San Diego's Antonio Gates, a top-7 tight end in fantasy circles, is averaging 81.6 yards and 0.6 touchdowns in his last five games against the rival Raiders.
Here are my top 20 tight ends for Week 1 (standard-scoring leagues).
To clarify, this countdown doesn't lean on a particular stat. It's merely an educated best guess of which rushers will tally the best combination of total yards and touchdowns for the NFL's opening weekend.
Note: These rankings shall remain fluid through Sunday morning.
One last thing: I'm not expecting Jason Witten (spleen laceration) to play on Wednesday night. And even if he does, the odds of anything eclipsing 50 receiving yards are long.
Top 20 Tight Ends For Week 1
1. Rob Gronkowski @ Tennessee
2. Antonio Gates @ Oakland
3. Jimmy Graham vs. Washington
4. Vernon Davis @ Green Bay
5. Aaron Hernandez @ Tennessee
6. Fred Davis @ New Orleans
7. Jermichael Finley vs. San Francisco
8. Brandon Pettigrew vs. St. Louis
9. Brent Celek @ Cleveland
10. Tony Gonzalez @ Kansas City
11. Jacob Tamme vs. Pittsburgh
12. Jermaine Gresham @ Baltimore
13. Dustin Keller vs. Buffalo
14. Jared Cook vs. New England
15. Kyle Rudolph vs. Jacksonville
16. Greg Olsen @ Tampa Bay
17. Martellus Bennett vs. Dallas
18. Owen Daniels vs. Miami
19. Ed Dickson vs. Cincinnati
20. Coby Fleener @ Chicago
1. Rob Gronkowski (90 catches, 1,327 yards, 18 total TD last year) deserves the top spot heading into Week 1, but I was tempted to place Antonio Gates over Jimmy Graham and Gronk.
In his last four Week 1 efforts, Gates has per-outing averages of 5.5 catches, 8.5 targets, 73.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns. And in his last five games against the Raiders (the Chargers' Monday opponent), Gates averaged 5.2 catches, 81.6 yards and 0.6 touchdowns.
2. I expect Washington's Fred Davis (59 Catches, 796 Yards, 3 TD, 88 Targets in 12 games last year) to get separation on the Saints linebackers and nickelbacks. In fact, pencil him in for the most catches and receiving yards amongst the Redskins pass-catchers this weekend.
3. For Weeks 6-17 last year, Philly's Brent Celek racked up 53 catches, 78 targets, 738 yards and five touchdowns—essentially top-10 production at his position. In those final 10 games, Celek crossed the PPR-elite threshold of six catches, 75 yards and/or one touchdown eight times.
4. It'll be interesting to see how Tony Gonzalez (Falcons) and Martellus Bennett (Giants) perform in their "revenge" dates against the Chiefs and Cowboys, respectively. This is Gonzo's first road trip to Arrowhead Stadium since Kansas City traded him before the 2009 NFL draft. If I was a betting man, I'd tab Gonzalez as a reasonable play for five catches and 65 yards.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.