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:
- Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – at Arizona
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – at Denver
- Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – vs. Pittsburgh
- Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Cleveland
- Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints – vs. Oakland
- Gary Barnidge – Cleveland Browns – at Philadelphia
- Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. San Diego
- Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans – vs. Minnesota
- Dwayne Allen – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Detroit
- Julius Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars – vs. Green Bay
- Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – at Kansas City
- Martellus Bennett – New England Patriots – at Arizona
- Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
- Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions – at Indianapolis
- Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Miami
- Zach Miller – Chicago Bears – at Houston
- Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills – at Baltimore
- Clive Walford – Oakland Raiders – at New Orleans
- Vance McDonald – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Los Angeles
- 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: