When it comes to drafting a tight end, it is hard to find a sure thing. The likelihood of tight end busts seems pretty high, although it also seems that plenty of tight ends are available. However, getting value from a tight end often depends on how many touchdowns they score. Often tight ends don’t rack up a lot of receptions or yards, so their quarterbacks finding them in the end zone is key.
When looking for tight end busts, the biggest keys are usage and injury. If a tight end is injury-prone, it does cut into their value (and their likelihood of being a bust). Finding a player that will fill that spot on a roster is easy; finding a player to give you consistent value each week is tougher.
Here is an analysis of five tight ends that are being drafted as a TE1 that have the highest tight end bust potential.
Tight End Busts
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers
Playing for his fifth NFL team in his career, the 30-year-old Bennett now joins Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. He’s being drafted in the seventh round as the seventh tight end off the board, which still gives him TE1 value.
In New England last year, he scored the most touchdowns of his career with seven. However, the Patriots are a team that uses the tight end a lot, especially in the red zone. With Gronkowski missing so much time, a tight end needed to fill in and that’s where Bennett stepped up. He was battling injuries of his own throughout the season, and Fantasy owners thought he’d have a bigger role than he did, but he still had over 700 yards.
The bust potential for Bennett lies in his ability to find a niche in the Packers offense. This is a team that doesn’t really utilize the tight end role. In addition, plenty other pass catchers are available for Rodgers and he only throws so many passes per game. It seems like a good fit, but so did the Patriots and save for the touchdowns, he was a bit of a disappointment last year.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
The third tight end off the board, Jordan Reed is an injury risk. He hasn’t played a full season yet and has already started the 2017 pre-season on the PUP list with a toe injury. While the word is that it is not a serious injury, players with toe injuries have had a hard time overcoming that injury during the regular season.
An injury risk starting the season injured should send off warning bells. When healthy, he is a solid TE1, but if he cannot be trusted to stay healthy, he should not be the third tight end being drafted. In 2015, he had double-digit touchdowns (11) but he also played in 14 games, the most of his career.
Odds are he won’t be playing 14 games this year. He’s going to be a bust if Fantasy owners take him early and hope for a solid tight end for the season.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
Henry is being drafted in the eighth round, as the ninth tight end off the board. As a rookie last year, Henry had 36 receptions for 478 yards and eight touchdowns. He was in Antonio Gates’ shadow, but he did manage to make a name for himself, which is tough for rookie tight ends.
While Gates is still in the picture in 2017, the 37-year-old is slowly stepping down from the lead role. He’ll still play and he’ll still take some value from Henry, but the No. 1 tight end on the Chargers depth chart is Henry, not Gates. However, when it comes to touchdowns, the Chargers (despite their claims) were trying to get the ball to Gates.
Henry has potential to be a solid TE1; he just needs to wait for Gates to retire. He’s not going to be able to put up that kind of value while he’s still sharing the spotlight. Unlike the others on this list, he is not considered injury-prone (yet, he did have some nicks in 2016), but he needs the role to himself before he should be considered a solid TE1.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
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Eifert has the potential to be a top tier tight end, however, he’s had four injury-plagued seasons. In four years in the NFL, he’s played in 37 games (out of a possible 64). His 2016 season started with missing six games following ankle surgery and a back injury and ended with a back injury that required surgery. He’s dealt with concussion and neck injuries in addition throughout his career.
When healthy, he’s a solid Fantasy option. Andy Dalton looks to him in the red zone. Over the past two years, he’s scored 18 touchdowns – in only 21 games. He doesn’t always have a ton of receptions, but when he’s giving Fantasy owners touchdowns, no one is complaining.
Eifert is being drafted in the seventh round as the sixth tight end off the board. He certainly can live up to that, but the question really is health. Reports are that he’s healthy now, but realistically, Fantasy owners cannot expect him to play all 16 games. His bust potential comes in the form of a back injury in Week 2 that costs him the season.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Currently being drafted in the second round, Gronkowski is the first tight end coming off the board. Fantasy owners are clinging to the stats he put up in 2014 or 2015, and forgetting about his dreadful 2016 season.
It’s no question that he’s the best tight end in the league when he’s healthy. However, as the years have gone on, he’s struggled to stay healthy. His consistency falters when he’s injured, as the Patriots don’t use him as much and decoys don’t earn Fantasy points.
Last year, Gronkowski was drafted in the first round, and Fantasy owners got burned. He injured his hamstring in the pre-season and missed the beginning of the season. Once he was back on the field, he had two games where he recorded one reception for 11 yards. He had a whopping four Gronk-like games before getting injured again and missing the rest of the season. Given his injury history, the odds are high that he has a season like that again.
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