In fantasy football, tight ends are often overlooked in favor of running backs, wide receivers and quarterbacks, but it's important to pick up one of the good ones before they're all gone.
That kind of production isn't typical, but most of the other top tight ends scored higher than 120 points. Spread out over the course of the season, it doesn't seem like eight points a game would make a huge difference, but in the end, every point matters.
Here's a look at my top 25 tight ends for the 2013 NFL season. A few players who I expect to be consistent, big-time producers will be highlighted for further analysis.
|1||Jimmy Graham||New Orleans Saints|
|2||Tony Gonzalez||Atlanta Falcons|
|3||Vernon Davis||San Francisco 49ers|
|4||Jason Witten||Dallas Cowboys|
|5||Rob Gronkowski||New England Patriots|
|6||Kyle Rudolph||Minnesota Vikings|
|7||Antonio Gates||San Diego Chargers|
|8||Jermichael Finley||Green Bay Packers|
|9||Owen Daniels||Houston Texans|
|10||Jared Cook||St. Louis Rams|
|11||Greg Olsen||Carolina Panthers|
|12||Brandon Myers||New York Giants|
|13||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns|
|14||Julius Thomas||Denver Broncos|
|15||Martellus Bennett||Chicago Bears|
|16||Fred Davis||Washington Redskins|
|17||Brandon Pettigrew||Detroit Lions|
|18||Tyler Eifert||Cincinnati Bengals|
|19||Brent Celek||Philadelphia Eagles|
|20||Zach Miller||Seattle Seahawks|
|21||Rob Housler||Arizona Cardinals|
|22||Coby Fleener||Indianapolis Colts|
|23||Jermaine Gresham||Cincinnati Bengals|
|24||Ed Dickson||Baltimore Ravens|
|25||Zach Sudfeld||New England Patriots|
Vernon Davis (No. 3 Overall), San Francisco 49ers
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, then you've likely seen at least one or two reports about how good Davis and quarterback Colin Kaepernick have looked in practice this summer.
Davis was a fantasy stinker last year—especially when Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith midway through the season. He only caught six passes in the team's final six games, and many wondered if the decision to bench Smith would be a problem for Davis' fantasy value going forward.
After the duo connected on 12 receptions for 254 yards and a touchdown in the postseason, however, it became clear that they'd be dangerous, given an entire offseason to hone their connection.
Davis' fantasy value is further elevated this season—especially early—considering the 49ers tribulations at the wide receiver position. With Anquan Boldin the only proven force on the perimeter, Kaepernick will look to Davis early and often in games this season.
Antonio Gates (No. 7 Overall), San Diego Chargers
The 2012 season was filled with frustration for Gates and the Chargers.
While his team languished in mediocrity, Gates struggled to stay on the field as he dealt with a couple of nagging injuries. As a result, his production plummeted. The one-time top-three fantasy tight end only managed 49 catches for 538 yards.
He did manage to score seven touchdowns, however, proving he's still got it when it comes to red-zone production.
Gates enters the 2013 season fresh, in shape and notably quicker than he's looked the past few seasons, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Times. He's on a gluten-free diet and is approaching this season with a huge chip on his shoulder, as noted by Acee.
Which tight end will have the biggest season?
Provided he stays healthy, Gates has an opportunity to rebound with a monster season. The Chargers are thin at the wide receiver position, meaning quarterback Philip Rivers will have to rely on his trusted tight end more than ever before.
Jordan Cameron (No. 13 Overall), Cleveland Browns
New offensive coordinator Norv Turner historically loves utilizing athletic, pass-catching tight ends in the passing game. Since arriving in Cleveland this year, Turner hasn't been shy about his high hopes for Cameron, who he plans on becoming an integral part of his offense.
After the team's second preseason game, Turner spoke about Cameron's growth as a player, as noted by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Everyone got excited about the three catches. I got excited about how he played inside in pass protection and against the run. He’s improving in that area, and that’s the area he needs to improve the most. He’s shown in both games he’s capable of making big plays.
With six catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns in limited action this preseason, Cameron looks ready to become one of the league's top playmakers at the tight end position.
The tight end's improved run blocking will benefit his production through the air. As running back Trent Richardson gashes opposing defenses with big gains, passing lanes will open up over the top, where Cameron's speed will help him become a dynamic weapon in the play-action passing game.
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