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2014 Fantasy Football Rankings – Tight Ends

A list of the top tight ends to draft for the 2014 fantasy football season.

By Position:

OVERALL

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1. Jimmy Graham (NO)

  Receiving Stats Rushing Stats
Year Rec Yds TD Avg Att Yds TD Avg
2014 Projections View Jimmy Graham's 2014 projected stats.

Graham is almost a tight end in name only. So much so, in fact, he asked an arbitrator to declare him a wide receiver for franchise-tag purposes. Graham lined up in the slot on 67 percent of his snaps last season, led the league in receiving touchdowns and averaged more fantasy points per game, 13.6, than all but four wide receivers. He was one of seven players and the only tight end to top 100 receiving yards in six games, and he was the only player in the league with two receiving touchdowns in five games. Graham is a freak athlete who thrives on mismatches. At 6-7, 265, he is too big for defensive backs, and his 4.56 speed is too fast for linebackers. Add a 38.5-inch vertical and gigantic hands that thumb to pinkie measure 10-5/8 inches (nearly the length of an 11-inch NFL football tip to tip) and it's easy to see why he's such a force. He's nearly unstoppable at the goal line, scoring a position-leading six touchdowns inside the 10-yard line last season and 17 in the last three years, tied with wide receiver Wes Welker for the most in the NFL. Drew Brees' accuracy is a bonus, as is playing in one of the league's most prolific passing attacks, which ensures a high volume of targets. After 143 last season (25 more than the next closest tight end), he has 427 targets the last three years, sixth in the NFL. The only knock on Graham is that he doesn't like contact, and a physical defense can slow him. Perhaps, but that strategy hasn't worked too often. In the last three years over 47 games, he's only had six games with less than 50 yards and no touchdowns.

2. Rob Gronkowski (NE)

  Receiving Stats Rushing Stats
Year Rec Yds TD Avg Att Yds TD Avg
2014 Projections View Rob Gronkowski's 2014 projected stats.

Gronkowski missed the first six games last year recovering from forearm and back surgeries stemming from the previous season and then missed the last three weeks after tearing his ACL and MCL. The seven weeks between, though, were an incredible display of sheer talent. Over 16 games, Gronkowski's yardage pace would have broken his own NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end set in 2011. His 11.9 fantasy points a game ranked second to only Jimmy Graham (13.6). His 10 plays of 20-plus yards ranked eighth -- or the same number Julius Thomas had in twice as many games. More telling for the Patriots, their passing offense ranked 17th in the league in the first six weeks and 18th in the last three weeks without Gronkowski. In his seven games, he elevated the New England passing game to third in the league. And he did it all against double teams, extra safety help and defensive gameplans designed to take him out. At 6-6, 265, with good speed, great hands and Tom Brady at quarterback, Gronkowski is nearly impossible to defend. Of course, no one questions his skills. It's his durability that's worrisome. At press time, his recovery from knee surgery was on schedule, but it is uncertain if he will be ready for the season opener.

3. Julius Thomas (DEN)

  Receiving Stats Rushing Stats
Year Rec Yds TD Avg Att Yds TD Avg
2014 Projections View Julius Thomas's 2014 projected stats.

In his third year in the league last season, Thomas finally realized the massive playmaking potential his exceptional athletic skills held. At 6-5, 250, with 4.6 speed and a 35.5-inch vertical, the former college basketball player was virtually uncoverable. He caught 72.2 percent of his passes, third among qualified tight ends, and gained 400 yards after the catch (fourth). The Broncos used him all over the field, running fade routes lined up wide, crossing routes out of the slot, seam routes from in tight. Playing with the best wideout group in the game often assured Thomas of single coverage, which he exploited for 12.1 yards per catch and 8.8 yards per target. And playing in the best passing offense of all time last season, with Peyton Manning, assured Thomas of plenty of opportunities despite being the fourth receiving option. In the red zone, he caught an impressive 14-of-17 passes for eight touchdowns; inside the 10-yard line, he caught 5-of-6 for five scores. He could see even more work near the goal-line this season, as Eric Decker, who had 23 red-zone targets, left for the Jets. The only worry with Thomas is health. He missed two games last year with knee and ankle injuries and totaled just nine games the previous two years combined.

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