by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Every season there seems to be a tight end or two who rises out of obscurity to be a TE1 producer. Does that mean we should simply wait on tight end until the tail end of your draft? Don’t be so hasty, as there is some elite talent who could easily give you an advantage over the rest of your league. Who should we be targeting? Who may be overvalued? Let’s take a look:
- Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
- Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
- Zack Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
- Evan Engram – New York Giants
- Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans
- Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers
- Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers
- Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
- Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
- Trey Burton – Chicago Bears
- David Njoku – Cleveland Browns
- Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
- George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
- Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders
- Jimmy Graham only had 57 receptions last season, but his move to Green Bay should be seen as a favorable one. He’s going to get to play with Aaron Rodgers and help fill the void created when the team decided to move on from veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson. Last year his value was tied to his 10 TD scored, though he’s long proven to have a nose for the end zone and should see more opportunities to produce.
- Injuries limited Greg Olsen to seven games last season, and he managed just 17 receptions for 191 yards and 1 TD. At 33-years old and having battled a broken foot, can we assume he’s going to return to the player he once was? It may be a tough sell, especially since he struggled finding the end zone in ’16 (he now has 4 TD over his past 23 games). We don’t want to downgrade him too far, but we also can’t ignore the potential risks.
- It may look odd to have Delanie Walker so highly ranked, but he’s now been targeted at least 100 times in four straight seasons (he had 74 receptions for 807 yards and 3 TD last season). Opportunity should mean results, and there’s little reason to think that he won’t continue to be a fixture of the Tennessee offense.
- Last season Kirk Cousins targeted his top two tight ends 104 times (Jordan Reed missed time due to injury). In 2016 it was 146 targets between Reed and Vernon Davis… Moving to Minnesota, that could mean increased opportunities for Kyle Rudolph, who has been targeted 81 times or fewer in two of the past three seasons. He does have 15 TD over the past two seasons, and with a good chance for more targets a return to his 2016 numbers could be likely (83 receptions for 840 yards).
- George Kittle was a popular sleeper heading into 2017, but failed to live up to the hype. He should garner similar consideration this season, the difference being Jimmy Garoppolo’s presence under center. The two began to really gel late in the year, with Kittle getting 11 receptions for 194 yards and 1 TD over the final three games. You shouldn’t need to draft him as your TE1, but he could easily produce like one.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: