Top 15 tight ends for 2013

Editor's note: Dave Richard, Jamey Eisenberg and Nathan Zegura will share a snapshot of their rankings in January to give owners something to ponder. Teams listed indicate franchise the player was with in 2012.

Top 30 running backs | Top 15 quarterbacks | Top 30 wide receivers
Top 15 tight ends for 2013
Jamey Eisenberg
Dave Richard
Nathan Zegura
1. Rob Gronkowski, NE 1. Rob Gronkowski, NE 1. Rob Gronkowski, NE
2. Jimmy Graham, NO 2. Jimmy Graham, NO 2. Jimmy Graham, NO
3. Aaron Hernandez, NE 3. Aaron Hernandez, NE 3. Aaron Hernandez, NE
4. Jason Witten, DAL 4. Jason Witten, DAL 4. Jason Witten, DAL
5. Dennis Pitta, BAL 5. Dennis Pitta, BAL 5. Dennis Pitta, BAL
6. Owen Daniels, HOU 6. Antonio Gates, SD 6. Greg Olsen, CAR
7. Kyle Rudolph, MIN 7. Greg Olsen, CAR 7. Owen Daniels, HOU
8. Antonio Gates, SD 8. Vernon Davis, SF 8. Antonio Gates, SD
9. Greg Olsen, CAR 9. Kyle Rudolph, MIN 9. Kyle Rudolph, MIN
10. Vernon Davis, SF 10. Owen Daniels, HOU 10. Jermaine Gresham, CIN
11. Jermaine Gresham, CIN 11. Jermaine Gresham, CIN 11. Jermichael Finley, GB
12. Jermichael Finley, GB 12. Jermichael Finley, GB 12. Brandon Pettigrew, DET
13. Brandon Pettigrew, DET 13. Martellus Bennett, NYG 13. Dwayne Allen, IND
14. Brandon Myers, OAK 14. Dwayne Allen, IND 14. Vernon Davis, SF
15. Martellus Bennett, NYG 15. Brandon Pettigrew, DET 15. Brent Celek, PHI
After Gronkowski, Graham and Hernandez there is a lot of uncertainty at the position, so plan to get one of these guys early if possible. I can see Gronkowski being drafted toward the end of Round 1, Graham going in the middle of Round 2 and Hernandez being selected early in Round 3. ... The majority of owners are going to have to pick from the group of Witten through Gresham. Tony Gonzalez would be No. 4 if he returns, but we expect him to retire. ... Witten, Daniels, Olsen and Gresham are the safest of those tight ends because you know what you're getting. For the most part they are consistent producers and have Top 10 potential, but the upside is limited. Witten could be the No. 1 tight end if he scored more touchdowns, but he had just three in 2012 and eight the past two years. By comparison, Gronkowski has 28 receiving touchdowns the past two seasons. ... Pitta and Rudolph could each be Top 5 tight ends. They both played well in breakout campaigns in 2012 and both are worth targeting if you chose to pass on the Top 3 and draft a tight end later with a mid-round pick. ... Gates and Davis are wild cards because if they play to their potential they could also be Top 5 tight ends, but Gates struggled in 2012 despite being relatively healthy and Davis was non-existent for most of the season. Still, based on their talent level, they remain Top 10 options on Draft Day. Finley also falls into this category. ... Heath Miller would be considered a Top 15 tight end if he makes a full recovery from his torn ACL suffered in Week 16. -- Jamey Eisenberg
You already know what those first four tight ends are all about so let's jump into why Pitta is fifth. The Ravens have realized he needs to get his work to help Joe Flacco and to help the offense move downfield. He'll be fine. ... I'm not ready to call it quits on Antonio Gates, not with Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt reshaping the Chargers offense. He might be more of a red-zone target and less of a big-play threat but he still will play a lot and haunt defenses if left in single coverage routinely. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him have one more good year. ... Keeping Vernon Davis in the Top 10 is a leap of faith that the Niners will get him back involved on a regular basis -- the good news is that you can wait a while longer to draft him, minimizing your risk in case he's back to role-player status in 2013. ... Here's the bottom line: If you don't want to mess around with tight ends this season, be prepared to take one with one of your first five picks. Otherwise, you might as well wait until the later rounds to take at least one tight end and play waiver wire roulette with them until you have a starter you're comfortable with. -- Dave Richard
The tight end position went from "stacked" to scary in just one year. ... Outside of the Top 4 tight ends, there are not many safe bets at the position (if Tony Gonzalez returns he would be right back in the Top 5 and be the fifth reliable option). ... Pitta has 11 touchdowns in his last 22 games and has emerged as a valuable weapon for Joe Flacco, which should only continue in 2013. ... Olsen and Daniels are both currently the second options in their respective passing games, which gives them nice upside. ... Gates could benefit from the new regime in San Diego, but I am definitely concerned he is on his last legs. ... Rudolph and Jermaine Gresham could both make nice leaps in 2013, but they have to become more consistently involved in non-scoring situations so that they can become reliable yardage producers even on the weeks when they do not score. ... Finley and Vernon Davis both have Top 5 potential, but their ability to disappear at times has been very disconcerting. ... Pettigrew is better in PPR formats. ... Dwayne Allen was far and away the better rookie tight end in Indianapolis and could really take a massive leap in his second year if his target level can increase to 6-8 per game. ... Jared Cook, Dustin Keller, Heath Miller (injury recovery), Lance Kendricks, Fred Davis and Martellus Bennett all have the potential to be solid contributors as well and their offseason movement/development is something to keep an eye on. ... If you want a steady tight end in 2013, you will have to take one early and given the depth at quarterback and wide receiver, it looks like a good idea to jump on a top tight end and wait at those other loaded positions. -- Nathan Zegura
Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories
    CBS Sports Shop