It's finally that time of year again, when all of the games count and every yard matters. Week 1 can tend to be a tough one because a lot of the rankings are based on hearsay, preseason performances and coach-speak, but rest assured that these are rankings you can trust. We'll start out with the Premier talent and work our way down to guys that you probably shouldn't be starting, but may be.
In Case You Missed It: Fantasy Football Sleepers
The Stratosphere (As Close As It Gets To A Sure Thing) :
I think we can all agree that Jimmy Graham is far and away the number 1 tight end option available.
1) Jimmy Graham NO - He is his own tier, matchups be damned. If Jimmy Graham still draws breath and laces up for a game, he is the
number one tight end and it isn't close.
The Elite Tier (Play With Confidence :
2) Julius Thomas DEN - Thomas is another year into his development and Peyton Manning is still the quarterback. Those factors along with a Colts defense that isn't scaring anyone should mean big numbers for "Orange Julius".
3) Vernon Davis SF - I'm not all that high on Vernon Davis for the season, but going up against a putrid Cowboys defense makes just about anyone a must start. Davis and the rest of the 49ers are going to run wild over the Cowboys so start him with confidence.
4) Rob Gronkowski NE - The Dolphins defense should be solid again in 2014, but Gronk is just a ridiculous mismatch. I don't know that he'll have a huge yardage day, but he should be as safe a bet as you will find to reach the end zone.
Starter-Worthy (Should Be Safe To Roll With These Guys) :
5) Jordan Cameron CLE - Over the course of the season, Cameron will be elite, but for week 1 I have some reservations. Cameron is one of the only offensive pieces worth mentioning in Cleveland and the Steelers D has some new pieces and should be improved over 2013. Of course owners aren't going to sit Cameron, but don't expect a monster week.
6) Jason Witten DAL - Witten is getting older but he still has at least one solid season left in him. The 49ers are missing some pieces on defense and Dallas should be playing catch up so there will be plenty of passes to go around.
7) Martellus Bennett CHI - I'm a little bit higher on Bennett than some people but I see a nice year coming for him. When Cutler was under center last year, Martellus was the 8th ranked tight end in fantasy points. Cutler is back and healthy and Bennett's numbers should follow suit. If you see Bennett on waivers stash him or start him he should be owned in all leagues.
8) Greg Olsen CAR - Olsen may be the only proven target for Cam Newton, but Newton himself will ensure that defenses can't key on Olsen too much. I like Tampa Bay's defense to improve greatly this year under Lovie Smith, but it won't happen overnight. Start Olsen and look for around 60 yards and a touchdown.
9) Dennis Pitta BAL - I am actually not the biggest Pitta fan, but he will be startable most weeks. I see Torrey Smith taking a step forward in 2014 and getting more targets. Week 1 will also see a tough defense and a division rival so it could be a tough one for Pitta.
10) Kyle Rudolph MIN - The only thing keeping Rudolph this low in the rankings is the fact that he pretty much does not have an NFL-worthy quarterback on his roster. He is a coin toss to get a touchdown every week, but the yardage and receptions will be muted a bit by bad quarterback play.
11) Jordan Reed WAS - RG3 should be closer to his old self this season, but week 1 could be a long one for the 'skins offense. Reed is a special talent, but his QB is going to be chased by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney this week which could mean bad things for Reed's numbers.
12) Zach Ertz PHI - I just can't decide where to go wit Ertz, the consensus is that he should produce but I would be cautious to start. I would be happy to own anyone one Philly's offense. If Ertz is your starter, run him out there in week 1 and hope that the hype is warranted.
Borderline (Hope For A Touchdown):
13) Delanie Walker TEN
14) Charles Clay MIA
15) Antonio Gates SDG
16) Ladarius Green SDG
17) Heath Miller PIT
18) Eric Ebron DET
19) Coby Fleener IND
20) Tyler Eifert CIN
I just can't decide between Gates and Green. I think that they will both be worthy of a start in some weeks, but wait and see the usage of both before relying on them heavily. Heath Miller is a great football player, but for fantasy he is just average on a weekly basis. Ebron is probably going to be a big time producer, but not this year.
Asking For Trouble (Just Stay Away):
21) Garrett Graham HOU
22) Jared Cook STL
23) Dwayne Allen IND
24) Tim Wright NE
25) Austin Seferian-Jenkins TB
26) Jace Amaro NYJ
27) Mychal Rivera OAK
28) Travis Kelce KC
29) Brandon Bostick GB
30) Owen Daniels BAL
These aren't necessarily bad players and some could be moving up as the year goes on (Amaro, Kelce, Rivera) just don't hurt your team by starting them in week 1.
There you have it, the rankings for tight ends in week 1 of the 2014 season. Good luck to all of the fantasy football managers out there and let the games begin!