We reviewed the elite options, now let’s take a look at the second wave of fantasy football tight ends. While they aren't on the same level as the top four, they are still quality, starting tight end options. They don’t require such an early pick or as many auction dollars, so you can strengthen your fantasy roster elsewhere.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
Daniels caught 62 passes for 716 yards and six touchdowns last season. He always seems to be dealing with some sort of injury, having missed 15 games over the past four seasons. He has averaged 668.8 yards over the past six seasons.
His value is capped, though, due to a low touchdown total. He has averaged just 3.5 touchdowns over that same six-year span. He did set a career high with six scores last year, but I wouldn’t expect a repeat. The Texans are a run-first team. Plus, they added rookie DeAndre Hopkins to pair with Andre Johnson.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Gates disappointed last year, finishing with 49 catches for 538 yards and seven touchdowns. While he is on the decline, he has averaged nine touchdowns over the last nine seasons with seven as his low-water mark.
With Danario Alexander going down with a knee injury, Gates will be Philip Rivers’ primary option once again. If you don’t pay a premium because of his name, you should get a decent value. Just don’t expect a return to the glory days.
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
Gonzo continues to go strong. He’s 37, but showed no signs of slowing last year when he caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns. Julio Jones and Roddy White command so much attention on the outside that Gonzo is free to work the middle of the field.
In his four years with the Falcons he has averaged 81.5 receptions for 832 yards and 6.8 touchdowns. I don’t think he’ll reach last year’s numbers. I’m not sure he even reaches his average numbers with the Falcons. That said, he should remain a upper echelon fantasy tight end for the 15th straight season.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Olsen caught 69 passes for 843 yards and five touchdowns in his second season with the Panthers. Outside of Steve Smith, the Panthers don’t have many other threats in the passing game. Look for Olsen to get plenty of work again. Olsen has scored at least five touchdowns in the past five seasons, averaging 5.8 scores over that span.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph has the physical tools to develop into an elite fantasy tight end, but he will need better quarterback play from Christian Ponder. Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson should be able to stretch the field. Plus, with Percy Harvin out of the picture, Rudolph should be able to own the middle of the field and improve on the 493 yards he produced last year.
The 6’6" and 258-pound Rudolph, who caught nine touchdown passes last year, should remain Ponder’s preferred option in the red zone.
Also, check out the third tier of fantasy football tight end options.
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