- Jimmy Graham, NO – If you're going to own Graham, you're going to have to draft him in the first round. That certainly limits his profit potential, and he's a guy who's dealt with injuries in the past, though he has played through them for the most part. With the potential for 1200+ yards and 15 touchdowns though, he's an absolute difference-maker at the tight end position.
- Rob Gronkowski, NE – Gronk is the second of two tight ends that I consider to be elite. Like Graham, he has the 1200 yard, 15 TD potential. Also like Graham however, he carries injury risk. The risk with Gronk is substantial, as he's only played 18 games the past 2 years and is coming off a torn ACL/LCL. All reports say he's recovering well though, and should be fully ready for Week 1. He's a very risky pick, but with such upside he's considerably more profitable than Graham. Let's not forget what 2011 showed us; in 16 games, he can grab 90 balls for 1327 yards and 17 TD's.
- Julius Thomas, Den – Thomas is a very talented player, but to a certain extent is a product of a Peyton Manning offense. He had a true breakout campaign in 2013, amassing 788 yards and 12 TD's on 65 catches over 14 games. As with our previous TE's, the “Orange Julius” carries a substantial risk of injury, but at 6'5” he gives Peyton a big target, particularly in the end zone. There is a strong chance Thomas repeats his double-digit touchdown production from a year ago, with room for improvement.
- Jason Witten, Dal – You won't have to draft Jason Witten this high, but I've ranked him here because I expect a big year from the seasoned Cowboy veteran. He's seasoned with thyme and coriander in case you were wondering, he's quite tasty. The Cowboy defense is basically going to be like a tender pork butt, which will be shredded with ease by literally any offense. This will lead to a lot of work for Romo and the offense, and based on pure volume Witten will be useful on a weekly basis. He's not much of a red zone threat, but he could realistically eclipse 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns. He's been a top 6 TE each of the last 4 years, making him a very safe pick as well, and it would take a catastrophic injury to get him to miss any time.
- Jordan Reed, Wash
- Vernon Davis, SF – Davis is an inconsistent option, and I expect more downs than ups this year with the return of Michael Crabtree.
- Jordan Cameron, Cle
- Zach Ertz, Phi
- Ladarius Green, SD – Green is an upside pick this year, not a solid pick. I'd rather take Olsen or Miller to be my starter heading into the season, but if Antonio Gates gets hurt (which tends to happen) or his play just slips, Green could very much capitalize on the additional playing time. At 6'6” 240 lbs, Green could make a leap into the Julius Thomas territory of production as he concurrently leaps for balls in the end zone. Cameron, Pitta and Reed are getting a lot more love than Green this preseason, but I think it could be Green that ends up with 8-10 scores and out-produces those tight ends in 2014.
- Kyle Rudolph, Min
- Dennis Pitta, Bal
- Greg Olsen, Car
- Heath Miller, Pit
- Dwayne Allen, Ind
- Martellus Bennett, Chi – If you're going to wait until the final rounds of your draft to take a tight end, Bennett isn't a bad option. As with the other TE's in this range he'll be pretty touchdown dependant, but with defenses forced to concentrate on the duo of Jeffery and Marshall, Bennett will see single coverage all day long and is talented enough to take advantage of that.
- Charles Clay, Mia
- Tyler Eifert, Cin
- Antonio Gates, SD
- Brent Celek, Phi
- Delanie Walker, Ten
You won't be seeing any more of this in 2014, as Roger Goodell has outlawed the dunking of footballs over the goalposts. The “No Fun League” strikes again! But at least we still have fantasy football. And with the new NFL season comes renewed hope, a new shot at that elusive championship trophy. And as the immortal Andy Dufresne once said, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
Nathan is a fantasy baseball analyst, writer, and podcaster. He welcomes all comments and debates, be they sports related or otherwise. His work can also be found at Fantistics Insider Baseball and Big Guy Fantasy Sports, and on Twitter @NathanDokken.