Fantasy football TE rankings: Week 3 features studs and duds

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Ciarrocchi of Pro Football Focus breaks down the top 25 options for Week 3 and highlights this week's studs and duds.

By a show of hands, who had Charles Clay, Martellus Bennett and Coby Fleener pegged in the top five at the tight end position for Week 2 in standard-scoring leagues? If your hand is down, no one blames you. If your hand is up, then you're probably lying or just use bizarre methods to determine your rankings.

Despite that, there were still a lot of points to be had elsewhere, as Jimmy Graham had his first of what will be many dominant performances this season. Jermichael Finley and Julius Thomas asserted their standings among top fantasy tight ends, as well. But what about Week 3? Let's explore:

WEEK 3 STUDS

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Now, with Gronkowski being limited in practice once again, and with only 50/50 odds that he will make his season debut this week, this projection is obviously contingent upon whether Gronk takes the field. Should he do so, it's unlikely he would have to be limited, because if that were the case, the Patriots would likely keep him on the bench. The Buccaneers gave up 179 yards and a touchdown to Jimmy Graham in Week 2 and 79 yards and a touchdown to Kellen Winslow the previous week. With the Patriots receiving game in desperate need of a playmaker, and with Julian Edelman blanketed by Darrelle Revis, expect Tom Brady to look early and often toward Gronk's direction. Monitor his status closely, because his first day back could be a huge one.

Owen Daniels, Houston Texans (vs. Baltimore Ravens): Daniels is another tight end with a juicy matchup, as he gets to face a Ravens defense that ranks 31st in the league in DVOA versus tight ends. In other words, the Ravens defense has gotten gashed by Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron, giving up 110 and 95 yards to each, respectively. Daniels could see similar production with Andre Johnson coming off a concussion, and if there's a mismatch to be exploited that can give the Texans an advantage, they are likely to look in the direction of their reliable tight end.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (vs. Indianapolis Colts): The starting tight ends the Colts have faced this year are Charles Clay and Jeron Mastrud., who logged a combined 150 receiving yards. Now, imagine what kind of day Vernon Davis could have if the Colts continue to struggle in this department. Davis was limited to just 20 receiving yards in a sloppy game versus the Seahawks, but there should be greener pastures for Davis against a defense that isn't as punishing.

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WEEK 3 DUDS

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns (vs. Minnesota Vikings): It's not that Cameron isn't a tight end whom owners shouldn't like, and he ought to get several looks from quarterback Brian Hoyer this week. But therein lies the problem -- how many sustained drives and total yards will the Browns put up without starting quarterback Brandon Weeden and now without running back Trent Richardson? Hoyer was erratic and inaccurate in his stint with the Cardinals in 2012, and though it's possible Cameron could still capitalize, it's a bit of a gamble to rely on him this week.

Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins (vs. Atlanta Falcons): Owners who were thin at tight end surely scrambled to the waiver wire to grab Charles Clay, who reeled in 109 yards and rushed -- yes, rushed -- for a touchdown against the Colts in Week 2. Don't expect much more where that came from this week, as the Falcons have shut down tight ends far more talented than Clay. Jared Cook and Jimmy Graham have a combined 56 yards versus the Falcons defense through two games, and if the Falcons don't want Clay to beat them, they won't let him.

Fred Davis, Washington Redskins (vs. Detroit Lions): Sixteen snaps is all Davis saw in a game that his team was trailing constantly, including a 31-0 deficit early in the third quarter. You would think that all hands would need to be on deck in the Redskins' receiving game if they wanted to chip away at the lead, but Mike Shanahan instead put rookie Jordan Reed in the extended two-minute drill situation. Davis has been outperformed by his rookie counterpart so far this season, and there could be a "changing of the guard" at the tight end position in Washington soon, if it hasn't happened already. Bench Davis, and owners could do much worse than dropping him entirely.

Let's take a look at the top 25 tight ends for Week 3:

Rank Player Team Opponent
1 Jimmy Graham NO ARI
2 Jason Witten DAL STL
3 Vernon Davis SF IND
4 Rob Gronkowski NE TAM
5 Tony Gonzalez ATL MIA
6 Julius Thomas DEN OAK
7 Owen Daniels HOU BAL
8 Greg Olsen CAR NYG
9 Jermichael Finley GB CIN
10 Jared Cook STL DAL
11 Martellus Bennett CHI PIT
12 Jordan Cameron CLE MIN
13 Kyle Rudolph MIN CLE
14 Brandon Myers NYG CAR
15 Coby Fleener IND SF
16 Brandon Pettigrew DET WAS
17 Antonio Gates SD TEN
18 Tyler Eifert CIN GB
19 Kellen Winslow NYJ BUF
20 Charles Clay MIA ATL
21 Jordan Reed WAS DET
22 Brent Celek PHI KC
23 Fred Davis WAS DET
24 Dallas Clark BAL HOU
25 Jermaine Gresham CIN GB

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