Graham is without question the top tight end in fantasy football. A pass-catching phenom, his size (6-foot-7, 265 pounds) and athletic prowess make him an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. His production has been second to none at the position over the last two seasons, as Graham has ranked first in fantasy points in back-to-back campaigns and has scored a ridiculous 25 touchdowns. He's also coming off his best statistical season with 1,215 yards, 16 touchdowns and 217.50 fantasy points. That would have ranked him as the sixth-best running back and the fourth-best wide receiver. The top target in New Orleans for Drew Brees, Graham is the lone tight end worth a first-round selection.
The 26-year-old led tight end led his position in total fantasy points last season with 12 touchdowns and over 1,100 receiving yards on 82 receptions through 15 games. He has suffered myriad injuries during his five seasons in the league but he remains the most talented tight end in the NFL and this will be the first year since the start of the 2011 campaign that Gronkowski is 100 percent healthy heading into the season. He presents a weekly advantage at the tight end position in fantasy lineups and it wouldn't be surprising to see him come off of draft boards in the second round. His size-speed combintaion creates mismatches that defensive coordinators (and fantasy opponents) have nightmares about. Gronk is a lock for double-digit touchdowns once again as long as he remains healthy.
A talented tight end with great size (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) and pass-catching skills, Thomas broke out this past season to the tune of 65 receptions, 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those totals were good enough for him to finish third in fantasy points at his position behind Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis. A young buck who will continue to see more than his share of targets all over the field and in the red zone, Thomas also has the advantage of catching passes from one of the greatest statistical quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning. While the list of tight ends who are worth selecting in the first three rounds of fantasy football drafts is a short one, Thomas is among them in an explosive offense.
Over the last four seasons, Davis has finished in the top 10 in fantasy points among tight ends three different times. That includes the 2013 campaign, when he tied a career best with 13 touchdowns and recorded the third-most points at his position. A big, physical option in the pass attack for Colin Kaepernick, Davis is a true playmaker in an offense that just continues to improve. If there's one concern, though, it's that Michael Crabtree will be back for the entire 2014 campaign. That could leave Davis with slightly fewer targets. He'll also be hard pressed to duplicate the 13 scores he put up last season, so fantasy owners should temper expectations somewhat. Overall, Davis is a top-four tight end.
If you want a consistent tight end who won't cost you a pick in one of the first five rounds, you can't do much better than Witten. The veteran has finished no worse than sixth in fantasy points at his position in six of the last seven seasons (including the last four in a row), and remains one of the top options in the pass attack for Tony Romo. A valuable PPR option, Witten has also hauled in 70-plus passes in each of the past seven seasons. While he is getting a little long in the tooth -- this will be his 12th NFL season -- Witten continues to produce in the stat sheets. Though he's no longer an elite option, Witten makes sense for owners who want to wait until the late middle rounds for a tight end.
Cameron broke out last season, posting career bests across the board while also finishing fifth in fantasy points among tight ends. He did most of his statistical damage in the first half, though, as Cameron recorded seven or more fantasy points just once in his last eight games. He has also lost a bit of his luster for 2014, as the Browns decided to part ways with coach Rob Chudzinski and OC Norv Turner. That duo liked to feature the tight end in their offenses, so Cameron might not see the same number of targets moving forward under new OC Kyle Shanahan. Still, he's entering a contract year and remains a legitimate No. 1 at a position that lacks for depth. Just don't reach for Jordan before the middle rounds.
Fantasy owners looking for a breakout candidate at the tight end position need to remember Pitta's name when it comes time to draft. A talented pass catcher who sees more than his share of time in the slot, Pitta isn't a normal tight end in the traditional sense. He's also a red-zone favorite for Joe Flacco, and the addition of new OC Gary Kubiak (who coached Shannon Sharpe and Owen Daniels) just adds to his fantasy appeal. While his level of production won't be on par with the likes of Graham, Thomas or Gronkowski, Pitta is in line to become a surefire No. 1 fantasy tight end in both standard and PPR leagues. He's likely to come off the board in the middle rounds and could turn into quite a draft bargain.
One of the more talented young tight ends in the league, Reed is a strong breakout candidate heading into the 2014 campaign. He showed flashes of potential as a rookie, catching 45 passes for 499 yards with three touchdowns in nine games before a concussion knocked him out for the final few weeks. The new regime in Washington loves Reed's skill set, and his new OC Sean McVay, was Washington's tight ends coach in 2013. That's good news for the Florida product, who figures to see more than his share of opportunities in an offense that lacks for playmakers in the pass attack. Based on what looked to be a good rapport with quarterback Robert Griffin III, Reed has a chance to become a No. 1 fantasy option.
Olsen has been one of the more consistent tight ends in fantasy football over the last two seasons. In that time, he's posted a combined 142 receptions for 1,659 yards and 11 touchdowns. A top-10 tight end in three of the last five including each of the last two, Olsen has developed a nice rapport with Cam Newton in an offense that is devoid of reliable options in the pass attack. While he has appeared to hit his ceiling from a statistical perspective, Olsen should continue to see his share of targets and is a good bet to finish the 2104 campaign with comparable totals across the board. If your draft plan is to wait for a tight end until the earlier portion of the late rounds, Olsen is a tremendous target.
Rudolph is coming off a forgettable season that saw him miss eight games due to a broken foot. That missed time caused him to finish 36th in fantasy points among tight ends. The future is bright for the Golden Domer, though, as the presence of new OC Norv Turner will mean more opportunities to produce both on the field and in fantasy land. He has been at the helm of a number of offenses that featured productive tight ends, the latest being Jordan Cameron last season in Cleveland, so Rudolph could be the next man in line. Rudolph, who will also be motivated to produce nice totals in a contract year, should be drafted as a low-end No. 1 option with upside somewhere in the earlier portion of the late rounds.
Bennett broke the trend of Chicago Bears tight ends having little value in the world of fantasy football, recording career bests in receptions and yards while finishing 10th in points at his position. The pass-catching veteran out of Texas A&M benefitted from the offensive system of coach Marc Trestman, who also featured two of the top eight fantasy wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Bennett has likely hit his statistical ceiling in a system with a number of weapons, however, so fantasy leaguers shouldn't expect him to take the next step to statistical stardom. Still, he'll be an attractive low-end No. 1 tight end in most drafts. Bennett should be on the board in the late rounds this season.
Clay wasn't on the radar in most fantasy drafts last season, but he landed a bigger role in the Miami offense after Dustin Keller went down with a serious knee ailment. He took full advantage, recording career bests across the board while ranking an impressive seventh in fantasy points among tight ends. Clay, who saw seven carries out of the backfield and scored a rushing touchdown, should continue to see his share of targets in the pass attack moving forward. While he won't be the most consistent tight end (let's face it, the position is inconsistent overall), the Tulsa product is now in the conversation as a low-end No. 1 fantasy tight end. He'll come off the board somewhere in the late rounds of most 2014 leagues.
Ertz ranked as the 20th-best tight end in fantasy land as a rookie, but there's a lot to like about him moving forward. In fact, he's expected to take over as the top receiving tight end for coach Chip Kelly this season. The continued presence of Brent Celek could alter his ceiling somewhat, but Ertz should still be in a good position to improve almost across the board as an NFL sophomore. In fact, he's a strong sleeper at his position ... even more so with DeSean Jackson no longer in the mix. In an explosive offense that will generate plenty of points, the Stanford product is worth a look as a high-end No. 2 fantasy tight end who has a chance to develop into a regular starter. Target him in the later rounds.
Walker wasn't a fantasy superstar by any stretch of the imagination, but he did have his share of nice stat lines en route to the best statistical season of his pro career in 2013. A good pass catcher who was buried behind fantasy stud Vernon Davis for several years in San Francisco, Walker could be in line to see more opportunities under new coach Ken Whisenhunt. In fact, Whiz even compared Walker to Antonio Gates, who was the top tight end in fantasy football for several seasons earlier in his career. While he isn't about to reach that level of success, the Central Missouri State product is now on the radar as a No. 2 fantasy tight end. He'll be on the board in the late rounds of 10- and 12-team leagues.
Green didn't finish among the top 25 tight ends based on fantasy points last season, but he's an athletic freak with some real upside. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder saw just 450 offensive snaps in 2013 -- and he was asked to block in 59.5 percent of them according to Pro Football Focus. That won't happen in 2014, as the Chargers will look to add some speed and youth into their pass attack. Green's ceiling isn't what it could be with Antonio Gates around, but he has some deep sleeper appeal at the position.