Week 1 Rankings (2018): Top 20 Tight Ends

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know who the elite tight ends are, and they are the ones that you can trust week in and week out.  There always seems to be someone who steps up and produces and if you are missing one of the top options the ability to identify that “breakout” potential is important.  Who should we be trusting in Week 1?  Who carries too much risk?  Let’s take a look:

  1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – vs. Houston
  2. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – at Los Angeles Chargers
  3. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Atlanta
  4. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans – at Miami
  5. Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings – vs. San Francisco
  6. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – vs. Dallas
  7. Trey Burton – Chicago Bears – at Green Bay
  8. Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers – vs. Chicago
  9. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – at Arizona
  10. Evan Engram – New York Giants – vs. Jacksonville
  11. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars – at New York Giants
  12. Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
  13. Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals – at Indianapolis
  14. David Njoku – Cleveland Browns – vs. Pittsburgh
  15. Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Cincinnati
  16. Vance McDonald – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cleveland
  17. Ricky Seals-Jones – Arizona Cardinals – vs. Washington
  18. O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at New Orleans
  19. Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders – vs. Los Angeles Rams
  20. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers – at Minnesota

Thoughts:

  • The Miami Dolphins were hardly an impressive defense against both quarterbacks and tight ends a year ago, so it’s easy to envision Delanie Walker stepping up and having a big day.  The fact is there are questions about the team’s wide receiving corps (Corey Davis and Richard Matthews have potential, but are we ready to assume that they are guarantees to produce) and Walker should remain among the team’s most targeted weapons (as it is, he was the third most targeted tight end a year ago).  Consider him a Top 5 option for this week.
  • Jordan Reed didn’t play a single snap this preseason and while it appears that he’ll be ready for Week 1 there isn’t a guarantee.  Even if he plays, with a new quarterback under center is there any guarantee that he’s been able to form a rapport with him in practice alone?  He’s a TE1, but there’s risk that can’t be ignored.
  • Evan Engram has been working his way back from a concussion, but there doesn’t appear to be a concern about his Week 1 status.  The matchup is difficult and there’s going to be a lot of competition for touches, but as long as he’s on the field he’s going to be a viable TE1.
  • The Giants have a new defense in 2018, but we all know how bad they were against opposing tight ends a year ago.  Considering the loss of Marquise Lee and the likelihood that the Jaguars deploy Seferian-Jenkins as a safety valve for Blake Bortles, he’s worth the gamble as a low-end TE1.
  • We talked about O.J. Howard as a potential breakout tight end during the preseason (click here to view) and while we wouldn’t bank on him as a TE1 in Week 1, he could easily perform as one.  If you are desperate for an option he’s worth considering.
  • We have questions about Greg Olsen overall, but a lot of that has to do with the potential of a rookie tight end emerging and playing a significant role due to Olsen’s age.  That could be a slow process and it’s hard to imagine a significant Week 1 impact, meaning Olsen should be viewed as one of the better options.

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

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defenses
Week 1 Rankings (2018): Top 50 Wide Receivers
Week 1 Rankings (2018): Top 40 Running Backs

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