Reid using him more, giving him some real sleeper value.
39. Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
2013 statistics: 32 receptions, 502 yards, 6 TD
Celek is officially the starter in Philadelphia, but Zach Ertz’s pass-catching ability is breathing down his neck to take more targets away from him. Celek is a better blocker, but that won’t do much for him fantasy-wise in a high-flying offense such as Philly. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch with six TDs last season, but it would be shocking if Ertz’s numbers didn’t overtake him.
40. Joseph Fauria, Detroit Lions
2013 statistics: 18 receptions, 207 yards, 7 TD
Fauria shared time with Pettigrew in Detroit last season, clearly making the most of his limited time on the field. His 6’7”, 259-pound frame made him a fantastic target for Matthew Stafford in the end zone. However, now that Ebron is in the mix and is projected to be a more significant offensive force than Fauria, he’s likely to be the odd man out.