Week 1 Tight End Analysis
This weekly tight end analysis article will explore the difference between expert consensus rankings (ECR) for tight ends and their projected standard stats (both as per www.fantasypros.com). I’ll also offer my insight on their weekly match-up, along with whether or not they can beat their weekly PPR projection. Note: I used 2016 data for week 1 for the “Defensive rank against TE” rankings from http://www.pro-football-reference.com. Without further ado, here is my week 1 tight end analysis.
Top Ten Tight Ends
Rank 1. Rob Gronkowski (NE)
vs KC (6th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 15.30
Finally healthy, Gronk should be back in full force for the opening game of the NFL season. While he has had past injury concerns, he has recovered fully this offseason and remains the top TE in the NFL. With the loss of Edelman, look for Gronk to be targeted even more. Already the primary end zone target for the Patriots, I’m expecting him to snag at least one score along with 80+ yards and 6+ receptions. While KC is a tough defense, I expect New England to start the year strong, and put their new offense on display.
My Projected Points: 19.50 (above ECR projection)
Rank 2. Greg Olsen (CAR)
at SF (16th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 14.80
Greg Olsen is a centerpiece of the Carolina offense and led the Panthers with 129 targets last year. The Carolina offense looks to be more improved this year, with the additions of Christian McCaffrey and a fit-looking Kelvin Benjamin. San Francisco is a decidedly middling to lower-end team but may surprise some people on the defensive side of the ball. Cam Newton is recovering from a shoulder surgery, and I think this game may be closer than some believe. Either way, Olsen looks to build on his role from last year and will definitely get his share of targets.
My Projected Points: 15.00 (above ECR projection)
Rank 3. Travis Kelce (KC)
at NE (7th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 14.30
Kelce is expected to absorb more targets upon the departure of Jeremy Maclin from KC. However, it was revealed that Kelce is battling a calf injury, which limited him in practice Monday. I don’t believe his playing status is in jeopardy, but KC will need all the help they can get against a formidable New England defense. Look for Bill Belichek to try and remove Kelce and Kareem Hunt (RB) from the game, forcing Alex Smith and new WR1 Tyreek Hill to beat them. Play Kelce, but temper your expectations.
My Projected Points: 12.90 (below ECR projection)
Rank 4. Jimmy Graham (SEA)
at GB (20th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 13.60
Jimmy Graham had a bounce back year in 2016, finally looking healthy after his torn patellar tendon a few years ago. He draws a tough match-up against the Packers, who have a sneakily good defense across the board. I expect this game to be a battle of short gains, which does feed nicely into Graham’s strengths. I think he can get a redzone target and grab a short yardage TD, as he did many times in New Orleans.
My Projected Points: 14.00 (above projection)
Rank 5. Jordan Reed (WAS)
vs PHI (2nd ranked TE defense). Projected Points: 13.70
There is no doubt that Jordan Reed is a talented tight end, but injuries have cost him many games over his career. He appears to already be suffering from a foot injury heading into 2016, along with countless concussions. Philadelphia has a very good defense, especially against the tight end. I expect Reed to fall short of his weekly projection, though not by much.
My Projected Points: 12.00 (below projection)
Rank 6. Delanie Walker (TEN)
vs OAK (24th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 12.80
Heading into the year, many people are wondering how Delanie Walker’s role will shape itself, considering the additions of Corey Davis (5th overall pick in 2017) and Eric Decker (WR). Still, Walker showed great chemistry with Mariota last year, and has been a reliable pass catcher. However, while playing a soft defense in Oakland, I believe Tennessee will stick to their run-first game plan. Furthermore, Decker hurts the redzone appeal that Walker used to carry.
My Projected Points: 10.80 (below projection)
Rank 7. Kyle Rudolph (MIN)
vs NO (14th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 13.00
Rudolph led all tight ends in targets last year with 132, and has shown growing chemistry with Sam Bradford. The New Orleans defense worsened over the 2017 offseason, and this game projects to have some high scoring. I think Rudolph snags a touchdown from Bradford, as he’s the top option for Minnesota in the redzone.
My Projected Points: 14.50 (above projection)
Rank 8. Tyler Eifert (CIN)
vs BAL (9th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 12.50
Eifert is a very talented, oft-injured tight end, which seems to be the case for many tight ends. He only played 8 games last year, but was second in point per game for tight ends during those 8 games. With John Ross (WR) missing the season opener, look for Eifert to gain more targets, as he is the second passing option in Cincinnati behind AJ Green. Baltimore’s defense will be strong, and the game might not be high scoring, but Eifert should be able to contribute in this game.
My Projected Points: 15.60 (above projection)
Rank 9. Zach Ertz (PHI)
at WAS (25th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 13.00
Every year Zach Ertz seems to finish the fantasy season strong, leading people to believe he can put together a strong performance to start the season. Will it occur again? Well, with the additions of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, the Eagles dramatically, improved their offense. This actually bodes well for Ertz, as it should take some pressure away from his coverage. Against the Washington defense, I like Ertz to come close to his projection, but not surpass it.
My Projected Points: 12.50 (below projection)
Rank 10. Martellus Bennett (GB)
vs SEA (4th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 11.40
Green Bay hasn’t had a pass-catching tight end talent like Bennett in a while, and the Packers don’t usually spend a large amount on free agents. However, in 2017, they went out and got Bennett to rectify this situation. However, I don’t think week 1 will be a great start for Bennett. Against a tough Seattle defense, I expect the Packers to rely more heavily on their loaded WR corps, all whom have chemistry from last year with Rodgers.
My Projected Points: 9.75 (below projection)
Rank 11. Hunter Henry (LAC)
at DEN (17th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 9.90
With Antonio Gates still in town, Henry has yet to realize his potential. Gates will still command redzone targets, limiting the upside of Henry.
My Projected Points: 8.80 (below projection)
Rank 12. Eric Ebron (DET)
at ARI (1st ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 8.50
An oft-injured tight end who is already struggling with missed practice time, Ebron will face the top ranked tight end defense in Arizona. You’re basically relying on a touchdown or nothing at all from Ebron.
My Projected Points: 6.50 (below projection)
Rank 13. Jason Witten (DAL)
vs NYG (19th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 9.70
Witten is going against one of the top secondaries in the league, and hasn’t gotten any younger. Zeke is now playing, which helps take attention away from the passing game. Still, I think Witten will get 4 catches for 40 yards, and has a low chance at a score
My Projected Points: 8.40 (below projection)
Rank 14. Jack Doyle (IND)
at LAR (5th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 10.40
Andrew Luck isn’t going to suit up in week 1, and Doyle will be going against a very formidable LA Rams defense. Try to find another option for week 1, if Doyle is your starting TE.
My Projected Points: 8.60 (above projection)
Rank 15. Coby Fleener (NO)
at MIN (14th ranked TE defense). Projected PPR Points: 10.20
I think Fleener can exceed his projected points for the week, given that Snead is facing a 3 game suspension. Look for Fleener to absorb some of those targets.
My Projected Points: 11.50 (above projection)