A Tight-Knit Group
Look, tight ends are not the most exciting position in the world. There are a few tight ends that are capable of posting monster performances and then the rest are just kind of there. You can find a serviceable tight end by streaming. Streaming is a very common strategy these days. However, if you really want to build a championship winning team, you’re going to want one of the top tight ends. So, here are the top 2017 fantasy football tight ends.
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
I think at this point Gronk is on the top of 99% of tight end rankings. He’s a monster of a man, a talented football player in many facets and plays for one of the top offenses in the league. His only downside at this point is his health. Gronk has missed 24 games in the last 5 seasons. When Gronk is on the field, however, your opponents will shiver in fear. He has 68 receiving TDs in his career and averages almost 70 yards per game (77 yards per game if you remove his rookie season). He’s a no brainer at the end of the second round or in the early third.
2. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Some people might be scratching their heads thinking, “Wait, where’s Kelce? He finished first last year.” Well don’t worry, he’s next. Greg Olsen lands at #2 on the top tight ends for 2017. Olsen is probably the most well-rounded tight end in the league. He is an outstanding blocker, a great route runner and the second most durable TE in the league. Well, at least until Jason Witten retires. Last year Olsen had a respectable season, but he only had 3 TDs. This is one of the reasons that Kelce ended up being the top TE in 2016. Greg Olsen has had at least 5 TDs every year until last season. (Not counting his rookie season) Olsen has seen his targets increase every year since 2011. Hopefully, we’ll see him crest the 129 target mark from last year.
The Panthers offense as a whole struggled last year. If McCaffrey becomes a stud and Cam Newton focuses on improving his game, Olsen will once again be a top five tight end in 2017.
3. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce was the top tight end in 2016, which makes it strange to put him at #3, but I think it’s where he ends up. Kelce came through in a big way for fantasy owners last season, catching 85 balls for over 1,100 yards and 4 TDs. Not to mention his streak from week 7 through week 16 where he chalked up 841 yards! With that being said, there are a few things that keep him below Greg Olsen for the 2017 season. First, he hasn’t scored more than 5 touchdowns in a season yet. Second, he gets fewer targets than Olsen. Third, those targets are coming from Alex Smith (for now…). With that being said, Kelce is a beast with yards after the catch. Last season 653 yards, or 58%, of his receiving yards came after the catch. Is this a sustainable rate? If Mahomes were to start later in the season, would Kelce be affected? There are questions surrounding Kelce.
4. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
I think at this point it’s safe to assume that we won’t be getting 2013 Jimmy Graham back, but that’s okay. Jimmy Graham joins the list as the #4 of the top 2017 fantasy football tight ends. It took Graham a season to carve out his role in the Seattle offense. Graham will once again assume the role of the second most targeted receiver on the Seahawks this season. In 2016, he recorded just 95 targets, but he also had a catch percentage of 68.4%. Also, he was tied for 3rd among TEs for red zone targets. Following red zone targets is one of the most important strategies when finding a top 5 tight end. I predict that Graham will once again see a bump up in targets from his 2016 season.
5. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
I’m worried that Jordan Reed is going to become a “what could have been” story sooner than later. Reed has had an extensive injury history, and numerous concussions while playing in the NFL. Every time he gets tackled, a thousand Reed owners cry out in the night, scared for their TE. That being said, the reason that Reed still makes it to #5 is that his season extrapolation numbers are absolutely nuts. In 2015 he would have finished with 99 catches for almost 1,100 yards and 12-13 TDs. In 2016 if you extrapolate from his non-injured weeks (1-9, during week 9 he injured his AC joint) his season totals would be 105 receptions for 1,120 yards and 9 TDs. The problem is that he can’t seem to stay healthy. If you draft him, I’d recommend stashing a second tight end.
6. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz did fairly well in his rookie season in his own right. One of his favorite targets down the stretch was Zach Ertz. In the final 7 games of the season, Ertz had 4 games with double digit targets and only one game below 6 targets. Also, during that stretch, he had 14 red zone targets. Ertz may have only had 3 TDs during that timeframe, but the common fantasy advice is to follow the targets. The rapport Wentz has been built with Ertz indicates that he very well may be the main red zone option for the Eagles this year. He easily has top 5 TE ability and workload and is currently being draft behind guys like Delanie Walker and Tyler Eifert. If he drops below the 7th round you should snatch him immediately.
7. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
The red zone warrior himself, Tyler Eifert, comes in at #7 on the top 2017 fantasy football tight ends. Eifert is, unfortunately, similar to Jordan Reed in that they’re both injury-prone. One other similarity is how silly Eifert’s TD rate numbers are. Over the past two years, Eifert has caught 18 TDs on 81 receptions, good for a 22% TD rate. For reference, Gronk’s career TD rate is 16.7%. Eifert is deadly in the red zone. He does have some associated issues with this, however. First, his low reception totals cause him to give you dud weeks every once in a while. Second, he has not played a full 16 game season in his career. These things combined mean that you may only get to use Eifert for 5-6 great weeks, coupled with some bad ones.
8. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
It’s the changing of the guard in
San Diego Los Angeles. Look, I get —itAntonio Gates will play some snaps. He’ll probably even be in some red zone packages, but here’s the deal: He’s not the starting TE anymore. As it stands, Gates is tied with Tony Gonzalez (retired in 2013) for 6th in all time receiving TDs with 111. He is 17 TDs behind Marvin Harrison (unobtainable in my opinion) and 7 TDs ahead of Larry Fitzgerald (On the last year of his contract, contemplating retirement). The Chargers will get Gates 2-3 TDs early in the season to secure Gates’ legacy, then the torch will be passed to Hunter Henry. Philip Rivers is a great QB who loves using his tight end, Henry will be locked in his sights soon enough. In Henry’s rookie season, he caught 8 TDs. The only rookie TE to get more than that since the year 2000? Rob Gronkowski, you might have heard of him. Henry absolutely deserves a spot on the top 2017 fantasy football tight ends, and I believe he will be on future lists for years to come.
9. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
This is where we start to wade into treacherous territory for top 2017 fantasy football tight ends. I know so because Ebron has been a polarizing player for the last couple years. There are some who are still vying for the breakout season. I am one of those people. Ebron checks all the boxes for a quality fantasy tight end. He has great size and speed. He had a good breakout age (89th percentile) and decent enough college dominator (54th percentile). He’s on a pass-happy offense with a good quarterback. Unfortunately, we are once again talking about a tight end who has an issue staying healthy. I realize that if Ebron doesn’t pull it together this year, he may get passed over by the Lions for a better successor, but I really do think he will string together a solid season.
10. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph the red zone reindeer will wrap up the top 2017 fantasy football tight ends. There are a few reasons that I have him lower than his #3 finish last season. Rudolph was a great breakout player last year, setting personal bests on targets (132), receptions (83) and receiving yards (840). Rudolph got a lot of his fantasy value from his receptions and by catching 7 touchdowns. His average yards per reception was 10.1, low enough to make him the 30th among TEs with at least 15 receptions. Rudolph was mainly used as a safety blanket by QB Sam Bradford, who started for the Vikings week 2 after a last minute trade from the Eagles. Another factor that may lead to Rudolph regressing will be the possible emergence of first round draft pick Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell will likely be one of the main red zone targets for Bradford this year with his large frame and athletic ability, leaving less to go towards Kyle Rudolph.
Your Top 2017 Fantasy Football Tight Ends
- Rob Gronkowski
- Greg Olsen
- Travis Kelce
- Jimmy Graham
- Jordan Reed
- Zach Ertz
- Tyler Eifert
- Hunter Henry
- Eric Ebron
- Kyle Rudolph
So these were my top 2017 fantasy football tight ends. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me how you feel about any tight ends for the 2017 season. For more top 10 lists and all your great in-season fantasy football information be sure to keep an eye on www.TheFantasyAuthority.com and if you want to reach out to me, please follow me on twitter @CCNP_Kent.