2016 NFL Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings
Tight end has long been considered one of the least important positions in fantasy football by most owners. The truth is, as it always has been, that finding a high scoring tight end offers a team the ability to amass a greater point differential than their opponents at that position. In competitive leagues where 3-4 points per game can make the difference each week, having a top tier tight end is a great, if little known, strategy to keep a team competitive. More so than any other position tight ends is very top heavy and typically sees a huge drop off between the top 2-3 candidates. 2016 offers more depth at the top - by way a sizeable second tier of tight ends - but there still won’t be enough to go around even an 8 team league. The ability to grab one of those top tight ends could give a team much needed flexibility during the season.
Rob Gronkowski, New England. Gronkowski is so much better than his counterparts that he is a legitimate top ten pick in any league at tight end. He’ll usually last until the 10-15th pick but unless your scoring system punishes tight ends you should take him there.
Greg Olsen, Carolina. Olsen is the next safest bet among tight ends. He’s in a system that will use him liberally, especially in the red zone, and - like Gronkowski - he’ll score more than many #2 receivers and #1 running backs. Look to grab him in the 12-18 spots if Gronk is gone.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati. Eifert is the final player in the top tier of tight ends. What he lacks is an offense that uses him as a focal point. With AJ Green being the primary focus in the passing game and Jeremy Hill getting lots of carries in the red zone, Eifert is rarely better than the second option on an average offense, although he did score 13 touchdowns off of only 74 targets last season.
Jordan Reed, Washington. Reed had a great season in 2015 and should continue to get better. I’m still not sold on Cousins and the Redskins overall offensive attack but Reed should be one of the better tight ends.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee. Walker has really found his stride in Tennessee. With a balanced offense around Marcus Mariota Walker should continue to put up big numbers. Walker had ten or more targets in 7 games last season.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City. Kelce gets a lot of looks but hasn’t yet put up huge touchdown numbers.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia. Ertz started slowly but exploded towards the end of the year. Doug Pederson will likely make better use of him than Chip Kelly did so Ertz could see an increase in his numbers, especially his touchdowns.
Coby Fleener, New Orleans. This is a pure projection on my part but Fleener had a very good year in 2014 and a decent year in 2015 given the injury to Andrew Luck. Brees uses his tight end as well as anyone in the NFL (save Tom Brady) and Fleener is exactly the type of player that Brees will be able to use to exploit defenses.
Gary Barnidge, Cleveland. Barnidge came out of nowhere last year to have a remarkable season. One wonders how a 31 year old, coming of his only good year, learning a new system, with little talent around him will fare.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle. Graham is likely to start the season on the PUP list, or at least spend the entire pre-season on the PUP list. The Seahawks need Graham to play and play well but he might not ever regain the form he had before his injury. He offers more upside than most any other tight end though and should be a target if the top tier of tight ends are taken.
Antonio Gates, San Diego. Gates keeps on producing. Clearly Phillip Rivers and he have a strong enough rapport to keep him productive well beyond his best years.
Eric Ebron, Detroit. If Eric Ebron is ever going to justify the first round pick the Lions spent on him 2016 is the year to do it. He’s supremely talented and has flashed potential but he has been a huge disappointment to this point in his career.
Julius Thomas, Jacksonville. Thomas had a quiet year in 2015, his first as a Jaguar. It’s a safe bet that Jacksonville didn’t sign him to only get him 80 targets a year. I would expect that number to move upwards of 100, and his yards, catches, and touchdowns to increase at a higher rate.
Jason Witten, Dallas. Witten is on the downside of his career but he can still be a capable option for a team that waits too long to take a tight end.
Zach Miller, Chicago. Miller is a talented guy that finds himself in a situation that should be much better for him. He only had 46 targets in 2015, only 6 games with more than 5 targets, and 4 games with no targets. I’d pass on him unless you like his bye week matchup when your starter is out.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis. Allen has shown potential in the past and won’t have to share time with Coby Fleener this year.
Jordan Cameron, Miami. I’ll trust Miami offensive players next year. Maybe.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay. Seferian-Jenkins could be the biggest mover this season. He has the potential to dominate and is on an offense that should get better.
LaDarius Green, Pittsburgh. Meh.