Gronk
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With fantasy drafts taking place, here’s an updated and expanded look at the 2017 fantasy football tight end landscape.
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1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
4. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
5. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
6. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
7. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
8. Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers
9. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
10. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
11. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
12. Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
13. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
14. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
15. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
16. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
17. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
18. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
19. Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers
20. Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins
21. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets
22. Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins
23. Dwayne Allen, New England Patriots
24. Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders
25. Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
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Gronk
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Here is an early look at tight end fantasy football rankings. Click here for the updated rankings.
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1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
3. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
4. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
5. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
6. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
7. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
8. Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers
9. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
10. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
11. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
12. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
13. Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
14. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
15. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
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Gronk
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The tight end position remains top heavy with the most talented option a risk of his own due to injury history. Whether you are checking out new betting sites or trying to figure out which keepers you should hold on to, a little research is needed. Here’s a look at the tight end landscape
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The Elite
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots – When healthy and not making White House press briefing appearances, he is in a league of his own. Gronk was limited to eight games last year, finishing with 540 yards and three touchdowns. Every season that he plays in at least ten games he has had double-digit touchdowns. He has to be the first tight end to come off the board, but he is accompanied by a massive risk.
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The Next Tier
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks – Returned to form with 65 catches for 923 yards and six scores. Graham is capable of even more.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs – Led all tight ends with 1,125 yards and finished second with 85 receptions. A little light on the touchdowns (4) to share a spot with Gronk in the elite status.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers – Like Kelce he was light on the TD front (3), but caught 80 passes for 1,073 yards. This while Cam Newton was not at his best.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins – 66 catches for 686 yards and 6 touchdowns. Limited to 12 games. Has never played a full season. Huge talent with health risks.
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Strong Options
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers – 55 catches for 701 yards and seven TDs. Going from Brady to Rodgers won’t hurt his value.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati  Bengals – Limited to 8 games. Finished with 394 yards and five TDs. Strong bet for double-digit scores if he stays healthy.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles – 78 catches for 816 yards and four touchdowns. Should continue to be on the rise.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings – Jived with Sam Bradford to the tune of 83 catches for 840 yards and seven scores.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans – 65 catches for 800 yards and seven scores.
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Up and Coming
Dwayne Allen, New England Patriots – Just 35 catches for 406 yards and 6 TDs. Brady will likely make him a star.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 57 catches for 660 yards and eight TDs.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions – 61 catches for 711 yards and a touchdown.
Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers – 18 catches for 304 yards and a touchdown in six games.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers – 36 catches for 478 yards and eight scores. Ready to surpass Antonio Gates.
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Veterans
Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints – 50 catches for 631 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers – 53 catches for 548 yards and seven TDs.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens – Quietly led all TEs with 86 receptions to go along with 729 yards and a pair of TDs.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys – 69 catches for 673 yards and three TDs.
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Here are some Wide Receivers and Tight Ends putting up serious preseason numbers.  Let’s take a look and see if they have a chance to translate some of that preseason production into fantasy worth in regular season play. 

Jonathan Stupar, Buffalo Bills - Stupar leads the NFL with 15 preseason receptions for 155 yards and a TD.  He’s third on the Bills’ Tight End depth chart so don’t get any thoughts of fantasy worth.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans - Now Cook is a TE with some fantasy value.  The Rookie out of South Carolina has 12 catches for 120 yards in the preseason.  With Tennessee’s limited options in the passing game, Cook could become one of their more reliable targets.  He’s worth taking as a TE2.

Chris Henry, Cincinnati Bengals - As long as he can stay out of Roger Goodell’s office, Henry has a chance to really break out this year.  He has 11 catches for 155 yards and 2 TDs.  Now that he seems to have put his troubles behind him, he could put up huge numbers in a full season.  He is going in the later rounds of fantasy drafts, and could end up putting up WR2 or WR3 numbers. 

Dwayne Bowe catch
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
- For all the talk of Bowe not fitting into the Chiefs’ system or being at odds with Todd Haley, he has looked good in the preseason games with 8 catches for 107 yards and a TD. If you moved him down in your WR rankings, you may want to move him back up.

Troy Williamson, Jacksonville Jaguars - The former #1 bust leads the NFL with 221 preseason receiving yards on 7 caches.  He caught a pair of deep balls for the bulk of the yardage. It’s great to see him make some plays, but I wouldn’t trust him to continue to produce.  His hands have long been a question mark.

Chad Ochocinco TD
Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals
- Ocho has 142 yards on 5 catches.  He even added an Extra Point.  More importantly he has kept relatively quiet.  If he can avoid being a distraction, he should be a real nice WR2 this year.

David Clowney, New York Jets - Clowney is hoping to be the next third year WR to break out.  He has five receptions for 135 yards and 2 TDs this preseason.  He is fighting with Chansi Stuckey to start opposite Jerricho Cotchery.

Justin Harper, Baltimore Ravens - Harper has been productive in the preseason games with 6 catches for 119 yards, but has dropped too many passes in practice.  For a team with a limited passing game, dropping passes is a good way to be buried on the depth chart.

Laurent Robinson, St. Louis Rams - Laurent has taken advantage of Donnie Avery’s foot injury by catching 7 passes for 117 yards.  He is going to start for the Rams so he’s worth grabbing in deep leagues, but he likely won’t be a viable fantasy option this year.

Robert Meachem, New Orleans Saints - Meachem has been a sleeper candidate the past two years now.  He has 5 catches for 106 yards, including a 64-yard TD.  If he can get on the field, he has a great chance to be productive in that offense.  Draft him as a fantasy reserve and hope for the best.

Legedu Naanee, San Diego Chargers – This list is littered with third-year WRs.  Legedu has 5 catches for 84 yards and 2 TDs.  He is buried as the Chargers #4 WR behind Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers, and Malcom Floyd.  It’s also an offense that throws heavily to TE Antonio Gates and RBs LT and Darren Sproles.  Don’t expect much from a fantasy perspective from Naanee this year.

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Since Middle Linebacker E.J. Henderson went down the Vikings have been giving up big games to opposing Tight Ends.  Last week it was Houston’s Owen Daniels, who torched the Purple to the tune of 11 catches for 133 yards.  Before their bye the Vikings allowed 74 yards and a score to Chicago’s Greg Olsen.  Back in Week 5 Minnesota gave up 61 yards to Billy Miller.

Green Bay’s Donald Lee has the luxury of facing the Vikings this week.  He’s having a slow year with 22 catches for 163 yards and a pair of scores.  After recording 48 catches for 575 yards and 6 TDs last year with the Packers, the Vikings are just what the Doctor ordered for Lee.

The Chargers have also given up big games to Tight Ends all year.  This week they draw the best offensive Tight End in NFL history in Tony Gonzalez.  Tyler Thigpen has brought some stability to the Chiefs’ passing game and Gonzo has shown improvement with 19 catches for 238 (79.3 ypg) yards and a score over the past three weeks.  To help his cause, Jamaal Charles provided a spark to their running game.  With all of these factors I wouldn’t be surprised if Tony Gonzalez was the top scoring Tight End in the league this week against the Chargers.

You’ve seen the Sleepers.  Now it’s time to explore the players who I feel will be disappointments to fantasy football owners.  Here are the Tight Ends I’d avoid.

Donald Lee - Lee is another Packer that is going to miss Brett Favre.  He had 575 yards and 6 TDs a season ago.  I’d be shocked if he came close to those lofty numbers.

Chris Baker – Let’s see, Favre is reunited with Bubba Franks and the Jets took Dustin Keller in the first round out of Purdue.  He missed eleven days of camp with a bad back, as well as some offseason programs as he was mad about his contract.  Those negatives are beginning to add up.

Desmond Clark – With the emergence of Greg Olsen, Desmond Clark won’t be leaned on as much.  I don’t see another 545 yards from him this year.

I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a third string TE can’t make a nice catch in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of TEs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

Owen Daniels – Owen will likely be the 8th-10th Tight End taken in drafts, but could end up being a Top 5 TE.  He’s got great hands and is the second best target on the Texans behind Andre Johnson. 

Vernon Davis – Here’s another Top 5 candidate.  He has the size and speed.  Now if he can just stay healthy.  Having pass-happy Mike Martz on board should help his progress.

Greg Olsen – With Benard Berrian gone, Olsen is probably the Bears best option in the air attack (I use that term loosely).  If Orton wins the job, Olsen will probably be leaned on even more.  He’s a sneaky good pickup.

Zach Miller – Zach is another second-year TE that intrigues me.  He meshed well with JaMarcus Russell and could be in store for a solid fantasy season.  He also may be his team’s best receiving target.

Deeper Sleepers
Kevin Boss –
They got rid of Shockey because of his Super Bowl catch.  Oh, and the whole attitude thing.
John Carlson – Rookie out of Notre Dame could win the starting job in Seattle.

 

Big Dogs
These are your premier TEs.  This elite group is perhaps more head and shoulders above the typical player than for any other position.  You’ll have to get them fairly early (3rd-5th round) or you’ll miss out.

Antonio Gates – He’s been the Alpha Dog for a few years now.  I don’t see this year being any different.  All he did was go for 75 receptions, 984 yards, and 9 TDs. 

Jason Witten – Witten’s 2007 campaign was second-to-none (that includes Antonio Gates) as far as TE’s go.  He had 96 grabs for 1145 yards, and 7 TDs.  Witten is a couple of years younger than Gates (although Gates is only 28) so the torch could be passed soon.

Kellen Winslow, Jr.  - After the early bumps in his career, Winslow, Jr. has settled into being an elite TE in this league.  He had fewer receptions (82 compared to 89) than in ’06, but his yardage skyrocketed (875 to 1106).  He also saw an increase of 2 in the TD department.  I see his receptions remaining in the 80 region, his yardage taking a little dip, and his TDs to increase.

Tony Gonzalez – The Godfather of the Big Dog TEs.  I thought Gonzo would take a dip last year, but he went strong.  He led all TEs with 1172 yards and 99 receptions.  He added 5 TDs.  He’s 32 years old so a fall could happen any year now.  Just don’t count on it.

2nd Tier TEs
These TEs are still good, but won’t be score like a #2 WR like the BDTEs. 

Chris Cooley - He’s perhaps one of the coolest guys in the league as evidenced by his fantasy football play.  He’s topped the 700 yard mark three straight years.  I can easily see him doing that again, and perhaps even moving into 800 yard territory.  He added an impressive 8 TDs.

Dallas Clark – Clark’s 11 TDs were tops among Tight Ends last year.  With Marvin Harrison back and Anthony Gonzalez likely to have a bigger role, I fear a dip in Clark’s production. 

Owen Daniels – He’s the least-renowned of the TEs profiled thus far, but could have an even bigger breakout year in ’08.  He snared 63 passes for 768 yards and 3 TEs. 

Jeremy Shockey - Has his mouth finally wore out its welcome in NYC?  Maybe.  He’s been rumored to be on the block since the G-Men won the Super Bowl without him.  You know the drill though.  If he’s healthy and getting P.T., he’ll produce.  Last year he had 57 catches for 619 yards and 3 TDs despite missing a couple of games.
Update Now that Shockey has landed in New Orleans, I move him up a couple of notches.  He’s a borderline Big Dog now.  He’s in a better Offense with a better QB and more weapons to keep teams honest.  His QB has a track record with TEs.  If he can stay healthy and not become a distraction in New Orleans, Shockey could have a monster season.

Heath Miller – Heath had a nice little season last year for Pittsburgh grabbing 47 passes for 566  yards and 7 TDs.  Not too bad for a TE that probably went in late rounds or undrafted in most leagues.

Todd Heap – He didn’t have the numbers last year (23 catches, 239 yards, 1 TD), but he was great the previous two seasons with over 70 catches, 750 yards, and 6 TDs each year.  He’ll need to play more than the six he did last year.

Tony Scheffler – Denver’s Scheffler could be in line for a breakout year as Denver’s wideouts (outside of Brandon Marshall) and their Running Backs don’t appear to be as strong this year either.  That could mean Tony is busy on Sundays.

Vernon Davis – San Francisco’s Davis has finally began to live up to the hype last year with 52 catches for 509 yards and 4 TDs.  He missed a couple of games, which hopefully isn’t a trend for him as he missed 6 his rookie year.  He has freakish athletic ability, and SF will likely be more pass-happy this year.  He could be the best value of any TE this year. 

Serviceable TEs
We move on to the backup TEs now in most fantasy leagues. 

Greg Olsen – The Bears have nothing going on Offense.  Olsen had a decent enough rookie year (39 catches, 391 yards, 2 TDs) despite missing a couple of games.  I think the Stiffler look-alike will have a breakout season with at least 600 yards and 5 TDs.

Benjamin Watson – Watson got into the Boston TD Party last year with 6 TD receptions.  With all of their weapons, he remains the least venomous option so that TD number may not take that big of a dip.  He added 36 receptions for 389 yards.  I don’t see those numbers moving much in either direction.

Alge Crumpler – Perhaps a change of scenery will do wonders for Alge as he was clearly unhappy in the ATL last year.  He saw his yardage virtually sawed in half last year.  If he becomes Vince Young’s security blanket in Tennessee, he can return to fantasy relevance.

L.J. Smith – L.J. got hit by the injury bug last year resulting in a sub-par 22 catches for 236 yards and a score.  He had 50+ receptions and 600+ yards the previous two years.  If he’s healthy this year, he’ll produce closer to those numbers than his lowly 2007 numbers.

Zach Miller – Zach had a decent rookie year catching 44 passes for 444 yards and 3 TDs.  He finished strong with career highs of 8 catches for 84 yars in his final game last year.  He’ll likely be a security blanket for JaMarcus Russell and a TE that you use when the matchups are right.

Scrap Pile
These are TEs that come in cases marked “Break Glass in Emergency”.  They are you bye week/injury plays.

Randy McMichael – He saw a pretty big dip in his reception and yardage numbers last year in his first year in St. Louis.  The Rams in general saw their offensive production slide so he could be in for a little rebound. 

Desmond Clark – The Bears wideouts are so bad that he could get his play again.  I’m just not banking on another 44 catch, 545 yard, 4 TD season out of Clark as long as Olsen is healthy.

Leonard Pope – Pope is huge (6’8″) and a red zone target (5 TDs).  He only had 23 catches though for 238 yards.  Use with caution.

Chris Baker – He had a decent year for the Jets in 2007 with 1 catches for 409 yards and 3 TDs.  I don’t see much more than that from him.

Alex Smith – Smith had 32 catches for 385 yards and 3 TDs.  He’s produced virtually the same numbers his three years in the league so I wouldn’t expect much more than that.

Donald Lee – Lee had a fine year for Green Bay last year with 48 catches for 575 yards and 6 TDs.  What scares me is the departure of Brett Favre.  If he can jive with Aaron Rodgers, he’ll be fine.  If not more mediocre seasons are in the future for Mr. Lee.

Mercedes Lewis – Lewis was decent at times for Jacksonville tallying 37 catches for 391 yards, and 2 TDs in his second year.  I can see him becoming more fantasy relevant in ’08.

Jeff King – King had a decent year with Carolina last year, but the additon of D.J. Hackett and the return of Muhsin Muhammad should quell any thoughts of increased production out of King.

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