(Photo by: Alan Schaefer/Icon Sportswire)
Utilize our Ranking Hub for QB List’s 2018 Positional Rankings for all of your preseason positional needs.
Below is our Top-30 PPR Tight Ends.
1. Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs) – Consistency wins fantasy football. Travis Kelce has played in every game since 2014 (except the final game in 2017 where he sat prior to the playoffs). Rob Gronkowski may be the better tight end and have a better quarterback – but Kelce has the lower risk for bottoming out. Kelce is a workhorse who should finish as a top-2 tight end again this season.
2. Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots) – Rob Gronkowski is the gold standard of tight ends when he is healthy – having played a full season twice (including a year where he sat the last week for the playoffs) in his eight-year career. Gronkowski will score similar (if not more) points week-to-week to Travis Kelce, but there will be weeks where a Gronkowski owner will need to stream a replacement, making him a liability.
3. Zach Ertz (Philadelphia Eagles) – Zach Ertz is a tier apart from the above two, but is closer to Tier 1 status than he is Tier 2. Ertz broke out in a big way in 2017 by doing exactly the same thing he did for two years prior – but with more touchdowns, he should continue producing under Caron Wentz. Ertz was a red zone machine under Wentz and could eclipse the 110 targets (2nd on the team) he saw last season. If the touchdowns hold up, so will this ranking.
4. Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans) – Like Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker has been phenomenally consistent since 2014 – but has operated with lower production output. Walker is good for 100+ targets, 5-ish touchdowns, and 75ish receptions. Walker lead Tennessee in targets in 2017 and should again this season, even with Corey Davis taking up a larger share now that he is healthy.
5. Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers) – For the first time since 2007, Greg Olsen missed a game — well, he missed nine. Olsen has seen 120+ targets in his three seasons prior and without a clear WR1 on the team should again provide a stable outlet for Cam Newton. As far as PPR machines go, Olsen is a safe bet in the middle rounds.
6. Jimmy Graham (Green Bay Packers) – For the third time in his career, Jimmy Graham will be playing under a superstar quarterback. Graham may have a tough time matching is 2017 touchdown production (10), but he should be in store for another productive year with more yards than 2017 (520).
7. Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings) – Despite seeing 50 targets fewer in 2017, Kyle Rudolph managed to put up another top-10 tight end season, catching 57 on 81 targets with eight touchdowns. Rudolph has grown into a consistent red zone threat and under Kirk Cousins could see a return to his 2016 numbers. Even if Rudolph repeats 2017 – he has TE1 caliber potential.
8. Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts) – Yes, Jack Doyle‘s value took a hit when Eric Ebron signed with Indianapolis. Ebron’s role is still unknown and the Colts are ramping up to do more three-tight end sets this season. With Andrew Luck returning, the team will have more offensive potential and Doyle should reap the benefits as his 2017 came sans Luck. Doyle finished 2017 with the 5th most targets for a tight end (108) and should receive comparable targets in 2018, maintaining his fringe top-10 tight end value.
9. Jordan Reed (Washington Redskins) – Jordan Reed would be ranked higher if he could stay on the field (he has never finished a full NFL season). When on the field, Reed is poised for close to 100 targets and 6-8 touchdowns – so when playing he is worth the play. Still, shuffling tight ends week to week as he is often listed as “questionable” makes for a headache at the position. Buy low, expect low, and enjoy when he performs.
10. Evan Engram (New York Giants) – I am bearish with Evan Engram this season with the return of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Engram’s 2017 value was a direct result of being the only competent receiver and 115 targets (2nd of any tight end). Those targets will inevitably fall this season with Eli Manning using his go-to targets and Engram’s average 55% completion rate points to a steep drop in value this season.
11. Trey Burton (Chicago Bears) – After spending his career as Philadelphia’s TE3, Trey Burton is set for a breakout on a Chicago team that features Jordan Howard (incapable of catching) and Allen Robinson. Burton may be Mitch Trubisky‘s second look and frequent dump off as Trusbisky is pressured. His value is already rising and if you haven’t drafted him yet, he may not retain a sleeper value. If you missed out on a top tight end, Burton is a high-risk high-reward consolation prize.
12. Charles Clay (Buffalo Bills) – Charles Clay may finish the season as Buffalo’s top receiver and should improve on his 73 targets in 2017 under whoever ends up as Buffalo’s starting quarterback. Buffalo is a run-first offense, but Clay should still see plenty of targets and like 2017 is still a popular breakout candidate.
13. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jacksonville Jaguars) – We at QB List are a bit bullish on Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has only played more than 10 games once in his four-year career. Jacksonville needed a big target up the middle. He is a big target in the red zone and has the potential to score 8-10 touchdowns next season which should easily rank him in the top ten among TE. His floor is outrageously low, but a healthy ASJ is a borderline top ten TE and worth a gamble if you’ve made it this far in the draft without a tight end.
14. Vance McDonald (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Vance McDonald had limited effectiveness last season, intermittently injured – ultimately playing in only ten games. McDonald is in line to start as the team’s TE1 this season and Pittsburgh had the sixth highest number of pass attempts in 2017 (590) – there will be plenty of work for McDonald if he can stay on the field.
15. George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers) – Trending as one of this year’s sleepers, George Kittle started to break out in 2017, but was slowed down by the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo. He saw a workable amount of targets (63) and reports so far indicate that he is becoming one of Garoppolo’s go-to targets. In a brand new San Francisco offense, Kittle could carve himself out a pivotal role.
16. David Njoku (Cleveland Browns) – Nothing is the same in Cleveland –David Njoku had some highs and mostly lows in his 2017 rookie season (although he led Cleveland in targets with 63!). Cleveland added Jarvis Landry and is getting Josh Gordon back (maybe Dez Bryant soon?) meaning Njoku may be freed up a bit from the coverage he faced last year. Njoku’s floor is his 2017 season (24th ranked tight end), his ceiling is a WR2,
17. Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders) – Jared Cook had a resurgence in Oakland last season. He is involved in Oakland’s offense and if Derek Carr has a resurgent year, Cook would benefit. His biggest impediment is the offseason additions of Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant taking additional targets away. Cook should be a serviceable WR with streaming upside.
18. Eric Ebron (Indianapolis Colts) – Eric Ebron‘s role in the Indianapolis offense is still muddy, but after a lackluster four seasons in Detroit – Ebron is looking to shed his draft-bust name and start fresh. The past two seasons in Detroit Ebron managed 80+ targets – that number will go down if he lands the TE2 role in Indianapolis, but with Andrew Luck at the helm should make the best of the opportunities given. Until then – he might not get enough looks to roster.
19. Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins) – This rookie is set for a starting tight end position and on a team without a clear WR1 on the roster. Mike Gesicki is an excellent receiver, although his blocking may hurt his playing time. He’s the epitome of high-risk, high-reward and I wouldn’t want to have to rely on him this season. He’s a nice dart-throw as a TE2.
20. Cameron Brate (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – The fantasy struggle in Tampa Bay is the timeshare between Cameron Brate and former first-round pick O.J. Howard. Brate was on fire to start 2017, but cooled down as his red zone effectiveness decreased. Brate excels as a receiving tight end and signed a six-year extension in the off season. Tampa Bay clearly has plans for Brate in its offense – but Howard will detract from that value. I am still high on Brate as the tight end to own out of Tampa Bay based on his 77/39 target split with Howard in 2017.
21. Ricky Seals-Jones (Arizona Cardinals) – Ricky Seals-Jones was a 2017 undrafted free agent that lit the tight end world on first during his first two games in Weeks 11 and 12 before only contributing slightly in his final three games. Seals-Jones will take the lead with Jermaine Gresham still rehabbing a torn achilles. Even if Gresham returns early enough in the season, Seals-Jones should have a window of time to demonstrate his value and wrest a starting role on the team with the fifth most attempts in 2017 (598).
22. Jake Butt (Denver Broncos) – The league is about to see Jake Butt for the first time after he missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL. Butt is one of my personal sleepers at the position as Denver throws the ball pretty consistently and I am a believer in Case Keenum. Denver does not have a clear top tight end and while Butt is currently listed as TE2 for the team – may yet work his way to start part way into the season.
23. Hayden Hurst (Baltimore Ravens) – Hayden Hurst, like Mike Gesicki, is a rookie tight end without much competition for the starting role. Hurst is fortunate to be in an offense that has long favored tight ends, even pulling productive seasons out of Dennis Pitta and Ben Watson. Hurst’s freak athleticism and size make him an excellent tight end prototype, and he has the potential to be a serviceable TE2 if the targets are there (they should be).
24. O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – See #23 Cameron Brate. O.J. Howard will have a sizeable role in Tampa Bay’s offense, but for fantasy purposes Cameron Brate should be the go-to tight end.
25. Ben Watson (New Orleans Saints) – Ben Watson is back with New Orleans after two years away. Watson last left New Orleans after catching 77 passes on 110 attempts for 825 yards and six touchdowns. While it may be unrealistic to expect a similar season, Watson should be the top tight end in New Orleans and Drew Brees has a history of utilizing his tight ends offensively. Age will be Watson’s biggest rival this season as he will turn 38 in December.
26. Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati Bengals) – Tyler Eifert has yet to play a full season since 2013, but has been remarkably consistent when he is on the field (67% catch rate). Eifert should get the nod as the team’s starting tight end over Tyler Kroft who was marginally effective at best as a starter in 2017 (despite playing 15 games he earned nearly 50% of his points over two games).
27. Rico Gathers (Dallas Cowboys) – Now that Jason Witten has found greener pastures, Dallas is in need of a tight end for the first time since 2002. By process of elimination, Rico Gathers seems ready to take on the team’s TE1 role. Gathers has not played an NFL snap, but has looked good so far this preseason.
28. Luke Willson (Detroit Lions) – Eric Ebron was let loose by Detroit and signed Luke Willson in his place. Willson played part-time for Seattle over the past five years and is an unknown as he has only capped out at 40 targets once in his career. Willson should be the lead receiving tight end in Detroit and Ebron’s 86 targets from last season need to go to someone.
29. Austin Hooper (Atlanta Falcons) – Austin Hooper again has to fend off Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu for targets, but this year he’ll likely fall behind Calvin Ridley as well. He could breakout as many had hoped he would in 2017, but that door seems to be closing quickly.
30. Virgil Green (Los Angeles Chargers) – Los Angeles Chargers’ top tight end, Hunter Henry, went down with an ACl injury in May – leaving Virgil Green as the likely starting tight end in 2018. Although a blocking tight end by trade, Green should see a fair number of targets as Phillip Rivers has long since utitlized his tight end (Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry).