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Biggest Surprises of 2018 - Tight Ends

The 2018 NFL Season was a very interesting year for tight ends in fantasy football, to say the least.

Unless you drafted Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz early, there's a good chance you were working the waiver wire on a weekly basis. The tight end position was such a wasteland this year, I've even seen some fantasy players and commissioners talking about potentially removing the tight end position from their leagues entirely. I'm not there yet, but there is no doubt that 2018 may change the way we view the tight end position.

Here are my biggest surprises of 2018 at the tight end position:

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Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts

Rank: TE4 (217 PPR Points)
First up on my list is none other than new Indianapolis Colt, Eric Ebron. For the beginning of his career, Ebron had been a massive disappointment in Detroit. People often forget that he was a first-round draft pick back in 2014, the first tight end selected, and the 10th overall player off the board. All it took was a trade to Indianapolis for him to finally show what he can do. Andrew Luck has leaned heavily on Jack Doyle over the last few seasons, and even when he was healthy, Ebron was far more effective than Doyle.

Ebron finished the season with 66 grabs for 750 yards and a whopping 13 touchdowns. 110 targets were more than anyone was expecting out of Ebron. Doyle was being drafted before him in just about any fantasy football draft last year. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, he was the 18th tight end off the board. There is a good chance that Ebron was a waiver wire pick up, and ultimately was a fantasy stud. The tight end position being what it was this year, getting someone off the waiver wire that turned out being the number four tight end in fantasy, was a huge advantage. Going from an undrafted tight end to an elite one makes Ebron the most surprising tight end of 2018.


George Kittle - San Francisco 49ers

Rank: TE3 (252 PPR Points)
If you were lucky enough to grab George Kittle, who finished as the number three tight end in PPR scoring, you just snagged yourself arguably the number one overall asset in dynasty league football, and ultimately, a fantasy stud in 2018. Kittle was a very popular breakout candidate last year during the off-season, and with Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan, it made sense.

According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Kittle was the 13th tight end off the board last year during the off-season although I recall him going earlier in many drafts. This partly could be due to the hype picking up depending on how late in the off-season your drafts are held. Going from a 12th round pick to the number three tight end in fantasy, makes Kittle one of the biggest surprises of 2018 for tight ends.


Rob Gronkowski - New England Patriots

Rank: TE10 (126 PPR Points)
Rob Gronkowski is going to go down as one of the greatest tight ends of all time. Whether you contribute that to the system he plays in, Tom Brady, or both, the impact he's made on the tight end position is undeniable. That being said, his time as a fantasy stud is slowly coming to a halt. With talks of him potentially retiring, there is a chance we've seen the last of Gronk.

Gronkowski makes the list of most surprising tight ends of 2018 after being the number one tight end off the board in fantasy drafts and finishing as TE10. He finished the season with just 47 grabs for 682 yards and the touchdowns. It really didn't seem like he even did well enough to finish as a TE1. This may partly be due to the overall disappointment that the tight end position was as a whole this year. Either way, anyone that gets drafted this high and finishes as the TE10, deserves a spot on this list.


Chris Herndon IV - New York Jets

Rank: TE16 (108 PPR Points)
Last on my list of biggest surprises at the tight end position is Chris Herndon. Herndon wasn't being drafted at all last year, and while TE16 may not be anything too crazy, it did take some time for him to get going. Herndon started in just 12 games this year and didn't get much playing time until Week 7 where he had four catches on seven targets and a touchdown. For the second half of the season, he was a TE1 and an every week starter. It took some time for him to get the playing time and build a rapport with rookie QB Sam Darnold.

Kelce, Ertz, and Kittle were the only tight ends to surpass 1,000+ yards this year. The next closest was Jared Cook who had 896 receiving yards. Had Herndon been starting every week from Week 1, I'm confident he would've had 1,000 yards or close to that. He finished with four touchdowns on the season, and had he started in Week 1, those numbers also would've been up. It takes some time for a rookie quarterback to get settled in the NFL and over the second half of the season, we saw that Darnold and Herndon were developing a nice connection. While Herndon was a nice surprise for fantasy owners in 2018, don't be surprised to see him jump up fantasy draft boards this off-season and into the 2019 season.

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