Sunday, September 2, 2018

2018 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

Have (more) fantasy football drafts this weekend? Given the volume of moves over the past 24 hours, we have updated our fantasy football rankings for upcoming NFL season.

Here are our 2018 fantasy football tight end rankings (standard scoring):

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (Bye: 11)

Aside from his eight-game 2016 season, Gronk has 1,000-plus yards in three of the past four years and he has scored double-digit touchdowns in five seasons over his career. As long as he can stay on the field, he's a sure thing at a position with many question marks.

2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye: 12)

Recording back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Kelce finished 2017 with 83 catches for 1,038 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns. After Rob Gronkowski, Kelce is the clear TE2 -- or perhaps even the TE1(a) given Gronk's durability history.

3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye: 9)

Along with Travis Kelce, Ertz is one of just two tight ends to have a minimum of 70 catches and 800 yards over each of the past three seasons. Only nine tight ends have one such 70/800 season over the past three years and only four have multiple. In a weak positional group, Rob Gronkowski, Kelce and Ertz are in a tier by themselves atop the position.

4. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (Bye: 4)

Signing a two-year extension that keeps him under contract through 2020, Olsen missed more than half of last season. Before that, however, the 33-year-old tight end had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and finished as fantasy's TE4, TE4 and TE2, respectively, during that span.

5. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (Bye: 8)

Extending his streak of 800-yard seasons to four, Walker finished as fantasy's TE7 (PPR's TE6) in his age-33 season. The veteran tight end has finished as a top-12 fantasy tight end in all five of his seasons with the Titans and should do so again.

6. Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers (Bye: 7)

Even though Graham posted his lowest yardage total (520) since his rookie season and averaged a career-low 9.1 Y/R, the veteran tight end scored 10 touchdowns last season. Playing in the high-powered Packers offense, double-digit touchdowns is possible if Aaron Rodgers can stay healthy all season.

7. Evan Engram, New York Giants (Bye: 9)

Rookie tight ends typically struggle, but Engram had a highly productive rookie season (64/722/6, TE5). Based on talent, Engram could take another step forward in 2018, but he won't see as much volume (115 targets) in 2018 with better health from Odell Beckham along with the addition of rookie Saquon Barkley.

8. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (Bye: 4)

If he ever puts together a 16-game season, Reed has the potential to lead all tight ends in fantasy points. Unfortunately, he has missed at least four games in four of his five NFL seasons including 10 missed games last season. In his healthiest season (14 games in 2015), Reed had a monster 87/952/11 line.

9. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (Bye: 10)

Rudolph's targets dropped year over year (132 to 81), but he still finished as fantasy's TE6 (TE8 in PPR) in 2017. He posted a 57/532/8 stat line last season and those numbers may be a reasonable floor for the veteran tight end.

10. Trey Burton, Chicago Bears (Bye: 5)

With 23 catches for 248 yards and five touchdowns for the Eagles last season, Burton has plenty of breakout potential in Matt Nagy's offense in Kansas City. In response to a 600-yard over/under mailbag question, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune calls the over a "lock" and writes that Burton "certainly could challenge" the franchise TE single-season yardage record (Martellus Bennett, 916 in 2014).

11. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 9)

Doyle finished second on the team in targets (108) last season and posted career highs with 80 catches and 690 yards last season. With the Colts signing Eric Ebron, it's possible that Doyle fails to reach those numbers again. The return of Andrew Luck, however, makes Doyle a back-end TE1 heading into 2018.

12. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (Bye: 11)

Ending the season with a bang, Kittle had four catches for 100 yards in Week 17 against the Rams and he finished his rookie campaign with 43/515/2. Among rookie tight ends, only New York's Evan Engram had more receptions or yards.

13. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (Bye: 11)

Playing less than half of the team's offensive snaps as a rookie, Njoku posted a 32/386/4 stat line in 2017. Coach Hue Jackson says that he expects a big jump from Njoku in Year 2.

14. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye: 5)

Brate and the Bucs agreed to a six-year contract this offseason and the veteran tight end has a combined 105/1,251/14 over the past two seasons. I expect more from second-year tight end O.J. Howard, but I give the edge to Brate to lead the duo in fantasy points.

15. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye: 5)

The Bucs used the 19th-overall pick on Howard, who slipped further than most expected in the 2017 NFL Draft. Even though Brate was more involved in the passing game, Howard played more snaps than Brate as a rookie. Howard's role as a receiver should expand in his sophomore campaign. Both are on the TE1/TE2 border.

16. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye: 9)

Over the past four seasons, Eifert has nearly as many touchdowns (18) as games played (24). Double-digit touchdowns would be a real possibility if Eifert can stay healthy, but durability remains the obvious concern.

17. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 9)

Missing multiple games in his first three seasons, Ebron played a full 16-game slate last year and finished 2017 with a 53/574/4 line. The former top-10 pick is still just 25 years old, has 161 receptions for 1,822 yards and 10 touchdowns over the past three years and perhaps the change of scenery will do him some good.

18. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye: 9)

Seferian-Jenkins had 50 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns for the Jets and signed with the Jaguars in free agency. Especially with the injury to Marqise Lee, ASJ has is worth a look as a streaming TE2.

19. Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals (Bye: 9)

Seals-Jones had a productive three-game stretch from Weeks 11 to 13 -- nine catches for 170 yards and three touchdowns. (He had 3/31/0 over the rest of the season.) With little competition at tight end, however, Seals-Jones has upside going into 2018. And in a year where tight end is incredibly thin, it wouldn't be out of the question for RSJ to push his way into the top 12 by year's end.

20. Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (Bye: 11)

Leading the team in receiving yards (558) last season, Clay is one of the team's top-three most reliable pass-catchers along with Kelvin Benjamin and LeSean McCoy. With more than 500 receiving yards in all three of his seasons in Buffalo, Clay has top-15 upside if he can stay healthy all season.

21. Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders (Bye: 7)

Cook led the team in receiving yards (688) and 20-yard receptions (10) and finished second in receptions (54), but he had just two touchdowns. In fact, Cook has just six touchdowns in 58 games over the past four seasons combined. Finishing as a top-12 fantasy tight in PPR formats (TE16 in standard-scoring leagues), Cook has top-10 upside should he generate a little more red-zone volume and success.

22. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons (Bye: 8)

In his second season, Hooper posted a 49/526/3 stat line and finished as fantasy's TE18 (TE17 in PPR), but it was all downhill after a 2/128/1 start to the season. Hooper exceeded 40 yards only once in his final nine games.

23. Ben Watson, New Orleans Saints (Bye: 6)

Watson's last season (2015) in New Orleans was the best of his career from a fantasy perspective (TE8). Another 74/825/6 season on 110 targets (like 2015) is unlikely for the 37-year-old tight end, but there is a chance he turns into a fringe TE1/TE2 fantasy option in his return to the Saints. In fact, Mark Ingram says of Watson: "He's like the Under Armour mannequin. The oldest guy in there, but the most ripped up."

24. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye: 7)

McDonald had just 14 catches for 188 yards in the regular season, but he had both of his 50-yard regular-season games in December and 10/112/0 on a team-high 16 targets in their playoff loss to the Jaguars. With good health, expectations are pointing up for his second season with the Steelers.

25. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (Bye: 11)

Freakishly athletic, Gesicki has rare physical tools: 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, 4.54 forty, 41.5-inch vertical and 6.76 3-cone. Moreover, there is little (real) competition atop the depth chart at tight end so Gesicki has a chance to make an immediate impact as a rookie even if rookie tight ends historically struggle to produce fantasy-relevant numbers.

- Fantasy Football PPR Tight End Rankings

More Fantasy Football Rankings: