Reports on Rob Gronkowski’s health have been encouraging thus far, which is music to fantasy owners’ ears. (Associated Press)

As a tool for fantasy drafts, players can be grouped together in tiers of similar projected fantasy production.  Tiers can help a drafter decide how to choose between players at different positions; if a given player is the last one left in a higher tier, an owner may choose to select him over another player at a position with several players of comparable value left on the board.

Positional Rankings: Top 30 QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | Ks | DEF

Draft Talent Tiers: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

Fancy Stats Value Players: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

To create our tiers, we are using Gene Wang’s top 30 TEs. Scoring figures are for standard settings and are courtesy of Fantasy Pros.


Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints

The only tight end who is a legitimate option in the first round of almost all fantasy drafts, Graham towered above all others at his position last season, and he is a very good bet to do the same this year.


Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

Thomas went undrafted in most leagues last year, then slapped up a 12-touchdown season, then saw big-bodied Eric Decker depart in free agency. Davis snared 13 TDs, although he appears to have gained some competition for targets. All eyes will be on Gronkowski’s return from a torn ACL and MCL; if he looks like the dominating Gronk of old, he’ll shoot up draft boards.


Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens

The last group of players from whom we can have reasonable expectations of a big season. Cameron owners will be hoping that his teammate Josh Gordon gets a year-long suspension. Reed owners will be hoping he doesn’t get any more concussions. Witten, Olsen and Pitta should all be pass-catching mainstays in their respective offenses, but their touchdown totals seem like major variables.


Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins

Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

Ideally, these players will be taken as TE2s, but any of them could make their owners look like draft-day savants. Clay, Bennett and Walker should be consistent, if not explosive, point-producers. Gates and Ertz are going in opposite career directions, it just remains to be seen how fast Gates falls and Ertz rises. Rudolph gets to work in Norv Turner’s tight end-friendly offense, and just signed a large contract extension, so the Vikings clearly expect big things from him.


Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions

Garrett Graham, Houston Texans

Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts

Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers

Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams

There are some intriguing fliers here, none more so than Green, who possesses all-world athleticism and just needs for San Diego to let him loose. Ebron is a similar specimen, but rookies at his position usually struggle to make a big impact. Eifert has plenty of talent, but will likely be constrained by the Bengals’ preference to run the ball.


Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles

Levine Toilolo, Atlanta Falcons

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers

Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills

Luke Willson, Seattle Seahawks

Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals

Joseph Fauria, Detroit Lions

Fodder for very deep leagues. Miller stands out in this group as someone who could regain his previous status as a reliable contributor. Rodgers was a third-round pick by a Packers team that happens to have a vacancy at his position. Toilolo inherits Tony Gonzalez’s spot, but almost certainly not Gonzo’s role. Allen could leapfrog Fleener as Indy’s top tight end.