Tight End Projections 2014
Initial projections for the top 60 tight ends
The last of the early projections are finished! In the words of Thornton Melon, “I feel like I just gave birth … to an accountant.” Today we bring you the tight ends, and, once you break them down, you’ll find depth, but not at the TE1 level. There’s more than enough to go around in smaller leagues, but in 12-team leagues and larger, there are just enough or maybe a little less depending on your point of view. If you are stone-cold-sold on the likes of Zach Ertz, Dennis Pitta and Ladarius Green, then you can be very patient at the position on draft day. At this point, from my point of view, which is fluid, I want to strike somewhere in the top ten if I can, but I also want to avoid reaching. I’ve been getting Martellus Bennett and Kyle Rudolph quite a bit … usually in the 10th round or thereabouts. If I miss on them, I wait a few rounds and go after a few upside guys like Ertz or Green.
Jimmy Graham is still the crown jewel of the position, with only a healthy Rob Gronkowski in his class as a talent. Gronkowski’s value is tricky as it was in 2013 and we’re not buyers at this time, unless we can get him in the late fourth round or later. There are just too many concerns.
Graham is not without risk himself, and we could move him out of the first round in our rankings if any bad info on his foot comes out in camp. Graham suffered from Plantar Fasciitis in 2013 and that’s a condition with the potential to linger and in some cases worsen. The idea that it could damage his 2014 season is not that far fetched.
Statistically speaking, Graham’s 2013 was a before and after season with before being the far, far better of the two. The dividing line was Week Eight, which is about the time when his foot flared up. In fairness, Graham was still the best fantasy tight end in football the rest of the way, but not by the kind of margin that puts him in the first round of fantasy drafts. We’ll be monitoring Graham’s health throughout the summer months. As of now, he’s ranked in our top ten players.
Breakout candidates this year are many and leading the way are are the aforementioned Zach Ertz, Ladarius Green and Kyle Rudolph. Also worthy of a mention are Tyler Eifert, Dwayne Allen, Adrien Robinson, Luke Willson and Eric Ebron. There are others, and that certainly offers some peace of mind for those who choose to push the value envelope on draft day. We’ll definitely see some nice TE values early on in free agency as some of the younger player emerge and playing time unknowns become more clear. Last year, anybody reading Rotobahn knew about Jordan Reed early on in the process.
When Julius Thomas was going undrafted in August, we added him to our “Trolling the depths” portion of Drafting In Reverse. My advice was short and sweet. If you listened, you did well.
“TE is a deep position, but this guy has good talent and he plays with that Manning guy. Must be owned.”
Still, after Week 1, he was till out there in a lot of leagues and we continued to blow the whistle.
“Sort of obvious, huh? Thomas is a guy we’ve been recommending for a few weeks now. He’s looking more and more like a breakout candidate. I was lucky enough to have him filling in for Rob Gronkowski last week. Thomas needs to be owned in all formats at this point just for his obvious Manning-related upside. You can get him 45% of leagues right now.”
At that same time we were pointing out Martellus bennett’s stunning level of availability. So, if you came out of a 2013 draft with a TE problem, we had your back, and we’ll have it again this season.
As I said with all the other projections, these are fairly rosy takes that do not account for injury or confidence level. They are our best guesses and I’ll be adjusting them as we move through the summer based on injuries and camp battles.
You can link to our QB, RB and WR projections below.
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