2016 Fantasy Football rankings: Tight Ends

The tight end position can make or break your fantasy football season. I try to pick a player who gets a) 4-6 targets per game, and b) is an option in the “red zone”. There is one super star in Gronkowski–then there are the rest.

1. Rob Gronkowski- Puts up WR numbers year in and year out. Where do you take Gronk? Last year I targeted him, and got him early in the 2nd round. He is a nice player but is a little bit of a gamble. If you don’t get 1000 yards and 10+ TDs, the pick is kind of a waste.

2. Greg Olsen- Safer pick–especially for where you will draft him. Solid production. Often times Cam Newton’s primary target. Durable. Consistent. Will probably be around in the late 3rd, or 4th rounds in 10 team drafts.

3. Jordan Reed- Kirk Cousins looks like he is the “real deal” at QB for the Redskins. Regardless, Reed has been a steady target no matter who the QB has been in Washtington. That is as long as he is on the field. As long as he is healthy and in the lineup, there are few TEs who are more explosive in the passing game.

4. Travis Kelce- Kelce emerged as an elite pass catching tight end a couple seasons ago. He is often the primary or at worst, the secondary receiver for Alex Smith.

5. Julius Thomas- Thomas had some real good production in Denver with Peyton Manning. He has battle injuries though, pretty much his whole career. Can be dynamic in the passing game at times. Started off his career in Jacksonville on the PUP list with a broken thumb. Eventually got in the lineup and was productive later in the season. Bortles likes to go deep, and as such, usually is looking for Robinson or Hurns. At best Julius is a 3rd target. Still not bad for a TE. Should get red zone looks.

6. Gary Barnidge- Odd to say a 30 year old player “came out of nowhere”, but that’s exactly what Barnidge did in 2015. He put up 1000 yards and 9 TDs and pretty much made his case as a top fantasy TE. If RG3 gets even 60% of his rookie form back, Barnidge could easily repeat those numbers. Should be at worst the #2 target for Cleveland this year.

7. Jared Cook- Cook has been a very steady receiver the last 4 years in both Tennessee and St. Louis. He has probably had a half dozen QBs over that time. Pairing him up with Aaron Rodgers could be a lot like when Wes Welker went to work with a guy named Tom Brady. Cook has never had an Elite QB. Should be interesting.

8. Delanie Walker- Emerged as a very decent fantasy TE late in his career with the 49ers. He hit free agency and went to Tennessee. After going through a couple QBs, he now has an up and coming player in Marcus Mariota and showed what he can really do. 1000 yards and 6 TDs in 2015. Should expand on that a little as Marcus gets more comfortable in season 2.

9. Coby Fleener- Fleener is another one of those enigmas. Looked like he would be a perennial Pro-Bowler, but his production dropped off in 2015. Most of that was due to horrible offensive line, and Andrew Luck’s eventual sideline due to injury. Drops too many balls to be considered “elite”, but should get his fair share of targets in New Orleans. That is if Drew stays upright, and has time to throw.

10. Jimmy Graham- A couple years back Graham and Gronkowski were all the rage. Injury and a trade to Seattle slowed down the Graham train a little. I think he still has a lot of tread left on the tires though. Only question is will he develop the chemistry he had with Drew Brees back in New Orleans? Wilson blossomed in the passing game when Graham went down in 2015.

11. Jason Witten- The venerable tight end just keeps on trucking. He doesn’t have the speed he had in his first 5-6 years, but is as crafty as ever. He gets open. Even with Romo down, he should get his share of targets. The tight end is usually the QBs “best friend”, and Dak Prescott looks like he will take advantage of that.

12. Martellus Bennett- Bennett is an interesting player. Games 1-8, puts up top 5 tight end numbers. Games 9-16, pretty much disappears. Might be different with Brady as his passer.

 

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