Happy Fourth of July week, y’all! And if you’re reading this from Canada or somewhere else, well…Happy Tuesday! It’s the most gruelingly slow part of the sports year, but the homestretch is in sight; NFL training camps begin in just over three weeks! Well, anyway, we’re not there yet, so it’s time for another round of too-early fantasy rankings. This week, we’ll take a look at the most boring, frustrating position in fantasy football: the tight ends!
- Rob Gronkowski
Rumors of his Gronkowski’s demise (well, retirement) turned out to be overblown and he’ll be back for another season as fantasy’s top tight end option. While his days of being a borderline first-round pick are in the past, Gronkowski should still go in the first three rounds in most formats.
- Travis Kelce
I’m as big of a believer in Patrick Mahomes as you’ll find anywhere. If Mahomes were to succeed, it would obviously bode well for Kelce. Young quarterbacks do love their security blankets, and Mahomes has much more ‘gunslinger’ to him than the conservative Alex Smith, so Kelce could be in for a big year.
- Zach Ertz
Ertz and Carson Wentz established a special connection last season, hooking up for seven touchdowns in their 11 games together. Wentz’s health will be something to keep an eye on, but as long as he’s healthy, he’ll be looking to his favorite target often. Ertz has always been a high-volume receiver, and his touchdown production jumped to match that last season.
- Jimmy Graham
Graham has had quite the lucky draw of quarterbacks in his career. He found enormous success early in his career with Drew Brees, but his production fell off in recent years with Russell Wilson throwing him the ball. Which way will his production head with Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback of the three? My guess would be somewhere in the middle, which should excite fantasy owners.
- Evan Engram
Engram had a very solid rookie season for the hapless Giants in 2017, hauling in 64 passes for 722 yards and six scores in 15 games. As long as Eli Manning holds up, the addition of Saquon Barkley to spearhead the running game will open up the play action game for the G-men. Engram is likely to be one of the main beneficiaries of Barkley’s presence. A 1,000-yard, double-digit touchdown season is within reach.
- Trey Burton
Burton landed in an exciting spot as Chicago’s young offense is headlined by promising sophomore QB Mitchell Trubisky and rock-solid running back Jordan Howard. With the addition of Burton and Allen Robinson, the Bears’ offense should open up in 2018. ‘Da Bears’ gave Burton a $35 million contract, so it’s safe to say they plan to make good use of his talents.
- Kyle Rudolph
Always a touchdown-dependent fantasy asset, Rudolph got a quarterback upgrade (or did he?) when the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins this spring. The running game should be better with a full season of Dalvin Cook, as well. If you’re looking for steady week-to-week production, Rudolph might not be your guy, but he’ll certainly win you some games.
- Greg Olsen
Olsen had an awful 2017 in which he just didn’t look himself. A broken foot hampered his campaign, as he averaged just two catches and 27 yards per game, all while scoring just once in seven games. I’m not writing him off entirely just yet, but this is certainly a case of ‘buyers beware’.
- Delanie Walker
Remember when I said Kyle Rudolph might not be your guy if you like steady, consistent production? Well, if that’s the case, Walker might be the player for you. He might not score a lot of touchdowns, but he’s a target and yardage hog (at least 100 and 800, respectively, in each of the last four seasons).
- Jack Doyle
Doyle, who used to be known as primarily a blocking tight end, enjoyed his first Pro Bowl season in 2017, with 80 catches for 690 yards and four touchdowns. With Andrew Luck hopeful to return in 2018, Doyle’s prospects should seem brighter. However, as the team signed Eric Ebron this offseason, fantasy owners should keep an eye on the training camp battle between the Ebron and Doyle.
- O.J. Howard
Howard’s rookie season came with both disappointment and promise; he averaged a stellar 16.6 yards per reception and scored six times, but saw just 26 receptions on 39 targets. This ranking might be a bit bold, but Howard possesses some of the most unique physical tools of any player at the position.
- Jordan Reed
I’ll keep this short and sweet. We all know how good Reed can be when he’s healthy, but he can’t be counted on to play in more than 10 games in a season. If you draft him, just make sure to grab Vernon Davis with one of your later picks.
The TE2’s/Flex plays*
(Note: this is not an recommendation to ever, unless the circumstances are dire, play a tight end in your flex position)
- Tyler Eifert
- David Njoku
- George Kittle
- Charles Clay
- Benjamin Watson
- Jared Cook
- Hayden Hurst
- Cameron Brate
- Austin Hooper
- Vance McDonald
- Mike Gesicki
- Stephen Anderson
Do you agree with my rankings? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I’ll be back next week with the final installment of this series, which will look at kickers and defenses. Stay cool, and Roll Armchair!