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Regular Season, Updated: 9/6/16


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 Rob Gronkowski, NE (Bye: 9)
1
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 265   DOB: 1989-05-14   Age: 27
College: Arizona   Draft: 2010 Round 2 (10) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013NE739 592 4 83.2 11.9
2014NE1582 1,124 12 184.4 12.3
2015NE1572 1,176 11 183.6 12.2
2016 (Projected)NE 77 1,121 11 178.1  

Outlook: Rob Gronkowski has become Tom Brady’s most trusted and most effective weapon in the passing game, and is clearly the consensus top ranked fantasy tight end. Gronk is one of the true difference makers in fantasy football based on his value relative to the other players at his position and will be chosen in the first round or early second round in almost all fantasy football drafts. In 15 games last season he put up a 72-1176-11 stat line and other than being an injury risk due to his physical style, he’s about as safe as any player that one will be deciding upon on draft day.


 Jordan Reed, WAS (Bye: 9)
2
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 243   DOB: 1990-07-03   Age: 26
College: Florida   Draft: 2013 Round 3 (23) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013WAS945 499 3 69.7 7.7
2014WAS1150 465 0 46.5 4.2
2015WAS1487 952 11 161.2 11.5
2016 (Projected)WAS 85 1,008 7 142.8  

Outlook: Jordan Reed finished the season as No.2 ranked fantasy tight end (87-952-11) even though he missed two games. Injuries have always been an issue for the explosive Reed. He’s missed 14 games in his first three seasons in the league and he’s already missed the team’s minicamp after suffering an ankle injury this pre-season. At 6’2” 237, he’s the classic mismatch new breed of tight end, being too big and strong for safeties and too fast for linebackers to cover. Despite his injury history, which included multiple concussions, the team rewarded him with a five-year $46.5 million extension which includes $22 million in guaranteed money. While risky, his playoff performance against the Packers, catching 9 balls for 120 yards and a score shows how valuable he is to this offense and Kirk Cousins’ development. If he stays healthy, he should continue his dominance on the field and in the fantasy rankings for the tight end position. The risk-adverse may not want to pay the price tag on draft day despite the tangible upside.


 Greg Olsen, CAR (Bye: 7)
3
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 255   DOB: 1985-03-11   Age: 32
College: -   Draft: 2007 Round 1 (31) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013CAR1673 816 6 117.6 7.4
2014CAR1684 1,008 6 136.8 8.6
2015CAR1677 1,104 7 152.4 9.5
2016 (Projected)CAR 72 904 7 132.4  

Outlook: The loss of Kelvin Benjamin (ACL) certainly helped Olsen accrue career-best receiving yard numbers. The sure-handed tight end has grown to become one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets. He is one of the NFL’s best at converting third downs remains one of the most consistent fantasy tight ends as he enters his tenth year in the league. The 31-year old veteran should age gracefully over the next few years but it would be wise to cap his ceiling off near his three-year average. His advancing age also makes him more likely to miss his first game since his rookie season. Ed Dickson signed a three-year deal last off season and provides the team with another veteran at the position. Beau Sandland was a 2016 draftee of the Panthers. He is a project with good size and athleticism for the position but will need to develop for a few years before becoming fantasy relevant.


 Travis Kelce, KC (Bye: 5)
4
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 260   DOB: 1989-10-05   Age: 27
College: Cincinnati   Draft: 2013 Round 3 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2014KC1667 862 5 116.2 7.3
2015KC1672 875 5 117.5 7.3
2016 (Projected)KC 68 836 6 119.6  

Outlook: Travis Kelce was one of, if not the hottest pre-season fantasy tight end heading into the 2015 season. Many believed that he was a “Gronk 2.0,” just waiting to explode into monster fantasy production. While he was good, Kelce fell far short of those expectations, leading many to consider him one of the biggest draft busts among the players who actually stayed healthy. Kelce’s 72 catches for 875 yards and five touchdowns would’ve been good enough to make him an elite fantasy tight end most seasons, but in an age where many tight ends are putting up high-end wide receiver-like numbers, what Kelce did in 2015 just wasn’t enough.

He’s still going off the board as a top five option at the position in most drafts, but there will undoubtedly be some leagues where Kelce falls further than he should due to his lackluster 2015 season. At just 26 years old, he’s still very young with plenty of upside. The Chiefs saw that this off-season when they gave him a nice contract extension, securing him for the next five years. That, along with the team not investing any sort of resources in new pass catchers, should be an indication to fantasy owners that Kansas City views Kelce as a huge player in their passing game going forward. He’s improved in each of his first three seasons as a pro and there’s little reason to believe that another improvement on his already good numbers isn’t in store.


 Coby Fleener, NO (Bye: 5)
5
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 252   DOB: 1988-09-20   Age: 28
College: Stanford   Draft: 2012 Round 2 (2) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013IND1652 608 4 84.8 5.3
2014IND1651 774 8 125.4 7.8
2015IND1654 491 3 67.1 4.2
2016 (Projected)NO 65 775 6 113.5  

Outlook: After years of frustrating fantasy owners in Indianapolis, Coby Fleener has taken his act to the bayou by inking a five-year pact with the Saints. He was never able to truly break out while sharing time with Dwayne Allen but will be the leading man for the Saints this season. A year ago, an old Ben Watson finished with the second most receptions and touchdowns in this offense. The Stanford alum provides New Orleans with more versatility and athleticism from the position. The situation is ripe for him to post career bests across the board. Consequently, fantasy owners will enter the fantasy year with renewed optimism regarding Fleener as a TE1 and make him a popular mid-round pick. Josh Hill returns after the team matched an offer sheet from the Chicago Bears. He will have trouble finding targets now that he is returning to a situational role in the offense.


 Gary Barnidge, CLE (Bye: 13)
6
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 247   DOB: 1985-09-22   Age: 31
College: Louisville   Draft: 2008 Round 5 (6) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013CLE1213 127 2 24.7 2.1
2014CLE913 156 0 15.6 1.7
2015CLE1679 1,043 9 158.3 9.9
2016 (Projected)CLE 66 778 6 113.8  

Outlook: At this time last year, only the fiercest of football fans could tell you what team Barnidge played for. If you had the foresight to draft or pick Barnidge up before the season, kudos to you, because his elite top-3 finish had to win you something. The eighth- year tight end literally came out of NOWHERE in 2015 to post some eye-popping numbers. His 79-1043-9 line for the season nearly TRIPLED his previous career TOTAL stats. Rarely does a player come along and have the type of season Barnidge had last year, especially at the grizzled age of 30. So what gives? Did the previous coaching regimes fail to recognize the talent of Barnidge? Was 2015 an amalgamation of circumstances never to be repeated? Or does Barnidge possess the talent and opportunity to repeat as top-5 tight end in 2016? This is a tremendously important question going into the fantasy season. Honestly, not much changes for Barnidge’s situation this year. He’s still the No.1 option in the passing game, his quarterback play really can’t get worse than it was last year, and despite offseason hernia surgery, he should be healthy for camp. I have to think there will be a statistical regression, simply based on defensive game plan. While he came out white hot to start the year (5 of his 9 touchdowns, and his three 100-yard games came in Weeks 1-7), he slowed up some in the second half of the year as teams recognized his value to the offense. With no receiver commanding double teams, defenses can box Barnidge in with safeties and linebackers, limiting his value between the 20’s. He still has tremendous value in the red zone, and the touchdown potential alone should help him retain mid-tier TE1 value.


 Delanie Walker, TEN (Bye: 13)
7
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 242   DOB: 1984-08-12   Age: 32
College: -   Draft: 2006 Round 6 (6) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013TEN1560 571 6 93.1 6.2
2014TEN1563 890 4 113.0 7.5
2015TEN1594 1,088 6 148.4 9.9
2016 (Projected)TEN 66 805 6 116.5  

Outlook: Delanie Walker proved once again that tight ends paired with rookie quarterbacks are a solid bet to make for fantasy owners. Of course other factors weighed in to create the perfect recipe for a 20-percent increase in targets as well. For instance, the lack of any semblance of a ground game or reliable target among the wide receivers meant that when the offense needed a first down it looked for Walker. And look for him they did as he posted career highs in receptions (94) and yardage (1088) in 2015. If things go according to plan, that won’t be the case this year. As the offense has gotten deeper and stronger, the need for Walker to be the one stop cure for every situation has been spread out-especially inside the twenty-yard line. The team now has two capable running backs to turn to when in the red zone. Additionally, the Titans would be unwise to keep DHB on the sidelines in those packages as well. All indications are pointing to more blocking and less receiving in the Titans’ ball control scheme. Be careful not to set your expectations for Walker too high in 2016 but don’t sell him short. As Marcus Mariota’s favorite safety valve, he remains one of the most targeted TEs in the NFL.


 Antonio Gates, SD (Bye: 11)
8
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 260   DOB: 1980-06-18   Age: 36
College: Kent State   Draft:
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013SD1677 872 4 111.2 7.0
2014SD1669 821 12 154.1 9.6
2015SD1156 630 5 93.0 8.5
2016 (Projected)SD 68 787 6 114.7  

Outlook: Ever since he joined the team back in 2003, Antonio Gates has been one of the most productive fantasy tight ends in all of football. In fact, Gates was one of the first players at the position who started to give credence to the idea that a tight end could be a first round fantasy selection. Of course, those days are long in the past for Gates, but at age 36, he is still very much an option for fantasy owners. Gates missed the first four games of the 2015 season due to a drug suspension, but still finished as the No. 11 fantasy tight end on the season as he caught 56 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns. His 8.5 fantasy points per game were good enough for seventh at the position.

Tight end is very top-heavy this season, but even in his old age, Gates presents substantially less downside than most of the other tight ends being selected around him. He’s barely being drafted as a starter in most leagues and could even be selected as a backup in some formats. At that price tag, it’d be hard to miss with Gates. Even if the wheels finally do come off, it shouldn’t cost fantasy owners much with him being selected so late in drafts.


 Dwayne Allen, IND (Bye: 10)
9
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 255   DOB: 1990-02-24   Age: 27
College: Clemson   Draft: 2012 Round 3 (1) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013IND11 20 1 8.0 8.0
2014IND1229 395 8 87.5 7.3
2015IND1216 109 1 17.0 1.4
2016 (Projected)IND 64 677 6 103.7  

Outlook: Indianapolis resigned Dwayne Allen and let Coby Fleener leave via free agency. The two moves leave the door wide open for the Colts offense to recapture the days when the team consistently produced one of fantasy’s top tight ends. In order for the stars to align, Allen must hope the extra stretching he has incorporated into his off-season workouts will keep him healthy. Secondly, fantasy owners will need to track his target count closely. The lack of competition in what should be a very good passing game should yield career best target numbers for Allen (assuming a healthy season). The Colts targeted their TEs 128 times in 2015 and 168 times in 2014 yielding 82 and 98 catches respectively. If the former Clemson Tiger can score enough (6-8 TDs) he will provide TE1 numbers for next to nothing on draft day. Jack Doyle is a career backup type that could see an expanded role at some point considering Allen’s injury history.


 Julius Thomas, JAC (Bye: 5)
10
Height: 6’5”   Weight: 255   DOB: 1988-06-27   Age: 28
College: Portland State   Draft: 2011 Round 4 (32) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013DEN1465 788 12 150.8 10.8
2014DEN1243 489 12 120.9 10.1
2015JAC1246 455 5 75.5 6.3
2016 (Projected)JAC 57 577 7 99.7  

Outlook: Julius Thomas never got going last year after a broken hand during the preseason play cost him the first four weeks of the regular season. He was still able to collect 80 targets on the year and had a better second half of the season. QB Blake Bortles met with Thomas over the off-season to try and figure out a way to get on the same page with his huge six-foot five-inch tight end. The injury risk and a deep tight end pool will still push Thomas towards the third wave of tight ends selected on draft day. Nonetheless, his prowess near the goal combined with a proactive approach by his quarterback to get him involved will have plenty of fantasy owners giving him a mulligan for a dismal 2015 campaign. Early reports form OTAs have already started to refuel the hype surrounding him and a healthy preseason should result in his ADP rising over the next few weeks. Marcedes Lewis re-upped with the team and will serve as Thomas’ backup. Lewis’ fantasy value is dormant after failing to catch at least 20 passes in each of the past two years.


 Zach Ertz, PHI (Bye: 4)
11
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 252   DOB: 1990-12-10   Age: 26
College: Stanford   Draft: 2013 Round 2 (3) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013PHI1536 469 4 70.9 4.7
2014PHI1658 702 3 88.2 5.5
2015PHI1575 853 2 97.3 6.5
2016 (Projected)PHI 61 711 5 101.1  

Outlook: The good news for Zach Ertz is that the Philadelphia Inquirer's Zach Berman reported the Eagles plan for the tight ends to play "a major role in the offense." That seems logical based on the Chiefs passing attack that featured Travis Kelce, who saw nearly a quarter of all the team’s targets last season. Ertz is not as athletic as Kelce, but the 6’5” 250-pound target is athletic enough to be a difficult cover for linebackers and is expected to be heavily used in the red zone. Ertz only has 9 touchdowns in his three seasons so he must show better ability around the goal line before we can expect an uptick in TD production. The tight end position is one of the more difficult transitions from college to professional ranks, so you can’t just look at the production from his first three years in the league and write the book on Ertz. If Bradford takes command of the offense, and uses the tight end position like the coaching staff wants, a breakout season for Ertz could be in the cards. He has as much upside as anyone after Gronk and Jordan Reed at the tight end position. In his last four games of 2015 he put up a 35-450-1 line, and while those reception and yardage totals are not sustainable over the course of a season he could easily better his 2015 season stat line of 75-853-2 in 2016.


 Martellus Bennett, NE (Bye: 9)
12
Height: 6’6”   Weight: 265   DOB: 1987-03-10   Age: 30
College: Texas A&M   Draft: 2008 Round 2 (30) 
SeasonTeamGameRec Yard TDFPtsFPts/G
2013CHI1665 759 5 105.9 6.6
2014CHI1690 916 6 127.6 8.0
2015CHI1153 439 3 61.9 5.6
2016 (Projected)NE 50 636 6 99.6  

Outlook: Martellus Bennett wore out his welcome with John Fox and the Chicago Bears last year, and was signed by the Patriots this off-season to add yet another matchup nightmare to its passing attack. At 6’6” and 273 pounds, Bennett is a beast of a man that will add the dual tight end element in New England that has been missing since Aaron Hernandez was arrested. When he lines up with Gronkowski on the field, opposing defenses will likely be quaking as both are excellent blockers that can get a running game going and even better receivers. Bennett has been considered somewhat of a malcontent in Dallas and then in Chicago but is said to be buying into the Patriot culture and has earned Brady’s trust. While Gronkowski’s presence does limit his upside to some extent, Bennett is more than capable of returning TE1 numbers even as his own team’s TE2.