The tight end depth in the NFL in terms of decent fantasy production is pretty solid. Most leagues only require one TE, and unless you're in an extremely deep league, you're bound to get a serviceable one.
If you check our 2010 TE Rankings you'll see the top two tiers go 14 players deep. That means unless you play in a bizarre two TE league, you're in pretty good shape. Of course it doesn't hurt to have a solid back up, and that's where the some of this year's rookies might come into play.
My belief is that once you get into the third tier and beyond, it's less about consistency than it is about upside. Guys like Todd Heap, Jeremy Shockey and Kevin Boss don't excite me enough to waste a pick on them. But a rookie in a solid situation, that's worth a flier.
While there were several potential fantasy viable tight ends in this season's draft, I'm only listing those likely to have any impact in 2010.
Jermaine Gresham, CIN - The Cincinnati Bengals have needed a play making tight end for some time. For that reason, Gresham was the first tight end off the board, 21st overall. Some may argue that Ron Gronkowski will be more fantasy relevant in 2010, but I'm on the Gresham express. The Bengals need another target for Carson Palmer up the middle and that's exactly what they got with the 6’6, 261lb former Oklahoma Sooner. He stretches the field well and has great vision for exploiting holes. However, durability is a concern. He missed his entire senior season to injury, but that should make him all the more fired up to prove himself in 2010. I have him ranked 16th at TE.
Rob Gronkowski, NEP - The New England Patriots parted ways with Chris Baker and Ben Watson this off season, leaving a cavernous hole at the tight end spot. Gronkowski was nabbed 42nd overall by the Pats and he should fast become one of Tom Brady's favorite red zone targets. He's 6'6" and tough to take down, yet he still has soft hands. I think anywhere after the 15th pick you can feel good about grabbing this guy. I have him at 19th, but he may still move up a notch or three. What could dilute his value is the next guy on this list.
Aaron Hernandez, NEP - After nabbing Gronkowski in the 2nd round, the Pats came right back in the 4th round and picked up Hernandez. The University of Florida stand out doesn't have the same height as Gronk, but he shows excellent athleticism and pass catching ability. He could take away from some of Gronk's value, but he is also a nice sleeper pick to keep your eye on. He will likely go undrafted in all but the deepest of leagues.
Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, BAL - Like the Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens drafted two tight ends looking for a future successor for oft-injured and aging Todd Heap. While neither figures to be fantasy relevant this season, either could surprise during camp, or get a shot with Heap's seemingly endless bouts with injury.
Tony Moeaki, KCC - Tony Gonzalez left a hole in the heart of the Kansas City Chiefs faithful that's almost as big as the fantasy hole he left in the team's line up. Brad Cottam never stepped up last season. Sean Ryan is gone. Moeaki went in the third round and is one of the best blocking tight ends around. But don't underestimate his receiving skills. He could become an intriguing part of the Chiefs passing game. He could be worth a late round flier in drafts.
Jimmy Graham, NOS - Like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, Graham is a former basketball player who switched to football. He's a diamond in the rough at TE, but he has the athleticism and drive to make things happen. Jeremy Shockey will get the opportunity to help polish some of Graham's rough skills, but don't be surprised if an injury opens the door for this kid at some point in 2010.