By: Cam Farnham
Is Rob Gronkowski worth the gamble? Will a Rookie make the list? Check out my Tight End rankings.
1. Rob Gronkowski
When healthy, Rob Gronkowski is hands down the best tight end in football. Since 2010, Gronkowski has scored a total of 68 touchdowns. Although listed as a Tight End, Gronkowski has racked up numbers that could be a WR1. In the only year Gronkowski played all 16 games (2011), he put up numbers that were ridiculous. 90 catches, 1,327 yards, and 17 touchdowns. Brady has trusted Gronk since the first day he stepped on to Gillette stadium, and what better thing to happen to you then Brady’s trust. In the leagues most dominant offense, Gronkowski will once again be in the center of it all. The big question is can you trust him to stay healthy? Is he worth the gamble? The answer to that is yes. Whether he plays 16 or 6 games, Gronkowski will continue to be the red zone target for the Patriots. I would rather have 6 games of Gronkowski then a full season of a lot of tight ends.
2. Greg Olsen
In a down year for the Panthers, Olsen finished 2nd in tight end receiving yards with 1,073. Although he did not reach the end zone as much as fantasy owners would have liked (3), he ranked 2nd in targets per game (8.06), and 3rd in catches per game (5). Cam Newton and the Panthers are going to get things going and it all starts with the potential Hall of Famer Greg Olsen. I expect the Panthers to bounce back, and for Cam Newton to have another “Ham Cam” like season.
3. Travis Kelce
Some might think Kelce should be higher on the list, and he absolutely could be. Based off of the season Kelce has last year, he is considered a top 3 tight end in all of football. With his 70.31 receiving yards per game, he ranked 1st in the NFL among tight ends. Along with that, he finished the league with 1,125 yards which also was the league leader. Showing that he can stay on the field, he has not missed a game in where he suited up in his career. One thing that worries me is who is throwing him the ball. Is it going to be Alex Smith, or the rookie Patrick Mahomes. Although the Chiefs have openly stated Smith is absolutely the starter, they seemed very excited in their 1st round draft pick in Mahomes. The inconsistent Smith worries me, which is why Kelce falls to number 3.
4. Jordan Reed
Washington has gotten the beast out of Jordan Reed. With his 6 touchdowns in 2016, Reed has proven to be a viable option for Kirk Cousins. With the addition of Terrelle Pryor Sr., this benefits Reed and Co to the max. As a tight end, Reed will be able to utilize the middle of the field as Pryor will maintain the outside. In just 12 games, Reed racked up almost 700 yards (686), which amounted to 57 yards a game. With 7.42 targets per game which ranked him 4th, look for Cousins to find his favorite target this year especially in the red zone.
5. Delanie Walker
With the new and improved Tennessee offense, Delanie Walker is in for a career year. With 7 touchdowns last year (2nd in NFL), Walker was the best offensive option for Marcus Mariota and the Titans. With an established run game featuring the two-headed monster of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, the Titans show a balanced offense with one of the rising stars in the league in Quarterback Marcus Mariota. Look for Walker to creep towards the double-digit touchdown mark.
6. Jimmy Graham
The Seahawks have been one of the most successful teams the past 3 years, and look to make it back to the Super Bowl and it all starts with their most prized offensive possesion not named Russell, Jimmy Graham. When healthy, Graham is a force to be reckoned with compiling 923 yards on 65 catches and 6 touchdowns. One thing that Graham does well is catch the ball down the field. Graham ranked 2nd in yards per reception with 14.2 with a minimum of 10 games played. If Russell Wilson can find a groove as I expect him to, Graham will be one of the most dominant tight ends in the NFL.
7. Tyler Eifert
In a team that hasn’t had this much talent on paper going into 2017, the Bengals look to improve and compete in the tough AFC North. With a healthy A.J. Green, Eifert’s targets will decrease, but with the attention number 18 will attract, Eifert will have his looks in the red zone. In 8 games played, Eifert racked up 394 yards and 5 touchdowns. While these stats might seem un appealing, the potential for Eifert is through the roof. In just 2015, Eifert racked up 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. It is easy to see that Eifert is the main red zone target while Green attracts a corner-back and a safety. Look for the Bengals offense to become more dangerous behind Andy Dalton.
8. Zach Ertz
In his best season as a pro, Ertz ranked 4th in receiving yards per game with 58.29. With all this coming in just 14 games, he managed to score 4 times, while receiving for 816 yards. In an offense that looks to be much improved with newly acquired wide out Alshon Jeffery, pressure is taken off of Ertz’s plate. Look for the connection between Wentz and Ertz to be strong than ever, in a much-improved offense.
9. O.J. Howard
In one of the most exciting young offenses, O.J. Howard looks to fit right in, and make an immediate impact. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Howard in the first round after he was a standout at the University of Alabama. With Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Doug Martin, look for Howard to get single coverage most of the year. With someone of his stature (6’6 242 lbs) and athleticism (4.51 40 yard dash), Howard presents a mismatch to almost any defensive back in the NFL. I believe Howard will easily be a top 10 tight end option in all fantasy formatted leagues.
10. Kyle Rudolph
With an incredible 8.25 targets per game which led all tight ends, Rudolph is an obvious top option for the Minnesota Vikings. Rudolph ranked in the top 10 in all tight end receiving categories such as 9th in receiving yards per game (52.5), 4th in catches per game (5.19), and 2nd in receiving touchdowns with 7. Alongside Stefon Diggs, Rudolph is the only reliable option for Quarterback Sam Bradford. Look for Rudolph to mimic the year he had in 2016.