Gronkowski owners were left with a bad taste in their mouth after 2016. Can you trust him in 2017? It’s never a deep position by the end of the year. Look for second year tight end Hunter Henry to make the next step and a former star to regain his glory.
1. Rob Gronkowski
I’m not touching Gronk until at least round 3. He’s by far the top dog at the position. Injuries have been a huge problem. If you go back to 2014 and 15 he scored double-digit touchdowns in both seasons. If you spend a third round pick on him, make sure you have a solid back up plan.
2. Jimmy Graham
Graham clearly isn’t the guy he was a few years ago. He had a bit of a resurgence last year. He’s shed some weight and could be in for a 1,000 yard season with more Red Zone success. It didn’t help that Russell Wilson was banged up all year and the offensive line was a mess. A fresh new year could lead to Graham putting up very good numbers.
3. Travis Kelce
I like Kelce far better in PPR leagues than standard. He racks up catches but doesn’t hit the end zone much. In standard leagues I’d drop him down a few spots.
4. Greg Olsen
Pencil in Olsen for 70 plus receptions and 1,000 yards. His touchdowns were down a bit last year. The Panthers offense was down as a whole and they drafted to help that. Cam Newton’s health is an issue. They have a capable backup in Derek Anderson. So I’m not overly worried about his numbers dropping. Olsen is the safety valve and I expect 5-7 touchdowns this season.
5. Jordan Reed
Reed is very talented. Much like Gronkowski, health is the issue. If his career hasn’t been plagued by concussions he’d be in the running for the top spot. Draft Reed but make sure you have a back up plan. If he’s gone before round 5 then let someone else take him. He’s too much of a risk.
6. Tyler Eifert
All accounts from Bengals camp say that Eifert is healthy. He’s a red zone monster when he’s right. He may slip to the mid rounds and I’d pounce on him if you can. Green is healthy and they’ve added some youth to boost the offense.
7. Kyle Rudolph
Rudolph had his best year in 2016. Once a red zone only type player, Kyle Rudolph caught 83 passes last season. Sam Bradford clearly likes him and he’s the only tight end on the roster with experience. Rudolph will be in for another good year.
8. Hunter Henry
I’m very high on Henry in his second season. There were a few dry weeks for him in his rookie season. But he finished with 8 TD’s and is the clear-cut starter for the Chargers. If you can get Henry in the 8-9 round range I really think you’ll be very happy with the outcome.
9. Delanie Walker
Walker is a solid tight end but getting older. At 33 years old his best days could be behind him. Last year was a down year from his big 2015. Walker worries me a bit. But the weapons around him have got better which could free him up more. He’s looked good in camp and could still be a quality pick after round 8.
10. Zach Ertz
Ertz has been a hype machine every year. He’s a solid PPR tight end. Quarterback Carson Wentz is coming into his second year and with Jordan Matthews gone, Ertz’s TD’s could go up. I believe that 5-7 touchdowns is a realistic number for him.
11. Martellus Bennett
Bennett was a rock for the Patriots last year. He filled big shoes when Gronkowski was injured. A lot of that was blocking. In Green Bay’s offense tight end has never been much of a priority. Bennett’s 55 receptions for 701 yards and 7 touchdowns should be a mirror of what he can do this year. Don’t forget 3 of his TD’s came against Cleveland in Brady’s return.
12. Cameron Brate
Brate had a nice second season in 2016. He scored 8 touchdowns and the offense should be more dynamic this year. OJ Howard was drafted and will play in-line most of the time. Brate played over 60% of his snaps in the slot. That could go up this year and so could his receptions and yardage. Brate is the type of guy you may want to pair with Gronkowski and Reed to pad the position if an injury occurs.
13. Jack Doyle
14. OJ Howard
15. Coby Fleener
16. Eric Ebron
17. Austin Hooper
18. CJ Fiedorowicz
19. Evan Engram
20. Jason Witten