2016 Preseason Rankings: Top 15 Tight Ends

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Tight end has become a surprisingly deep position, with significant upside up and down the rankings.  Whether it’s veterans who are easily overlooked or high upside players (both in a new location or with new opportunity), it seems like it’s easy to find value at any point in your draft.  Who are the best players to target?  Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently look:

  1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
  2. Jordan Reed – Washington Nationals
  3. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers
  4. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
  5. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans
  6. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
  7. Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints
  8. Ladarius Green – Pittsburgh Steelers
  9. Gary Barnidge – Cleveland Browns
  10. Julius Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars
  11. Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
  12. Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks
  13. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers
  14. Dwayne Allen – Indianapolis Colts
  15. Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys


  • Kelce has been a consistent performer over his first two seasons in the NFL, averaging 54.3 yards per game (and 12.5 yards per reception).  That said, he did see a significant jump in targets last season (103, ninth most among tight ends) and should play a role in the red zone.  With the Chiefs’ wide receivers continually failing to produce gaudy numbers, look for Kelce’s role to continue to expand.
  • We talked about Delanie Walker recently (click here to view), determining that he was a risky option for 2016.  The Titans appear primed to be a run first offense, which is going to mean significantly fewer opportunities in the passing game for all involved.  Considering Walker’s 133 targets last season, it’s impossible to have much faith in him providing value as compared to his draft day cost.
  • Both Fleener and Green are tight ends that have often been given significant hype, though they were forced to share opportunities.  However they each are getting fresh starts with new organizations and they each should play a significant role in the passing attacks.  This could be the year that they reach their full potential and become among the better options in the league.
  • It was a poor debut season in Seattle for Jimmy Graham, but it wasn’t long ago that he was the premier player at his position.  With Marshawn Lynch retired, you would think that the team could go a little bit more pass heavy than they have before.  That means more opportunities for Graham, who easily could reemerge as one of the better options in the league.
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