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Biggest Busts of 2018 - Tight End


2018 was the Year of the Tight End in fantasy football… but only if you had San Francisco’s George Kittle, Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, or Kansas City’s Travis Kelce on your roster.

While Kittle was setting the record for most receiving yards in a season for a tight end, Ertz was setting the record for most receptions in a season for a tight end, and Kelce was having arguably the best season ever in fantasy football for a tight end. But there were many other high-profile tight ends that flopped worse than Jason Witten did on Monday Night Football this year.

So which tight ends ruined the seasons of many fantasy football players this season? Here are the biggest busts of 2018 at the tight end position.

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Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

2018 Stats: 47 receptions, 682 yards, 3 TD 

The warning signs were there in the offseason when there were rumors that Gronk was considering retirement and becoming an action movie star in Hollywood. Turns out that if Gronkowski decides to retire this offseason, it was probably a year too late. He tied his career-low with three touchdowns, his 52 receiving yards per game were his lowest average since his rookie campaign back in 2010, and he had five games where he had fewer than 30 yards while only posting two 100-yard-games.

Gronkowski looked like a shell of his former Pro Bowl self this season. His numbers were fine for a middle-of-the-road tight end, but for a player who was likely one of the first four players at the position taken in most fantasy drafts, they were well below par. The entire Patriots offense seemed out of sorts throughout the season, and a lot of it had to do with Gronkowski not being the superstar he once was. His big-play ability and above-average skill set only appear in flashes these days, and his keeper potential in dynasty leagues is dwindling rapidly.

 

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

2018 Stats: 27 receptions, 291 yards, 4 TD

Olsen was a top-five tight end on most boards entering the 2018 campaign, but he had his second-straight season ruined by a multitude of foot fractures. After being limited to seven games in 2017, Olsen was only able to suit up for nine this season after injuring his foot on two separate occasions, and he had as many games with 20 or fewer yards as he had games where he scored touchdowns (four of each).

Olsen’s perpetually fractured foot was not the only reason his fantasy value took a Ronnie Lott-sized hit. Carolina quarterback/fashion icon Cam Newton battled a sore shoulder during the second half of the season and did Olsen no fantasy favors. The Panthers offense totally revolved around All-World running back Christian McCaffrey to the point where it was virtually impossible for other skilled players on the Panthers to get any fantasy traction. Olsen’s chronic foot issues make him a humongous question mark for fantasy owners for 2019.

 

Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers

2018 Stats: 55 receptions, 636 yards, 2 TD

You cannot blame fantasy players for this assumption:  If Graham caught 10 touchdown passes in 2017 with Russell Wilson as his quarterback in Seattle, shouldn’t he catch 12-14 touchdown tosses from Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay in 2018?

It sounded like the perfect plan on paper, but Graham is not the same player after a series of knee injuries at age 32. Nor is his name Davante Adams. While Adams caught more than half of Rodgers’ touchdown throws (13), the non-Adams pass catchers on the roster only caught 12, including Graham’s disappointing two touchdowns. Graham was second on the Packers in targets since the rest of the receiving corps was average-at-best, but he did not do enough for fantasy owners, especially in the red zone and in the end zone.

 

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

2018 Stats: 26 receptions, 245 yards, 2 TD

Doyle was coming off a 2017 season where he was a monster in PPR leagues with 80 receptions on 107 targets, and 2018 was shaping up to be even better for him because a healthy Andrew Luck was returning to throw him the ball. Doyle was ranked as a top-10 tight end by many fantasy experts and rightly so, yet a couple unforeseen circumstances changed him from fantasy stud to fantasy dud.

Doyle injured his hip early in the season, which cost him some games, then suffered a season-ending kidney injury that abruptly finished his year on the sourest of notes. In between, though, Detroit Lions underachiever Eric Ebron turned in one of the surprise performances of 2018 by scoring 13 touchdowns and supplanting Doyle as Indy’s No. 1 tight end.  Doyle might be a decent sleeper in PPR leagues to draft late in 2019, but that will not wash the bad taste out of the mouths of the fantasy players who banked on a big season from him in 2018.

 

Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills

2018 Stats: 21 receptions, 184 yards, 0 TD

While fantasy owners were not expecting Clay to post Travis Kelce-like numbers this season, he was thought of as a decent No. 2 tight end to have on a fantasy roster. The veteran appeared like he had a shot of being Buffalo’s second-best pass catcher behind Kelvin Benjamin due to a roster full of rookies and retreads at the wide receiver position. Thinking Clay could muster 50-60 receptions for 600-700 yards was not a crazy idea.

Unfortunately, Clay was as worthless to fantasy owners as holders and third-string quarterbacks are. He had arguably the worst year of his eight-year career, failing to score a single touchdown and having the lowest amount of receiving yards for a season. Benjamin did not even last the entire season on the team, yet Clay ended up not even being Buffalo’s top tight end when the year concluded, let alone the top pass-catcher. Clay will be on the low end of the tight end totem pole on fantasy cheat sheets entering the 2019 campaign, if he even makes the cut.

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