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Regular Season, Updated: 9/3/18

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Legend:   Upside = Upside   Risk = Risk   ADP = Average Draft Position
FF Today Standard Scoring: Review Scoring
 Rob Gronkowski, NE (Bye: 11)
1
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 265   DOB: 1989-05-14   Age: 29
College: Arizona   Draft: 2010 Round 2 (10) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015NE1572 1,176 11 183.6 12.2
2016NE825 540 3 72.0 9.0
2017NE1369 1,083 8 156.3 12.0
2018 (Projected)NE 81 1,140 9 168.0  

Outlook: Gronkowski is the definition of a league-winning player when healthy and arguably the most dominant player to ever play the tight end position. With five seasons of double-digit touchdowns, including a career-high 17 in 2011, Gronk delivers elite wide receiver numbers at a shallow position filled with few competitors.

At just 29 years of age, Gronk presumably has multiple years left as an elite tight end as he continues to build his resume for Canton. But injuries continue to plague the former Arizona Wildcat star who managed to play in just 21 combined games over the past two seasons.

A conventional narrative in the fantasy industry is owners should try to be one of the first to draft a tight end or one of the last, with the pool of players in the middle of the group indiscernible from their peers. As the consensus top-ranked tight end, Gronk possesses a unique ability to win a week on his own and a player who is worth the risk as a second round pick. But owners who draft Gronkowski should have a viable replacement for the weeks in which the outspoken TE is out with an injury.


 Travis Kelce, KC (Bye: 12)
2
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 260   DOB: 1989-10-05   Age: 28
College: Cincinnati   Draft: 2013 Round 3 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015KC1672 875 5 117.5 7.3
2016KC1685 1,125 4 136.0 8.5
2017KC1583 1,038 8 152.5 10.2
2018 (Projected)KC 87 1,056 7 147.6  

Outlook: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce sat out Week 17 of the 2017 season but still managed to post career highs in both targets and receiving touchdowns. That allowed him to finish as the highest-scoring PPR tight end in fantasy football for the second straight season, trailing only Rob Gronkowski in standard scoring formats.

There's no question that Kelce is one of the biggest difference makers that can be found in fantasy football. While the tight end position doesn't score as many points as other positions, the gap between the elite tier of tight ends and the rest of the pack looks like a giant chasm, and there's a real case to be made that Kelce should be the top tight end selected in fantasy drafts. The top quarterbacks score substantially more points than the top tight ends do but the difference between the top quarterbacks and the mid-level quarterbacks is nowhere near what it is at the tight end position. That's why Kelce is being considered by many experts to be a strong option in the third round of fantasy drafts this season.

Not only is Kelce among the most durable options at the position, he's still in his physical prime and he's coming off of back-to-back monster seasons. While Zach Ertz and Rob Gronkowski are both considered to be in the same tier as Kelce, those players have some question mark's as Ertz hasn't yet put together a 1,000-yard season and Gronkowski has a long injury history. That's not to say that Kelce is completely without risk, however. While he'll be in the same offensive system, a move from the tight end-friendly Alex Smith to a big-armed gunslinger like Patrick Mahomes might not be as smooth of a transition as fantasy owners want to believe. The old "tight ends are the safety valve for young quarterbacks" cliche is mostly a false narrative and Mahomes has great pass catching options practically no matter where he looks in this offense. Still, Kelce is the most seasoned playmaker in this offense and the Chiefs will almost certainly look to continue to feed him the ball from a schematic standpoint.

It will take time for Kelce to develop the type of familiarity with Mahomes that he had with Smith but at a position that severely lacks depth this season, Kelce looks like about as much of a can't-miss player as is possible at tight end. The projected point totals don't look as high as the elite running backs, wide receivers or especially quarterbacks, but Kelce could give his owners a gigantic point differential over the competition at the tight end position. If you find yourself not liking the running backs and receivers available to you in round three, don't hesitate to pull the trigger on Kelce. If nothing else, you'll have one fewer lineup decision headache each week.


 Zach Ertz, PHI (Bye: 9)
3
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 252   DOB: 1990-12-10   Age: 27
College: Stanford   Draft: 2013 Round 2 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015PHI1575 853 2 97.3 6.5
2016PHI1478 816 4 105.6 7.5
2017PHI1474 824 8 130.4 9.3
2018 (Projected)PHI 75 845 6 120.5  

Outlook: As the No.1 receiving threat (Sorry Alshon, but the numbers don't lie) in an Eagles offense that ranked third in points scored last season, Zach Ertz firmly staked his claim as one of the best fantasy tight ends in the business last year.

Only Travis Kelce average more targets per game and only Jimmy Graham finished with more receiving touchdowns than Ertz, who despite the addition of Alshon Jeffery, was clearly the favorite target of quarterback Carson Wentz.

Perhaps most attractive about Ertz is his usage and efficiency in the red zone, an area of the field in which Ertz had yet to exploit before last season. In 2017, Ertz ranked third among tight ends in red zone targets and tied for first on the Eagles with Nelson Agholor (18 targets). He caught 12 of his 18 red zone targets for eight touchdowns, effectively ending the narrative that the former Stanford Cardinal could not be a touchdown scoring tight end.


 Evan Engram, NYG (Bye: 9)
4
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 234   DOB: 1994-09-02   Age: 24
College: Mississippi   Draft: 2017 Round 1 (23) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2017NYG1564 722 6 109.6 7.3
2018 (Projected)NYG 60 716 5 101.6  

Outlook: The Giants used the No. 23 pick in the 2017 NFL draft to take Evan Ingram, a pass-catching tight end out of Mississippi who projected to be more of a big-bodied wide receiver than a traditional tight end. Injuries to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard opened the door for Engram to make his mark quickly with the Giants, as the former Rebel led the team in catches, targets, and receiving touchdowns.

As one would expect from a young player playing in his first season, not all was rosy for Ingram, who managed to catch just 56% of the balls thrown his way. Engram dropped a team-high six balls last season, as he failed at times to be on the same page with Eli Manning.

Despite his shortcomings, Engram finished the year as the No.4 tight end in fantasy points per game, behind Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz. With tight end projecting to be one of the more shallow positions in fantasy for 2018, Engram enters the year as a consensus top-5 pick even though both Beckham Jr. and Shepard are once again healthy and will consume a large percentage of Eli Manning's targets.

Concerning pecking order, it is safe to assume that ODB will command the lion's share of targets in the passing option, and rookie running back sensation Saquon Barkley will garner his fair share of targets out of the backfield. With targets a being a finite commodity, it would not be surprising to see Engram not reach the 115 targets he enjoyed in 2017. However, if he can improve on his low catch percentage, reduce the number of drops, and catch between six and ten touchdowns, look for Engram to once again finish as a top 5 tight end.


 Delanie Walker, TEN (Bye: 8)
5
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 242   DOB: 1984-08-12   Age: 34
College: -   Draft: 2006 Round 6 (6) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015TEN1594 1,088 6 148.4 9.9
2016TEN1565 800 7 123.1 8.2
2017TEN1674 807 3 104.5 6.5
2018 (Projected)TEN 61 713 5 101.3  

Outlook: Delanie Walker is the epitome of a safe tight end play. Despite his age, Walker continues to be one of the highest targeted players at the position and maintains the most reliable option for Marcus Mariota. 2017 was Walker's 4th straight season with at least 800 receiving yards and he ranked 3rd in the NFL in targets for a TE and 4th in receiving yards. The lack of touchdowns (3) capped his fantasy upside but he maintained consistent value without scoring and was one of the few non-TD dependent TEs. If 6 fantasy points is the baseline target for the position, Walker exceeded that threshold 9 times during the season.

At some point, age will catch up to the 33 year old, but as long as he's a major part of the offense, he's going to have serious value at a weak position. Walker was surpassed in scoring by five others at the position, but only out targeted by two. Assuming his targets remain, there should be an expectation that his TDs return to the 6 or 7 range. If that's the case, he'll jump right back into the top 5 by season's end.


 Jimmy Graham, GB (Bye: 7)
6
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 260   DOB: 1986-11-24   Age: 31
College: -   Draft: 2010 Round 3 (31) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015SEA1148 605 2 72.5 6.6
2016SEA1665 923 6 128.3 8.0
2017SEA1657 520 10 112.0 7.0
2018 (Projected)GB 52 516 7 93.6  

Outlook: Despite finishing as the 4th ranked standard league tight end, Jimmy Graham looked terrible at times last year. In a Seattle offense that couldn't run the ball, Graham was the goal line back, racking up 10 touchdowns, most of which came inside the 5-yard line. Impressive as 10 scores is, that's about all that Graham provided his fantasy owners last year. He failed to top 72 yards in any game, and was truly dismal from Weeks 14-16 where he totaled 2 yards. His 9.1 yards per reception was by far the lowest of his career, and it seems his speed and separation ability has been totally sapped by age and injury. Graham provides very little outside the 20-yard line, and will again be severely touchdown dependent. By the simple fact he's playing with yet another Hall of Fame level quarterback, Graham is a pretty good bet for a top-10 finish at his position, but after having to endure his maddening production last year myself, I'd personally look for tight end options with more upside/consistency.


 Greg Olsen, CAR (Bye: 4)
7
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 255   DOB: 1985-03-11   Age: 33
College: -   Draft: 2007 Round 1 (31) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015CAR1677 1,104 7 152.4 9.5
2016CAR1680 1,073 3 125.3 7.8
2017CAR717 191 1 25.1 3.6
2018 (Projected)CAR 56 656 4 89.6  

Outlook: Olsen's Week 3 injury derailed any chance for a productive season. His return from the broken foot likely hurt fantasy owners because he never fully recovered as a fantasy asset, but his ability to play is a positive for 2018. Olsen has been the safety blanket option for Cam Newton and his return should bring production.

Some owners may feel burned by Olsen after using an early selection on the tight end, but injury shouldn't be a major concern. 2017 was with first time he's missed a game since his 2007 rookie year. Olsen's target volume makes him one of the safer options at a thin position and if he's passed on for riskier options, he's a major value. Because of his proven production, his should be considered after the "big three" at the position (Gonk, Kelce, Ertz) and if he slips in favor of players like Jimmy Graham or Evan Engram, he could be a strong value for drafters.


 Trey Burton, CHI (Bye: 5)
8
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 235   DOB: 1991-10-29   Age: 26
College: Florida   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015PHI33 54 0 5.4 1.8
2016PHI1437 327 1 38.7 2.8
2017PHI1123 248 5 54.8 5.0
2018 (Projected)CHI 57 665 4 90.5  

Outlook: Leaving the talent laden Eagles for a chance at consistent playing time in Chicago, Burton gives the Bears a plus athlete and route runner at a position of need in the offense. Head coach and OC Matt Nagy bring a very tight end friendly scheme to the Windy City, a system that has turned Travis Kelce into a star. Burton, the 5th year player out of Florida made the most of his starts last season filling in for the injured Zach Ertz. In the two games Ertz missed, Burton tallied 112 yards and three scores. The Eagle offense is a hybrid of the system Nagy ran in Kansas City (from the Andy Reid coaching tree) so you know that Burton is guaranteed to be a big part of the weekly game plan. He has the size and speed to be a match-up problem, and he has a young quarterback that can and will work the middle of the field. Because you can see the breakout from a mile away, it would be a major disappointment if Burton isn't a top-12 tight end this season. He's a great bet to surpass his career totals during his first year in Chicago, and this is a fantasy position worth gambling on upside.


 Kyle Rudolph, MIN (Bye: 10)
9
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 259   DOB: 1989-11-09   Age: 28
College: Notre Dame   Draft: 2011 Round 2 (11) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015MIN1649 495 5 79.5 5.0
2016MIN1683 840 7 126.0 7.9
2017MIN1657 532 8 101.2 6.3
2018 (Projected)MIN 53 549 6 90.9  

Outlook: Because of improved line play and more consistent running game, Rudolph was a much smaller part of the passing offense in 2017. He remained strong in the scoring department with 8 TDs, but precipitous drops in receptions and yardage fueled his dip in the fantasy standings amongst tight ends.

The whole position itself has taken a weird turn in recent years, being incredibly touchdown dependent. It's also been very top heavy, with the top 3 or 4 tight ends really being head and shoulders above the rest. In this offense Rudolph is the third look, as most of his chances come within 20 yards. He makes his money with solid underneath routes and dominance in the red zone, and does have a new quarterback that loved to utilize the tight end. He'll probably be good for another 50+ catches for 500+ yards and half a dozen touchdowns, unexciting numbers, but par for the course at this position. There's nothing wrong with selecting Rudolph as your TE1, but he's the kind of pick in the draft that you let come to you.


 David Njoku, CLE (Bye: 11)
10
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 246   DOB: 1996-07-10   Age: 22
College: Miami   Draft: 2017 Round 1 (29) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2017CLE1632 386 4 62.7 3.9
2018 (Projected)CLE 50 585 4 82.5  

Outlook: Raw as a 20 year-old rookie, Njoku spent much of the season splitting snaps with the more trusted Seth Devalve. On the surface the 32-386-4 line doesn't look impressive, but the fact he compiled those numbers while splitting time, as a rookie, on an 0-16 team, means there's nowhere to go but up for second year tight end. It sounds like the Browns are committing to Njoku as their primary tight end, and that should lead to more opportunities for the ultra-athletic former Hurricane to flash his ability. Tyrod Taylor worked magic with Charles Clay during his years in Buffalo, and Baker Mayfield could be an even bigger boon for his production. The combination of talent and opportunity makes Njoku one of my favorite late round picks at tight end. Don't be surprised to see Njoku take a step into the top-10 this year, and make a major fantasy splash.


 Jack Doyle, IND (Bye: 9)
11
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 253   DOB: 1990-05-05   Age: 28
College: Western Kentucky   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015IND712 72 1 13.2 1.9
2016IND1659 584 5 88.4 5.5
2017IND1580 690 4 93.0 6.2
2018 (Projected)IND 66 605 4 84.5  

Outlook: After rising to low-end TE1 prominence in 2016, Doyle followed up that season by improving his fantasy scoring despite worse quarterback play. With Brissett under center, Doyle had seven games with more than 6 fantasy points and he averaged 7.2 targets per game. However, his efficiency dipped in 2017 with the expanded role. Despite having 33 more targets, he scored 1 fewer TD and he dropped from 9.9 yards per reception to 8.6. With Luck back under center, there's hope that the team will have more scoring opportunities and that Doyle could become a primary option in the redzone.

Doyle's ADP sits at TE15 in the 13th round and with Luck back, that's a decent price for him. As a TE2 draft capital, Doyle can be used as a streaming option to mix-and-match matchups throughout the year or he can be easily discarded if his target share significantly dips. If you typically wait on the position, Doyle should be a prime target with his first two matchups being against the 13th (GB) and 6th (SEA) best matchups for TE scoring.


 Vance McDonald, PIT (Bye: 7)
12
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 260   DOB: 1990-06-13   Age: 28
College: Rice   Draft: 2013 Round 2 (25) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2015SF1330 326 3 50.6 3.9
2016SF1024 391 4 63.1 6.3
2017PIT914 188 1 24.8 2.8
2018 (Projected)PIT 51 556 4 79.6  

Outlook: This offense hasn't gotten much fantasy production from the tight end since the heyday of Heath Miller, but Vance McDonald could be the one to change that in 2018. Acquired from the 49ers late last summer, McDonald had a very slow start to his Pittsburgh career. Injuries and adjustments kept him off the field, but as the season winded up he seemed to overtake Jessie James as the Steelers' move tight end of choice, culminating in a 10-112 line in a playoff loss to Jacksonville. With a year to get comfortable with his offensive system, and quarterback, McDonald looks poised to make some noise at a difficult to predict position. While he displayed great athleticism during his time in San Fran, injuries have knocked him off track before. If your strategy is to let the top tier tight ends go off the board early, McDonald makes for an intriguing sleeper option capable of a 50-catch, 5 touchdown season.