31 Jul “Stromme the Way”: 2018 Fantasy Tight End Rankings AND Projections
By: Mike Stromme (@stromme_93)
All rankings are tailored towards 12-team full-point PPR formats. Rankings are subject to change throughout the 2018 preseason.
Click Here for 2018’s QB Rankings/Projections.
1) Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs: (136 Targets: 95-1,209-6)
If both Gronk and Kelce are healthy and I have to choose one on any given Sunday, I’d choose Gronk. He’s the better talent in the better offense. However, over the course of the season, Kelce has shown a much better track record in the health department. Over the course of 16 games, I’m catching Kelce.
2) Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: (113 Targets: 75-1,126-7)
He’ll have his monster games when he’s on the field, I just don’t see him playing a full 16 game schedule.
3) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles: (109 Targets: 74-842-8)
The next-best talent behind Gronk and Kelce. Injury history before 2017 keeps him outside the t
4) Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings: (123 Targets: 80-779-6)
Newly-hired OC John Defilippo has played a role in offenses that featured the TE heavily in each of his previous stops; both in Philadelphia 2017-2016 as the QB coach and Cleveland 2015 (remember Gary Barnidge)? Expect Rudolph’s volume to get back to where it was in 2016.
5) Evan Engram, New York Giants: (104 Targets: 68-913-5)
While Rudolph saw a drop-off in volume last season under Pat Shurmer, he still saw over 100 targets. I understand that Odell, Shepard and Barkley will be fed heavily in this offense, but there’s still room for Engram as well. Thielen, Diggs and Cook (when healthy) all got tons of volume with Kyle Rudolph still getting his.
6) Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans: (107 Targets: 70-812-6)
Delanie Walker will be a TE1 until he isn’t. I don’t see this changing in 2018. Even at 34, I expect him to continue his steady production.
7) Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers: (96 Targets: 60-828-4)
Even with the addition of D.J. Moore and an (alleged) increased role for Christian McCaffrey, Olsen will remain Cam’s favourite option when things get tough. Last season was the first time in his career when injuries became an issue, I don’t think he would have came back if he had any doubts about staying healthy.
8) Trey Burton, Chicago Bears: (120 Targets: 80-859-3)
Buried behind Zach Ertz and Brent Celek for most of his career in Philadelphia, we never really got to see Trey Burton’s true ability until last season. The undrafted TE out of Florida drew ON-FIELD comparisons to Aaron Hernandez. I expect him to flourish in a featured role in the Windy City.
9) Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers: (83 Targets: 54-655-5)
At 32, he’s still an athletic specimen. However, the Packers have never shown any love for the TE position in the past and he had 10 TDs a year ago despite posting the lowest Catch % of his career. Regression is in the cards for Jimmy. At his 5th round ADP, DON’T. TOUCH. JIMMY!
10) Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins: (74 Targets: 56-573-3)
When he’s healthy, he’s up there with the best in the NFL. But, that’s a HUGE if.
11) David Njoku, Cleveland Browns: (88 Targets: 53-713-4)
I expect an uptick in passing plays under Todd Haley’s revamped Cleveland offense. The change from Kizer to Tyrod should be enough to boost production in a talent like Njoku.
12) Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals: (66 Targets: 44-537-6)
Eifert is right up there with Ertz and Rudolph when healthy. However, that’s a HUGE if; Eifert has missed 41 out of a possible 80 games in his career.
13) Ben Watson, New Orleans Saints: (80 Targets: 58-639-5)
The New Orleans Saints haven’t had a viable fantasy TE since… Well Ben Watson in 2015. I expect Watson to “catch the Brees” once more time.
14) Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts: (85 Targets: 65-599-4)
Andrew Luck’s TE has ALWAYS created fantasy buzz in August, only to disappoint by November. This was mainly a byproduct of a timeshare of sorts at the position. First, there was Coby Fleener, who had his targets siphoned by Dwayne Allen. Allen, then had all the hype once Fleener left, only to be competing for targets with Jack Doyle. Last season was supposed to be time for Doyle’s “alone time” with Luck, but injuries to the Colt’s QB derailed that possibility. Now that Luck’s healthy, it should be Doyle’s turn right? Well… the team did go out and sign Eric Ebron this offseason. So I don’t know, you do the math on that one.
15) Ed Dickson, Seattle Seahawks: (100 Targets: 60-741-6)
Yeah, I too was shocked to see this guy so high once i finished running the numbers…
But here me out, Brian Schottenheimer, the newly-hired OC of the Seattle Seahawks, is a playcaller that likes to run his plays around the line of scrimmage. He did so with the St. Louis Rams in 2014-2013 and with the New York Jets in 2010 and 2011. In those four seasons, Schottenheimer’s offense threw to the TE an average of 6.3 times per game!
Did he have fantastic options those seasons? No, he had Jared Cook and Dustin Keller. Ed Dickson will get volume in this offense, he’ll be a TE punt that will return value in both daily and season-long formats.
16) Luke Willson, Detroit Lions: (80 Targets: 52-660-4)
Out goes Eric Ebron and in-comes Luke Willson. Both are similar from a talent perspective in my eyes. The volume should remain consistent under Jim Bob Cooter.
Fun fact: Luke Willson grew-up in LaSalle, Ontario; a 25 minute drive from Detroit. He also played on the Canadian National jr. baseball team in 2008. Not that it should help from a fantasy perspective, but it’s still worth noting.
17) George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers: (66 Targets: 46-644-2)
Garoppolo ignored Kittle once he arrived to San Francisco, as did Kyle Shanahan. Kittle saw more than 6 targets in a game just three times all of last season. In Shanahan’s last three seasons as a playcaller, his offenses have targeted the TE position less than 5 times per game.
While I understand the hype, I believe volume will be an issue.
18) Hayden Hurst, Baltimore Ravens: (80 Targets: 52-577-3)
If Flacco’s the starting QB (which all indications point towards this direction), Hurst should get a TON of volume. The Ravens have been a haven for the TE position since the days of Dennis Pitta and OC Marty Morninhinweg’s offenses have targeted the position 5-7.5 times a game in each of his last four seasons calling plays.
At 26, Hurst isn’t exactly your prototypical rookie TE. Scouts raved about his catching abilities coming out of the draft and I believe the Ravens see what they saw: a steady target up the middle.
19) Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills: (80 Targets: 53-567-2)
Clay’s the second option in a run-first offense that will be anything but explosive. You get what you pay for.
20) Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins: (77 Targets: 46-553-3)
Gesicki has tremendous upside! But, they’re are a TON of different mediocre options that could divert Tannehill’s attention away from the former New Jersey state high school dunk champion.
21) Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals: (77 Targets: 38-538-3)
I understand the hype, he’s an athletic TE with big play ability. However, he caught less than half of his targets a season ago. The average TE needs to catch 60-70% of targets headed his way in order to be viable. I need to see improvement with the hands before I buy-in.
22) O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (64 Targets: 44-722-6)
He’s got hands, speed, size and ability. The only thing missing: a decent target share. Not only does he have to compete with Cameron Brate for playing time at the position, but Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Charlie Sims and Adam Humphries are all slated to see some targets too.
23) Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers: (59 Targets: 35-471-3)
Recency bias is a hell of a drug.
Yes, the last time we saw Vance McDonald, he was BALLING OUT for the Steelers in their Divisional Round loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 10-112-0 on 16 targets is ONE HELL OF A GAME!
However, can we expect this from McDonald going forward? Not a chance! In his first full season in the Steel City, Vance McDonald had 14-188-1 on 24 targets FOR THE SEASON! Most of which was spent sharing time with the superior blocking TE, Jesse James.
In 5 NFL seasons, McDonald has NEVER played a full 16 game season. He’s also caught just 54.9% of his targets, considerably lower than the standard for the position. Not to mention, he’s behind Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Le’Veon Bell for target share.
24) Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jacksonville Jaguars: (64 Targets: 39-401-3)
ASJ is a raw talent at the position. However, he’s in a run-first offense that spreads the ball to 3-4 different WRs a game. His volume is volatile and will be more of a daily play in the right matchup.
25) Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: (64 Targets: 44-529-3)
See Howard, O.J.