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Top 15 tight ends for 2013

Senior Fantasy Writer
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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
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Player News
Jets backfield takes shape following Johnson signing
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:53 pm ET) With the Jets signing Chris Johnson on Wednesday, the rest of their backfield should start to take shape, reports the New York Daily News.

The report says Johnson and Chris Ivory will work as a tandem, and Bilal Powell will be the No. 3 running back. Mike Goodson is expected to be released before the start of the season.


Chris Johnson excited for 'fresh start'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:48 pm ET) New Jets running back Chris Johnson's two-year deal is worth $8 million with another $1 million in incentives, reports Pro Football Talk. Johnson was scheduled to make $8 million for the Titans in 2014 alone before he was released.

Meanwhile, Johnson told the Tennessean that he's looking forward to this opportunity with the Jets.

"I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder," Johnson said. "I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me."


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by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4:21 pm ET) The Bengals signed free agent punter T.J. Conley on Wednesday. 

Conley punted in 16 games for the Jets in 2011. He averaged 42.7 yards on 92 punts, and his 38.8-yard net average was the highest in Jets history. He had 32 inside-20 kicks with just six touchbacks, and his plus-26 differential on inside-20s to touchbacks ranked tied for third in the NFL.

Conley did not play in the 2012 or 2013 regular seasons. He was with the Jets in the 2012 preseason and with Cleveland in the 2013 preseason.

Conley will challenge incumbent Kevin Huber for the starting job, but most likely he won't make the final roster.


Chris Johnson signs two-year deal with the Jets
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:19 pm ET) The Jets have signed running back Chris Johnson to a two-year deal, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. 

Johnson told reporters on Tuesday he was taking free agency one day at a time and added that he had other visits planned, but the Jets must have made him an improved offer to lock up the one-time 2,000-yard running back. 

Johnson has totaled at least 1,400 yards in each of his last four seasons with the Titans since running for 2,006 yards in 2009. He also scored 10 touchdowns in 2013 (four receiving). 


Clay Matthews says it's thumbs up for training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:37 pm ET) Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said he's diligently rehabbing his injured thumb, comparing it to a torn ACL rather than a typical bone break. As part of the injury he also had surgery on his forearm, which got damaged when he re-injured the thumb late last season. But he told USA Today that he'll be ready for the start of training camp, though he'll miss offseason workouts. 

Mike James resumes running and cutting
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:28 pm ET) Buccaneers running back Mike James is working his way back into football shape after breaking his left ankle last season. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he's been running and cutting and is aiming to get back to full strength and speed. Asked if he would be ready for the team's April minicamp, James said he and the team are "taking everything day by day." 

Josh Freeman signs with Giants
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:33 pm ET) The Giants have signed quarterback Josh Freeman, reports FOX Sports.

Freeman spent last season with the Buccaneers and Vikings. His only appearance for Minnesota was against the Giants, and he completed 20 of 53 passes for 190 yards and an interception.

Freeman will try and make the final roster for the Giants as a backup to Eli Manning, who is coming off ankle surgery this offseason. The Giants also have Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster.


Rob Gronkowski will 'take his time' coming back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 pm ET) Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" coming back from a torn ACL suffered last season, a source told Bleacher Report

Gronkowski's heart was questioned last year when he took his time coming back from forearm and back procedures. This year he might not care how long he takes as he wants to practice patience in his rehab. 

The knee injury happened in December of last year. Usually it takes nine months to come back from an ACL injury without incident. That would mean he'd be ready to hit the field by late August. 


Haloti Ngata turned down extension with Ravens
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:10 am ET) Looking to free up cap space earlier this offseason, the Ravens offered a "lucrative, long-term" deal with defensive lineman Haloti Ngata so that he wouldn't cost $16 million in cap space. Ngata, 30 years old with two years left on his current deal, wasn't willing to take the extension, NFL Network reports. 

Report: Ravens planning to add two running backs
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(10:47 am ET) The Ravens are aware of what's been going on with Ray Rice this offseason but were planning to add a pair of running backs this offseason anyway. NFL Network reports that they now believe that one of those two might have to start depending on what happens with Rice. 

The veteran running back had a horrible 2013 season (under 1,000 total yards) and then was indicted on a third-degree aggravated assault charge when he struck his then-fiancee and current wife Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino. 


 
 
 
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