Fantasy Football Rankings 2017: Post-Free Agency Tight Ends - Roto Street Journal
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Fantasy Football Rankings 2017: Post-Free Agency Tight Ends

Though a few big-names remain homeless, the main waves of free agency have come crashing down.  Thus, it’s crucial to reexamine our original 2017 Fantasy Football Rankings with all of these movers & shakers in mind.  Indeed, the draft and training camps will alter these lists even further, but this stage of the offseason deserves to be captured on it’s own.

As such, The Wolf will be releasing a new set of Post Free Agency rankings throughout the next two weeks. We’ve already given you the most in-depth QuarterbacksRunning Back, and Wide Receiver rankings around. Now, we turn our attention to Tight Ends, before combining this all into a Post Free Agency Top 100 Big Board. These are THE most comprehensive rankings out there, and, as such, each position will be broken into multiple pages via tiers, with a cumulative cheatsheet at the end of each group.

Though many moves have been swept under the radar, the tight end position saw some major free agency swings. From Jordan Reed becoming THE main weapon in Washington, to Martellus Bennett finding a new home in Green Bay, and even RSJ favorite Jack “The Beanstalk” Doyle ascending to clear-cut starter status in Indy, 2017’s  tight end fantasy outlook is vastly different than a few months ago. Catch up on all the action with the most in-depth tight end rankings around.

Emoji Key:

↗= riser

↘= faller

? = guys we are higher on

?= guys we are lower on

**Scoring Note – These rankings assume 1/2 PPR mentality, as it’s both the best scoring format and also the most common.


Tier 1 – The Elite

True fantasy game-changers that offer a weekly edge at the position. Look at them around the second and third round turn, especially once the #1 options at RB and WR drop off. 

1) Rob Gronkowski (NE)

Stock Neutral Update:  Though the newly added Brandin Cooks will demand a heavy target share, Gronkowski’s touches, especially in the red zone, should remain relatively untouched.  If anything, the added attention added by another true downfield threat should only help Gronkowski roam more freely underneath and through the seams.

Previous: Amidst very real injury concerns, Gronkowski remains the TE1 for two main reasons:

  • He’s arguably the best talent to ever play the position
  • He’s attached to the GOAT quarterback

This combination creates a weekly ceiling and advantage over your opponents that’s simply unmatchable. Consequently, Gronkowski maintains a worthwhile investment in Round 2, as a full season of health — unlikely as it may be– would lead to fantasy titles; in these rare instances of 15+ games, Gronk has always topped 1,100 yards and double digit TDs.

Of course, his recovery from a December back surgery, his third such operation and eighth total surgery since entering the NFL, is a major red flag. Nonetheless, Gronkowski’s fratastic parade behavior and recent comments to ESPN suggest he’s right on track for another dominant return:

“For sure,” Gronkowski replied when asked if he’d be ready for the start of 2017.  “I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I can possibly play. My mindset is to keep on going.”

The risk is real, but if you’re capable of finding gems at the skill positions late (follow us, and you will be), then the field-separating ceiling is so worth the low floor.

2) Jordan Reed (WAS) 

Stock Up Update:  Yes, Reed was already my #2 TE, but, as THE main weapon in Washington, he now rises into a tier that once belonged solely to Rob Gronkowski Following the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, two 1,000 yard wideouts, Jay Gruden singled out Reed as the biggest beneficiary, stating “the offense now runs through” him. On our fourth Episode of the Fantasy Fullback Dive, Washington sports radio and TV personality Grant Paulsen shared this sentiment, echoing Gruden’s words and adding:

“This offense is going to run from the middle of the field, between the numbers, tight end Jordan Reed it’ll run through him. He’ll be a fantasy gem if and when he plays. There are a ton of yards to go around. If he plays 13 games he catches 87 yards for somewhere around 1,000 yards and goes for 9 TDs…We are talking about, in my opinion, the best pass-catching tight end in football outside of probably Rob Gronkowski, and he can do a lot of things Gronk can’t. I’ve had Redskins coaches tell me there’s one other guy in the world that can do what Reed is capable of, and that’s Aaron Hernandez who’s behind bars.”

Paulsen’s projections put Reed on a per-game pace of 6.7 catches, 77 yards, and .7 TDs, or right around 15 FPs (1/2 ppr). These would be truly difference-making stats.  Reed was already the only tight end to top 20 FPs more than once last season (three times), and, as Kirk Cousins’ primary target, he could do so even more frequently in 2017.  Should he remain healthy for 13+ games, a huge if indeed, Reed will be a season-changer.

Previous Assessment: With a huge weekly ceiling but cavernous injury floor, Reed is essentially Gronkowski-lite.  Emphasizing his upside, Reed turned in another top-10 tight end season despite missing four games and playing severely hampered in at least four others. In fact, in three of his truly healthy eight games, Reed topped 20 fantasy points — week swinging numbers from a desperately thin position. Kirk Cousins may be on the outs, which would be worrisome for Reed; nonetheless, Reed has the athleticism to succeed with most signal callers, and an even greater share of targets could be funneled his way if Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson depart.

Tier 2 – High-end TE1s

Though this crew doesn’t carry quite the week-swinging ceilings of Gronk or Reed, they still are head-and-shoulders above the majority of seam-stretchers in terms of consistency.

3) Travis Kelce (KC)

Though, as a human, I despise Kelce with every fiber of my being, it’s time to shed personal biases. This tool flat out balled in 2016, finishing as fantasy’s clear TE1 after topping 1,110 yards and scoring double digit 1/2 PPR points in nine of 16 weeks — by far the most consistent output at the position.  Even more impressive, Kelce accomplished these numbers despite scoring only four times; you’d have to imagine, with his 6’5″, 260 LB frame and ability to dunk on 110 lb females that these stand for an uptick. And, unlike those above him, Kelce has been an iron man throughout his NFL career, not yet missing a start in the past three seasons.  He’s surpassed Greg Olsen as the ideal floor target, and Kelce could vault into Gronk territory with even a modest bump in TDs.  If you hate the injury risk Gronk and Reed bring, especially at their price, wait a round and pluck Kelce.

4) Greg Olsen (CAR)

The poster boy for high floor tight ends, Olsen topped 1,000 yards and finished among fantasy’s top five seam-stretchers for the third straight season.  Even with Kelvin Benjamin returning, Olsen remained Cam Newton’s primary target; however, the big bodied wideout did steal some red zone love from “Third Leg G-Reg,” as He-Man’s TDs dipped to only three in 2016. Should Cam rebound as he’s capable, Olsen could see his scores double or even triple. Even at 32, Olsen should, at worst, yield 1,000 yards and a top-five TE finish; this type of consistency amidst such a wildly undependable field makes him a highly valuable fourth or fifth round investment.

5)  Jimmy Graham (SEA)

Graham’s 2016 bounce back from a torn patella was nothing short of remarkable, given this injury almost always ends careers. Yet, by midseason, Graham was leaping over defensive backs and flashing the most athleticism we’ve seen since his 2013 Saints’ days, ultimately piling up 923 yards and 6 TDs to a TE4 fantasy finish. Even scarier, given his complete focus on rehab, Graham had no offseason time to build a rapport with Russel Wilson; the two also reportedly had minimal practice time together as well, with Graham rarely suiting up until game day. Graham believes entering 2017 at full health and having time to work with his quarterback will yield one of his best season’s yet:

“Everything’s in the rear view,” he said. “So imagine how I played this year. I mean, I barely practiced, honestly, during the week, just to be ready for the games.

“Going through this offseason, being with Russ out there in California, you know I’m going to fly out there and train with him and really get that chemistry down because I wasn’t able to do that with him last year. It’s only going to get better.”

“I still feel like I’m 21,” he said. “Most people said that I would never be the same and I still feel fast, I still feel big and I still feel unstoppable.”

Though a full-blown return to his “challenge Gronk” days remains unlikely, stronger health and a stronger rapport should allow Graham to build upon his wildly successful 2016.  Over 1,000 yards and 7-8 TDs is well within his reach.

6) Tyler Eifert (CIN)

In the mold of Gronk and Reed,  Eifert is extremely injury prone, but brings week-winning upside whenever he plays.   At 6’6″, 250 lbs, Eifert is a genuine red zone monster — he’s hauled in 18 TDs over his past 21 games, and Andy Dalton loves letting the big man go up and make plays in the end zone. Yet, Eifert’s injury floor is just as real, if not more so, than Gronk and Reed; additionally, he’s been a bit more TD-or-bust, and does not offer the weekly yardage floors of those other options.

Positively, Eifert’s two highest 2016 yardage outputs (9 catches, 102 yards, 1 TD and 5 catches, 96 yards) came in his only two full games with AJ Green, suggesting a sneaky yards ceiling does indeed exist when defensive attention is elsewhere.  But, to realize this, Eifert will need to stay on the field, which has proven impossible for the young tight end thus far.

Read on to learn about remaining TE1s, or check out the last page for our Cheat Sheet


  • Founder of Roto Street Journal. Lover of workhorse backs, target hog wideouts, and Game of Thrones. Aspiring to be the "Brady" and "Leo" of the fantasy universe.

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