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2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2017 Tight End Rankings: Tracking Young Ones

2017 Tight End Rankings - Keith Allison - Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

Our 2017 Tight End Rankings will do more than just show you which tight ends we believe will be good in 2017. We’ll show you how to know which ones should be good in 2018, 2019, and beyond! (Bumper crop expected in 2026!)

In the world of Fantasy Sports, I’ve come to believe in several different concepts that many times people discard as just “pithy sayings.” (Is there a better word than “pithy”? … I mean, besides “fartlek.”

Some of those smart sayings or concepts to do with Fantasy Sports are ones you are all too familiar with, like:

  • Draft third-year breakout wide receivers
  • Avoid running backs over 30 years old
  • Avoid sophomores in Fantasy Baseball coming off stud rookie campaigns
  • Avoid sophomore goalies in Fantasy Hockey
  • Draft sophomores after average rookie seasons in Fantasy Basketball
  • Draft older catchers in Fantasy Baseball
  • Avoid drafting star closers in Fantasy Baseball that haven’t closed games for a full season yet

But the smart saying we’re going to dissect in our discussion of 2017 tight end rankings is —

  • Avoid drafting rookie tight ends
  • Draft sophomore breakout tight ends

Examining Rookie, 2nd-Year and 3rd-Year Tight Ends Since 2000

I took a closer look at the year-end Fantasy stats of tight ends over the past 17 NFL seasons, using data from FootballGuys.com. First, we looked at the top 12 at the position to see how many rookies, sophs and third-year tight ends were worthy of being Fantasy starters, then we looked at the top 20 tight ends in each season.

Tight EndsTop 12 TEs
Rookies
Top 12 TEs
Sophs
Top 12 TEs
3rd Year
Top 20 TEs
Rookies
Top 20 TEs
Sophs
Top 20 TEs
3rd Year
2016101103
2015014024
2014012033
2013003213
2012014025
2011031061
2010211312
2009013044
2008123134
2007021132
2006003124
2005123244
2004043154
2003033133
2002221322
2001011221
2000001012
Averages0.411.412.241.062.593.00

I love looking at the history of positions like I did here on my personal 2017 tight end rankings. A few things stand out looking at this table, so I’ll share them bullet-style, like a Fantasy gangsta.

Very few rookie tight ends are worth starting in Fantasy Football over the full course of a year. Hunter Henry was the first rookie to make the top-12 at the position since Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez did it in 2010. That’s ONE rookie tight end over the past six seasons! (Tap your brakes, loves of O.J. Howard, David Njoku and Evan Engram!)

While there has been plenty more sophomore tight ends in the top 12 since 2000, there have been just three since 2012 (five seasons!). The three sophomores that made top 12 in 2011 (and the four third-year TEs that made top 12 in 2012) were from the unbelievable rookie class of 2010, which also included Jimmy Graham and Dennis Pitta).

The largest jump in final value from top-12 to top-20 comes from sophomore tight ends. Those second-year tight ends have only produced 1.41 top-12 tight ends in Fantasy since 2000. But there have been 2.59 second-year tight ends – more than one full player more – in the top-20 each season.

What does that final point mean?

It means it’s more likely that a second-year tight end will be a top-20 player than a top-12 player compared to any other position. Does that make sense? In other words, there’s just one rookie, on average, in the top-20 tight ends, and three third-year tight ends. But the increase from second-year players in the top 12 to the top 20 was greater than anywhere else.

Bet on second-year tight ends for breakouts!

2017 Tight End Rankings

These Fantasy Football rankings are for standard leagues with non-PPR formats.

As you can see, I’m high on Hunter Henry in his second season with the Chargers — especially with what’s going on with the other pass-catchers on that team right now.

If you’re in the market for second-year tight ends, someone like Falcons TE Austin Hooper or Rams TE Tyler Higbee deserve a look!

From the third-year tight ends, however, we’re looking at a paltry group consisting of Clive Walford, Jesse James and Will Tye. Yoiks.

While these 2017 Tight End Rankings might not make or break your team, they can certainly make the difference in a couple wins this season — which could mean a playoffs spot!

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David Gonos

David Gonos has been writing about Fantasy Sports online since 2000 – and playing Fantasy Sports since 1989. He has drafted both Curt Warner and Kurt Warner, along with Big Unit and Big Papi. A veteran of hundreds of drafts in the past 15 years alone, Gonos is closely acquainted with sleepers, breakouts and busts – as he has drafted many of all three. He was a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBSSports.com for five years, and he has been columnist on SI.com and FanDuel.com, while also getting published on MLB.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com and USAToday.com.
Follow DG

David Gonos has been writing about Fantasy Sports online since 2000 – and playing Fantasy Sports since 1989. He has drafted both Curt Warner and Kurt Warner, along with Big Unit and Big Papi. A veteran of hundreds of drafts in the past 15 years alone, Gonos is closely acquainted with sleepers, breakouts and busts – as he has drafted many of all three. He was a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBSSports.com for five years, and he has been columnist on SI.com and FanDuel.com, while also getting published on MLB.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com and USAToday.com.

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