by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Doesn’t there always seem like there’s an under-the-radar tight end who bursts onto the scene, either on a weekly basis or for the entire season? Who all know who it’s been in the past, but who needs to be on our radars for Week 1? Who should we trust? Who should we avoid? Let’s take a look at how the rankings currently shake out:
- Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints – at Atlanta
- Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – at Miami
- Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – vs. San Francisco
- Jordan Cameron – Cleveland Browns – at Pittsburgh
- Julius Thomas – Denver Broncos – vs. Indianapolis
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – at Tampa Bay
- Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers – at Dallas
- Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Jacksonville
- Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – at Houston
- Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cleveland
- Charles Clay – Miami Dolphins – vs. New England
- Martellus Bennett – Chicago Bears – vs. Buffalo
- Jared Cook – St. Louis Rams – vs. Minnesota
- Dennis Pitta – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Cincinnati
- Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings – at St. Louis
- Given the current state of the 49ers defense, would anyone be surprised if the Cowboys tried hitting Jason Witten early and often in Week 1? We do have concerns about Romo’s health, at least a little bit, which could help the game plan being more quick hitting types of routes. Throw in that Witten is arguably the second option anyways and it’s all setting up nicely.
- Last season the Jaguars were the third worst defense against opposing tight ends. Will that mean a strong start for breakout candidate Zach Ertz? Let the hype machine begin.
- Greg Olsen should be one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets once again this season, but with Newton injured he should play an even bigger role. He’s the obvious safety net and he should see a significant number of targets.
- Both Dennis Pitta and Kyle Rudolph have significant upside for the 2014 campaign, but they also face two of the stingiest defenses against tight ends in Week 1 (at least they were in 2013). Obviously you never know in the NFL, but it’s going to downgrade them each slightly this week.
- With the improved secondary of the Patriots, would it really be a surprise if Charles Clay played a significant role in Week 1? He’s an easy name to forget, but we shouldn’t.
- The Arizona Cardinals were by far the worst defensive team against tight ends last season, but will Antonio Gates or Ladarius Green be the focal point? The shared role keeps them both outside of the Top 15, unfortunately, but both are worthy of consideration.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings: