All this week the Washington Post will be rolling out its fantasy football rankings by position, continuing Thursday with the top 30 TEs. Gene Wang offers his best bets at the position for 2014, while Neil Greenberg expounds upon the best and worst TE values in the Fancy Stats blog.
Top 30 TEs
1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints: It was no surprise Graham received a contract (four years, $40 million) in line with some of the best wide receivers in the league. After all, his 16 touchdowns were the most among all skill players in 2013.
2. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos: The red zone standout finished with 12 touchdowns during his first season as a starter. With Eric Decker gone, Thomas may be in line for even more targets in the league’s highest scoring offense.
3. Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: The District native and former University of Maryland star’s 13 touchdowns matched a personal single-season high, as did his average yardage per catch of 16.3.
4. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: When healthy, Gronk rivals Graham as the No. 1 tight end in fantasy. Take his 2011 season when he amassed a league-high 17 touchdowns with 1,327 yards on 90 receptions.
5. Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns: In his third season, the former fourth-round pick had more targets (118) than any tight end except Graham and Tony Gonzalez, who announced his retirement last season.
6. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys: The future Hall of Famer has not missed a game since 2005. Last season Witten had eight touchdowns, the second most of his career, but in general he’s not a threat in the red zone.
7. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers: Honestly, who else is Cam Newton really going to throw to this season? Olsen finished fifth among tight ends and first on the team in targets (111), and that was with WR Steve Smith in the fold.
8. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins: Concussions ended Reed’s rookie season prematurely, but the third-round pick showed signs of becoming a front line TE1 with 499 yards and three touchdowns while starting four games.
9. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens: If he weren’t coming off a fractured and dislocated hip, Pitta’s ranking would be higher. It also doesn’t help that his quarterback threw 22 interceptions last season.
10. Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins: In an offense that didn’t have much going for it, the converted running back became a bright spot with 101 targets that yielded 759 yards and six touchdowns on 69 receptions.
11. Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears: There’s not much left for Bennett in the passing game when factoring in targets for Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte, but the second-round pick in 2008 probably is good for a half dozen touchdowns.
12. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: The first tight end off the board for years, Gates, 34, had his most yards (872) since 2009 but fewest touchdowns (four) since his rookie season in 2003.
13. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles: Even though the second-year player doesn’t have the position all to himself just yet, Ertz possesses the physical tools to supplant Brent Celek sooner than later.
14. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: A broken foot in Week 9 ended Rudolph’s season at 313 catches and three touchdowns. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner does have a history of featuring the tight end, giving Rudolph’s stock a slight bump.
15. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans: The former backup in San Francisco had 86 targets last season and finished with 60 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns, all personal single-season highs.
16. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions: After disappointment from one season to the next with Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit is moving in another direction with a rookie who could be a revelation in the club’s vertical passing attack.
17. Garrett Graham, Houston Texans: First serving three years as a backup, Graham started 11 games last season and finished with 89 targets, 10th among tight ends, and 49 receptions for 545 yards and five touchdowns.
18. Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts: Perhaps Year 3 will turn out to be the charm for Fleener, who had 608 yards and four touchdowns as well as 87 targets, which put him just outside the top 10 in 2013.
19. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals: With Jermaine Gresham beginning training camp on the PUP list, Eifert has every opportunity to become the No. 1 tight end in an offense that was ranked eighth in passing.
20. Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers: With Antonio Gates nearing the end of his career, Green can expect an uptick in targets given the potential he showed last season with 376 yards and three touchdowns.
21. Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams: Following career highs in catches (51) and touchdowns (five), Cook received a five-year contract worth $19 million. Cook’s 85 targets were 13th among tight ends.
22. Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles: Even though Celek had six fewer targets than Zach Ertz, he produced more yards (502) and touchdowns (six) than the player some are anointing the future for Philadelphia at the position.
23. Levine Toilolo, Atlanta Falcons: With Tony Gonzalez retired, Toilolo is the next man up, and he certainly passes the eye test at 6-foot-8, 265 pounds. His ceiling is high considering defenses will focus on Julio Jones and Roddy White.
24. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: In 2012, Miller had career highs in yards (816) and touchdowns (eight) but fell off considerably last season when he missed two games for the first time since 2010.
25. Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Jermichael Finley isn’t signed or medically cleared to play. Andrew Quarless didn’t practice in the offseason. Rodgers, meanwhile, earned high praise from Coach Mike McCarthy in OTAs.
26. Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts: Allen had his season end in Week 1 with a broken hip. The Colts’ blocking tight end is not as fleet afoot as Coby Fleener, but his physicality makes him the more effective red zone option.
27. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills: Buffalo’s leading receiver last season left training camp Sunday with a groin injury. Assuming it’s not serious, Chandler should continue to be a top target for second-year QB EJ Manuel.
28. Luke Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: Seattle is a running team, so the starting tight end must be a capable blocker. Wilson has improved there, and his speed and soft hands have him pushing Zach Miller for the starting spot.
29. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals: Missing training camp with an injury isn’t exactly the way to keep a hold of the starting job, but Gresham figures to get targets along with Eifert.
30. Joseph Fauria, Detroit Lions: Fauria caught just 18 passes for 207 yards last season, but the touchdown vulture reached the end zone seven times, more than all but five tight ends.