My early 2014 Fantasy Football positional rankings wouldn't be complete without listing the top tight ends of the upcoming season. I'm sure many owners would like to forget about the fiasco that came with over-drafting Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. Many owners had to do a lot of plugging-and-playing to make up for Gronkowski's loss, including using guys like Cardinals TE Rob Housler as a sleeper option. Hopefully we don't see a repeat and those tight ends who are expected to be drafted high actually live up to their billing.
So without further adieu, here are my top 2014 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings.
Also don't forget to check out my top 10 early rankings for:
1. Jimmy Graham - Saints
Having been placed on the non-exclusive franchise tag, there is a very small chance Graham will play for someone else in 2014. Graham and a team will have to work out a deal. If the Saints don't match, then the Saints get 2 first-round picks. Graham is a stud, but teams are holding onto picks like never before. Graham will account for 1100-1200 yards and double-digit scores, though it's hard for me to see him match the 16 touchdowns he racked up from last year.
2. Vernon Davis - 49ers
I am sure some will think Davis at No. 2 is a bit high, but the upside is there for a 1,000-yard season. Something he has surprisingly been unable to do in his career. Owners may have to rely on catches and yardage for Davis as his touchdown looks are sure to drop with Michael Crabtree set to play the full season.
3. Rob Gronkowski - Patriots
A polarizing player, owners will either hit gold by taking him earlier than expected or regret it if Gronk gets hit by the injury bug yet again. The Patriots are said to be in the market in regards to shipping Danny Amendola out after one year, so someone would have to pick up that slack. I'd love to see Gronkowski repeat his 2011 90/1327/17 statline, but that might be asking for way too much. Don't be surprised to see Gronk taking the biggest slide this spring. He's beyond questionable at this point, but he is still very valuable.
4. Julius Thomas - Broncos
Thomas is good enough to move up to the No. 2 spot on this list. But with Peyton Manning set to undergo a neck examination Monday, I'll keep him at No. 4. A breakout player who was nowhere near ranked a TE1 prior to the 2013 season, Thomas could have an even bigger role than he had in 2013 as it appears that the team is ready to part ways with free agent WR Eric Decker.
Update: Per the Denver Post, Manning has been fully cleared for the 2014 season after tests results on his neck showed no signs of damage from 2013.
5. Jason Witten - Cowboys
If anything, Witten is one of the safer fantasy options in this year's tight end class. A cornerstone of the Cowboys offense, he'll continue to be drafted as a top-5 tight end. I do worry about his 2014 numbers as his catches and yardage from 2013 were the lowest he has yielded in many year. But as long as Tony Romo is under center, Witten won't drop out of the top 10. He's still simply too good. However, dynasty owners might want to think about unloading Witten since he's on the wrong side of 30. He doesn't have many solid years left.
6. Jordan Reed - Redskins
Coming off an injury, Reed finds his value going up without even taking an offseason snap. The Redskins front office cleaned house, firing the Shanahan duo. Hiring Jay Gruden and OC Sean McVay will do wonders for Reed's potential upside. McVay reportedly "loves" Reed and who can blame him. He's an excellent route runner and will also be featured as one of the top options at the goal-line. Jay Gruden's new offense is going to be happy happy happy in regards to heaving the ball, so don't be afraid to take Reed as your TE1 as long as he looks good in training camp.
7. Dennis Pitta - Ravens
The Ravens were able to avoid the franchise tag mess by signing Pitta to a new five-year, $32 million contract. Pitta's value can only go up after an injury-plagued 2013. The addition of Gary Kubiak as the new offensive coordinator also means he will be a big part of the passing game, ala Owen Daniels in Houston. Pitta is one of those players who is close to breaking out in the form of a 1,000-yard season. This year could finally be the year. He is definitely a value pick if he falls farther than he should.
8. Greg Olsen - Panthers
Olsen is one of those guys who you look at when drafting, but really don't pay much attention to. His 73 catches, 816 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns are really the most you'll get out of him, but that's not bad. Especially if the team doesn't make dramatic upgrades to their passing game through free agency and the draft. Olsen doesn't have much upside. Which makes him a good TE1, but nothing great.
9. Jordan Cameron - Browns
I was very high on Cameron last year. So much so that I traded for him in my dynasty league. He didn't disappoint, but his future is cloudy right now. The Browns are a team in disarray as they are breaking in a new coaching staff, new GM and need a new franchise quarterback and franchise running back. I'd like to think that Cameron will be able to get through all this and at least come close to his 2013 numbers, but it will take a miracle. Cameron is another player who could fall if it looks like he won't be used as much as he was last season. There is plenty of upside, but it won't be easy to tap into.
10. Martellus Bennett - Bears
When you have 2 potential 1,000 yard receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, there isn't a lot of room for catches. Coming off a career year, however, will keep Bennett's value afloat. Also, a full 16-game season from Jay Cutler will do nothing but help Bennett keep his status as a low-end TE1. Once all the bigger names come off the board, I'd be comfortable grabbing Bennett in the mid rounds.