Once upon a time, the mantra for drafting tight ends could be summed up as "if you don't get Antonio Gates ... wait." Those were the days.
Then again, fantasy history is repeating itself in many ways. Nowadays, the motto might be "after Gronk and Graham it's a traffic jam." OK, that might not be completely true. But it's also not far from wrong.
The fact is that even if you miss on the guys at the top of the tight end charts in your fantasy draft, all is not lost. There is plenty of value to be found in the later rounds. Yes, I know it sounds a lot like the advice that Jason Smith offered with his wide receiver strategy or what just about every NFL.com fantasy expert has said about picking a quarterback.
Granted, you shouldn't wait quite as long to grab a signal-caller as you would to take a tight end, but you can easily pick up a couple of wide receivers and possibly a flex option while still finding a productive tight end.
Fewer than 14 total points separated the sixth (Greg Olsen, 114.30 fantasy points) from the 10th (Brandon Myers, 104.60 fantasy points) tight end at the end of last season's fantasy standings. Compare that production to the players around them in the standings, and you'll find tight ends remaining on draft boards long after receivers and running backs with similar point totals are gone.
Last season, Olsen outscored the likes of DeMarco Murray and Darren McFadden. Yet in 2013, Murray is being drafted in the fifth round on average while Run DMC is coming off the board in the fourth! Olsen, you ask? Well, he's hanging around until the eighth round.
I've been a notorious shill for Brandon Myers, who last year outpaced both Dwayne Bowe and Ryan Mathews. Still, both of those other players (yes, Ryan Mathews too) are being drafted on average before Myers. This is even with the tight end moving from the woebegone Raiders to the much more tight-end friendly Giants.
"So," you might ask. "If these tight ends are oh so special, why shouldn't I go out and draft one a little bit earlier?"
A fair question. One with a simple answer: because no one else is. After you get past the first few guys at the position -- Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten -- the rest of the position is undervalued. Actually, that's not completely true. It's possible (even likely) that most of us overvalued the tight end position after 2011's Year of the Tight End. Last season might have been closer to reality.
Even if the position has come back to Earth, judging by last season's scoring totals, a low-end No. 1 tight end is still scoring on par with a No. 3 WR or in some cases, a low-end No. 2 RB. That means you can get the equivalent of a flex player sometimes into the double-digit rounds in your draft. That, my friends, is value.
So come up with whatever clever little jingle you like to help keep this idea in your mind, but remember ... value is where you find it. And you can certainly find it at the tight end position.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a guy who frequents online rhyming dictionaries. You can follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.