Week 1 Rankings (2016): Top 20 Tight Ends

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Tight end is always a position that’s tricky to predict, as there always tend to be under-the-radar options who step up and produce.  Who are those under-the-radar options that are worth gambling on?  Which bigger names are too risky to trust?  Let’s take a look at how things look as we move towards the opening slate of games:

  1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – at Arizona
  2. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – at Denver
  3. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – vs. Pittsburgh
  4. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Cleveland
  5. Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints – vs. Oakland
  6. Gary Barnidge – Cleveland Browns – at Philadelphia
  7. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Diego
  8. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans – vs. Minnesota
  9. Dwayne Allen – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Detroit
  10. Julius Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Green Bay
  11. Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – at Kansas City
  12. Martellus Bennett – New England Patriots – at Arizona
  13. Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
  14. Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions – at Indianapolis
  15. Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Miami
  16. Zach Miller – Chicago Bears – at Houston
  17. Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills – at Baltimore
  18. Clive Walford – Oakland Raiders – at New Orleans
  19. Vance McDonald – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Los Angeles
  20. Jesse James – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Washington


  • Last season the Saints were among the teams most susceptible to opposing tight ends and there’s no questioning the upside that Fleener brings with him now that he is the go to man at the position (instead of sharing the role with Dwayne Allen in Indianapolis).  We all know that Drew Brees knows how to utilize his tight end, so look for Fleener to get off to a big start to his ’16 campaign.
  • In two games against the Chargers last season Kelce managed just 8 receptions for 64 yards.  Those would’ve been strong numbers if they came in one game, but split between two they are rather underwhelming.  He does have the upside and is still worth using as a TE1, but be prepared for a disappointment.
  • Both Delanie Walker and Jason Witten fall into the same category, as there is a risk that they are asked to block more while running fewer routes as their respective teams take a run heavy approach.  It does limit the potential appeal and causes us to keep their spot in the rankings a few spots lower than we’d probably expect.
  • Josh Gordon is going to miss the first few weeks of the season, due to suspension, and that opens the door for Barnidge.  While he’s not going to catch anyone by surprise, like he did a year ago, that doesn’t change his potential upside.
  • Both Eric Ebron & Jimmy Graham are included on these rankings, but there is talk that both could miss Week 1.  Continue monitoring the news to see how things play out.
  • Gates continues to be one of the better tight ends in the league, but the Chiefs allowed the fewest points to opposing tight ends a year ago.  Gates himself managed just 7 receptions for 82 yards against them and hasn’t scored a TD vs. them in his past three games.  He’s usable, but hardly a must use depending on your alternatives.

Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings:

Week 1 Rankings (2016): Top 40 Running Backs
Week 1 Rankings (2016): Top 50 Wide Receivers


  1. Sam says:

    Hi Professor,
    Below is the team for my week1, Can you please tell me if any changes need to be made like moving from bench to starting Xi for week 1.
    QB Drew Brees, NO QB
    RB Jonathan Stewart, Car RB
    RB Terrance West, Bal RB
    WR DeAndre Hopkins, Hou WR
    WR Brandin Cooks, NO WR
    TE Zach Ertz, Phi TE
    FLEX Amari Cooper, Oak WR
    D/ST Vikings D/ST D/ST
    K Chandler Catanzaro, Ari K
    Bench Jamaal Charles, KC RB  Q
    Bench Sammy Watkins, Buf WR
    Bench Allen Hurns, Jax WR
    Bench Bilal Powell, NYJ RB
    Bench Brock Osweiler, Hou QB
    Bench Devontae Booker, Den RB
    Bench Charcandrick West, KC RB  Q

    Thank you.

    • Mikein Macon says:

      Sam, I’m not the Professor…lol…but your starting lineup looks good, your best QB is out there, a solid DST and K and a great WR corp in Hopkins, Cooks and Cooper (Flex) with Watkins and Hurns on the bench. Your only weakness seems to be at RB but if and when Charles comes back, he is an immediate upgrade. Stewart should be an OK RB2 but the rest behind those are suspect. Maybe Terrance West will be a surprise but consider offering Booker to the CJ Anderson owner and Powell to the Forte owner packaged with maybe Hurns for a better RB2/3. Just my humble opinion.

    • Mike pretty much nailed my thoughts….lol. Hard for me to sit Watkins, but you are def. spoiled in that spot!

  2. Randy says:

    For season-long/draft rankings, how would you rank the following WRs in a standard league? Tyler Boyd, Funchess, T Sharpe, Dorsett, Stills, Sterling Shepherd, and Perriman. Thanks!

  3. Gern says:

    Hey Prof!

    Excited to start a new season. Thanks again for the help last year!

    My question: I have Eifert healing on my bench and Ebron as my starter week 1. Practice reports seem positive and I was just going to roll with him until someone dropped Witten. I see they’re next to each other in your rankings this week and was wondering whether you think I should drop Ebron for Witten or keep things the way they are given the more pass-focused Lions offense until Eifert is ready to go.

    Thank you!

  4. Thomas says:

    Wow, no love for Jared Cook?

  5. Gern – I’d keep things the way they are. I’m worried Witten is asked to block more and run less routes. I def. like Ebron’s upside more.

    Thomas – Cook is in the mix, but there are a lot of guys in that same tier who could have a big day (but could also not produce much). I would put him no higher than around 15, personally, until I see him do it.

  6. Kevin Bien says:

    I am starting Delanie Walker at TE but I was wondering if you would start Dwayne Allen or Gio Bernard at Flex?

  7. Chucky says:

    PPR, Gates @ KC or take a lottery ticket Walford @New Orleans ? Floyd v NE or Snead in the dome v Oak?

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