Today's release of my "Fantasy Outlook" series takes a peek at the tight end position. The purpose is to illustrate situations that casual fantasy footballers may not be aware of or in a light they may not have considered.
This year's tight end class starts and ends with Jimmy Graham as the elite options. Only a few legitimate "Plan B" options, primarily Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez, exist. Once these names are off the board you'll be looking at high-upside players with less-than-sterling fantasy resumes.
Be sure to check out our Cheat Sheet Calculator for customized rankings tailored to your league's scoring rules.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: Once the best of the best, Gronk's four surgeries in a seven-month span appear to have caught up with him. He very well may start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list and miss at least the first six games of the year. While he has been a stalwart when on the field, Gronkowski's health and the nature of what ails him should point you in a different direction this year.
Bennett may stumble into your lap
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: A nine-touchdown effort a year ago had Rudolph on the map, but he should be even better with a legit receiver in Greg Jennings to help take some defensive attention away. Rudolph should finish as a top-five tight end this year.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: Davis caught six passes in his final six regular season games last year. The loss of Michael Crabtree (Achilles') for most, if not all, of the season will force Davis to spend more time running patterns than protecting Colin Kaepernick. Expect big things from this duo in the upcoming campaign.
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns: You may have never heard of this guy, but the ultra-talented pass catcher should start for the Browns. His biggest drawback has been the inability to stay healthy. Offensive-minded coaches -- head coach Rob Chudzinski and OC Norv Turner -- have ample experience utilizing the position in a positive manner for fantasy footballers. Is that your sleeper radar I hear beeping?
Jermaine Gresham/Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals: Gresham is likely to be the blocking tight end and allow Eifert to run the majority of tight end pass patterns in this offense. The rookie is a natural receiver and should be able to contribute in a meaningful way from Day 1. Gresham's 2013 numbers will not be as pretty as their respectable mediocrity of the past few years.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears: Marc Trestman's offense likes the tight end position, and Bennett is coming off a career year in his first pro season as a full-time starter. Brandon Marshall cannot do it alone. Even though second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery should step up his game this season, Bennett is the more likely target to take pressure off Marshall.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers: At a glance, Miller could be a fantastic value with Pittsburgh's limited targets and Ben Roethlisberger's chemistry factored in. A career-threatening knee injury that led to nearly total reconstruction will have Miller being far from his normal self, especially to begin the year. Avoid him in drafts and target him for cheap in an in-season trade as the season moves along.
Luke Stocker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I have a sneaking suspicion Stocker will surface as a fantasy matchup play this season. He has the tools to succeed, but in this ground-n-pound O his touches will be limited. Stocker needs to make the most of each of his opportunities to be more than a fringe fantasy consideration.
Also See: QB | RB | WR | TE | PK | DT
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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