Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Some owners may not be comfortable with selecting a tight end in the first or second round since that strategy is new to this season and hasn't been tested yet.
That's fine, but I don't understand the logic behind turning around and picking a tight end two or three rounds later.
There is much more upside to taking Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski in round 2 and grabbing the best available running back or receiver in round 3 and 4 than there is to selecting the best available RB/WR in round 2 and 3 and drafting one of the four tight ends going from rounds 4-6. So once you decide to pass on that upside, there is no reason to reach for a lesser tight end shortly thereafter.
Instead, those who wait on a tight end should really wait on a tight end.
That should remove Antonio Gates (fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADP: 4.09), Aaron Hernandez (5.07), Jermichael Finley (6.05) and Vernon Davis (6.07) from your draft board.
That means focusing on Jason Witten (out for the rest of the preseason with a lacerated spleen but he should be ready by Week 2 at the latest, fantasyfootballcalculator.com ADP: 7.02), Jacob Tamme (7.11), Fred Davis (8.09), Brandon Pettigrew (8.10) or Tony Gonzalez (9.08) from rounds 7-9. There really won't be much difference between those seven players and the four going after Graham and Gronk, but there likely will be a major difference between the running backs and wideouts going from rounds 4-6 and the ones going from 7-9. Take a look (All statistics used are TSN projections).
Tight ends with ADP in rounds 4-6:
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers - 69 catches, 855 yards, 8 touchdowns
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots - 64, 767, 5
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers - 56, 756, 8
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers - 71, 826, 9
Tight ends with ADP in rounds 7-9:
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys - 84, 924, 6
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos - 79, 758, 8
Fred Davis, Washington Redskins - 55, 649, 4
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions - 81, 891, 7
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons - 80, 812, 7
Meanwhile, here are some running backs and receivers going in rounds 4-6 compared with several going in rounds 7-9. Keep in mind, these aren't all of the running backs and receivers being taken in rounds 4-6 or 7-9, but I have listed enough to provide a solid example of the difference between the two groups at both positions (based on TSN projections).
Running backs with ADP in rounds 4-6:
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 881 yards rushing, 5 rushing touchdowns, 45 catches, 315 yards receiving, 3 receiving touchdowns
Based on our projections, you can see that there really isn't much separation between the two tight end groups above, while the starting quality running backs tend to tail off around rounds 5-6 and the reliable receivers are gone by round 7. Of course, sleepers, late-round gems and solid players at those two positions can be found from rounds 7-9 and later in the draft, but you don't want to head into Week 1 with major question marks at several positions faced with the scenario where multiple things need to go right for you to compete.