This offseason has seen a ton of turnover in the tight end position across the NFL with many changing teams, others getting arrested, and some very significant injuries.
All season long, we’ll be giving you our top ten to start each week. The rankings are a simple composite of my rankings and my colleague at Fansided Leo Howell. We’ve ranked the top ten at this tumultuous position heading into week one. In theory these should be the starters in standard 10-team leagues.
Here’s our starters for this week:
1. Jimmy Graham-New Orleans Saints
Graham is virtually the undisputed #1 tight end with Gronk on the shelf for the first few weeks. Graham also starts in a good matchup against Atlanta. The Falcons have struggled mightily to contain tight ends in the past few seasons and the game could quickly turn into a shootout leading to tons of points for Graham.
2. Tony Gonzalez-Atlanta Falcons
If the Saints-Falcons goes high-scoring, expect Gonzalez to hit paydirt and score a touchdown as well. The only tricky thing with Tony is that Matt Ryan spreads the ball around and Roddy White and Julio Jones will get a fair amount of passes thrown their way as well.
3. Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys
In a tie for second, Witten and the Cowboys host the Giants in a NFC East showdown on Sunday Night Football. Witten reportedly has been worked into the Dallas Red Zone package and has a nice track record against the G-men, so expect a big start to the season for him. He has 40 catches in his last six games against New York.
4. Zach Sudfeld-New England Patriots
Sudfeld rose probably faster than any other player this preseason going from UDFA to a top ten tight end. The rookie signed out of Nevada was thought to be a long-term developmental project, but will get the start for New England while Gronk continues his recovery. He and the Pats start the season in Buffalo where they’ll take on the hapless Bills.
5. Jared Cook-St. Louis Rams
Cook moved to the Rams this offseason following Jeff Fisher. The Rams need a big, athletic Red Zone target to go with their speed guys on the outside and Cook fits the bill. St. Louis starts at home against Arizona.
6. Kyle Rudolph-Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph is the top returning target for Christian Ponder and the Vikings after Percy Harvin left for Seattle. He had a solid season last year and will look to repeat his last game agains tthe Lions in which he caught seven passes for 64 yards and a score. Expect plenty of targets going his way, but remember if you start him you are relying on Christian Ponder.
7. Brandon Myers-New York Giants
Myers is another tight end changing teams as he switched coasts from Oakland to New York to join the G-men. Myers reportedly has developed a good rapport with Eli Manning, and Manning has made his tight ends very fantasy relevant in the past. Look for a strong opener agains the Cowboys this Sunday Night.
8. Vernon Davis-San Francisco 49ers
Davis and the ‘Niners open with a tough home game against Green Bay. Davis had just one catch against the Packers in last year’s playoff game but it was for 44 yards. He finished with a flourish after that game racking up over 100 yards against the Falcons and in the Super Bowl, but how involved he’ll be in the passing game is a little tough to tell. After Colin Kaepernick took over, Michael Crabtree got all the looks, but with Crabtree out there may be an oppoturnity for Davis to reemerge
9. Owen Daniels-Houston Texans
Daniels comes in tied with Davis as the Texans play the late Monday Night Football game in San Diego. He’s probably a “safer” play than Davis, but his ceiling is limited by the fact that Andre Johnson is the clear #1 option for Houston’s passing game which is their second-option to their dominant rushing attack.
10. Fred Davis-Washington Redskins
Davis is a quality sleeper pick who looked good this preseason. He and RGIII play the Eagles in the nation’s capital to kick off the Monday Night Football season. Davis has had his last two seasons cut short due to injury and suspension, but has potential to be a starter all year long if he can stay healthy.
Honorable Mention: Martellus Bennett-Chicago Bears, Greg Olsen-Carolina Panthers, Antonio Gates-San Diego Chargers, Jermichael Finley-Green Bay Packers