Tight ends are considered a largely unimportant position in Fantasy Football. Even someone that I played just this week did not start a tight end because they did not think picking up a replacement for their every- week tight end was worth losing a player on their bench. Just don’t tell this to Rob Gronkowski.
Everyone knows that Gronk is the best tight end both in real life and Fantasy Football by a wide margin. The advantage that he gives you at the position often warrants a first round pick in your Fantasy draft. While we all know that he is really good, exactly how good is he?
Gronk has had three years (not counting this year and his rookie year) where he has played in 15-plus games. Those years were 2011, 2014 and 2015. 2011 was the best year of his career and arguably the best of all time for a tight end. Also, since it was a while ago, it is listed more for fun than for relevance. He posted 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 18 total touchdowns. These crazy numbers placed him first in that year’s Fantasy scoring among tight ends with 241 points. The next best was 197 by Jimmy Graham, who had a crazy season of his own. The third place finisher was Aaron Hernandez with a 137 point total that is dwarfed by Gronk. In 2014, he led all tight ends with 184 points, 30 more than the second place Antonio Gates and 39 more than the third place Jimmy Graham. In 2015, he once again had 184 points, this time 26 more than the second place Gary Barnidge and 27 more than the third place Jordan Reed.
Now that we have confirmed the obvious, let’s move into the real question. How valuable is he at your tight end position? The way to do this is compare him to other receivers. Let’s look at how he stacked up against wide receivers in those three years. In 2011, he would have been the No. 2 ranked wide receiver in Fantasy. Graham would have been No. 5, and Hernandez would have been No. 22. As stated above, his year can be considered an outlier, as this was a crazy year for tight ends. Now let’s look at 2014 and 2015, the two years that really are an indicator of his talent. In 2014, Gronk would have been the No. 10 wide receiver. That is a low-end WR1! The next 11 tight ends averaged 121 points, and that average would place at No. 32. The results in 2015 were much of the same, as Gronk was No. 9 among wide receivers and the next 11 averaged 124 points which put them tied for No. 30.
These results are huge. Basically, having Gronk instead of a an average starting tight end is the different between a low-end WR1 and a mid-end WR3. Considering the huge drop-off, Gronk also should be valued more than just a low-end WR1. This year, after missing the first few games of the year and starting slow in the next few, Gronk has returned to form that he has shown in the last two years. By now it is quite obvious who is the No. 1 tight end, but let’s help you do your best to compete with Gronk by ranking the Top 12 tight ends for the rest of the season.
Updated Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings
No. 1: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
All you have to do in order to understand my justification for this ranking is either (A) read the introduction or (B) know anything about football. Gronk is a beast, and his production at tight end will win countless owners Fantasy titles this year. If you are facing him, you just have to hope for an injury or that Tom Brady gets abducted by aliens.
No. 2: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
While Gronk is definitely the No. 1 option, for the first time in a while it seems like the second option isn’t miles behind. Greg Olsen has been the king of consistency among Fantasy tight ends, as he has more than six points in all games but one. At a tight end position where even six points is considered good, this is a huge feat for Olsen at this point in the season. With a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way, Olsen could take advantage of Gronk’s injury and slow start and finish as this year’s top tight end.
No. 3: Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Just as I said in the last tight end article, Jordan Reed is an elite TE1 with huge injury issues. I may have jinxed it, as he did in fact suffer an injury that kept him sidelined for two games. He returned in Week 9 and bounced back like nothing had ever happened with nine receptions for 99 yards and a score. If he can stay healthy, he should continue to dominate the box scores. However, his health is no guarantee. It does help that Vernon Davis is a great handcuff for him and would contribute solid production if Reed suffers another injury, so that can help ease the injury risk (if you own Davis, which you have to if you own Reed) and keep Reed in the Top 3.
No. 4: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Another year, another under-the-radar season by Walker. While he has put up some stinkers, this is expected from most tight ends, and he more than makes up for it with his four games with double digit scoring. He is a fine TE1 moving forward.
No. 5: Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
It was beginning to look like Graham had returned to elite TE1 status, but performances of 5 and 3 points in the last two weeks halted the train. However, Graham bounced back in Week 9 on Monday Night with what was by far his biggest game of the season. While it may be too soon to put him this low again, Russell Wilson’s health really does worry me. If Wilson has a huge second half like he did last year, Graham should be able to maintain elite production.
No. 6: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
I said it last time, and I’ll say it again: If Alex Smith wasn’t the Chiefs quarterback, Kelce would be so much better. With Nick Foles filling in the last two weeks for an injured Smith, Kelce has had 12 receptions for 159 yards and a touchdown. While it remains to be seen who will start in Kansas City once Smith comes back, it will almost certainly be Smith, and that puts Kelce as the No. 6 tight end on this list with room to fall if the following two players continue to perform.
No. 7: Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
Miller was one of my favorite tight end sleepers entering the year. After a slow start in the first two weeks, he has heated up and has become the exact player I thought he would be. He has had more than seven Fantasy points in exactly half of his games this year. In the rest of the games, he has totals of 1, 3, 4, and 3 points, which isn’t too shabby for a tight end on an off day. Keep rolling Miller as your TE1, and as mentioned above, he could rise above Travis Kelce if he shows that his latest production doesn’t drop with Jay Cutler back at the helm of the Chicago offense.
No. 8: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Perhaps the “One to Watch” this week, Eifert made all Fantasy owners happy when he posted nine receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown in his second game back from injury and his first handling a full workload. Eifert was a beast last year, and if Week 8 proves not to be a fluke, he would easily shoot up this list. With a few receivers gone from last year, I expect Eifert to return close to what he did last season, if not better in the yardage department. The only reason I have him this low is because he has only had one real game back from injury, but he will likely be higher by the next time I rank tight ends.
No. 9: Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
After a great season last year, Barnidge has just turned into a slightly better version of Jason Witten. He has had over three points in all but two games and has been a largely productive player all season long. His consistency has great value, but it remains a mystery as to how he does it with the Browns current quarterback situation. Regardless, Fantasy owners will take their five-or-so Fantasy points a week from Barnidge, but have to hope that he finally finds the end zone.
No. 10: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph is another player who started off strong but has cooled down. Don’t get me wrong, he is still a TE1, but he isn’t the player we hoped he would be after his strong start. He has decent consistency, as he has had more than five points in all but two games, but his last two weeks are concerning. In those two games, he only has six receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown.
No. 11: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans
Fiedorowicz has been surprisingly great in the past five weeks, just look at his stats. He has had double digit Fantasy points in three of the last five games. The other two games have come against the leagues two best defenses. He has no track record in his career, so there is a chance that he falls back into obscurity. Even so, the type of production in the past five weeks at a weak tight end position certainly warrants this ranking.
No. 12: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
I am not going to fall into the trap of ranking him high because of his breakout performance against arguably the leagues worst defense in Week 9. That’s not representative of who he is as a player. However, he still is valuable. When you are this low in the ranking, you will be happy with any kind of points, and Witten is the best at doing just that. He has put up more than four Fantasy points in all but one outing this year, and that is all you can ask from a low-end TE1.
We hope you liked our 2016 Rest-of-Season Tight End Rankings! Make sure to come back next week as we revisit and refresh our rest-of-season quarterback rankings.
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