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2018 Fantasy Football Rankings Analysis - Tight End (Half-PPR)


Unfortunately, tight ends as a position have been losing value in the NFL for quite a while. Gone are the days where tight ends were fantasy points machines, as teams are spreading the ball more and more and using their tight ends as blockers.

However, there are still several high-performance tight ends in the league that are difference makers in real life and in fantasy football. This includes a mixture of proven veterans and unknown youngsters primed for a breakout (R.I.P. Hunter Henry).

Our preseason rankings at RotoBaller will continue to shift as free agents sign with new teams and rookies get drafted, but for now here are my tight end rankings in half-ppr fantasy leagues heading into the 2018 campaign.

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Tight End Half-PPR Rankings

Position Tier Position Rank Overall Rank Player Name
1 1 21 Rob Gronkowski
1 2 24 Travis Kelce
2 3 35 Zach Ertz
2 4 59 Greg Olsen
2 5 63 Evan Engram
3 6 70 Kyle Rudolph
3 7 75 Delanie Walker
3 8 77 Jimmy Graham
4 9 106 Jordan Reed
4 10 114 Trey Burton
4 11 118 Tyler Eifert
4 12 120 Jack Doyle
4 13 123 Austin Seferian-Jenkins
5 14 125 George Kittle
5 15 132 Charles Clay
5 16 137 David Njoku
5 17 138 Cameron Brate
5 18 140 O.J. Howard
6 19 157 Eric Ebron
6 20 159 Jared Cook
6 21 168 Austin Hooper
6 22 170 Ricky Seals-Jones
6 23 171 Benjamin Watson
7 24 178 Vance McDonald
7 25 182 Gerald Everett
7 26 194 Vernon Davis
7 27 195 Mike Gesicki
7 28 214 Hayden Hurst
7 29 229 Stephen Anderson
7 30 231 Jake Butt
7 31 241 Adam Shaheen
8 32 246 C.J. Fiedorowicz
8 33 250 Nick Vannett
8 34 261 Ryan Griffin
8 35 262 Ed Dickson
8 36 264 Tyler Higbee
8 37 268 Jesse James
8 38 279 Luke Willson
9 39 287 Garrett Celek
9 40 294 Dallas Goedert
9 41 297 A.J. Derby
9 42 301 Maxx Williams

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce

After flirting with retirement, it seems that Rob Gronkowski will be back on the field and with the Patriots for the 2018 season. When healthy, Gronk has been a dominant fantasy force with unmatched production. I mean, this guy once had a 90 reception, 1,300+ yard, 17 touchdown season. He even rushed for an additional touchdown that year! Gronk is in a tier on his own regardless of format and is worth an early pick, despite his injury risk. If you add him on your team, you can expect game-winning numbers each week. However, he carries significant injury risk, so you should be prepared for him missing a few games or potentially longer if he is seriously injured.

The most solid fantasy tight end the past few seasons, Travis Kelce is a lock for over 1,000 yards and 5+ touchdowns, making him a good play in half-ppr formats due to his high reception floor. Kelce is on a very productive Chiefs defense that will be more pass-happy this season; however, the offense is crowded with the addition of veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins and incumbent starters running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Nevertheless, Kelce will have a solid market share and should finish as one of the top tight ends once again when all is said and done.

Tier 2

Zach Ertz, Greg Olsen, Evan Engram

Zach Ertz has emerged as one of the top tight ends in the league following three years of over 800 receiving yards and at least 74 receptions. Additionally, Ertz finally broke out with regards to touchdown receptions last year, hauling in eight scores (two more than his previous two seasons combined). If he can maintain that touchdown pace, he should be good for another top finish. However, if there is some regression, Ertz has the potential to be a mid-TE1 once again, which would not justify his currently high draft cost.

After playing rather poorly and succumbing to injury last year, Greg Olsen will hope to rebound and be one of the top passing targets for quarterback Cam Newton. However, due to the crowded nature of the team's offense, Olsen will have to work to continue being the top target for the team and should see his fair share of red-zone looks. Olsen is a solid mid-level TE1 with top-three upside if he is able to recapture his form of seasons past.

After seeing an insane amount of targets for a rookie tight end, Evan Engram ended up leading the Giants in targets and receptions in 2017. Engram played very well as a rookie, but the Giants offense will look very different entering 2018. With the return of wide receivers Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard as well as the drafting of running back Saquon Barkley (a generational talent with Marshall Faulk comparisons), Engram will also be in a crowded receiving room and should find it difficult to match last year's totals; however, if he is able to realize his potential, Engram has the chance to be a upper-level TE1 in half-ppr formats.

Tier 3

Kyle Rudolph, Delanie Walker, Jimmy Graham

Although Kyle Rudolph finished the year with eight touchdowns, he had a down-year in yards working with quarterback Case Keenum. Now, Rudolph will get to work with quarterback Kirk Cousins; he should hopefully resume his solid work in between the 20's and get his fair share of red-zone looks. However, with a crowded receiving room containing Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as well as workhorse back Dalvin Cook in the mix, Rudolph will face stiff competition for targets and carries solid but unappealing mid-range TE1 potential for the upcoming year.

Delanie Walker has had a career resurgence in Tennessee, emerging as one of the top options in the game in both the NFL and fantasy football. With the Titans hoping for a rebound year offensively despite making the playoffs, Walker should serve as quarterback Marcus Mariota's go-to weapon and will fight for the most targets on the team. This makes him a solid TE1 with considerable upside and significant fantasy value in half-ppr formats.

Although he's not the player he once was with the Saints, Jimmy Graham enjoyed a few productive seasons in Seattle before being shipped to work with quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the starting tight end for the Green Bay Packers. With wide receiver Jordy Nelson's release and move to the Raiders, Graham should assume a role as one of the top red-zone threats for the team (with wide receiver Davante Adams) and could eclipse the double-digit touchdown mark while seeing some work in between the 20's. This makes Graham a nice play in half-ppr formats due to his reception and touchdown upside while working alongside Rodgers - although it must be said that there hasn't been a lot of productivity from the tight end position in Green Bay. However, Graham will not be the highest paid tight end for nothing - he should see a fair amount of work and has top-three upside at the position.

Tier 4

Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Tyler Eifert, Jack Doyle, Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Despite only playing six games last season, Jordan Reed still figures to be a central part of the team's offense - if he can stay healthy. When healthy, Reed has the potential to be a dominant force in fantasy football, but you are better off looking at other options if you want a more consistent player at the position.

After playing as the second string tight end in Philadelphia, Trey Burton made a big money move this offseason to join the Bears as their starting tight end. Burton is an athletic freak who has a legitimate chance to become a top tight end this season; however, he has yet to prove that he has that ability due to his lack of a starting role in the Eagles offense. Nevertheless, he should compete with wide receiver Allen Robinson for red-zone looks but could be the most targeted played inside the 20's when all is said and done, making him an intriguing upside TE1 with a solid floor given the relative lack of competition for targets that he will face.

Yes, Tyler Eifert has missed more games than he has played in his career. The oft-injured tight end is hardly a reliable fantasy contributor; however, outside of the top few tight ends, he is one of the few at the position that has top-three upside due to his place in the Bengals offense and red-zone role (when healthy). In a contract year and hoping to cash in, Eifert has every motivation to stay healthy and has double-digit touchdown upside, making him a low-end TE1 with a chance to vastly outperform his ADP.

Jack Doyle will likely be the Colts starting tight end after seeing over 100 targets last season and converting those into 80 receptions. However, the presence of new free agent acquisition Eric Ebron should mitigate the upside of Doyle to a low-end TE1/high-end TE2 in half-ppr formats.

 Tier 5

George Kittle, Charles Clay, David Njoku, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard

49ers tight end George Kittle has a chance to break out in his second year in the league following an exciting rookie campaign. However, the presence of wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin as well as receiving running back Jerick McKinnon could prove to be a threat to Kittle's upside, especially now that he doesn't have his old college teammate at QB targeting him.

Charles Clay may be Buffalo's best pass-catcher this year - which means something right? Maybe not, but Clay should be a high-end TE2 with a good weekly reception floor.

David Njoku had a quiet rookie campaign which could translate to an improvement after a successful offseason with the team. However, with a competition for targets due to the presence of several top quality receiving options (Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman), Njoku might find it difficult to be a weekly consideration for fantasy players.

Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard both are expected to be significant portions of the offense for the Buccaneers this season, but they should eat into each other's fantasy upside - however, they should still both be considered boom-or-bust weekly TE2 options.

 

Updated Tiered Rankings and Analysis


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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