Draft time is almost upon us! I was hoping to knock this out tomorrow but I figured that would be a bit late so going to try and do this all in one evening. Thankfully, it’s the tight end position and there aren’t exactly many that you need to keep your eye on and I will simply lay out who is worth actually drafting first, and then tell you who to look out for on a streaming basis.
Again these are my opinions based on a standard scoring 10 team league. We’ve done QB, RB and WR so far and honestly I’m not even bothering with kickers and defenders till closer August comes around.
1, Rob Gronkowski
Well this kinda goes without saying, Gronk is the best there is and if he is able to string together a few more 16 game seasons then he might go down as the best ever to play the position. The only concern here is his durability. Which if I’m honest, is a huge red flag almost as large as the guy himself. He played about 5/6 games and averaged over 10 points a game and 21 yards a catch. That. Is. Ridiculous. He was going in the first round no questions asked last year but I can see him dropping in to the second this year which does make sense. If you draft that high you expect 200 odd points at least and to stay on the field. For me, I would love to have Gronk on my team but I just can’t justify spending a high pick on a guy who can’t stay on the field, no matter the other-worldly production when he actually plays.
2, Travis Kelce
3, Greg Olsen
4, Jordan Reed
The next two picks are the anti-gronk, they are dependable and give you 16 games each and every year. Kelce is a bit of a hot head on the field but you saw what he can do last year with the yards but he does need a few more TD’s in order to stay in the top 3. Greg Olsen is just as damn good, maybe not as athletic now as he was a few years ago but he is Cam Newton’s number 1 target and barring something incredible happening in the draft, I don’t see that changing. His yards are pretty certain but like Kelce, he needs more TD’s and considering how massive both these guys are, they should bounce back this year. Jordan Reed, is better than both Kelce and Olsen when healthy but like Gronk, he has trouble staying on the field. When he plays he is Cousins’ favourite target and who can blame him? The guy is great fun to watch and has the capability to be TE1 next year. Kelce and Olsen are going right around rounds 6-8 I would say. Right after the first wave of running backs and wide receivers. Reed, is going before them in the middle of said first wave, around round 5 I think is where I would see him. If he dropped to round 7, I think I would take him as you can stream enough during the season and you haven’t wasted those important first 6 picks. For me with these 4 guys, I would rather a guy I could plug in and play rather than risk scrambling last minute because Gronk or Reed got injured again. Real life again doesn’t always reflect what goes on in fantasy land because you would take Gronk or Reed without a second thought.
5, Tyler Eifert
6, Kyle Rudolph
7, Delanie Walker
8, Zach Ertz
9, Jimmy Graham
Frustratingly enough, Tyler Eifert is another stud TE that just keeps getting injured. If he gets 16 games he is easily a 1000 yard 10 TD guy. For where you can draft him I think Eifert gives you the best value out of all the other guys here. He’ll go right after the big four, probably in the 6-9 round range and I would be more than happy picking him in this window. That being said, high reward will come with high risk so it’s whether you want to take that chance. Kyle Rudolph gave great production last year in both TD and yards and it is very likely that he repeats in the same offense and with Sam Bradford under center. Walker, is someone that I think will drop depending on the draft. He is getting up in age but the Titans could invest heavily in a WR on Thursday which could potentially drop his targets. He did have a few niggles which also hampered his production but for now I am giving him the benefit of the doubt. Walker and Rudolph will be going closer to the double digit rounds. Of the two, Rudolph is the choice this year. Next up is Zach Ertz, his season numbers are slightly misleading as he scored over 80% of his fantasy points in the second half of the season. I’ve got him here because I think Carson Wentz’s new toys on the outside will help free up room for Ertz to the same sort of production at least. He can be frustrating but he caught more passes than Reed, Walker, Graham, Brate, and Bennett who were all in the top 10 for TE’s last year. He’ll be there in the later rounds and if you like the offense in Philly then he’d be a decent pick. Graham, much like Reed in the tier above is arguably more talented than the 4 guys above him on this list but I think his time as a dominant player is almost up. He should be first or second option in the Seahawks passing game but he doesn’t seem to have the big scoring games he was once capable of. He was 4th last year but if Gronk, Reed and Eifert come back and play 3/4 or more of a season then Graham gets knocked down the pecking order. He will go higher than he is probably worth though in my opinion so I would leave him well alone.
10, Hunter Henry
11, Martellus Bennett
12, Jack Doyle
Hunter Henry might be one of my favourite players in this years draft. I personally rank him higher than Delanie Walker because Philip Rivers LOVES throwing to big athletic tight ends a lot. That being said, he is capped slightly while Antonio Gates is around and barring an injury, he will be around for one more season. Henry will get the bulk of the snaps but every look that Gates gets, he’s taking it away from Henry so I think that will drop his draft position a fair amount but again, check your board, if he is the best TE available and 4 or 5 of the players above have gone you can still be happy picking him before round 10. It seems weird that I am talking about Martellus Bennett as a potential breakout. You saw what he could do with Tom Brady as his QB and opportunity when Gronk went down. I had him as being worse off next year but since his move to the Packers then I think his numbers have a great chance to jump up. If Jared Cook looked like a game changer with Rodgers throwing him the ball, you can be sure that Bennett has the same if not better chance of great production. Jack Doyle I think could be a great option now that Dwayne Allen got shipped off to the Patriots. There is a potential target poacher in Eric Swoop but you could see the connection with Luck and he had some great games which should be built on. To be fair though, his production is more to do with my belief that Luck will be a top 3 QB so his points have to go somewhere.
13, Cameron Brate
14, Gary Barnidge
15, Eric Ebron
Of these three, Barnidge is probably the one that doesn’t get the targets he needs to produce this year. All depends who is under center and he had great success with Josh McCown but nothing with anyone else. I’m giving him some credit based on recent seasons but he could quite easily drop off the board completely and it wouldn’t be that big a surprise. Brate came on great for Tampa last year and his 8 TD’s were really important and although some targets might get taken away, Winston’s dependency in the red zone should remain as I see their offense getting better. Ebron is a mercurial talent where most pundits would rank him higher but Adam has convinced me he is not the game changer most peg him to be. Don’t get me wrong though, I would like to be wrong. All these guys are late round guys who will get you average to decent production at least.
Keep an eye on….
16, OJ Howard
17, David Njoku
18, Evan Engram
These rookies are the big names in the upcoming draft class. Depending on where they go, they all have the chance to have a monstrous impact in 2017. OJ Howard is the consensus number 1 guy and I’ve heard him pegged to go as high 3 to the Bears which would be great for them. One of my favourite tweets this year was a stat regarding David Njoku. The stat read that he averaged over 20 yards after the catch in college last year. 20 YARDS AFTER THE CATCH. That is not right or human and he could possibly be an alien. Evan Engram had a incredible scouting combine and his 40 time and other athletic drills had him landing amongst the best running backs and wide receivers let alone tight ends. So far I have only felt confident in Christian McCaffrey having any fantasy relevance so far but these three guys, in the right circumstance, could become game changers.
So 15 guys, plus those 3 rookies leaves me with everyone else. Who, unless you fancy taking them in the last rounds will be streaming options next year. Guys like Ladarius Green, Zach Miller and Vance McDonald have all produced at times but are either injured or on bad teams. Dwayne Allen might be worth a draft pick should Gronk go down so keep an eye on him in the last rounds also. Austin Hooper might break out in Atlanta giving Matt Ryan another weapon and lastly you have guys like Jason Witten, Dennis Pitta that are good targets for their respective QB’s but not worth a draft pick.
That’s it, nothing more to do now than wait for the draft. I will most certainly be watching it live and I cannot wait. Even better that Sky is going to broadcast all 3 days so great for nerds like me who just love the game of football.
See you on the other side!