09 Aug Stromme’s Takes: Top 20 Fantasy Football Tight Ends
- Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
This probably won’t be a surprise to many fantasy football enthusiasts out there, but Rob Gronkowski, the Gronk Man, is in a tier of his own. Typically, the Patriot tight end Gronk Smashes his way to the consensus number one tight end, which usually results in him landing within the top 12 picks of the draft. This year is no different. However, the gap between Gronk and the lesser-Gronks is not nearly as huge as year’s past.
So essentially, if you’re taking Gronk in 2016, you’re taking him for his stats, not to “win TE every week”. With the likes of A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, Alshon Jeffery and other WR1-types available, is #GronkSmash really worth the ADP? Personally, I’d advise against it. Especially if you can find one of the following four names later on.
2) Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
3) Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
4) Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
5) Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
I like to call this tier the “Lesser Gronk” tier of tight ends. All four of these guys have 75/1,000/10 potential, however there are some question marks with each player. Can Jordan Reed stay healthy? The touchdowns will probably be there for Barnidge given how much Hue Jackson likes his QBs to target the tight end, especially in the end zone. But what kind of chemistry will he and Robert Griffin III have? Will it be similar to what him and Josh McCown had last season? Can he repeat what he did between the 20s? Will the return of Kelvin Benjamin cut into Olsen’s targets? And does the absence of Ken Whisenhunt and the introduction of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry mean that the Titans turn to a more run-heavy offense? See? All of these guys have potential, but all have question marks attached to their names as well.
6) Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
7) Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
8) Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
9) Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
10) Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
11) Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers
12) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
This rounds out the own-able tight ends in most standard leagues. Jason Witten is nothing exciting, but he’s a safe bet for about 70-75 receptions, 700 yards and anywhere from 3-5 scores. Not sexy, but above replacement level. And besides, you know he’ll show up every week. He hasn’t missed a game since 2003… With the absence of a tangible
short-yardage running game and Ladarius Green in Pittsburgh, we should see a generous uptick in targets thrown in Antonio Gate’s direction, especially in the red zone… Travis Kelce has the physical tools fit for tier two, however his offensive scheme and the plethora of red zone options hinders his value enough to take him down a peg… With Jackson now in Cleveland, I do see a significant touchdown regression coming. However, the departure of Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones leaves room for him to be a little more productive between the 20s… I’m not as crazy about Coby Fleener as others are, however tight ends have historically done well catching balls from Drew Brees. He’s not going to be Jimmy Graham, however he could have a career year. To me, he’s closer to 65/800/5 than the vintage-Graham numbers some think he’s in store for… In 2015, Heath Miller was targeted 81 times; 14 of which came in the red zone with 8 coming inside the 10. Ladarius Green is roughly Miller’s size, but quicker. With the absence of Martavis Bryant, I’d expect the number of targets to increase. You do the math… Zach Ertz now plays under Travis Kelce’s offense. The change to the conservative, West Coast, game management style of offense will cap his ceiling, but raise his floor. Expect like, 90% of Kelce’s production from Ertz.
13) Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
14) Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
15) Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
All three of these guys have TE1 upside, but shouldn’t be drafted as such. While the Seahawks don’t use Graham quite like the Saints used to, he still has some value. Before his injury, he was on-pace for a 60/800/3ish season. That’s still better than replacement level production from a TE. Just don’t pay-up for the name… Richard Rodgers’ value was incredibly touchdown-dependent in 2015, he caught 8 TDs and was targeted inside the 10 a team-high nine times. With Jordy Nelson back in the fold, we should see a slight regression in those numbers. However, he does catch passes from Aaron Rodgers after all, the drop-off in production won’t too steep. Plus, as evidence from this catch, Rodgers doesn’t necessarily need to be in the red zone to be a red zone threat… The Jaguars threw the ball inside the opposition’s 10 yard like a whopping 62.3% of the time, the lion’s share of which in the direction of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The addition of Chris Ivory should regress those numbers a little bit, the key word in that phrase is should. If anything should happen to either of the Allens, Thomas automatically evolves into a TE1.
16) Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
17) Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
18) Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
19) Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
20) Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins
Have the Patriots finally found their next Aaron Hernandez? Perhaps. He might not be as physically talented as Hernandez was (or nearly as homicidal), but one thing’s for certain; he’s an upgrade over Scott Chandler, Zach Sudfeld and Michael Hoomanawanui. Chandler still had four touchdowns last season… Rudolph was targeted 10 times in the red zone, all of which came within the 10. He converted half of them for touchdowns. While this is all fine and dandy, he doesn’t provide much between the 20s to be effective in season-long fantasy football, more of a DFS play… Clay is the anti-Rudolph, he’s nothing but productive between the 20s. The Bills run too much in the red zone for him to be effective enough, he was only targeted in the red zone 3 times in 2015… Jordan Cameron is the poor-man’s Jimmy Graham. Not the New Orleans Jimmy, but present-day Jimmy. With Cameron, you’re essentially paying for his final season in Cleveland. He’s averaged only about 30/400/2 since taking his talents to South Beach.