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Fantasy Football Consistency: Tight Ends

Fantasy Football Consistency: Tight Ends
Ben Watson was remarkably consistent in 2015 from Week 5 onward

Ben Watson was remarkably consistent in 2015 from Week 5 onward

Bob Lung breaks down which tight ends are the most consistent.

This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from Bob head to Big Guy Fantasy Sports.

Tight ends are most fantasy owner’s worst nightmare! The belief is if you don’t draft Rob Gronkowski, you’re going to be scrambling for a good one. Psst, this is a lie.

As you will note in this article, there are quite a few tight ends in the Tier 1 section. All of them are around 70% Clutch Rating or higher and five of them earned over 225 points.

So please don’t buy into the “Gronk or Bust” scenario. The current ADPs have Gronk at 1.09 and the second highest tight end as Jordan Reed at 5.01. So, why not wait? The difference in total points and consistency isn’t worth it.

So, let’s review 2015 for the tight ends and look at those players who were consistently good, just good and consistently not-so-good. We’re also going to look at this position for the expected and unexpected tight ends within each tier, plus which tight ends could be undervalued going into this year’s draft.

So, let’s start with the top tier of tight ends as ranked by Clutch Ratings (CR).

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Player Name Total Points Rank CG GP CR
Antonio Gates 149.00 12 9 11 82%
Delanie Walker 238.80 3 13 16 81%
Rob Gronkowski 255.60 1 12 15 80%
Jordan Reed 248.20 2 11 14 79%
Gary Barnidge 237.30 4 12 16 75%
Greg Olsen 229.40 5 11 16 69%
Travis Kelce 189.50 8 11 16 69%
Tyler Eifert 191.50 7 9 13 69%

The Expected
Yes, we all expect Gronkowski to be in Tier 1, but he’s not alone. Reed was only seven points behind him, and he played in one less game! Walker, Barnidge and Olsen were only around 25 points or less behind him. That’s a point and one-half per game. Now throw in consistency, where all of these mentioned players were between 69% to 82%, and there’s no difference.

Walker is expected to be here as he was ranked second in consistency in 2014. As long as Gates stays healthy, he’s clutch! The Chargers let Green walk in the off-season. So, Gates has no competition. He should be great value in 2016 if he stays healthy. Kelce was expected to be in this tier and didn’t disappoint. He’s certainly worthy of being picked as one of the top five tight ends off the board.

The Unexpected
Barnidge may have been the biggest surprise in 2015. At least, most fantasy owners knew who Devonta Freeman was, and he was drafted in most leagues. Barnidge was an unknown for the Cleveland Browns.

I live in the Cleveland area, and I had no idea who this guy was. After he earned a couple of clutch games last year, I started taking notice. But even then, I was skeptical. Barnidge ended the season fourth in total points and was fifth in Clutch Rating at 75%! Can he do it again in 2016? Let’s just say, I’m skeptical again. There are far too many tight ends that I feel more comfortable drafting before him.

Eifert had a decent rookie season in 2013 with five clutch games. His missed almost the entire 2014 season. He was a little-overhyped heading into 2015, but he held up by earning a 69% Clutch Rating and finished seventh in total points even though he missed three games. He should be good value in 2016.


Player Name Total Points Rank CG GP CR
Ben Watson 192.50 6 10 16 63%
Jason Witten 166.20 10 10 16 63%
Zach Ertz 172.30 9 8 15 53%
Julius Thomas 123.10 17 6 12 50%
Will Tye 106.40 24 6 12 50%

The Expected
Witten is almost a lock every year for Tier 1 or Tier 2. However, every year, Fantasy owners pass him by. Over the past three years, Witten is fifth in total clutch games with 29. That’s only two clutch games behind Gronkowski. With the return of Tony Romo, his numbers should meet or exceed ten clutch games.

Ertz was expected to do well in Chip Kelly’s offense. However, while he was ninth in total points, I thought his consistency would have been a little better than 53%. The departure of Chip Kelly makes Ertz’s value unpredictable for 2016. He’s talented, but will the new system use that talent? Keep an eye on preseason.

Thomas was expected to be productive in Jacksonville. However, his health held him back by missing four games. But, over the last seven games, he did earn five of his quality games. Needless to say, I’m still a little unsure about his consistency, so look elsewhere unless he’s your backup.

The Unexpected
Hill, as the Saints’ tight end heading into the 2015, was all of the rage! However, Hill’s inconsistency with Drew Brees led to Brees looking more to Watson for the rest of the season. Even though, Watson’s Clutch Rating was 63%, he really wasn’t even involved in the passing game until Week 5. Therefore, he earned his 10 clutch games over the last 12 games (which is an 83% CR). Watson was picked up by the Ravens in the offseason. The Saints picked up Coby Fleener to replace Watson.

Will Tye replaced the injured, Donnell in Week 9. Prior to injury, Donnell earned only two clutches games in his first eight games. Tye went six for eight in clutch games as a starter over the remainder of the season. The question for 2016 will be “Who is the starter?” I would personally stay away from the situation if they are both healthy.


Player Name Total Points Rank CG GP CR
Charles Clay 121.80 18 6 13 46%
Ladarius Green 103.90 25 6 13 46%
Jimmy Graham 120.50 20 5 11 45%
Richard Rodgers 157.80 11 7 16 44%
Eric Ebron 130.70 12 6 14 43%
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 78.80 32 3 7 43%
Jacob Tamme 130.70 13 6 15 40%
Crockett Gillmore 98.20 26 4 10 40%
Kyle Rudolph 128.50 14 6 16 38%
Martellus Bennett 114.90 22 4 11 36%

The remaining tight ends are a combination of talented veterans who underperformed last season and washed up veterans who have seen better days. There are a few potential gems though to highlight. One is Green, who went to the Steelers in the offseason to replace the retired, Miller. While Green may be a better receiver, there are many targets for Big Ben in the passing game and the tight end was one of the last ones. I wouldn’t get too excited about Green’s new home.

The retirement of Calvin Johnson in Detroit may open up more targets for Ebron. He ended the season as the 12th tight end in total points, but his consistency was only 43%. I would draft him as a backup due to his potential.

Bennett going to the Patriots in the offseason has the fantasy world buzzing. Yes, it’s possible, he could put up solid numbers with Gronk. But, I just don’t think the consistency will be there. I would expect big games now and then, but nothing you can count on. Let someone else draft him.

Well, there are your clutch rankings for the tight ends in 2015. If you didn’t make the playoffs and you had Graham or Bennett on your team and can’t understand why I hope this helped clear things up.

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