I’ve written a lot about QBs, WRs and RBs, but haven’t shown any love to the tight end position. I think it’s a pretty deep class this year, and I’ll write an article featuring “sleepers” at the position after writing my top five guys going into the season.
1. Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)
There’s really not much I should have to say about Gronk; the guy has been an absolute monster since entering the league in 2010. He’s had double-digit touchdowns in every year besides 2013, when he only started six games due to injury. Gronk’s coming off consecutive seasons with over 1,100 yards and double-digit touchdowns. He hasn’t quite matched his 2011 production, when he tallied 18 touchdowns and over 1,300 yards receiving. He’s still the best tight end in the league playing with one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it. Brady’s four-game suspension shouldn’t hurt Gronk that bad, and the Patriots have enough offensive weapons that defenses can’t even focus on taking just Gronk away. He’s the consensus no. 1 tight end worldwide, and for good reason.
2. Jordan Reed (Washington Redskins)
Reed’s been surrounded with hype since entering the league in 2013, and he finally lived up to standards last season. He caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he didn’t even play the full season. That’s his problem, though; he can’t stay healthy. He’s dealt with numerous concussions, and knee and hamstring injuries. Those aren’t anything to mess around with, and it’s worth mentioning for a guy who can’t stay on the field. Nonetheless, I want to assume Reed stays healthy. If he does, he is one of the best in the league at his position, and he plays in a great offense that clearly wants to utilize his versatility as a receiver.
3. Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)
Kelce is another guy who’s been hyped up in his first few seasons in the league, but he hasn’t quite broken out for a full season. His last two years have been pretty much identical, averaging around 867 yards and five touchdowns. In week one last year, Kelce caught all six of his targets for 106 yards and two touchdowns. It looked like he was about to live up to the Gronk comparisons, but he didn’t catch for over 100 yards or two touchdowns for the rest of the season. He’s going into his third full season (missed rookie year) and I expect him to play with some more consistency, so that’s why he’s my no. 3 guy.
If you’re looking for upside, Kelce and Reed are your top guys to target. If you’re looking for consistent and reliable production, my next two guys are your targets.
4. Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)
Olsen defines consistency at the tight end position. In the last four seasons, he’s played in all 16 games, seen over 100 targets, racked up more than 800 yards, and caught five or more touchdowns in each year. The New Jersey native is only 31 years old and will be a big part of the Panthers explosive offense yet again, and he’s a guy who will give you around 10 points each week.
5. Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans)
Walker is another consistent TE1. In the last two seasons, he’s seen 239 targets, tallied 1,978 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s a big piece of the Titans offense that’s just starting to blossom under Marcus Mariota. Walker will be Mariota’s security blanket, and he’s another guy who will give you consistent points each week.
Notables: Tyler Eifert is great, but his injury scares me. Zach Ertz is making noise, but he’s not better than these top five guys. Julius Thomas was great in Denver with Peyton, but can he duplicate his success in Jacksonville?