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Early Top 10 TE Rankings

by Aaron Medvidofsky
Jun 3, 2016

Tyler Eifert is primed to be one of the NFL's most targeted tight ends in 2016

Tyler Eifert is primed to be one of the NFL’s most targeted tight ends in 2016 if his health holds up

Aaron Medvidofsky provides his early top 10 TE rankings.

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The tight end position gained some clarity in free agency which has created more viable starters than any year in recent memory. In the top 10 rankings, you’ll see a mix of players that are very established as well as some high upside players that I expect to make a big jump this year. With the position being so deep this year I’d be happy to have any of the top 10 on my roster.

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Rob Gronkowski (NE)
Regardless of whether Tom Brady serves his four-game suspension Gronk is the clear-cut top tight end for 2016. A healthy season virtually guarantees over 1,000 yards and double digit touchdowns, which are huge positional advantages every week. This makes Gronkowski the only tight end worthy of a first round pick.

Jordan Reed (WAS)
Reed has always shown potential but was unable to stay healthy for a full season. In 2015 he finally showed that he can stay on the field, and the result was a big fantasy season that saw him emerge as the focal point of the Redskins’ offense. A full training camp with Cousins will continue to build their chemistry, and I’m expecting an even better year out of Reed in 2016.

Greg Olsen (CAR)
Olsen is without a doubt the most reliable player you will find at the tight end position. He may lack the upside of some of the more exciting options but in return, you get guaranteed production and a full 16 games out of the veteran. The return of Kelvin Benjamin means he isn’t likely to increase his touchdown total, but I still like his chances of topping 1,000 yards for the third straight year.

Travis Kelce (KC)
Kelce has the talent to be a top tight end. The only thing that’s held him back so far is the offensive scheme and his quarterback. Despite the lack of change in those situations, I believe he’s primed for a jump in production in 2016. Kelce will be the top possession receiver in the Chiefs’ offense, and I believe the five TD receptions we’ve seen each of the last two years is his absolute floor.

Gary Barnidge (CLE)
It’s rare that a 30-year-old player breaks out in the NFL, but that’s just what Barnidge managed to do last year. He performed well enough to earn a key place in the Browns’ offense and should continue as one of their top receiving weapons. It will be worth keeping an eye on the chemistry between Barnidge, and whoever starts the season as the Browns’ quarterback.

Zach Ertz (PHI)
Ertz finally started living up to his potential in the second half of last season. The Eagles have invested heavily in the talented young tight end, and that production should carry over into next year. This should be the year that Ertz makes the jump into being a reliable TE1, and I believe he will increase both his yardage and touchdown totals over last year’s numbers.

Delanie Walker (TEN)
Walker is coming off of a career year and has established himself as a reliable target for Marcus Mariota. I’m expecting a slight regression from last year’s production due to the addition of Rishard Matthews and ascendance of Dorial Green-Beckham. Even with a small step backward, Walker is still a TE1 that you can target later in your draft if he falls.

Tyler Eifert (CIN)
Eifert is another player that had shown flashes but was unable to stay on the field consistently until 2015. In his breakout year, Eifert ended up with 13 TDs which tied him for fourth in the league. Losing Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu frees up 152 targets which should help Eifert increase his yardage total in the upcoming season. Eifert may be in jeopardy of missing the start of the season due to ankle surgery which is certainly worth keeping an eye on as your draft approaches.

Coby Fleener (NO)
The Saints know what they’re getting in Fleener – an athletic pass catching tight end that is a huge liability as a blocker. With that being the case, it’s very encouraging that they paid him handsomely as it indicates they will utilize him heavily as a receiver. I see him producing somewhere in between what we saw from Graham and Watson, which is still more than enough to make him a TE1.

Antonio Gates (SD)
Despite injury issues and an imploding offense, Gates managed borderline TE1 production in 2015. A return to full health and virtually no competition for snaps means he should return to form this year. Gates has a strong rapport with Rivers that will keep him in the game plan and with an ADP of 103 overall he will be a great value.

Please be sure to check out our other top 10 rankings articles:

More Advice: Breakout Picks

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