Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the different injuries Fantasy owners should be aware of as the Fantasy Football draft season approaches.
And today, we’re wrapping up this series with a look at tight end injuries. While this position might not hold the same cache as running backs or wide receivers, we know that in recent years, there has been much more Fantasy production here than ever before.
Tight End Injuries For 2013
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England
Gronk is arguably the best tight end in the league and a major factor in the Patriots’ chances to win a Super Bowl. He also has the stuff to be the best of all time, but injuries seem to be holding this monster back.
While he hasn’t missed too many games with injuries, his multiple offseason surgeries after an injury-riddled season are very alarming. He missed the combine coming out of college with back problems and while he has been the best tight end in the league since, his injuries are only getting worse. He may be speaking to a spinal cord injury attorney sometime in the future, for all we know.
Gro nk broke his forearm in Week 11 last season and it has been infected since and surgically repaired since. He has had four separate surgeries since on that broken forearm and it doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for the start of the season.
No one can deny his talent, just grab a backup in case he suffers an injury setback during the season or for the first few weeks of the year. His past injury reports bring up major back problems, torn ankle ligaments, and a broken forearm. Beware of all these issues when considering drafting him, but also understand this guy can score 20 touchdowns and potentially fall in your drafts to an enviable position.
2. Aaron Hernandez, Free Agent
After Wednesday’s arrest for murder and his release from the Patriots, he has a lot more to worry about than just being banged up. If you draft anytime soon, avoid him.
3. Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
Miller is dealing with a severe injury and is questionable to start Week 1. Miller tore up his knee in every way possible. The ACL, PCL, and MCL were all torn in Week 16 last season in a Pro Bowl-type season. I just hope that he decides to consider the different types of pain relief that are on offer to him, as he’s going to need it. Something similar to these CBD oil UK products would be ideal, as this type of treatment path has been known to make a difference in people’s lives. Regardless of what he does, I hope he comes back fitter and stronger. Miller could be a good steal late in a draft to use as an alternative tight end in late bye weeks and unfriendly matchups.
I don’t see this injury holding him back too much, especially with the love Roethlisberger has shown towards his tight end.
4. Fred Davis, Washington
Davis is currently recovering from Achilles’ surgery from October. Head coach Mike Shanahan believes if they were to play a game this weekend Davis would be ready to go. With that said, he is being held out of OTAs and I would be cautious of this underwhelming talent.
He’s been more prone to the less-than-stellar seasons, so I’d assume we’ll get that once again. It’s tough to bet on something that hasn’t been seen for a sustained period of time.
5. Tony Moeaki, Kansas City
Every year it seems that people expect Moeaki to break out — I’m not going to sucker in on that. This guy cannot stay healthy; just avoid him in most leagues.
His persistent knee injuries have continued and he recently had arthroscopic surgery earlier in the offseason. Andy Reid believes he will be ready for training camp, but just be aware that he hasn’t done much for all the hype — only 33 catches in a full season last year.
6. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
I have to assume this will be the No. 1 tight end in most drafts, with all the questions about Gronk and Hernandez. I expect Graham to come back completely healthy and have a Pro Bowl season. He is nearly 100-percent healthy after having wrist surgery in January. His prior wrist problems, as well as persistent back problems, are something to definitely keep an eye on, but expect a very respectable 90 catches, 10-plus touchdowns, and over 1,000 yards.
7. Antonio Gates, San Diego
I was so happy to have been able to trade Gates last season for a little more than a chunk of dirt and a piece of squirrel excrement. He was so underwhelming, it’s hard to trust him this season.
Honestly, it hurt to watch Gates play the past two seasons — he just looks injured out there. I would love to see him regain his All-Pro form, but it seems unlikely at this point of his career. He seems to be completely healthy this offseason even with his nagging foot issues, but be aware of it creeping up in the middle of the season. Gates may be a good guy to take a risk on if you grab Gronk.
8. Delanie Walker, Tennessee
I look for Walker to have a breakout season as the No. 1 tight end for the Tennessee Titans. I love what this guy brings to the table — A 6-foot-4, 250-lb. beast, who can run a sub 4.4 40-yard dash. He has been dealing with some nagging knee issues, but has been seen participating at OTAs.
I expect him to be completely healthy for Week 1 and a viable option in 12-team Fantasy leagues. His quarterback situation is something that scares me as well, if Jake Locker is effective, look for Walker to be as well.
9. Scott Chandler, Buffalo
Chandler had a big season last year, recording six touchdowns and well over 500 receiving yards. I expect Chandler to continue to be productive, but don’t expect anything special.
Look for very similar numbers as last season just simply because Chandler’s ceiling isn’t very high. Expect him to be ready for training camp after having his knee scoped earlier in the offseason, but don’t expect him to exceed his numbers from last season.
10. Joel Dreessen, Denver
It’s hard to judge exactly how many catches Dreessen will get this season simply because of the amount of productivity in that Denver offense. Manning can throw to Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Jacob Tamme — how will Dresssen get the ball?
He will miss training camp because of arthroscopic knee surgery, but will likely be ready for preseason. Don’t expect much from him because of his injury problems, as well as being in a platoon with Tamme and rising sophomore sensation Julius Thomas. Dreessen, much like our next guy, is nothing to get excited about.
11. James Casey, Philadelphia
There’s not a whole lot to get excited about when you hear James Casey. He’s a facet of the Houston play-action offense that uses No. 2 tight ends more effectively than anyone else in the league. He is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and will probably be in a similar situation with less production.
Casey underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will miss OTAs. Look for him to be ready once the season begins, but don’t expect a whole lot as he will be a backup to Brent Celek and not see much playing time. I also expect him to be in blocking more often, as they will make it a priority to protect franchise QB Michael Vick.
12. Zach Miller, Seattle
Miller was recently seen in a walking boot recovering from a torn plantar fascia that he suffered in the playoffs last season. He was not very productive last year recording less than 400 yards and only three touchdowns.
I expect him to be the No. 1 tight end in an improving offense, so expect Miller to have a better year and hover around seven touchdowns but about the same amount of yardage. Look for Miller to be a darkhorse in most standard Fantasy leagues and to be a target in the red zone for a team who is expected to be in the red zone more often than most teams.
13. Dustin Keller, Miami
This recent South Beach addition has been a productive tight end in a very unproductive offense. I look for Mike Wallace and Keller to open things up for each other and help this young team improve. While I don’t expect anything inspiring from Miami, I do believe they are a young team who may be coming together.
Suspiciously, while Keller seems to be healthy he has been missing practice recently for an undisclosed reason, so keep an eye on that. I expect him to be an average tight end and a solid play in bye weeks for most Fantasy leagues, but he does always seem to be listed among the tight end injuries.
14. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay
Amazingly, I’m not sure if the potential of Finley outmatched the disappointment he gave us last season. Former assistant GM Michael Lombardi once said he believes Finley has the tools to be a Hall of Famer at some point.
Injuries and a lack of targets have brought this potential star to a bench spot in most Fantasy leagues. He showed up to OTAs about 15 pounds beefier in muscle and they hope this keeps him healthier this season. I think this may be the year to draft him with his value being at an all-time low, and you may find yourself with a stud and a sneaky pick that most have given up on.
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.