Tight Ends

X’s 2015 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

For X’s Fantasy QB rankings, click here: https://xmarksthesport.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/xs-2015-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings/

For X’s Fantasy RB rankings, click here: https://xmarksthesport.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/xs-2015-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings/

For X’s Fantasy WR rankings, click here: https://xmarksthesport.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/xs-2015-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings/

X’s 2015 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings (9/5/15):

1. Rob Gronkowski, NE

Gronkowski has scored double digit TDs in each of the four seasons in which he has played more than seven games. He scored 8 TDs in his last eight games last year, and ripped off a stretch of ten straight games with over 60 yards (had over 90 yards six times over that span). Gronk is a mild injury risk but he’s easily the best TE in the game right now.

2. Jimmy Graham, SEA

There are concerns about Graham’s fantasy outlook after going from a pass-happy offense in New Orleans to a run-based offense in Seattle. The Seahawks didn’t trade a pro-bowl center and a first round pick to acquire a tight end they didn’t have big plans for. Even if he doesn’t hit the 85+ receptions he has in each of the last four years, he’s still a solid bet to catch 9+ TDs for the fifth straight year.

3. Greg Olsen, CAR

There is one TE in the NFL who can say that he has at least 5 TD catches in every year since 2008. His name is Greg Olsen. Last year, he had his first career 1,000 yard season and set a career high with 84 catches. With Kelvin Benjamin out for the season, Olsen’s role in the offense could expand even more as Cam Newton continues to rely on him as Carolina’s sole reliable target.

4. Martellus Bennett, CHI

Despite playing with the heavily targeted duo of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, it was Bennett who led all TEs with 90 receptions in 2014. Last year marked the third straight season in which Bennett set new career highs in receptions and yards, and he also scored a career-high 6 TDs. Now that Brandon Marshall is gone, Bennett could see a few more red zone looks making him that much more valuable.

5. Travis Kelce, KC

Kelce finished last season ranked 23rd among TEs in percentage of snaps played (keep in mind several TEs ranked below him only because they missed games and Kelce didn’t), just behind former teammate Anthony Fasano. Now that Fasano is out of the way, Kelce should see more snaps which of course raises his fantasy ceiling. Kelce has more lost fumbles (3) than TDs (1) in his last eight games, so fantasy owners will hope for improvement in those areas and should see some.

6. Jason Witten, DAL

Thanks to the Cowboys going to a highly run-heavy offense last year, Witten had his worst statistical season since 2006. Despite that, he still managed to rank among the top ten TEs in receptions and receiving yards. Old reliable Witten has one of the highest floors for TEs in fantasy, keeping his stock strong. DeMarco Murray’s departure most likely means more passing from Dallas’ offense, which means good things for Witten’s numbers.

7. Tyler Eifert, CIN

A significant elbow injury cost Eifert all but one game in 2014, but heading into this year he is a breakout candidate. Jermaine Gresham is one of eleven TEs to catch at least 60 passes last year as the Bengals’ go-to TE. Eifert is more athletic than Gresham and should provide Dalton with a more dynamic target at the position. Eifert is said to be having a strong summer, and has a fairly high fantasy ceiling.

8. Delanie Walker, TEN

Due to a struggling run game and an underwhelming WR corps, Walker finished in the top 5 among TEs in targets. It’s possible that neither of those issues will prove to be resolved in Tennessee this year, so Walker should continue to remain a top option for the Titans offense. If so, the upgrade from Locker/Whitehurst/Mettenberger to Mariota means Walker has a shot to improve on last year’s career season.

9. Antonio Gates, SD

While the four-game suspension diminishes Gates’ fantasy value, he remains a top ten option at the shallowest position in fantasy. His 12 TD receptions from last year was more than he had in 2012 and 2013 combined, and was his highest total since 2004. Gates averaged 5.8 catches over his last five games, and even going into his age 35 season, he should remain highly involved in the offense once he returns.

10. Jordan Cameron, MIA

There aren’t many TEs that can be looked at as big play threats, but that is what Cameron was last year as he averaged 17.7 yards per catch. Charles Clay’s 6 targets per game from last year bodes well for Cameron receiving more opportunities to make plays in Miami. Cameron does have a concussion history, so fantasy owners should be aware of that when deciding how much they want to invest in him.

11. Julius Thomas, JAX

Thomas’ high fantasy value over the last two years was based on his 24 TD catches over his last 27 games. He won’t be getting the red zone opportunities in Jacksonville that he had in Denver, so his fantasy stock declines sharply this year. Thomas tends to get banged up (as exemplified by his recent hand surgery) and doesn’t play well through injuries (66 total receiving yards and 0 TD in his last four games while dealing with an ankle sprain), so he is a very risky fantasy asset.

12. Coby Fleener, IND

Fleener enjoyed somewhat of a breakout season last year, finishing among the top eight in TEs in receiving yards (774) and receiving TDs (8). One thing to keep in mind is that 4 of Fleener’s 8 TD catches came in the three games Dwayne Allen missed last year. Allen’s presence and the Colts’ use of three-WR sets lower Fleener’s fantasy ceiling, but if anything were to happen to Allen then Fleener would reemerge as a top ten option.

13. Kyle Rudolph, MIN

Rudolph does not rank this highly on the list because of past production. He has never hit 500 receiving yards in a season and has only played in 17 out of a possible 32 games over the last two years. Rudolph gets placed here solely because he has a mildly high ceiling at a weak fantasy position. Having TE friendly Norv Turner calling plays and a year experience with Teddy Bridgewater, Rudolph has favorable conditions to be productive if he could just stay on the field.

14. Zach Ertz, PHI

Ertz showed tremendous upside in Week 16 of last season by bringing in a franchise record 15 receptions against the Washington Redskins. That one game accounted for more than one fourth of Ertz’ total catches for the season, and he only had one other game with more than 4 receptions. His inability to beat out Brent Celek for a full-time role limits his fantasy value. Undergoing groin surgery during the preseason doesn’t help his case either.

15. Heath Miller, PIT

Miller won’t be the most exciting player to own, but on a weekly basis he’ll at least offer a higher floor than most TEs. His 66 catches last year ranked 7th among TEs, and marked the fifth time in the last six years that he has had over 50 receptions in a season. The only thing thing keeping Miller’s value down is a total lack of red zone production. He only has 6 TDs in his last 38 games, a major drain on his fantasy value.

16. Vernon Davis, SF

It’s hard to imagine that Davis won’t improve on what was an absolutely disastrous 2014 season. Davis is a proven scoring threat, having caught 44 TD passes from 2009 to 2013. It would seem to take a series of unlikely and unfortunate circumstances for Davis to be held to 2 TD like he was last year. As a fantasy owner you can’t bank on a bounce back season from him, but at some point it’s well worth gambling on his ceiling even if it’s not as high as it was in 2013.

17. Jared Cook, STL

A notoriously frustrating asset within the fantasy community, Cook somewhat quietly finished 12th among TEs with 634 yards while reeling in a career-high 52 receptions. With Nick Foles now at the helm in St. Louis, Cook has a legitimate shot to improve on these numbers. Cook is very much hit-or-miss and can be streaky at times, but he can be a serviceable option for a bye week or if your fantasy starter has to miss a couple of weeks.

18. Dwayne Allen, IND

Allen has developed into a strong weapon in the red zone, and has scored 9 TDs in his last thirteen games. One of the problems for him is that he only has 30 receptions over that span, as he is not consistently involved in the offense. Durability is starting to become a problem for Allen as well. He missed three games last year and was limited in others. If you’re playing Allen, you’re just hoping he scores a TD as he did in seven if his first nine game last year.

19. Jordan Reed, WAS

In eleven games last year, Reed had three games with 70+ receiving yards and four games with 7+ catches. If the ranking was based solely on talent and potential, he has shown enough to be much higher on this list. However, he has missed twelve games over his first two seasons and already missed time over the summer with a hamstring issue. His next injury always seems to be around the corner, and his 3 TDs in 20 games isn’t too useful either.

20. Larry Donnell, NYG

Donnell looked like a true breakout candidate through the first four games of last season. He averaged 6.3 catches and 59.0 yards while scoring 4 TDs and was a red hot pickup in fantasy leagues. Then Odell Beckham Jr. came along and not coincidentally Donnell’s production declined. Donnell did not catch a TD over the final six games of the season (Beckham had 9 TD in that span) and failed to reach 30 receiving yards four times in that stretch. He may not be able to produce much with Beckham and (eventually) Victor Cruz around.

21. Charles Clay, BUF

The surprisingly huge investment the Bills made in acquiring Clay (5 years, $38 million with $20 million guaranteed) would suggest major plans for Clay. But once you look at the fact that this is projected to be a run-heavy offense with unproven QBs and solid options at WR, it’s hard to see how Clay would consistently put up good numbers. He’s a versatile player who finished strong last year (218 yards, 1 TD over his final three games), but he is tough to endorse in Buffalo’s offense.

22. Owen Daniels, DEN

Coming off of an injury-curtailed 2013 season, Daniels  put up decent production in Gary Kubiak’s offense last year. Even though he is not the athlete he once was, he is clearly a favorite of Kubiak and will continue to get opportunities based on that alone. Don’t expect Daniels to give the Broncos the same 12 TDs Julius Thomas gave them the last couple of years, but a #1 TE in a Peyton Manning offense has at least some value.

23. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB

Seferian-Jenkins’ rookie season was marred by injuries, making it tough to gauge his fantasy potential. The injury concerns go back to college, so it’s discouraging that he was only able to play in nine games as a rookie. If he can manage to stay healthy, Seferian-Jenkins is intriguing as a large and athletic target the Buccaneers would love to involve in the offense – even if he will see limited targets behind Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.

24. Mychal Rivera, OAK

Rivera was one of just six TEs to be targeted 100 times last year. While it’s a given his targets will fall due to the presence of better WRs on Oakland’s roster, it’s clear Derek Carr has a high level of trust in him. That connection should keep Rivera involved in the offense to some degree. The addition of Clive Walford had threatened Rivera’s role, but Walford’s hamstring injury in training camp probably earned Rivera some extra playing time.

25. Eric Ebron, DET

Ebron struggled his way to a 25-catch rookie season. He is still very athletic, and was drafted extremely high for a TE so the Lions have plenty of incentive to try to find more ways to get him involved. Ebron’s hands remain questionable and that’s not likely to change, but the team almost has to be patient with him given their investment. He has had a good summer and will be squarely on the fantasy radar if he can maximize his physical gifts.

26. Richard Rodgers, GB

Plenty of targets in Green Bay (around 150) are up for grabs with Jordy Nelson out. Rodgers could see a handful of those targets, giving a modest boost to his fantasy stock.

27. Crockett Gillmore, BAL

Outside of Steve Smith Sr., Joe Flacco doesn’t have a lot of proven weapons to work with in the passing game. Gillmore is unlikely to match Owen Daniels’ 48 catches from a year ago, but he remains ahead of rookie Maxx Williams and could contribute.

28. Ladarius Green, SD

Green has been a popular sleeper pick in the fantasy community for a couple of years but has never lived up to it. He’ll have a prime opportunity to show his worth while Antonio Gates serves a four-game suspension.

29. Brent Celek, PHI

Against the wishes of many fantasy owners, Celek is locked in as the starting TE for the Eagles. Playing in a full-time role, Celek will stumble into a bit of value. He has 32 catches in each of his seasons in the Chip Kelly offense.

30. Josh Hill, NO

Hill’s 5 TD catches in 2014 were tied for 11th among TEs. The Jimmy Graham trade seemingly opened up a big opportunity for him, but the coaches seem to prefer the less fantasy friendly Benjamin Watson. Hill is worth monitoring, but at the moment he doesn’t project to get many opportunities.