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2016 Fantasy Football Tiered Tight End Rankings (August)

Welcome to the next round of analyzing our 2016 fantasy football rankings here at RotoBaller, as our best and brightest have put their minds (and numbers) together to drop some serious knowledge on the world. The rankings come from Nathan Powell, Zach Wilkens, Bill Dubiel, Frankie Soler and myself, Nick Mariano.

This will be an in-depth look at the tight end standard league rankings, where we’ll analyze some tiers and check in on some polarizing names and trends as draft season descends upon us. More in-depth breakdowns by position are still rolling out for both standard and PPR formats, so don’t touch that dial after this episode ends!

First order of business - for those that want to play along, you can also click here to access our rankings assistant page (for all types of formats). I've pasted the entire table in this article below, but it's a long list. Our handy rankings tool shows you all of our staff rankings, player news, ADPs, tiers, target rounds and more. You can easily filter, sort, and export all sorts of ranks – standard, half-PPR and PPR leagues, tiers, rookies, dynasty formats, keeper values and more. It's all in one place, and all free.


2016 Tight End Rankings Analysis (August)

Tier One = Gronk Tier. Rob Gronkowski has been a force ever since he entered the league in 2010, and all he did last season was lead all tight ends with 1,176 receiving yards and finish tied for second with 11 TDs in 15 games. While he won’t have Tom Brady for the first four weeks, Jimmy Garoppolo would do well to lean on Gronk as a safety blanket.

Tier Two belongs to Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen, with the former being valued for his high ceiling and the latter for his high floor. Reed is a 6’2”, 237 pound athletic freak with incredible hands and the trust of Kirk Cousins, but has trouble staying healthy. His 8.14 targets per game were second in the league for TEs, and he tied Gronk with the 11 TDs in only 14 games played, but just be sure to have a solid Plan B.

Meanwhile Olsen’s 1,104 receiving yards were second-most among TEs, drawing 7.75 targets/game (fifth-best) and logging only three games with less than 40 receiving yards. It’ll be interesting to see how defenses approach Carolina with Kelvin Benjamin healthy, but regardless Olsen should be a safe asset who could throw up games like 2015’s Week 3 (8-134-2) at any time.

Tier Three brings four more solid options to the table. Travis Kelce is regularly compared to Gronk, right on down to wearing #87, but is hamstrung by his being criminally under-utilized by the Chiefs. His 6.44 targets/game were 13th among TEs, but it’s more his 0.31 TDs/game that point to Kansas City’s shenanigans.

Compare this to Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert, whose 5.69 targets/game were even worse at 15th-best, yet he was a huge part of the red-zone attack, averaging a full 1.00 TDs/game. His 13 TDs were indeed the highest for a TE in 2015, even though he only played in 13 games. While his health is questionable to start the season, it’s encouraging to see CIN utilize their big man properly.

Speaking of league leaders, how about the player that led all TEs in targets (133) and receptions (94)? That would be Delanie Walker, who set those marks despite missing a game. His 72.53 receiving yards/game was second-best behind Gronk, as his rookie QB Marcus Mariota found a trustworthy target in him. This shouldn’t change in Year Two, as Walker is a nice source of decent upside and a high floor.

Rounding out the tier is Gary Barnidge, who was a tank from Week 3 on. In those 14 games he posted a 75-988-9 line, with his worst game within that stretch being a 3-47-0 Week 16 contest. Talk about a nice floor. Now the 30-year-old gets Robert Griffin at QB, and may get Josh Gordon at WR to pull safeties away from the middle of the field come Week 5, making him a tantalizing option.

Tier Four starts with Zach Ertz, who won’t benefit from the Chip Kelly hurry-up offense anymore, but still a 6’5”, 250-pound talent who showed why he should be targeted in the last four weeks of the season (46 targets, 35 recs, 450 yards, 1 TD).

Fantasy owners have been clamoring for Ladarius Green to consistently play for years, and now he has it (in a crazy Pittsburgh offense no less). Look for the 6’6” target to ease the loss of Martavis Bryant towards the red zone, and hopefully stretch the field over the top while defenses prioritize Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.

Julius Thomas averaged 6.67 targets/game, but clearly expecting a third-straight 12-TD season was not going to end well. He should still make for a low-end TE1 as he’s always a threat to score, and starting off the season healthy allows for more chemistry to generate compared to last season’s hand injury.

Coby Fleener is being talked up hard in New Orleans, and his ADP has risen as a result. It’s tilting to over-drafted, but still this speaks to the opportunity for him in a Saints offense that just gave Benjamin Watson a career-year. Fleener has more in the tank than Watson, and should produce accordingly.

Tier Five yields the ageless wonder in Antonio Gates, who should still be a nice standard-league asset considering his size and chemistry with Philip Rivers in the red zone.

Eric Ebron is a buzzy name who instantly becomes Detroit’s “big body” without Calvin Johnson in the picture, so the TDs could really flow.

Jason Witten has played in all 16 games since his rookie year of 2003, but is more of a PPR type lately with only eight TDs in the last two seasons.

Jimmy Graham burned many in 2015 with a pathetic 2 TDs in 11 games, but still makes for an okay TE2 with a low-chance at TE1 potential should his knee prove healthy and his usage in the passing game goes up.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins is scary due to his durability concerns and reports that his job isn’t safe, as Cameron Brate really came on late for Tampa Bay and showed great chemistry with Jameis Winston, so buy here at your own risk.

Dwayne Allen has always been used as more of a blocking TE for Indianapolis in the past, but now that Fleener is gone he may take on a bigger role alongside Jack Doyle and Chase Coffman.

Zach Miller is a really nice late-round flier after catching 18 of 20 targets for 211 yards and a TD in his last three games (when Martellus Bennett was out).

Speaking of Bennett, he now becomes the second TE in an offense that loves to feature two TEs and that shouldn’t shy away from giving him red-zone opportunities.

Tier Six and beyond makes for deep waters, but there are a few names to keep an eye on:

Jordan Cameron may recapture some of his former glory if new HC Adam Gase and OC Clyde Christensen can spark the Miami offense, making him a low-cost/medium-reward gamble..

Clive Walford is a decent deep-league pick after commanding 26 targets in his last five games, though monitor his knee’s health after an offseason ATV accident.

The last name is Vance McDonald, who saw 38 targets for 281 yards and 3 TDs in seven games after Vernon Davis was traded on November 2. Garrett Celek is healthy however, and they could very well cancel each other out in San Francisco.


Tiered Tight End Standard League Rankings

Tier Player Name Overall Rank
1 Rob Gronkowski 9
2 Jordan Reed 45
2 Greg Olsen 47
3 Travis Kelce 67
3 Tyler Eifert 71
3 Delanie Walker 73
3 Gary Barnidge 80
4 Zach Ertz 88
4 Ladarius Green 91
4 Julius Thomas 94
4 Coby Fleener 95
5 Antonio Gates 105
5 Eric Ebron 128
5 Jason Witten 136
5 Jimmy Graham 143
5 Austin Seferian-Jenkins 144
5 Dwayne Allen 148
5 Zach Miller 149
5 Martellus Bennett 155
6 Charles Clay 169
6 Jordan Cameron 176
6 Clive Walford 183
6 Benjamin Watson 184
6 Will Tye 186
6 Kyle Rudolph 190
6 Jared Cook 191
7 Richard Rodgers 205
7 Vance McDonald 212
7 Austin Hooper 225
7 Lance Kendricks 232
7 Jace Amaro 239
7 Jacob Tamme 240
8 Hunter Henry 250
8 Maxx Williams 252
8 Jeff Heuerman 255
8 Josh Hill 292
8 Owen Daniels 299


NFL & Fantasy Football Chat Room

Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.


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