You have enough on your plate, what with a quarterback, at least two premium running backs(!) and two or three wideouts not named Santonio Holmes to draft. I feel your hand wringing from here - you don't want to worry about tight end.
So let's make it easy, and come up with a simplistic approach to getting your fantasy tight end. Here's the equation: Get the premium guys OR wait until the 10th plus round= Fantasy success.
You don't need a TI-81 Graphic Calculator for that. Basically, there are two premium guys at the tight end position right now, and neither one's name is Antonio Gates. Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham are sure bets to put up numbers because a) the Patriots just paid Gronk a HUGE sum of money to do just that, and b) the Saints just lost Bobby Meachem…and with Mark Ingram's health in question, won't be running the ball any more in 2012 than they did in 2011.
Basically, there are those two guys…and everybody else (see chart). If Gronkowski is available at 14 or lower, draft him. He should produce 1,000 yards and at least 10 touchdowns this season - those figures might even be on the low side. Gronkowski has huge hands, and with his overall size (6'6", 265 lbs), is as solid a redzone target as there is in the league.
Graham and Marques Colston are still Drew Brees' best targets in New Orleans, and should match last season's production. Mark Ingram was supposed to make the running game formidable, but after multiple knee surgeries one wonders what kind of career he'll have. That situation and the lack of a 25- carry back on the roster makes the likelihood of Graham repeating his 99-catch, 11-touchdown performance pretty strong. I would take Graham at 18 and beyond.
On the subject of Gates, as good as he's been, his chronic foot problems and weight will likely not go away. I wouldn't draft him unless you are sitting there with the 65th overall pick (seventh round in a 10-team league) and he's available. Even then, I'd have to really think about it. Gates is entering his 10th year in the league. The Wall is nearing for him.
Okay, so we've covered the three major names at tight end. So what if you don't get Gronkowski or Graham early?
Wait. And wait. Wait some more. Then, around the 11th round, go get Jacob Tamme. Reuniting with Peyton Manning in Denver is worth mentioning. After all, Tamme caught 69 balls in 10 games with the veteran quarterback in 2010.
Don't like Tamme? How about Jared Cook? He can be had in the 11th round (or lower), no problem. Cook posted 759 yards receiving last year and wasn't even drafted in a lot of leagues. I feel like Kenny Britt's return from injury as well as the drafting of Kendall Wright play into Cook's favor, as safeties will be more concerned with the Titans' vertical attack - that leaves the soft middle vulnerable for Cook.
Then there are two NFC East guys, Brent Celek and Martellus Bennett. Celek said he feels better physically than he has in years, and this is a guy who snuck in the top ten in fantasy points in 2011. I've seen him go near the bottom of the draft in some mocks. Meanwhile, I hear what you're thinking on Bennett. I don't like him either, but Travis Beckum might start the season on the PUP list and Jake Ballard is gone. Opportunity often equals production, even for a space cadet like Bennett. If nobody drafts him, make him one of your early waiver wire targets.
We've just been talking veterans. What about Coby Fleener? He could easily be a 60-catch, 800-yard guy as a rookie, sneaking into the top ten. He'll be available late, when your fellow fantasy owners are thinking about defense. Grab him.
Any one of those guys, from Tamme on down, might finish in the top ten in fantasy, and can all be had late. My suggestion is that if you don't get one of the premium dudes - Gronkowski or Graham - sit tight and let the Jason Wittens' and Jermichael Finleys' go by. Now, if you can draft either of those two in the eighth round or later, cool. But Witten is getting on in years, and like Gates, will hit the wall at some point. There are too many other options in Green Bay for Finley to have a 1,000-yard year. Cook outgained him last year.
Take a player like Fleener late, or even two guys, and play the matchups. Otherwise, close your eyes and make the big move for Gronk or Graham in the second round. Either way, don't stress, you're covered at tight end.