Earlier this month, I gave you my predictions for the top 12 fantasy football quarterbacks this season, and today, I’ll break down my tight ends. Let me be clear: these are not my rankings. If you want my tight end rankings, you can find them here. Instead, I’m trying to nail every single prediction, which requires taking some big chances. In order to gauge just how bold I will be, let’s take a look at the top 12 tight ends and their preseason ADPs from 2016 and 2015.
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- Travis Kelce (ADP #4)
- Greg Olsen (ADP #3)
- Kyle Rudolph (ADP #17)
- Jimmy Graham (ADP #10)
- Delanie Walker (ADP #5)
- Cameron Brate (ADP #45)
- Martellus Bennett (ADP #11)
- Zach Ertz (ADP #8)
- Jordan Reed (ADP #2)
- Antonio Gates (ADP #9)
- Hunter Henry (ADP #18)
- Coby Fleener (ADP #6)
- Rob Gronkowski (ADP #1)
- Gary Barnidge (ADP #48)
- Jordan Reed (ADP #26)
- Delanie Walker (ADP #8)
- Greg Olsen (ADP #3)
- Tyler Eifert (ADP #14)
- Travis Kelce (ADP #4)
- Benjamin Watson (ADP #32)
- Richard Rodgers (ADP #22)
- Zach Ertz (ADP #11)
- Antonio Gates (ADP #13)
- Jason Witten (ADP #6)
This is what it looks like every year with half of the final top 12 having jumped in from outside the top 12, and occasionally from outside the top 20 and even 30. I’ll attempt to mirror that as I build my top performing tight end predictions.
Top 12 Fantasy Football TEs of 2017
TE #12: Jack Doyle (IND) : ADP #14
Andrew Luck is always a good bet to pepper his tight ends with red zone targets, but unfortunately, he also looks like a good bet to miss a handful of games here and there. Doyle isn’t any kind of transcendent talent, so his production will be a product of Andrew Luck staying on the field. In this case, it will happen just enough for Doyle to sneak in as a low-end TE1.
TE #11: Vance McDonald (SF) : ADP #24
It isn’t as though Vance is a big time playmaker or dangerous goal-line threat, but he does happen to be someone Brian Hoyer seems to be trusting this pre-season and often times, that is all it takes. When you consider that their only reliable receiver is Pierre Garcon, it makes sense that there is a path to McDonald seeing a breakout this season. The 49ers will be playing nearly every game from behind and passing as an attempt to play catch up so Vance could see himself quite a few targets.
TE #10: Tyler Eifert (CIN): ADP #6
The Bengals often injured tight end has a remarkable 18 touchdowns in his previous 21 games, and everyone is drafting him based on that, but the matter of the fact is that he is rarely healthy and that touchdown dependency is a dangerous game. Perhaps even more overlooked is the fact that the Bengals lost their two best offensive linemen which could require Eifert to run fewer routes in an effort to fill the gap.
TE #9: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (NYJ) : ADP #32
We have all been burned by him at one point, and I can understand your hesitancy in ever giving him a shot again, but this is a brand new player. He is living past his drinking problems, in the best shape of his career and in a situation to excel. He is suspended for the first two games, but once he comes back, he is the only athlete in the decimated Jets’ receiver core, and boy is he a good athlete. Like McDonald, he could benefit from a positive game script and loads of volume which are key ingredients in breakouts.
TE #8: Hunter Henry (LAC) : ADP #11
Henry was far and away the most effective tight end last season, somehow managing to finish #11 among tight ends despite just 53 targets all season. If Henry were to see the 110 targets he deserved, we might be looking at a top 2 or 3 tight end in football, but unfortunately, we will have to wait another year for him to be a true superstar. Keenan Allen is back, Mike Williams joins the fray and Antonio Gates is still lingering around as a red zone threat.
TE #7: Martellus Bennett (GB) : ADP #9
Remember when Aaron Rodgers turned Richard Rodgers into a top 12 tight end? Rodgers may have been a top 40 most talented tight end in the league that year, but Hall of Fame QBs tend to turn mediocre players into quality ones. Bennett is far beyond mediocre. In fact, he was a top 3 fantasy tight end just a few years ago, and still finished in the top 12 last year despite playing hurt and as the backup to Gronk. He has substantial upside this year with Rodgers.
TE #6: Austin Hooper (ATL): ADP #16
Last year, Hooper made the best of his few opportunities and showcased some big time playmaker skills. Now that Jacob Tamme is gone, this is the Hooper show and no one on the depth chart will get in the way of that. Christopher Harris came on the FantasyPros Football Podcast last week and raved about Hooper’s opportunity in Atlanta, grading it as one of his only three A’s. He has the talent to excel and could very well see the volume as part of a great offense so the sky is the limit.
TE #5: Greg Olsen (CAR): ADP #3
Olsen is consistent as they come at the position, and while he is getting old rather quickly, he is a strong bet to produce once again. The big difference here is that he may no longer be the best receiving weapon in this offense. That title should belong to Christian McCaffery. With that being said, even if Cam Newton‘s shoulder doesn’t quickly recover, Derek Anderson is a back-up who loves throwing to tight ends.
TE #4: Eric Ebron (DET): ADP #12
Ebron was the single most consistent performer at tight end last year, getting 40 to 80 yards nearly every single week that he wasn’t injured. The only problem was that he couldn’t get in the end zone. Remember when that was a problem for Melvin Gordon too? Positive touchdown regression happens and Ebron could be a prime example of that with his big frame, impressive athlticism, and Anquan Boldin now out of the picture.
TE #3: Travis Kelce (KC): ADP #2
When Jeremy Maclin was out of the Chiefs lineup, Kelce reigned king. He is without question the #1 target in the passing game while Alex Smith is quarterback. It is difficult to tell at this point how Patrick Mahomes would change the offense if he takes over, but rookie QBs often target tight ends more than veterans, plus, no QB in their right mind would stop throwing the ball to a ddynamicweapon like Kelce.
TE #2: Coby Fleener (NO): ADP #17
Oh boy. If you weren’t already pulling your hair out, this might be your breaking point. Perhaps you were the poor soul burned by Fleener last year–I was too. You may not have noticed after you dropped Fleener that he ended up becoming a top 12 tight end despite the slow start. Sometimes learning a new offense takes a while, but Fleener seems to know it now and have Brees’ trust. Remember, this is the same offense that gave us a dominant Jimmy Graham and a Ben Watson breakout. Fleener still has significant upside this season.
TE #1: Rob Gronkowski (NE) : ADP #1
You probably thought I was going to predict another Gronk injury. That is, of course, a distinct possibility, but it doesn’t happen every year. When he is healthy, Gronk isn’t just the TE1 every year, but he is often a top 8 overall fantasy player. If you draft him and he stays healthy all season, you have a 120 point advantage over the team with the worst tight end play in your league. That is an incredible way to spend your 2nd or 3rd round pick.
Jordan Reed (WAS) – Major concussion problems and hip issues make him the most likely to fade out of the top 12
Jimmy Graham (SEA) – Should injuries often resurface, plus Graham is getting up there in age
Kyle Rudolph (MIN) – With Diggs healthy, Rudolph should move from the most targeted TE back to normal
Delanie Walker (TEN) – With Eric Decker and Corey Davis added to the WR core, Walker and his old age take a major step back
Zach Ertz (PHI) – Perhaps the most inconsistent tight end was great to end the season, but they added Alshon Jeffery
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