A disappointment (mostly as a blocker) since entering the league via the first round of the 2010 draft, Gresham’s future with the Bengals is in serious jeopardy after they selected Tyler Eifert in the first round of April’s draft. Gresham is still only 24, but it’s hard to imagine him finding a more-prominent offensive role on the open market next offseason…Gates made it through the 2012 season healthy, but he’s closing in on 33 and the Chargers are no longer the offensive juggernaut they were a few years back. He’ll continue to see a ton of Philip Rivers’ targets, but Gates’ days as a slam dunk impact TE1 are over.
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… Pettigrew hasn’t quite lived up to expectations since Detroit selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft. He remains involved in the Lions’ passing game, but would be well off the fantasy radar if they didn’t throw the ball so often. Now 28, and having ranked in the top-10 among tight ends in drops each of his first four years in the league, Pettigrew’s arrow is point the wrong direction.
Davis re-upped with the high-scoring Redskins, but only for one year. In addition to his long-term home, durability is a question mark, especially since he’s coming off a torn Achilles. The good news is that he’s only 27 and figures to land a pass-catching role wherever he lands… Myers exploded on to the scene as a pass-catcher with Oakland this past season, but his blocking was plain awful. He’ll need to be better in that area if he wants to hold down an every-down role in what is a promising situation with the Giants.
Keller’s supporting cast improved greatly when he upgraded from the Jets to the divisional-rival Dolphins during free agency. He isn’t much of a blocker, but can hold his own to the point that an every-down role is in the cards. A decent receiver and still in his prime at 28, Keller figures to be Ryan Tannehill’s second or third read over the next few years…Walker has had on-and-off drop issues over the last few years, highlighted by a 2012 season in which had the worst drop rate at the position. He was still able to land a job as the Titans’ starting tight end as a product of his elite blocking skills. He’ll see a handful of targets each game, but his ceiling is low and he’s closing in on 29.
Miller and Lewis each find themself in a similar situation. Both 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, but the acquisition of Percy Harvin will likely stand in the way of any further role expansion. The new coaching staff in Jacksonville is expected to make the underrated Lewis a bigger part of the passing game, but the team’s quarterback situation remains a mess.
With Fred Davis on a one-year deal, a strong rookie season from Reed could have him in the team’s starting lineup as early as 2014…The physically-intimidating Green is the probable heir apparent to 32-year-old Antonio Gates…The 28-year-old Celek may stick around for the 2013 season, but he’s the clear long-term odd man out after the Eagles signed Casey and drafted Zach Ertz. Casey will provide Chip Kelly with the Swiss army knife, but his ceiling is capped by his volatile role and the aforementioned Ertz…Escobar projects as a strong pass-catching tight end, but very much like Martellus Bennett from 2008-to-2011, the rookie will have trouble finding work behind indestructible Jason Witten.
Moeaki will be two years healed from a torn ACL when the 2013 season kicks off, but his long-term prospects with the Chiefs took a major hit when the club selected Travis Kelce in April’s draft... Tamme is now 28-years-old, will lose snaps to Wes Welker, and is in jeopardy of losing his role as a situational receiving tight end to Green. Green hasn’t played a ton thus far in his career, but he has a future ahead of him as an H-Back…Chandler’s role in unclear because of a torn-ACL he suffered during the later stages of the 2012 season, as well as, the new coaching regime in Buffalo…Thompson has some decent upside as a pass-catcher, but he’ll need to unseat Delanie Walker in order to see a fantasy-relevant volume of targets over the next few years…The Rams’ acquisition of Jared Cook significantly lowered the fantasy ceiling of once-highly-regarded pass-catching prospect Kendricks.
In an effort to replace Walker, the 49ers selected McDonald in the second round of April’s draft. He’s a good pass-catcher and figures to develop into a capable every-down player…Cumberland is a name to watch after the Jets failed to re-sign or replace Dustin Keller. Cumberland, a decent pass-catcher, is only 26 and is atop the team’s tight end depth chart…Stocker was the Bucs’ starting tight end last season, but he caught only 16 balls, working mainly as a blocker. His role as a receiver figures to expand in 2013 with Dallas Clark out of the picture…Dickson is stuck behind Dennis Pitta, but will be an unrestricted free agent at age-26 next offseason.
Sims is more of a blocker than a receiver, but he could work his way into an every-down role if the team moves on from Dustin Keller after the 2013 season…With Chandler recovering from a torn up knee, Gragg is a name to watch in the race for the Bills’ starting tight end job… 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…If Jordan Cameron stumbles in Cleveland, Davis is next in line for a massive workload in an offense that loves getting the ball to the tight end.