Fantasy Fox: Top 35 tight ends for 2013

Here are my early rankings for the top 35 tight ends in standard-scoring leagues:

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2. Jimmy Graham, Saints
3. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
4. Jason Witten, Cowboys
5. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots
6. Greg Olsen, Panthers
7. Heath Miller, Steelers
8. Owen Daniels, Texans
9. Vernon Davis, 49ers
10. Dennis Pitta, Ravens
11. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
12. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
13. Dustin Keller, Dolphins
14. Antonio Gates, Chargers
15. Coby Fleener, Colts

Quick Hitters

1. Gronkowski (55 catches, 790 yards, 11 TDs last year) gets the top ranking here, based on two primary factors: Double-digit touchdowns in three NFL seasons … and a four-game run of 24 catches, 382 yards and seven TDs from Weeks 7-11.

The only lingering concern: Is Gronk one hard tackle away from breaking his arm again?

2. In Points Per Reception leagues, however, Graham bumps Gronk out of the top spot. These are the perks of averaging 92 catches, 142 targets, 1,196 yards and 10 touchdowns the previous two campaigns.

3. I don’t know how to characterize Witten’s career-best mark of 147 targets in his 10th NFL season. Is he getting better with age (like Tony Gonzalez), or were the Cowboys simply not prepared to handle the widening gap at receiver between Dez Bryant (92 catches, 1,382 yards, 10 TDs) and Miles Austin (only 20 TDs for 2010-12)?

4. Normally, I’d sound the warning bell from Heath Miller’s career-best tallies of 816 yards and eight touchdowns last year — with just his second campaign of 70-plus catches. But he deserves major props for posting rock-solid and consistent numbers from Weeks 1-15.

5. Let’s hold off on planning Antonio Gates’ retirement party: From an injury-plagued 2012, he tallied seven games of six or more targets … and one touchdown in his final three outings.

16. Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
17. Jermichael Finley, Packers
18. Brandon Myers, Giants
19. Delanie Walker, Titans
20. Fred Davis, Redskins
21. Brent Celek, Eagles
22. Martellus Bennett, Bears
23. Jared Cook, Rams
24. Dwayne Allen, Colts
25. Tyler Eifert, Bengals
26. Joel Dreessen, Broncos
27. Scott Chandler, Bills
28. Zach Miller, Seahawks
29. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
30. Ed Dickson, Ravens
31. Luke Stocker, Buccaneers
32. Jacob Tamme, Broncos
33. Rob Housler, Cardinals
34. Tony Scheffler, Lions
35. Tony Moeaki, Chiefs

Quick Hitters

1. The Raiders were crazy to let Brandon Myers (79 catches, 806 yards, four TDs) sign with Eli Manning and the Giants, amid little fanfare. Of his four double-digit-target games with Oakland last year, Myers notched 35 catches for 288 yards and four touchdowns.

2. It’s hard to embrace Jared Cook (now with the Rams) as anything more than a backup tight end. In standard-scoring leagues, he produced one outing of double-digit fantasy points last season (Week 4 against the Lions).

3. From an interim standpoint, the 20th spot seems fair for Washington’s Fred Davis (24 catches, 325 yards), as he recovers from last year’s major Achilles surgery.

4. Three teams were not represented in the countdown — the Jets (Jeff Cumberland), Browns (Jordan Cameron) and Raiders (Richard Gordon).

5. The Denver tight ends (Tamme, Dreessen) will likely be red-zone window dressing for a Broncos juggernaut that already has Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Willis McGahee and a goal-line stud in rookie tailback Montee Ball.

Jay Clemons can be reached, day or night, on Twitter at @FOX_JayClemons.