Half-PPR Rankings Analysis – Tight Ends

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You know the fantasy football season is right around the corner when the first starting quarterback tears an ACL and the first top tailback gets suspended for off-the-field fiascos. Tight ends are not as valuable as quarterbacks, running backs and receivers in fantasy football, but the points they provide, especially in half-PPR leagues, can propel fantasy squads to victory and be an underrated factor in helping teams make the playoffs in their leagues.

Rotoballer provides owners with a continuously updated ranking system, allowing owners to continuously keep up-to-date all the way until draft day. This allows individuals to get the absolute most out of their drafts.

Listed below are several tiers of tight ends, highlighting the top 25 tight ends in fantasy football heading into the season. Each player has a blurb about him below to better help you decide who to draft and who to avoid when you have your draft or auction before the season starts.

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2017 Tight End Tiered Rankings (Half-PPR)

 Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

When Gronkowski is healthy he is heads and shoulder pads above everyone else at the position. The problem is he is rarely injury-free for an entire season. The last time he suited up for 16 games was in 2011. But 14 or 15 Gronkowski games is better than 16 out of any other tight end in the NFL. He should be good for 1,100 yards and a dozen touchdowns if he can stay on the field after his injury-marred 2016 campaign. Kelce is the anti-Gronk in terms of durability. He has not missed a game in three seasons. Kelce led tight ends last year with 1,125 receiving yards and was second at the position in receptions with 85. While Kelce has fostered a wonderful chemistry with K.C. quarterback Alex Smith, will his numbers be helped or hurt if/when rookie Patrick Mahomes becomes the starting signal caller?

 

Tier 2

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

Reed is as injury-prone as Gronkowski and possibly even more of a risk due to the cavalcade of concussions he has suffered. One more might end his career, so fantasy owners have to consider that when making their draft lists. If he remains healthy, though, Reed and his receiver-like talent can rack up 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Olsen finished second in yards and fourth in receptions among tight ends in 2016.  He has not missed a game in nine years and has had three consecutive 1,000-yard years. Olsen is 32 years old but is showing no signs of slowing down.  Graham has not possessed the same explosiveness and has not been as big of a fantasy factor since being shipped to Seattle two years ago. Not sure if his age, his cranky knee or Russell Wilson is to blame for his slide in production, but fantasy owners would still be satisfied with another 900-yard, six-score season.

 

Tier 3

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

Walker is a grizzled veteran who waited until later in his career to reach his prime. He has averaged 74 catches and 926 yards over the past three seasons and should be counted on for another similar season as long as passer Marcus Mariota rebounds from his broken leg. Ertz could become a Tier 1 TE this year if the final five games of his 2016 season are an indication of his future fantasy worth (40 receptions for 443 yards and three touchdowns).  Eifert has scored 18 touchdowns in 21 games over the past two seasons and is Andy Dalton’s No. 2 target in Cincinnati, but he has missed 26 games during the past three years and is as reliable as a deadbeat dad is to make his child support payments.  Henry tied for most touchdowns among tight ends with eight during his rookie season and could become a top-5 fantasy TE once Antonio Gates bows out and allows Henry more opportunities to score and shine with QB Philip Rivers.

 

Tier 4

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers

Rudolph is due for a fantasy comedown after being targeted a career-high 132 times (never had more than 93 in his five prior seasons). Bennett might be the luckiest tight end in football since Tom Brady was his QB last season and Aaron Rodgers will be his QB this season. 60 grabs, 700 yards and seven scores are reasonable numbers for the veteran to post in Green Bay.

 

Tier 5

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans

Doyle will be Indy’s top tight end now that Dwayne Allen has moved on to New England. If Andrew Luck is ready to roll Week 1, Doyle could be a sleeper who gives lucky fantasy owners 800 yards and eight touchdowns. Ebron’s numbers have improved each season he has been in the league, yet he has still been underwhelming in fantasy circles (one TD in 2016). 2017 is a make-or-break season for him. After being a fantasy flop in Jacksonville for two seasons, Thomas is reunited in Miami with Adam Gase, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator when Thomas had back-to-back 12-TD seasons in 2014-15. Ryan Tannehill’s torn ACL does Thomas no favors, though. Hooper showed flashes of brilliance during his rookie season, and we all know how much Atlanta QB Matt Ryan loves throwing to his tight ends after all the times he aimed at Tony Gonzalez during his career. It is amazing that Fiedorowicz put up the solid numbers he did last year (54 rec., 559 yds., 4 TD) since scattershot Brock Osweiler was the one passing to him. Rookie Deshaun Watson or Tom Savage should make Fiedorowicz an even better fantasy find.

 

Tier 6

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints

Witten keeps on catching passes even though he joined the NFL back when Avril Lavigne had the hottest hits on the radio. Expecting more than 600 yards and four touchdowns out of him at this stage is a stretch, but Witten having his 14th straight year of 60-plus receptions is not. Brate shocked the fantasy world by hauling in eight touchdown tosses in 2016, but his fantasy growth will be stunted since Tampa Bay drafted Howard in the first round. With top target Mike Evans needing a dozen passes thrown his way each week, Brate and Howard might cancel out each other’s fantasy value. Fleener has had Andrew Luck and Drew Brees as his quarterbacks during his five-year career, yet he has only had one above-average season.

 

Tier 7

Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills

Miller is a risk because with Chicago rebuilding and due to Miller’s age and contract, he may not fit into the Bears’ future plans. James, on the other hand, should have a bright immediate future as Ben Roethlisberger’s top tight end in Pittsburgh since “Big Ben” loves looking for his tight ends in the red zone. Now that Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods are on the Los Angeles Rams roster, Buffalo QB Tyrod Taylor might have no choice but to throw to the underwhelming Clay due to his lack of options.

 

Tier 8

Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers
Maxx Williams, Baltimore Ravens

Father Time is finally catching up to Gates after 14 grueling NFL seasons. Once Gates breaks the all-time touchdowns record for tight ends (currently tied with Tony Gonzalez at 111), look for aforementioned upstart Hunter Henry to phase Gates out of the offense. Williams might not be ready for the start of the season after undergoing offseason knee surgery, so fantasy owners will have to keep tabs on him during training camp before writing his name on their cheat sheets.

 

Updated Tiered Rankings and Analysis


Check out all of RotoBaller's 2017 fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.