Fantasy Football: Tight End Rankings
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Tier 4: Boring Veterans
Top tier backups with high floors and low ceilings.
Antonio Gates, Chargers– It’s weird to rank a backup (Green) ahead of the starter (Gates), but at this point in Gates’ career he just isn’t the physical talent that Green is. Gates still has reliable hands, but looks really slow out there as a 34-year-old. He still put up a quality line of 77, 872, 4 last season but I think his playing time will be reduced a bit as the Chargers try to get Green on the field. Gates is an elite #2TE, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with him as my fantasy starter every week.
Heath Miller, Steelers – The epitome of boring, but Miller is reliable and has averaged 60 catches, 680 yards and 3.5 TDs over the last 3 seasons. Not quite TE1 numbers, but excellent for a bye week replacement or a full-time backup if you roll that way. It seems like Miller has been around forever but he’s only 32 and didn’t show any signs of showing down last season.
Tier 5: Breakouts (Part 2)
The second batch of TEs that I think could make a huge leap into the back end of the top 12 TE ranks. I’m not quite as sure of their breakout potential compared to the breakouts (part 1) tier and their ceiling is more 8-12, than 4-7. Regardless, you can get these TEs for next to nothing and they have legitimate upside.
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Travis Kelce, Chiefs – Injuries kept the athletic TE on the sidelines for all of 2013, but he’s finally healthy and has been tearing it up so far this preseason (10, 185, 2). The Chiefs have one of the least talented WR groups in the NFL and a QB who doesn’t like throwing the ball farther than 15 yards. Kelce has the potential to become Alex Smith’s go-to target and has the speed and elusiveness to make some big plays after the catch. He’s not a household name, but he has top 10 upside this season.
Garrett Graham, Texans – The other Graham is a far cry from Jimmy, but with Owen Daniels gone Graham is the new #1 TE in Houston. New HC Bill O’Brien was the architect behind New England’s two TE offense (Gronk / Hernandez) so there should be plenty of targets for Graham. Whether Graham has the talent to take advantage of the increased targets is debatable, but at least the opportunity is there which is half the battle.
Dwayne Allen, Colts – An under the radar breakout pick, Allen had 1 catch for a 20-yard TD last season before missing the rest of 2013 with a hip injury. So far Allen has been considerably better than the more highly drafted Coby Fleener and could be a reliable weapon in the Colts passing game. They have so many weapons this season that I don’t see Allen catching over 60-65 balls but he could end up being one of Luck’s preferred red-zone targets and have 5-6 TDs. Allen has a shot at the 10-12 ranked TE range, which is considerably higher than where he’s being drafted (24th TE, behind Finley, Daniels, Celek).
Delanie Walker, Texans – Was a solid backup on the Niners before ending up in Tennessee and becoming a reliable safety valve option for whichever bum was playing QB. Walker finished with 60 catches, 39 more than his best season in SF, and caught 70% of his targets. Considering the lack of accuracy from his QBs, that is awesome. The Titans have more weapons than you think (Wright, Hunter, Sankey, McCluster) and I can’t see Walker getting many more than the 86 targets he got last season. Even with 80-90 targets, a repeat of his 70% catch percentage would put Walker in the 10-12 range of the TE ranks.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals – I drafted Eifert in plenty of leagues last year after flashes of potential at ND. Unfortunately the Bengals keep forcing bums like Jermaine Gresham (and BJGE) on the field instead of their talented youngsters like Eifert and Gio Bernard. Maybe a new OC in Cincy (Hue Jackson) will realize that Eifert is infinitely better than Gresham and give him the majority of the targets. It’s doubtful, but I did draft Eifert in one league just in case.