The tight end position more than any other position shows a giant gap between the elite, Rob Gronkowski, and the rest of the pack. It is similar to catcher in fantasy baseball, but even Buster Posey doesn’t have as big of a gap as Gronk does over the rest of his competition. With Jimmy Graham seemingly getting dinged more and more, as well as his trade to a less pass happy Seattle, Gronk separates himself even more from the other options at the position.
Most people are under the mindset of take Gronk early or wait until someone falls into their lap. Barring an injury, it would be a complete shock to everyone if there was another tight end that is number one when the season is over and there isn’t any other position that people can say that about.
As always, we welcome discussion in the comment section. We would love to hear your take or answer your questions. Now, on to the ranks!
|Players marked NR were not ranked.|
1. Which TEs are you most willing to reach for during your draft?
Andy: I am reaching for Rob Gronkowski early. I have debated on taking him as high as sixth overall. The elite running back group is gone and I can still get an elite receiver on the way back if I take him there. The only thing that can stop Gronk is an injury.
Joe: While Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham have been the favorites the last 2 seasons, Greg Olsen quietly has averaged 889 yards the last 3 seasons (second-best after Graham). Olsen is currently projected as a fifth-round selection so you can’t wait on him too long.
Tommy: Gronk is the obvious answer here as he could outscore the second best TE by more than 50 points, but whether or not he is worth his first round price tag depends on how effectively you are able to fill out the rest of the roster. I also love Travis Kelce. He is a highly efficient pass catcher primed for a larger role. He is a near lock to be a top 5 TE if he stays healthy.
2. Which TEs will you be looking to avoid this season?
Andy: Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen. They are both going to be top five at the position and I don’t deny that, but if I don’t already have Gronk I am waiting and loading up at other positions. This isn’t to say that I won’t draft them, I just won’t draft them where they are currently going.
Joe: Josh Hill has been slowly gaining momentum in the rankings as some envision him as the heir to Jimmy Graham’s vacancy, but he has a limited body of work. The Saints also promise to transition to a run-first offense, and players as elite as Jimmy Graham are far and few between and could not be that simple to replace.
Tommy: Julius Thomas is the obvious answer here, but I want to talk about Jason Witten. He is a very good football player, but his role in the Cowboys run heavy attack does not allow him to be a consistent fantasy producer. He is a poor weekly bet for TDs because Romo locks in on number 88 in the red zone (as he should). Witten was only targeted in the red zone 7 times last season, as often as Bennie Cunningham, Levine Toilolo and DeAnthony Thomas. Don’t pay for Witten’s name brand when you can get his 750 yards and 4 TDs (or comparable production) off the waiver wire.
3. Which “average Joes” are you willing to settle for if you don’t get one of the top guys?
Andy: Going into the season there are a lot of tight ends I am happy to start. I would probably go as deep as number 15 in my rankings, Tyler Eifert, as the last tight end I would be happy to start. The position is deep this season after the top-tier. After that just pick your favorite breakout candidate and go for it.
Joe: Owen Daniels and the other Broncos TE are rumored to be part of a committee. Some are leaning toward Virgil Green to have an expanded role in the offense. His career numbers may not suggest that notion (averaging a paltry 5 receptions per season). Note that Julius Thomas caught 12 TD passes each of the last 2 seasons with the Broncos. My hunch is that most of these TD targets are earmarked for Daniels.
Tommy: I love Delanie Walker this year. He is not an elite talent by any stretch, but he is a consistent producer in an offense that fits his skills well. With Marcus Mariota now under center, expect Walker to be a large part of the weekly game plan and expect his efficiency to rise. He combines a very high floor with legitimate top 5 TE upside.
4. Who are some late round lottery ticket TEs that you feel may hit it big this season?
Andy: The complete lottery ticket pick for me is Vernon Davis. He has been a top tight end in the past and still has the ability. He is going to go undrafted in a lot of leagues and the 49ers lost passing options this season while not really gaining anything. Best thing about him is that you will know within the first week or two if he is worth hanging onto or dumping for the season’s early tight end breakout.
Joe: Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s teams have consistently produced 600+ TE passing yards. Admittedly some of those 600+ passing yards were split between several TE. But since we’re being honest, if Jacob Tamme is drafted at all, it would be as a fantasy backup TE. He’s a low-risk investment if you consider that he will play on a decent offense with a reliable QB in Matt Ryan.
Tommy: Tyler Eifert and Kyle Rudolph were buzzy picks last year, but they each had their seasons destroyed by injuries. Both men have the upside to finish as top 7-8 TEs, but they are forgotten men on most rank lists. Eifert, in particular could emerge as the 2nd option in a pretty solid Bengal air attack.
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