Rankings rock. Tiers are better. Everyone wants to know which player is best, but sometimes the gap between two options is the real story. This page is the best of both worlds: Top 25 tight ends rankings separated into tiers with commentary on all.
1) Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints - Though the praise of Graham as a possible top-five overall pick in PPR formats is too much, he's easily the head of the class entering the draft. Per Rotoworld, last season he had 22 more targets, caught four more balls, had 368 more receiving yards and scored three more touchdowns than the second place tight end in each category.
2) Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots - Injury fears prevent Gronk from surpassing Graham on this list. He's not a lock to play Week 1 due to knee concerns. Seeing as the unguardable target missed 14 games the past two seasons, just sitting out the season opener would be so bad. New England's best weapon has a staggering 43 touchdowns in 50 career games. Daring owners can start selecting Gronkowski in the middle of round two.
3) Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos -Entered 2013 with tremendous hype and exceeded it thanks to 12 touchdown receptions from Peyton Manning in 14 games. Should receive plenty of targets now that Eric Decker left Denver. Enjoy.
4) Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns - Is Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer Cleveland's quarterback? Will Josh Gordon play at all this season and if so, for how long? Coming off a monster campaign, Cameron has the size/speed combination for another Pro Bowl effort. Actually had two of his better games last season with Gordon out, but will face all kinds of attention if the superb wide out isn't on the field. Only scored once in last eight games.
5) Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers - Serious regression candidate after scoring 13 touchdowns last season. That just means be leery of drafting the physical freak in the four rounds. Don't run away altogether.
6) Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers - The value in the tier starts here. Olsen's reception totals have risen in four straight seasons to 73 grabs in 2013. Considering the uncertainty with Carolina's wide receivers, good bet to make it five straight years or at least lead the team in catches. Olsen has at least five touchdowns in every season since 2008.
7) Jordan Reed, TE Redskins - Turned into pass-catching machine as a rookie before concussions ended the fun. Let's see what happens during the preseason before stating Reed is a must-have.
8) Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys - Witten is what he is and there is nothing wrong that. Insane that he hasn't missed a game since 2003.
9) Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles - Pound for pound the tight end I'm targeting most this year. Ertz made the "Sleepers" list for a reason.
10) Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings - Norv Turner takes over as Minnesota's offensive coordinator. Tight ends thrive in Norv Turner's system. Just ask Jordan Cameron. After this season, Rudolph will concur. Don't be shocked if he comes close to matching career-high of nine touchdowns set in 2012.
11) Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens - Expected to lead the Ravens in receptions, which is why Joe Flacco's favorite target moves up 2-3 spots in PPR formats. Another option benefitting from an offensive scheme deemed TE-friendly.
12) Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears - Quality option with touchdown potential. So, there's that.
13) Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers - For those that love targeting the next great sleeper, the 6-foot-6 Green is your best bet among tight ends.
14) Charles Clay, TE, Dolphins - Miami deployed the former running back all over the field
15) Heath Miller, TE, Steelers - Entering his second full season after tearing ACL. Initial camp reports are positive and the downside is minimal. Remember Miller went for 71-816-8 before suffering injury in December 2012.
16) Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts - Back after missing the final 15 regular season games last season. Looked like a better option than Coby Fleener when both were rookies. Sneaky TE1 candidate if Andrew Luck looks his way enough in the red zone.
17) Delanie Walker, TE, Titans - Caught 60 passes for 571 yards and six touchdowns for the Titans last season, improving his production as the season went along. Now Walker will play in Ken Whisenhunt’s TE friendly offense.
18) Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs - This is the season Kansas City remembers tight ends are allowed to catch passes. Only bummer for Kelce is the existence of Anthony Fasano.
19) Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals - Remains stuck in a two-tight end scenario with Jermaine Gresham, but has a chance for more work out of the slot with Marvin Jones (foot) expected to the first four weeks.
20) Eric Ebron, TE, Lions - Put the rookie on my initial "Sleepers" list though Ebron slipped overall on my tight end list. The pass catching potential is legit, just may not reach it this season.
21) Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers - You know the reputation. The production no longer matches.
22) Jared Cook, TE, Rams - We've all been fooled chasing the upside more than Roscoe P. Coltrane chasing the Duke boys.
23) Coby Fleener, TE, Colts - Didn't deliver much even with Allen around most of last season. Now Allen is back and Colts deeper at receiver.
24) Jace Amaro, TE, Jets - Drafted in the second round for a reason. That reason? The Jets need offensive weapons. More dynasty than redraft.
25) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Buccaneers -Monster target and sizeable upside. Bummer that Tampa has other tight end options, not to mention Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.
(In addition to 20-plus years of playing fantasy football, Ben Standig covered fantasy football for the past several years at FFToolbox.com and helped direct the site to generating the industry's most accurate preseason rankings in 2012. Ben is also a noted NFL Draft reporter.)