Dynasty Owner: 2014 Tight End Rankings

Dynasty owner is all about the combination of performance and contract value.  Just like real owners in (most) sports, Dynasty Owner fantasy football requires owners to create their team under the guidelines of a salary cap, or else they are forced to pay luxury tax penalties.  This adds an element of strategy and planning that makes Dynasty Owner the most engaging and addictive fantasy football format around.  

Check out our other posts where we ranked RBs, WRs and QBs.  Now we take a look at the Tight End position in Dynasty Owner.  

Pro tip:  A great way to prepare for the season is to try our free mock drafts

Tier 1 TE Rankings:  Elite Tight Ends

Cameron made the leap last year - figures to be better this year without Gordon

Don't think you need to break the bank at TE to get Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Those two obviously still lead this tier simply because their production is that elite at the TE position, but savvy Dynasty Owners might want to target the other two TEs in this Tier based on contract value and projected performance.  Both Cameron and Thomas can get new deals at any point but they are still on the heels of the big 2 and will cost significantly less for similar production.

1).  Jimmy Graham (NO, Age 27):  $10MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

Fresh off a well documented negotiation Graham now has the contract he deserves. With other positions, you don't see the top two paid pros also ranked first and second overall, but this is a testament to just how dominant Graham and Gronk are at the position.    If you happen to secure a young stud QB who is still very affordable like Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck, Graham and Gronk are great investments for you.

2).  Rob Gronkowski (NE, Age 25):  $9MM / Year (Free Agent in 2020)

It might surprise some to see that Gronk is still only 25, or that he's signed until 2020.That effectively means Dynasty Owners can draft him and forget about the TE position for the next 5 years.  That may be tough to do as he costs $9MM per year so get ready to skimp on contracts elsewhere if you have intentions of drafting him.

3).  Jordan Cameron (CLE, Age 25):  $630k / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

Cameron, like Thomas below him, is an unbelievably undervalued breakout TE who is on the last year of a rookie deal and Dynasty Owners would do well to target him high. He broke out last year with an 80 catch 917 yard 7 TD campaign and figures to be even more dynamic with the looming suspension to Josh Gordon that will likely force Cameron to be the top receiving and redzone target all season.   He will be a monster this year with an extremely low ratio of contract dollars per point.  

4).  Julius Thomas (DEN, Age 26):  $420k / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

It's almost criminal that Thomas will play the year as the 150th highest paid TE in the league before he gets a significant increase with his new contract.  But the Broncos and Thomas are both content to let him play out this year on his current contract, so enjoy this year at a ridiculously low cost if you are lucky enough to nab Thomas.  

Tier 2 TE Rankings:  Young and Emerging Stars

If you miss out on the Tier 1 TEs or are looking for cheaper contracts with upside this is where you should focus.  All of these guys have already shown they can perform at the NFL level and are young with very friendly contracts for the next several years.

5).  Eric Ebron (DET, Age 21):  $3 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

The top TE in this year's draft goes to a high octane offense on a 4 year rookie deal - that's how a rookie gets a ranking this high in Dynasty Owner.  Target Ebron high as he could be an absolute steal for the next 4 years for your squad.

6).  Tyler Eifert (CIN, Age 23):  $2 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

Eifert was a bit of a disappointment last year given the hype coming out of training camp as he was supposed to be the number 2 option behind A.J. Green.  Most experts predict that he will be making a big leap in year two to justify the 1st round pick the Bengals used to secure him in last year's draft.  

7).  Zach Ertz (PHI, Age 23):  $1.3 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

Ertz had a strong rookie campaign and like Eifert above figures to have a breakout sophomore season as the primary TE target in PHI, only at an even lower salary.  

8). Jordan Reed (WAS, Age 24): $690k / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

Jordan Reed has everything you could as for in a Dynasty Owner target - low salary for the next several years, a young emerging star at the position and a system that fits him perfectly.  The only reason he isn't higher is his concern with concussions.  He's already had 4 that are documented in college and the pros and he's only 24 years old.  With the stance the league is taking on concussions these days, there is some risk that he misses extended time with each subsequent concussion.  There is even a potential that his career could be cut short which needs to be factored in a league like Dynasty Owner.

9). Ladarius Green (SD, Age 24): $638k / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

Green is all set to be the number two passing option in San Diego behind Keenan Allen and should double (at a minimum0 his 17-367-3 line from a year ago.  And at $640k a year for the next two seasons he should be a great option at TE for any Dynasty Owner team.  

10).  Jace Amaro (NYJ, Age 22): $1.1MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

A high second round pick in this years draft, the Jets knew they needed a playmaker at the position and they think they've got him.  He profiles more like a big WR and those types of players always seem to break out earlier as long as they can be adequate in the blocking game to get enough snaps.  

11).  Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TB, Age 21): $1.3MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

One of the youngest TEs in the league with size and great play-making ability in the redzone, Sefarian-Jenkins has a chance to be a very good TE1 in the league for years to come.  On another team he might have a higher grade because TB already has two fantastic red-zone targets in Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans, both of whom stand 6'5.  Still, the attention those two command could leave ASJ in single coverage regularly and that could mean a higher than expected TD total.

Just be cautious, he isn't expected to come right out of the gates producing at a high level so don't reach to high for the rookie out of Washington.  

Tier 3 TE Rankings:  The Solid Value

Simply put, you'll get strong production and pay appropriately with TEs in this Tier. Remember, slotting the guys in this Tier is more about how we see them performing over the next 5 years in the aggregate, not necessarily in just the upcoming season.  

12). Vernon Davis (SF, Age 30): $7.3MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

Davis tried to hold out for an even bigger salary but has no real leverage and has already reported to 49er training camp.  We expect him to sign for a smaller deal once he hits the open market in two years.  

13).  Kyle Rudolph (MIN, Age 24) :  $7.3MM / Year (Free Agent in 2020)

If this were published a week ago Rudolph would be in the tier above but the vikings just took care of their promising and productive TE of the present and future with a big contract.  Rudolph went from a steal to a solid value pick which means he should slide a few rounds in Dynasty Owner drafts.

14).  Jason Witten (DAL, Age 32):  $7.4MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

As consistent as they come at the position, but at 32 and still with 3 more seasons as a top 5 paid TE, it's tough to get excited about Witten nowadays.  You could do a lot worse but make sure you don't reach for him...his salary will hurt as he continues to age and decline.

15).  Martellus Bennett (CHI, Age 27:  $5.1 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2017)

Bennett exceeded all expectations last year with a 65/759/5 line and serves as a nice low-end TE1.   He's still in his prime but he is one of the top 10 highest paid TEs in the league.  He needs to continue performing at last year's level to cost-justify his current contract.  

16). Dennis Pita (BAL, Age 29):  $6.4 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2020)

The Ravens really missed Pita last year and early reports out of camp state that Pita looks 100% healthy for this season, but he is already 29 years old and has big contract for the position.   He's a pretty risky selection in Dynasty Owner drafts for that reason.

17). Dwayne Allen (IND, Age 24):  $770k / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

In a similar position as Pita, Allen is coming off a serious injury.  Camp reports say he's 100% healthy (don't they always?) but we hate to see large athletes getting major hip surgery and that is the reason Allen is ranked this low.  If he truly can recover to pre-injury form he could be a great value this year but that's a big 'if' right now.

18). Greg Olson (CAR, Age 29): $4.5 MM / Year (Free Agent 2016)

Olson is a nice TE to plug in each week and you know exactly what you will get year in and year out with him.  He's the poster child for this Tier of solid value at a contract that pays him what he's worth.  He will likely never exceed it but won't fall drastically short either.

19).  Jared Cook (STL, Age 27):  7 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2018)

With one of the more bloated contracts in the league at the position, Cook cashed in on immense potential but now six years into the league, it might be time to call him what he is.  A productive TE who will have a few big games every year and end up in the top 15 in overall TE production but will probably never make the leap many expected to given his pass catching abilities.  The QB situation in STL also brings his value down a little big.  He's on the fringe of being overpriced in Dynasty Owner leagues.

20). Coby Fleener (IND, Age 25): $1.3 MM / Year (Free Agent in 2016)

Fleener is on the radar but more so because Allen had a pretty significant hip injury at the end of last season. The colts will run a lot of two TE sets but Allen is certainly the better prospect as a younger, cheaper and more dynamic playmaker in the colts offense.  

21).  Charles Clay (MIA, Age 25):  $530k / Year (Free Agent in 2015)

Clay just scrapes by as the last ranked TE in Dynasty Owner, mostly because he is still young and has a great contract while also possessing some TE2 upside.  We think he over-performed last year (69/759/6) and has a new OC coming in who doesn't favor the TE nearly as much as the previous regime so our expectations are tempered.  He's also in line for a much larger contract either this year or next so don't be too enamored with that extremely low salary for this year.

The Rest of the TEs

In 12 Team Leagues, which is the roster composition in each Dynasty Owner League, all other TEs are probably fliers who are similarly priced and have a similar projection so if you are looking to draft for bye-week fill-ins, we recommend young TEs still on rookie deals.  It's likely they will be on your roster for a very short time anyway and the rest of the TEs in the league all have a similar grade in terms of upside and contract value so we don't rank them.  Play the match-ups and look for the hot hand the week you need them.