The tight end position is deep, but it is limited at the top. I have no problem waiting to take a tight end after the elite options come off the board. That doesn’t mean that this quartet won’t stand out from the crowd.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
Vernon Davis hasn’t been elite since 2010, but all signs point towards Davis returning to that territory. The loss of Michael Crabtree makes Davis the top talent in the passing game. The Niners will move him around to take advantage of his unique blend of size and speed.
Davis got off to a great start last year with four touchdowns and 169 yards in the first three games. He only had two games with more than 40 yards the rest of the way.
Davis came alive in the playoffs though, posting a pair of 100-yard games, including 104 yards in the Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Colin Kaepernick relied heavily on Crabtree last year. Without that arrow in his quiver, he’ll turn to Davis early and often.
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Graham stands above all the other tight end options, mainly because of injury concerns from the other top guy. Graham dealt with ankle and wrist injuries last year, but still managed to catch 85 passes last year for 982 yards and nine touchdowns.
He had 10 games with at least 75 yards and/or a touchdown. In 2011 he caught 99 balls for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sean Payton is back from suspension and Drew Brees is still flinging him the football so another monster season seems inevitable.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronk is a high-risk, high-reward option. He’s the best tight end in the game when healthy. Unfortunately he isn’t healthy right now, and he could start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List, which would cost him the first six games of the season.
Despite the injuries, he finished with 790 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. In 2011 he caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. He even scored 10 touchdowns as a rookie in 2010 despite catching just 42 passes. At 6’6″ and 265 pounds, the only thing that can stop him is his body.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Witten caught 110 passes for 1,039 yards last year. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he caught just three touchdown passes. That can be overlooked, particularly in PPR leagues, because of his consistency and durability.
Witten has averaged 92.3 receptions for 1,018.3 yards and five touchdowns over the past six seasons.
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