With the departures of some key players on offense, Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is in-line for a huge 2013 season.
Yesterday, I brought to you who I thought would be the top five fantasy tight ends in 2013. In numerical order, those players were: Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Vernon Davis.
Today, I will bring to you who I think will be the 6-10 fantasy tight ends in this upcoming season, while comparing my list to those from ESPN.com and NFL.com.
6. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens- ESPN.com (6) NFL.com (4)
The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Dennis Pitta receiving 788 yards and 7 touchdowns.
During the Super Bowl run for the Baltimore Ravens in 2012, Pitta emerged as one of the biggest targets for quarterback Joe Flacco. He finished the playoffs with 14 receptions for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Last regular season, Pitta altogether had 61 receptions for 669 yards and 7 touchdowns, which was more than half of the receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns he had before coming into the season.
With former Baltimore Ravens wideout Anquan Boldin being traded to the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason, you can expect Dennis Pitta to have an even bigger role for his team in 2013.
7. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings- ESPN.com (7) NFL.com (13)
The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Kyle Rudolph receiving 589 yards and 6 touchdowns.
In 2012, Rudolph was a mediocre tight end at best, finishing the season with 53 receptions for 493 yards and 9 touchdowns. His reception/td ratio was almost 6-to-1, which should worry fantasy owners a bit.
His inconsistency to be an effective receiver for Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense also make fantasy owners scratch their heads. But we do know that when the ball is thrown his way, very rarely would you see Rudolph drop a pass. His soft hands make you believe that if he was 20-30 pounds lighter, he would probably be able to play the wideout position.
But with the departure of Percy Harvin, Greg Jennings is the only other proven commodity in the Vikings’ receiving corps, so I believe Rudolph will be a major target in 2013. His fantasy owners just need to hope that includes the red zone, where last year he tied for fourth among TEs with 16 targets, 14 of which he caught for all nine of his TDs.
8. Brandon Myers, New York Giants- ESPN.com (11) NFL.com (8)
The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Brandon Myers receiving 697 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Myers broke onto the national scene last year, finishing top six among TEs in targets, catches and receiving yards for a bad Raiders offense and quarterback Carson Palmer. He finished the season with 79 receptions for 806 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Now he changes to Eli Manning and the New York Giants, who show an annual willingness to make fantasy stars of their tight ends.
In his one year with Eli Manning at quarterback, former tight end for the New York Giants, Martellus Bennett, finished with 55 receptions, 626 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. That was Bennett’s best season as a tight end.
So the formula of Eli and Myers together could be a great connection in 2013.
9. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers- ESPN.com (9) NFL.com (7)
The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Greg Olsen receiving 694 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Olsen set career-high single-season marks in receptions and yardage in 2012, essentially serving as Cam Newton’s No. 2 receiver and operating out of the slot on about two-thirds of his routes. Olsen finished the season with 69 receptions for 843 yards and 5 touchdowns.
He’s bigger and faster than most inside linebackers, which helps him get open down the seam, but despite seeing the sixth-most targets among TEs last year, Olsen posted only one 100-yard game. Plus in an offense where Newton and Mike Tolbert dominate in goal-to-go situations, Olsen only saw five end-zone targets last year, and caught one of them.
In an ideal situation, you would want a guy like Olsen to serve as your backup tight end in most fantasy leagues. But the truth is, someone will probably draft him to be their starting tight end in 2013.
10. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers- ESPN.com (10) NFL.com (9)
The 2013 projections on NFL.com has Antonio Gates receiving 617 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Remember the days where Antonio Gates was the first tight end coming off your draft boards? Well injuries and Father Time has gotten to the 11th year man out of Kent State University.
But Gates put his plantar fascia injury woes behind him in 2012, and his seven TDs were a respectable sixth among TEs. But he’s fading along with the rest of the Chargers offense. He topped 60 yards receiving in a game once all year, and his 538 total yards easily represented his smallest total since his rookie year.
Philip Rivers still looks for his TE down the field though, but Gates averaged just 3.0 yards after the catch, which was 29th among all tight ends. Most importantly, Rivers isn’t the same player he used to be. Maybe Mike McCoy and Ken Wisenhunt can bring this entire San Diego offense back to form, and Gates will rebound. But don’t hold your breath.
You can follow me on Twitter: @MrOT3