Dynasty League Football


2014: Return of the Tight Ends

RudolphThe 2013 season left fantasy owners with a lot of holes in lineups at the tight end position. What appeared to be a great season with many stars destined to breakout resulted in a season of what may have been the toughest spot to fill for fantasy owners. Charles Clay was a nice surprise along with Tim Wright and Jordan Reed when healthy. Some disappointments included Kyle Rudolph, Rob Housler, and Jared Cook.

Tight ends were also decimated by injury before the season even started. Rob Gronkowski came into 2013 with a back injury that forced him to miss the first six weeks and ended with a major knee injury that may force him to miss the beginning of 2014. Dwayne Allen appeared to be ready to breakout before his season ended with a hip injury. Owen Daniels suffered a fibular fracture that forced him out of 2013. Finally, Dennis Pitta suffered a dislocated and fractured hip during training camp, but he was able to return before the season finished for the Ravens.

Where does that leave the tight end position heading into 2014? With rookies growing a year older and coaching changes that affect the offensive side of the ball, 2014 leaves us with plenty to look forward to. The addition of some quality NFL draft talent (Eric Ebron, Jace Amaro, Austin Seferian-Jenkins) will also add to the tight end crop, which is quickly becoming a heavily used position in a pass heavy NFL.

Some tight ends to target in 2014 with upside (in no specific order) include:

Kyle Rudolph – Norv Turner loves to utilize the tight ends in his offenses. He transformed Jordan Cameron in Cleveland and can do the same with the talented Rudolph. The Vikings are likely to add a rookie quarterback which means a value increase for the tight end in the offense. Rudolph should be a hot name in the off-season to acquire or draft for the upcoming season.

Jordan Reed – Reed may have been the most utilized rookie tight end prior to his concussion in 2013. He was on pace to finish as a top seven tight end before missing the last five games of the season. Reed was one of Robert Griffin III’s top targets in 2013. If Jay Gruden can make Andy Dalton a top five fantasy football quarterback, I am excited to see what he can do with Robert Griffin III and his pass catchers in Washington.

Tyler Eifert – With another year under his belt in Cincinnati I expect Eifert to take another step in becoming a top target for the Bengals. Jermaine Gresham still has one year left on his contract, but the Bengals will be working to get the young tight end more involved in 2014. This could mean better numbers and should put him in low TE1 category.

Ladarius Green – The former fourth round pick was seeing more snaps and producing for the Chargers late in 2013. They started to give the Chargers an idea of what life will be like after Antonio Gates. Green and Gates are both locked into contracts through 2015. Gates will be a great mentor for Green moving forward, but I expect Green to see more snaps and produce solid fantasy numbers.

Dennis Pitta – Bringing in Gary Kubiak to be offensive coordinator of the Ravens gives Dennis Pitta an immediate upgrade. Kubiak made Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham relevant fantasy football tight ends. Expect Pitta to be a top ten fantasy tight end moving forward with top five potential.

Zach Ertz – There is not much I can say about Zach Ertz that DLF writer Karl Safchick hasn’t already said. Ertz may be one of the most attainable names on this list. He is in a great offense and will likely take more snaps than Brent Celek moving forward. The former second round pick showed signs of putting up elite numbers (vs. Arizona Cardinals), but to be fair a lot of tight ends put up elite numbers against Arizona. Numbers aside, Ertz has phenomenal potential and is in one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Enough said.

Dwayne Allen – Allen was set to have a breakout campaign and his season ended early with a hip injury. Allen had a solid rookie season where he appeared to be steps ahead of teammate Coby Fleener. Allen finished as a top 25 tight end and should bounce back in 2014 and put up top 20 numbers.

Joseph Fauria – In a pass heavy offense like Detroit, why is the use of the tight end so limited? With no true WR2 opposite of Calvin Johnson, it limits targets to running backs and tight ends. Joseph Fauria showed his value in the red zone in 2013 and should see more snaps in 2014. Fauria finished 2013 with 18 total catches, seven that went for touchdowns. Fauria has an offseason to work with Matthew Stafford and new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Lombardi was Drew Brees’ quarterback coach in New Orleans and we know how much Brees like his tight end. Hopefully this gives Fauria owners something to look forward to.

Travis Kelce – The Kansas City offense was explosive in 2013, but still lacked a consistent tight end. Kelce was a third round pick for Chiefs in 2013 and did not play in the regular season after sustaining a knee injury in the preseason. The result was microfracture surgery that sent him to IR in October. Kelce should be ready for the 2014 season and only has to beat out Anthony Fasano in order to start at tight end. Kelce’s knee injury is serious and will take time to heal. His value is as low as it could be if he comes back healthy and is able to produce for the Chiefs.

The tight end pool should continue to add depth in a pass heavy league. Volume in an offense dictates production in most cases. The addition of new coaches as well as maturity in the position are important factors in obtaining a valuable tight end in fantasy football. All of the above tight ends have value that could increase greatly heading into 2014. With an entire off-season ahead of us let the “hype train” begin on many of the names on this list to breakout in 2014.

Brian Bulmer

Brian Bulmer

Brian is a high school Biomedical Sciences teacher by day and athletic trainer by night. I love all types of fantasy football leagues and when I am not setting my lineups, scouring the waiver wire, or doing athletic training I squeeze in time with my family.

You'll find Brian on Twitter at @Brian_Bulmer
Brian Bulmer

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  1. Slick

    February 5, 2014 at 6:14 am

    good article. taking it a step further – who on this list has best chance to truly be a top 3 TE along the lines of gronk and graham? maybe you can rank them.

    • Ray

      February 5, 2014 at 7:40 am

      i think Green has the best chance to become the “Jimmy Graham” of this group. he is big and athletic and just made the most out of his opportunities. and i think Fauria could be a TD machine like Gronk. he is 6’8″ and has gotten alot of catches in the red zone already he can only get better. and if you want a third I’m in between Rudolph and Pitta. both these guys have already produce good numbers and both of their stocks are higher now because of their new OC’s. If i had to pick between the two i might go pitta because his QB situation isn’t such a mess

      • BradMartens

        February 5, 2014 at 7:56 am

        With Norm in Minny I could see Rudolph putting up and sustaining the numbers to what Cameron put up with the Browns early in the 2013 season. You would have to think that the Vikes have to do something at the QB position this draft and think that Rudolph and Patterson will be seeing an increased volume of targets with Norm and a new QB in town.

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      I agree with Ray that Fauria could be the next Gronkowski. The limiting factor at this point is Matt Stafford and how the Lions use him and Pettigrew. Joe Lombardi should help build the QB and TE chemistry in Detroit the same way be did in New Orleans.

      The next Jimmy Graham for me is Jordan Reed. He is a PPR machine averaging more receptions per snap than Graham. The concussions worry me but I think he has that upside.

      Ertz may be the next Julius Thomas given his production at .23 fantasy points per snap. Same as Thomas and in an offense that is very explosive. If Ertz gets more snaps he could be a top 5 TE.

    • Scott Peak

      February 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      It’s a good question but I’m not sure there ever will be another Graham or Gronk. Both fell into a great situation and have been primary targets for their teams. We might not see another Gronk or Graham for awhile.

      • Alden

        February 7, 2014 at 8:40 pm

        Great atrical Brian.

        Now with Gronk and Grahm never being repeated as far as top TE talent. I believe that’s wrong as the TE position is going to more and more athletic TEs last years draft proved that. Plus this years top three rookies all being in that mold as well. With what teams are doing with TEs records will be broken in the future for sure.

        • sixshooter

          February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am

          Totally agree…..we are just now seeing the results of what guys like Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez started! The TE position is getting stronger and not weaker. Give guys like Reed and Thomas another full and healthy year and I am guessing there won’t be the separation after Graham that we saw this year!

  2. MikeMar

    February 5, 2014 at 7:04 am

    in a 10 tm, 12 player keeper, TE prem
    I have Rudolph, Green, and Bennett, going to keep 2 of them (obviously not Bennett)

    What kind of value does Bennett have? Should I try and just move him for a pick, or combine with Rudolph or Green and upgrade?

    FA Auction, so I can get Bennett back if I want

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 5, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      In TE premium those are nice options to have. Bennett seems like the obvious answer but I always like to place all of them in the trading block to see what kind of offers I can get for them. This is the time of year people overpay for players they want.

      The 2014 draft has three obvious TE options (Amaro, Ebron, ASJ) so this would be a tough year to get maximum value out of Bennett even though I really like him. If you can get a second rounder for him from a TE needy team that is a solid sell.

      • MikeMar

        February 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm

        got the 2.4
        Now have the 1.3 2.2 2.3 2.4
        Even though it’s a keep 12 only, lot of ammo to either trade now or hopefully have one of those hit!

  3. BradMartens

    February 5, 2014 at 7:51 am

    What is your gut feeling with Vance McDonald out of SF. Just took a late round flier on him in a dynasty start up. I believe he has great athletic ability and would like to know if you see him becoming a bigger part of the SF passing game in 2014. I believe that his talent would be wasted just backing up V. Davis and if SF would run some more 2 TE sets his numbers would be comparable to the guys mentioned above.

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      I considered Vance McDonald but wanted to see him more early in the season when the Niners were missing Crabtree. I wanted to see him emerge early, but the Niners passing attack just wasn’t clicking. I love his talent but until the Niners decide to use him more in the passing game I couldn’t put him on the list at this point. Definitely someone worth hanging onto in deep leagues or worth trading if someone loves him in your league and you feel you are getting proper value.

      Another note: Vernon Davis is signed through 2015.

  4. Sultan of Swat

    February 5, 2014 at 8:13 am


    I own both Ladarius Green and Zach Ertz but my starter is Greg Olsen. I have drops coming up and could benefit from moving Greg Olsen to avoid having to drop some of my other players. Do you feel that Green and Ertz are going to produce to the point where Olsen is already expendable or do I should I keep the insurance around?

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 5, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Olsen scored more points than Ertz and Green because of volume of snaps. Breaking it down and looking at fantasy points per snap and Olsen was at .19 fantasy points per snap. Ertz was at .23 and Green at .20. The only things those two players are lacking right now is volume of snaps. Based on their production this season both will continue to see more snaps. When looking at potential upside Julius Thomas was at .23 FP per snap and finished 3rd among tight ends in PPR scoring. Both of these guys have that type of upside in offenses that can score points. Drop or trade Olsen

      • sixshooter

        February 10, 2014 at 9:32 am

        But at the same time you have to look at the reason Ertz and Green had fewer opportunities…..competition at the position!Something Olsen currently does not have and will likely be something that Ertz and Green will still have next year but not to the same extent they did this year since Celek was used more as a blocker last year and either Casey or Celek will likely not be back next year.

        I guess it depends if you can afford to take a risk next year and hope for the best or if you want to play if safe with Olsen. I would have a hard time giving up Olsen for either Ertz or Green if I needed production from one of the three next year! The only one I own is Green and I am definitely not counting on him to be my starting TE next year. Mr. Gates is still in the picture for another year or two!

  5. Cameron

    February 5, 2014 at 9:13 am

    I’d roll with Ertz and Green all day over Olsen.

  6. Bill Rayfield

    February 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Who is the tight end worth owning in Houston?

    • BigD

      February 5, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      try getting ertz or Rudolph…..they’re not in Houston, that’s the point of this comment.

    • sixshooter

      February 10, 2014 at 9:21 am

      That’s a good question that really cannot be answered today. They are likely to keep either Graham or Daniels but not both. If they keep Graham then he should be the man but if they keep Daniels then things get a little Dicey since he only has one year left on his contract and would likely be used to groom Griffin which is what I believe will happen! But if it does work out that way, another team needing a TE will likely bring him on as a starter.

  7. buffalo joe

    February 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Thoughts on Bostick in GB? Worth a roster spot? I already have Witten, Pitta, and Green in front of him on my roster so he might fall victim to my off season cuts.

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Beat writers in Green Bay have him as the next TE if Finley is done. He may be worth rostering and trading if Green Bay does not upgrade at the TE position in free agency or the NFL draft

  8. Jon

    February 5, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Forums down?

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 5, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      I was able to get into the forum. Let me know if it continues to be an issue

  9. lahwee

    February 5, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Drafted Kyle as a rookie, he’s been #2 te on my team but I’m done with this guy, drafted Jordan reed in the third round of last years rookie draft he’s going to be good…

  10. krcilr

    February 6, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Is this really the RETURN of the TEs? Or the first rise of TEs being relevant? Personally in both leagues that I run I don’t require a TE position because it is an overvalued fantasy position… But if there becomes a bit more depth at the position I think that could change that.

    • sixshooter

      February 10, 2014 at 9:15 am

      TE overvalued? Huh? It was HUGE for me this year and not just because of one guy. My league actually considered giving TE’s 1.5 PPR as we do in re-draft but it got shot down because the value of a TE has become much more relevant than five years ago.

  11. daavvt

    February 6, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Any thoughts on Walker for the Titans? Was very solid at the end of 2013

    • BigD

      February 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      really no I have none……honestly he plays for the titans. he wasn’t ranked in the top 20? you have 10, or 12 guys in your league? how many good choices does that leave you for a decent te? you can get a better one then what ten has to offer. that’s the point of the article. there are 32 teams that have a te. some even multiple. find a top 12 te and get him.

  12. softbatch

    February 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I have Julius Thomas, Greg Olsen, Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green. Zach Ertz will be available in the draft next season due to including our league’s free agents.

    Should I try to trade Thomas, is his value majorly tied to Manning who may only be around another year or two?

    • mratlanta

      February 7, 2014 at 7:49 am

      I would keep Thomas and Green. Thomas should be a stud for at least another year and it may take another year for Green to reach his potential so you would be covered now and for the future. Olsen is mediocre and Gates is near the end.

      • sixshooter

        February 10, 2014 at 9:12 am

        Yeah, I believe it is a mistake to say that Thomas’s success is tied to Manning. Any new QB will likely rely on a TE like Thomas as they get accustomed to replacing Manning as the starting QB. Not sure what your situation is but you really don’t need to move any of these guys but moving Olsen to a team desperate for TE probably makes the most sense if you want Ertz.

  13. Yeahhhhhh boyyyy

    February 7, 2014 at 8:05 am

    So I have a very good team and this offseason I was able to trade Alfred Morris for Gronk straight up. That now leaves me with Graham, Gronk and Green as my core tight ends. This is purely a luxury as my team as few holes. Should I consider trading one of the big two?

    My starting offense as of today
    Rb-Charles, Forte, Martin, Tate, Richardson
    Wr-Megatron, Jeffrey, Harvin, Bowe, Patterson, Hopkins
    Te-Gronk, Graham, Green
    1.01, 1.04, 1.12 etc

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 8, 2014 at 6:08 am

      I don’t think that Graham or Gronk’s value is going to change much in the immediate future. As you stated, your team has few holes to fill and putting Gronk or Graham on someone else’s team may hurt you more than letting them “ride the pine” for you. Good news is with that kind of depth if there is an injury your team is set to make changes and lose very little production. Nice work!!!

      • sixshooter

        February 10, 2014 at 9:05 am

        Never say never……..If someone is willing to pay for a guy like Gronk……I would not be afraid to pull the trigger! Graham is too much of a sure thing (like Calvin) to cut ties with unless you are given the farm and then some but again…..never say never!

  14. llysak

    February 7, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Just got this trade offer and it seems like a good one.

    This is a 2 QB dynasty 0.5 pt PPR league.

    I will get Zach Ertz and Justin Hunter for the 2.1 (#11 overall)

    What do you think?

    • sixshooter

      February 10, 2014 at 9:03 am

      It’s a good one….

  15. Ariakis

    February 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Is Housler still a hold?

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 8, 2014 at 6:10 am

      I think so. He spent much of last season dealing with a high ankle sprain and never had a chance to develop chemistry with Carson Palmer. His value is still pretty low among tighte ends and you would not gain much from trading him at this point. Unless you have someone in your league who values him WAY more than anyone else, you have to hold.

      • sixshooter

        February 10, 2014 at 9:01 am

        I agree but obviously only if he has more potential than somebody else on your roster. I didn’t want to but had to cut ties with him last year due to roster space but I held on to four other TE’s. If you can, I would hold on to him!

  16. Magma

    February 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    JMO….but a lot , or most people have forgotten about Adrien Robinson-TE-NYG- he was described as the JPP of TE’s by the Giants brass his rookie year, but was very raw. Now it seems like its his time to get his shot….kinda like J.Thomas a year ago…..I’ve held him on taxi now for 2 yrs and thank this could be his year….just funny I’ve heard zero runors on him, I truly fell his been forgotten even by the wisest?

    • sixshooter

      February 10, 2014 at 8:59 am

      I completely agree. He is another TE I had rostered last year before weeding them down to the final four I have today. He (and Housler) immediately got picked up by the last place team after I dumped them but I do believe both still have plenty of potential especially with the Giants expected to not bring back Brandon Myers.

  17. sixshooter

    February 10, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Good article. I went out of my way last year to solidify my TE position and had great success! I now have Ladarius Green, Jordan Reed, Julius Thomas and Martellus Bennett on my roster after trading Dustin Keller just before getting injured (July 2013) and dumping Rob Housler.

    I picked up guys like Julius Thomas (who I originally drafted, dumped midseason last year and picked back up in April 2013), Ladarius Green (picked up March 2013) and Jordan Reed (Mid-Sep 2013) off waivers either just before they started playing well in-season or during the off-season.

    I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and am willing to sit on all four TE’s unless I get a decent return because I actually used a TE at times for a bye week flex.

    • Brian Bulmer

      February 10, 2014 at 10:55 am

      I appreciate the kind comments and working your way through the message board. You are providing a great deal of feedback to all of the readers of this article and it is greatly appreciated.

      Also sounds like you had a great offseason acquiring some very talented tight ends. I am in many tight end premium leagues and I am trying to monitor the position.

      I also noted Adrien Robinson from a comment above. I agree that he is being overlooked at this point, but not forgotten. His situation will improve as far as snaps go, but the Giants (Eli) looked terrible last season. Secondly, Robinson will be 26 this season and older than many guys in this article. He is flying under the radar but I would want to see more from him before I am buying.

      Thanks again for reading and your comments to the article

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