We are in the middle of a TE revolution.
As the position has evolved, the blocking tight end has made way for a new breed of jump ball specialist who has honed his craft on a basketball court rather than a football field. This has had a huge impact on the world of fantasy football, where the owners getting the most out of the position will likely win championships. Savvy fantasy players should aim to take advantage via midseason trades.
The face of this revolution is the dynamic Jimmy Graham (Saints). Thus far, Graham has not only been far and away the top TE, but he has actually produced more fantasy points than any other skill position player in most scoring formats. If you had the opportunity to redo your draft today, Graham would be a clear-cut top-five pick. If his owner in your league doesn't realize this, now is the time to throw him a Godfather-esque offer and hope for the best.
Beyond Graham, the rest of the top five TEs in standard scoring formats are also former college basketball players producing at levels expected from elite WRs. In the second and third spots, breakout performers Julius Thomas (Broncos) and Jordan Cameron (Browns) have displayed game-breaking ability even without a fully refined game. They should still be considered elite TEs and may belong in the top 30 of fantasy players overall.
In the fourth and fifth spots, reliable old-timers Tony Gonzalez (Falcons) and Antonio Gates (Chargers) can be depended upon as consistent performers capable of the occasional strong week.
However, perhaps the most intriguing TE has yet to step on the field this year. Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) may not have played basketball in college, but he is the only one capable of rivaling Graham in fantasy production. Now is the perfect time to try to lure him away from fantasy owners who may have grown frustrated by his injury uncertainty and don't realize that, in the new age of football, he is a top 20 fantasy player.
Alex Case is amNY's fantasy football columnist.