Standard Rankings Analysis - Tight Ends

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

With the NFL fantasy drafts approaching and the calendar flipping to August, it is close to crunch time for fantasy owners to get their research done. Grouped below are tight ends with a brief summary on each individual and what to expect for this upcoming season.

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 draft.

Provided below are several tiers of tight ends, including 19 players at the position. Each player is briefly covered to help fantasy owners decide on which players to buy and which players to fade in upcoming fantasy drafts.

Editor's note: Purchase an NFL Premium Pass (including 150 days of DFS), and get MLB Premium for free! Whoa. Check out our NFL and MLB Premium tools, and crush your leagues. Sign Up Now!

 

2017 Tight End Tiered Rankings (Standard)

Tier 1

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

Like usual, Gronk is in a tier of his own at the tight end position. The interesting thing is that he's not part of Tier 1 when you combine players of all positions. Injury concerns and a suddenly very crowded pass-catching corps in New England following the offseason acquisition of Brandin Cooks takes some of the luster off of one of the greatest fantasy tight ends of all time. Add in reports that Gronk could be on a "pitch count" this season and his second round ADP is looking a bit pricey, although if he slips into the third round he could wind up being a steal.

 

Tier 2

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

So goes the nature of the tight end position. Following a down year at the position, we wind up with another one-man tier. Kelce finally broke out in 2016, posting his first career 1,000-yard season and also reeling in a career-high 85 passes. He finished as the top overall scoring tight end in 2016. That being said, he only found the end zone four times as the Chiefs offense will continue to have its upside capped while Alex Smith is the starting quarterback. Kelce is a solid, safe option going off draft boards in the fourth round but he's another player who has a hard to justify price tag considering the running backs and wide receivers available around that time of the draft.

 

Tier 3

1. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
2. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

Olsen and Reed round out the next group of fantasy tight ends. Reed is one of, if not the most, talented tight ends in the game from purely a pass-catching standpoint, but his injury concerns are scary. Already beset with a litany of concussion concerns, Reed is dealing with a toe injury which has reportedly been dogging him since the end of the 2016 season. Reed has missed 18 total games over the past four seasons and is a strong fade at this point unless his ADP plummets to a less risky round. Olsen shapes up as one of the better values as far as the "name brand" tight ends go. He has as much upside as anyone going ahead of him, outside of maybe Gronk, but can be selected in the sixth round. Olsen operates as one of Cam Newton's favorite targets and should benefit from a retooled Carolina offense.

 

Tier 4

1. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
2. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
3. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

Graham enjoyed a surprising, resurgent season after tearing his patellar tendon in 2015. The Seahawks offense was a popular pick to take a step forward in 2016 but Russell Wilson's season-long ankle injury combined with a porous offensive line torpedoed those hopes. With Wilson fully healthy, look for the Seattle offense to take a step forward and for Graham to post a solid TE1 season. He's a great mid-round tight end to target if you don't want to spend a high pick but also don't want to wait until the end of the draft to fill the position. Eifert is another injury concern at the position but entered training camp 100%, at least according to him. One of the most dominant red zone pass catchers in the league, he's a candidate to lead all tight ends in touchdowns scored if he puts in a full 16 games. Walker is a tough player to predict. He has been a great TE1 over the past few seasons but he all of a sudden has a lot of competition for targets with Tennessee drafting Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor and signing Eric Decker. Look for Walker to finish more as a low-end TE1 as opposed to a mid-TE1 this year.

 

Tier 5

1. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Rudolph is one of the best tight end values in fantasy drafts this season. Depending on your league scoring, Rudolph finished 2016 as either the second or third overall scorer at the position. The Vikings offense should run smoother this season with Sam Bradford having a full year in purple and yellow under his belt and Pat Shurmur having a full offseason to install his offense after taking over play-calling midway through the 2016 season. The short passing attack of the West Coast scheme that Shurmur likes to run benefits tight ends who run short and intermediate routes such as Rudolph. Look for a solid encore from Rudolph in 2017.

 

Tier 6

1. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
2. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
3. Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers

Ertz just put the finishing touches on his best season, setting a career high in catches, tying his career mark with four touchdowns, and posting 816 yards, his second-best total. Granted the stats aren't quite as impressive but Ertz makes for an interesting arbitrage play off of Travis Kelce at a six-round discount. Ebron is one of the most popular breakout candidates at any position this season. The departure of red zone target hog Anquan Boldin should open up more scoring opportunities for Ebron. Just keep in mind he's never been a big touchdown scorer, going back to his college days at North Carolina where he scored just eight touchdowns in three seasons. For that reason, he's not as enticing an option in standard leagues as he is in PPR. Bennett offers an opportunity to get a piece of the dominant Green Bay passing game without spending the draft capital it takes to lock up Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams. He can be had at the same time as Ebron in fantasy drafts. He will likely see a lesser target share but could be more efficient than Ebron with his opportunities.

 

Tier 7

1. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
2. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Henry still might not be the clear-cut starter on his own team with Antonio Gates coming back for another season. Henry also scored eight touchdowns on just 36 receptions in 2016, an unsustainable scoring rate that will not repeat in 2017. Even if he overtakes Gates as the primary tight end, he will still be splitting targets with a future Hall of Famer. There are better options than Henry out there. Brate's stock isn't hurt by the drafting of O.J. Howard as much as you think. Howard is a great blocker, something that Brate does not do well. Look for Brate to continue to operate as the team's move tight end while Howard does the blocking. More concerning than Howard being in Tampa Bay is the crowded group of pass catchers.

 

Tier 8

1. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
2. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
3. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4. Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
5. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
6. Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers

This is the tier for the drafters who prefer to wait on the position. All of these players are currently coming off the board in rounds 15 or 16 of fantasy drafts. It would be wise to exercise caution on Doyle. A lot of fantasy owners have high hopes for him but there's reason for concern. First, Andrew Luck is still working his way back from shoulder surgery and may not be ready for the start of the season. Scott Tolzien throwing to Doyle is not a recipe for fantasy success. Even when Luck is back, Doyle will have competition from Erik Swoope for tight end targets. Fiedorowicz turned in a decent season in 2016 and is worth taking a shot on in the late rounds if you plan on streaming the position.

Taking Howard is not recommended in redraft. He is an elite tight end prospect but tight ends rarely make an impact in their rookie season. Fleener was a popular breakout candidate in 2016, his first with the Saints. He and Drew Brees struggled to get on the same page, but keep in mind he's catching passes from one of the greatest fantasy quarterbacks of all time. That's enough to make him a solid selection in the 16th round of drafts. A thinned-out Saints receiving corps may be all Fleener needs to make a fantasy impact.

Witten doesn't score many touchdowns, which brings down his appeal in standard leagues, but he never misses games and is fine as a floor play at the position. Pair him with a high-upside sleeper at the position and play the matchups. Gates, a sure-thing first ballot future Hall of Famer, comes back for one more season. Coming off a season where he scored seven touchdowns in 14 games, Gates is another player like Witten with a solid floor. Just based on red zone work alone, he could outscore teammate Hunter Henry and is coming off the board four rounds later than the second-year tight end.

 

More 2017 Fantasy Football & ADP 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.