The tight end position is a barren wasteland. Seriously, who gets excited about this position?
It’s also been one of the more difficult positions to predict from year to year as we often see two or three new faces bounce into the Top 10. And with so few good options out there to make matters even more difficult is that two of the very best, Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed, are perpetually injured.
This position is all about Travis Kelce. If you can get him you’ve just given yourself a majority advantage at the position, but he won’t come cheap. Gambling on Gronk and Reed is just that, a major gamble. Although, I’m more prone to gamble on Gronk as Reed is close to my do not draft list.
If you don’t get Kelce though, what are your options? We’re going to be looking at a couple of tight ends that should be available later in the draft that can provide worthwhile contributions to a position that is desperately lacking.
2017 Fantasy Tight Ends That Are Rising And Falling
Martellus Bennett, GB
Martellus Bennett had a great season last year in New England, so how can he be a riser? Well, because now he’s not playing second fiddle to Rob Gronkowski. We all saw how productive Jared Cook was in Green Bay when he finally got healthy and Martellus Bennett is better than Cook, much better.
Aaron Rodgers has never had a tight end like Bennett. Yes, Cook and Jermichael Finley were good, but they both struggled with mental lapses and dropped balls, which hasn’t been an issue for Bennett. There are a lot of weapons in Green Bay with Jordy Nelson, DaVante Adams, and Randall Cobb, but I expect Bennett to shine in Green Bay. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finish as a Top 7 tight end.
Believe it or not, but down in the red zone Rodgers likes to look at his tight ends. It was just two years ago where the incredibly average Richard Rogers had eight touchdowns. I truly expect Bennett to be a weapon when the Packers are close to the goal line and with his size, Bennett will shine. Of course, everything is easier with Aaron.
Austin Hooper, ATL
The receiving corps in Atlanta is pretty much Julio Jones or bust. Mohamed Sanu is a fine player and Taylor Gabriel brings some pop, but both ultimately leave something to be desired. Austin Hooper has the athletic ability to be a middle of the field threat for Matt Ryan.
I thought the Falcons could look to add a tight end in this year’s deep class. When they didn’t that was great news for Hooper. He flashed a bit last year and he’ll be the starter going into 2017. He won’t be a Top 10 tight end, but there’s value to be had here. The receiving options after Julio are a bit lacking and he’ll be available quite late into your draft.
Touchdowns may be tough to come by since the Falcons rely on the running game inside the red zone. Nonetheless, Tony Gonzalez was a Top 10 tight end with Matt Ryan. Hooper isn’t Gonzalez by any means, but this is still a great offense with plenty of opportunities to go around.
Jack Doyle, IND
They gave Jack Doyle a new contract this past off-season, traded Dwayne Allen and then despite a great tight end class, didn’t pick a single one. What bigger endorsement can the Colts give? Needless to say, big things are expected of Doyle this year.
The Colts pass the ball a ton and after T.Y. Hilton it gets a little spotty. Yes, Donte Moncrief is talented but rarely healthy. Phillip Dorsett is all or nothing.
Doyle could be the beneficiary of a decent amount of attention from Andrew Luck. I really like Doyle and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t end the year as a Top 10 Fantasy tight end.
Jesse James, PIT
The Ladarius Green experiment didn’t last long and there were two reasons for that. One, Green was hurt for more than half the season and two, Jesse James looked like the real deal. He’s a great blocker and while that’s not the kind of positive vibe you want to hear about your starting Fantasy tight end, it does ensure that he stays on the field.
James is a huge target and one that Big Ben repeatedly looked for in the red zone and I think that chemistry will only continue to grow in year two.
Pittsburgh has a very balanced offense with a ton of playmakers so there will no doubt be some clunkers mixed in throughout the year, but I like James’ chances of being a Top 15 tight end and someone who could have eight touchdowns. There are worse things in the world.
Cameron Brate, TB
Poor Cameron Brate. The Buccaneers gave him a new deal, traded the disappointing Austin Seferian-Jenkins and then the NFL Draft happened. O.J. Howard is a beast; the reports about him being the best tight end prospect in years are legit.
Howard is amazing and he can do it all. Brate isn’t going to disappear entirely. It seems expected that Howard will claim the starting role eventually though. With the other added receivers in Tampa Bay, Brate continues to drop on Jameis Winston’s totem pole.
It’s been extremely rare for rookie tight ends to produce year one so take that into consideration here. However, Howard is not a normal rookie.
Will Tye/Larry Donnell, NYG
Larry Donnell had already pretty much been replaced by Will Tye in the starting lineup, so this is more about Tye then it is about Donnell, who is already pretty much off the Fantasy radar.
The Giants drafted Evan Engram in the first round to be their play-making tight end. Tye will still play because he’s a better blocker than Engram, but that doesn’t earn any Fantasy points. Eli Manning rarely looked at the tight end position before and now with the addition of Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram, Will Tye isn’t a viable tight end option, not even in the deepest of leagues.
Antonio Gates, LAC
I love Antonio Gates, but this was bound to happen sometime, right? I mean, the guy is like 45 years old. Ok, he’s not that old, but he’s creeping up on 40 and he’s been so good for so long. And there’s no denying that he’s still a favorite target for Philip Rivers inside the red zone, but that’s not going to be enough anymore.
The Chargers offense continues to get more and more dangerous. Keenan Allen returns from injury and they drafted Mike Williams with their seventh overall pick. They still have Tyrell Williams, their leading receiving from last year and Hunter Henry, a second round pick at tight end. And we haven’t even mentioned Melvin Gordon yet.
Gates may still end up with six touchdowns, but the yards aren’t going to be there anymore with so many more options.
The tight end position is not fun; there just aren’t enough players out there that you can feel truly confident in. That of course, works both ways as your opponents are probably just as unhappy about their current tight end situation.
The biggest question you need to ask yourself about this position is what is the best player, Travis Kelce worth to you? He could be a third round pick and how willing are you to gamble on Gronk’s injury history? If your answers to both questions leave you a little queasy be sure to add some of our risers in your Fantasy Football draft this year.
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