Housler and Cameron enter the 2013 offseason in a very similar boat. They were drafted in the middle rounds of the 2011 draft as potential impact pass-catchers at the position, and could be in position to enter the 2013 season No. 1 on their respective team’s depth chart. Housler took over as Arizona’s starter last season; his involvement in the passing game progressing throughout the year. Cameron had been buried behind Ben Watson, but the veteran is likely headed elsewhere as a free agent. It’s possible Housler and Cameron will have competition heading into the 2013 season, but they remain strong roster stashes.
Fleener was a second-round pick last season, but the strong play of Dwayne Allen has his short-term upside in doubt. A skilled pass-catcher, it’s way too early to write Fleener off, but he’ll need to make major strides in order to play anything more than a complimentary role over the next few years…Miller, Lewis, and Moeaki each find themselves in a similar situation. All three are veteran starting tight ends who are eyeing larger roles in their respective team’s passing game this season. Miller and Russell Wilson finally built some chemistry during the later stages of the 2012 season. The new coaching staff in Jacksonville is expected to make the underrated Lewis a bigger part of the passing game. Moeaki will be two years healed from a torn ACL when the 2013 season kicks off. With Andy Reid now calling the shots in Kansas City, it’s fair to expect a spike in targets and production for the 25-year-old.
Myers, Celek, and Chandler are talented pass-catching tight ends, but each has a cloudy long-term outlook as they head into the offseason. Myers is a free agent and, although he exploded onto the scene as a pass-catcher with Oakland this past season, he’s a terrible blocker. That could cost him a shot at an all-important every-down role…Celek has been a mainstay in the Eagles’ starting lineup since 2008, but his role in the new Chip Kelly offense is unclear. It’s possible he’s traded, released, or demoted. Closing in on 29, he’s unlikely to land a job that will allow him a significant number of targets…Like Celek, Chandler’s role is unclear due to a completely new offensive philosophy. At 6’6/260, he’s had a knack for finding the endzone, but he’s been too reliant on scores to remain a consistent fantasy asset.
Tamme shared tight end duties with Joel Dreessen in Denver last season, which significantly limited his receiving opportunities. With Virgil Green and Julius Thomas waiting in the wings, Tamme’s long-term prospects with the Broncos are in question. Closing in on 28, there’s not a ton to be excited about here.
Walker seems to have a cult following this offseason, with many overlooking his on-and-off troubles with dropped passes over the last three seasons. He’s a great blocker, however, and will generate plenty of attention on the open market. There’s a tiny bit of potential here, but don’t overlook his age (28)…Kendricks entered the league as one of the draft’s top-receiving tight ends in 2011, but, three years later, he hasn’t really jumped off the page. The Rams are expected to add an impact free agent at the position in the coming weeks, which would severely damper Kendricks’ stock…Headed for free agency, Fasano is a darkhorse for a job that will land him a role in his new team’s passing game. Even still, the 28-year-old’s ceiling figures to be that of a mediocre TE2.
Green, Rodriguez, Thompson, Robinson, Charles, and Egnew represent a large chunk of the tight end class of 2012. None of the six played significant rookie-season roles despite being selected as early as the third round (Egnew) and no later than the fifth (Thompson). In each case, there’s some reason for optimism, especially since all six project as good pass-catchers. Green is the probable heir apparent to 32-year-old Antonio Gates. Rodriguez played a lot of fullback as a rookie, but is expected to see more work as a tight end in 2013. Thompson, Robinson, and Egnew could see expanded roles with Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, and Antony Fasano, respectively, headed to the open market. With Jermaine Gresham underperforming, Charles’ role could increase in year-two.
Cumberland is a name to watch with Dustin Keller likely moving on. He is a decent pass-catcher, holding down the fort well while Keller was out with injuries for half of 2012. He could enter the 2013 season as a starter, albeit with a low fantasy ceiling…Dreessen was third in snaps to only Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker among Denver’s offensive skill position players during the 2012 season. He’s closing in on 32, however, and doesn’t see many targets…Jermichael Finley only has one year left on his deal, which puts Williams in position to potentially replace him as the Packers’ top pass-catching tight end. With Aaron Rodgers under center in Green Bay for the long-term, Williams is obviously worth a stash.
Casey has worked primarily as a fullback over the past few years, but is a capable move-tight end…Green’s 2012 season was derailed a bit by a four-game suspension, but he’ll look to unseat Jacob Tamme in camp…Quarless is a potential long-term replacement for Jermichael Finley, but doesn’t have near the pass-catching upside…Dickson is stuck behind Dennis Pitta, but will be an unrestricted free agent at age-26 next offseason…Smith figures to have a role as a pass-catcher for the Jets this year, but he’s already closing in on 28…Paulson may be forced into a lot of work during the 2013 season as Heath Miller recovers from a torn up knee.
Thomas remains buried in Denver, but has a high ceiling as a pass-catcher…Graham is an Owen Daniels injury from the top-tight end job in a Houston offense that utilizes the position quite often…Clay is currently atop of the Miami depth chart, but a free agent or Mike Egnew could push him back to fantasy irrelevance…Ballard is in the mix for the No. 3 job in New England next season, which puts him an injury away from a significant load of snaps in a tight-end friendly, high-scoring offense…Hanna would need an iron man Jason Witten injury in order to find significant snaps…Bostick is a project, but he’s a converted basketball player with a ton of receiving upside.