We're heading into the rumors and hearsay section of the NFL season, so now is a good time to round out the 2013 fantasy rankings with the top 20 tight ends for the upcoming season. I can't imagine there being that much change in the top 10 as we head closer to the spring and summer months.
However, one obvious change will be the appearance or disappearance of Tony Gonzalez. The good news for Gonzo owners in dynasty leagues, or just fans of the All-Pro tight end in general, is that he has yet to make his supposed retirement official. Considering we are nearly two weeks removed from the Super Bowl and three weeks removed from the Falcons loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, it's a good sign that TG hasn't made a peep.
The Falcons are certainly going to do all they can to bring their stud offensive player back. GM Thomas Dimitroff says he is going to lobby hard for Gonzo to come back. ESPN's Chris Mortenson reported Roddy White and the Falcons are planning a "Brett Favre strategy" by going to California and dragging him back to Atlanta. After catching 8 balls for 78 yards and a touchdown in Gonzo's unofficial last game against San Fran, there is still more than plenty of gas left in the tank for at least another year. Maybe even two.
So just for the hell of it, I'm going to throw Gonzalez in the rankings. While there is more than a 50-50 chance he hangs up his cleats, I'll hope me ranking him gives me some sort of magical powers that convinces him to come back for one more Super Bowl run.
* = Unrestricted Free Agent
1. Rob Gronkowski - New England - Gronk can live it up as much as he wants off the field. You know he brings it every game.
2. Jimmy Graham - New Orleans - Graham had a case of the dropsees last year, dropping 15 of 100 catchable passes. Much of that can be blamed on a wrist injury that Graham was able to play through. Despite the drops, he still caught 85 passes and 9 touchdowns. He should be good to go and in for a bounce-back year.
3. Jason Witten - Dallas - Jason Garret's job is on the line if the Cowboys don't make the playoffs in 2013. Witten will, once again, be Tony Romo's favorite target regardless.
4. Aaron Hernandez - New England - With it looking more and more like Wes Welker is out, Tom Brady could lean more on Hernandez, depending on who the team brings in as Welker's replacement.
5. Tony Gonzalez* - Officially a free agent, but could be sitting at home relaxing or in training camp this Summer. Lets hope it's the latter.
6. Greg Olsen - Carolina - Might be too high right now, but Steve Smith isn't getting any younger and Brandon LaFell is mediocre.
7. Owen Daniels - Houston - As long as Matt Schaub is quarterback, Daniels will continue to be relevant in the fantasy world.
8. Heath Miller - Pittsburgh - Todd Haley found a way to get Miller active after laying dormant for years. That should continue in 2013.
9. Kyle Rudolph - Minnesota - Christian Ponder is running out of weapons if Percy Harvin is traded. The Vikings have to figure out how to get Rudolph more involved like he was in the beginning of 2012.
10. Jermaine Gresham - Cincinnati - Has improved every year since his rookie season. Hopefully 2013 will be the year that Gresham pushes for 1000 receiving yards, even with AJ Green hogging receptions.
11. Dennis Pitta - Baltimore - A Restricted Free Agent, Pitta had one of the most up-and-down fantasy years I had ever seen from a tight end. If Anquan Boldin doesn't come back, Pitta could be in store for more of the work. He has all the makings of a TE1.
12. Martellus Bennett* - Had a great comeback season after floundering in Dallas. Lets see if he sticks to his word by saying he'll take a "hometown discount."
13. Jared Cook* - There are mixed reports as to whether or not Cook will get the franchise tag, extended or be let go. He has all the abilities in the world to be a top-10 fantasy prospect, but he needs the right quarterback and offensive scheme to make it all click.
14. Vernon Davis - San Francisco - Where was the Super Bowl 47 version of Vernon Davis during the season? I'm banking on that one game to be a sign of things to come in 2013.
15. Antonio Gates - San Diego - Will no more Norv Turner mean good things for Gates, or is age and wear-and-tear starting to factor in?
16. Brandon Pettigrew - Detroit - Sadly, Pettigrew really isn't anything special. I had written in a USA Today column that he would be overvalued in non-PPR leagues, which he was. If he doesn't replicate his 2011 season (85/777/5), he could walk in 2014.
17. Fred Davis* - Davis' situation is cloudy in regards to his status with the Redskins and his status for the start of the regular season. A free agent coming off an Achilles injury, there is a chance he could wind up on the PUP to start the year. Had to add him to the top 20 because he's that good once healthy. If he re-signs with Washington and you have an IR spot, I'd snag him in the later rounds and hope he bounces back once he plays full time again.
18. Jermichael Finley - Green Bay - While still under contract with the Packers, it's not known if the team will bring back the talented, yet disappointing Finley for another season. The two sides might be better off parting ways so Finley can try to salvage his value somewhere else.
19. Brandon Myers* - The Raiders are said to want Myers back "at the right price" and Myers could find himself coming back once he realizes his free agent value won't be as high as he thinks. He had a big fantasy year, but much of that success was in garbage time. Plus, Myers is one of the least athletic starting tight ends in the league.
20. Dustin Keller* - The Jets would love nothing more than to bring Keller back. But with their salary cap situation, which is arguably the worst in the league, they won't have much money to compete with other teams. Keller could be in for a big year if he lands on a team that utilizes the tight end position in their passing game.