I’ve always been kind of notorious for “hating” Tight Ends.
I never want to pay the price to get a guy like Rob Gronkowski, and I can usually convince myself to avoid the next two or three guys as well. By the end of the draft, I end up with some misfit who I end up dropping by Week 4, and I replace him by some other misfit that I end up droppin by Week 9. As much as I hate to admit it, having a quality tight end is important.
This year, tight end is pretty disgusting, as a lot of question marks have popped up around what used to be the “good enough” guys, and no one has really stepped in to take their places.
Here’s a glimpse of what we can expect from the TE position in 2018 fantasy drafts. Average Draft Position (ADP) and Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR) data is for a points per reception (PPR) league courtesy of FantasyPros.
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The Stud: Rob Gronkowski (TE1, Overall ECR: 23, ADP: 22)
Gronk is - and has been for a while - the obvious elite tight end. You know the story - he’s absolutely unstoppable when he’s on the field, but he tends to find himself watching from the sidelines more than not. At an ADP of 22, he would have to be your second or third player drafted, which is too high for me. If he fell to 30 or so in a 10-team league (beginning of the fourth round), and you already had two solid running backs and a quality receiver in the first three rounds, I’d take Gronk. Otherwise, I’m just not willing to pay the price.
Very Good, But Very Pricey: Travis Kelce (TE2, ECR: 26, ADP: 26) and Zach Ertz (TE3, ECR: 34, ADP: 33)
Kelce and Ertz are in a tier of their own right after Gronk. As with Gronk, I’d be fine taking them if their ADP fell into the 30s (Ertz’s already is) and I felt like I had a solid, high-floor team in place. Kelce is probably a bit too expensive for my taste, but Ertz is intriguing. I’d consider him at the end of the fourth, but if he falls into the 40-45 ADP range and you’re already strong at RB, Ertz is a guy I’ll be targeting heavily.
Solid Production, Solid Value: Greg Olsen (TE4, ECR: 61, ADP: 63), Evan Engram (TE5, ECR: 64, ADP: 59, and Delanie Walker (TE6, ECR: 70, ADP: 73)
Tight Ends in this area get very interesting. By pick 60 in a 10-team league, you’d already have six players, so without a tight end let’s say that’s three running backs and three wide receivers. This is probably where I’ll be targeting a tight end: I don’t have to sacrifice a starting RB or WR (or even FLEX), but the TEs in this area are still solid quality.
Considering their respective prices, I prefer Olsen, then Walker, then Engram. Engram was phenomenal in 2017, but he’s a bit expensive here, especially considering the return of Odell Beckham Jr. and an expected massive swing back towards the running game in an attempt to reestablish a balanced offense for the Giants. Olsen had always been very dependable prior to his injury last year, and Walker is pretty much as solid as you can get without being that incredible. He averaged just under five catches for 50 yards on a per game basis last year, so trust me you can do much worse at tight end.
Who The Hell Knows?: Jimmy Graham (TE7, ECR: 73, ADP: 57), Kyle Rudolph (TE8, ECR: 81, ADP: 75), Jordan Reed (TE9, ECR: 98, ADP: 89), and Trey Burton (TE10, ECR: 99, ADP: 91)
This is pretty much the risk-reward section.
Will Jimmy Graham be incredible because he now has arguably the best QB in the league throwing him the ball in Aaron Rodgers, or will Rodgers continue to neglect his TE as he pretty much always has?
Can Kyle Rudolph carve out his piece of a suddenly-booming offense, or will Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook take all his fun away?
Will Jordan Reed play more than 2 games? What about 4? All 16? Literally no one has any idea.
Can Trey Burton be a capable starter? If so, will the Bears offense produce enough for him to be relevant?
I’d really like to have my tight end before we get here, but if I have to pick from this lot, I won’t be doing it until the 80th pick or so, so that probably rules out Graham for me. If you want solid and slightly underwhelming, Rudolph is there. If you want massive upside, Reed is your guy. If you want a combination, you’re probably looking at Graham or Burton.
The Other Guys I Kinda Care About:
Jack Doyle (TE11, ECR: 103, ADP: 117)
If Andrew Luck is healthy, Doyle is in a good spot with great value here. If only stinky Eric Ebron wasn’t there to ruin all the fun.
George Kittle (TE12, ECR: 114, ADP: 119)
Kittle showed several sparks throughout the 2017 season, and he’s definitely worth a flyer if you really want to avoid the Jordan Reed/Trey Burton party. It remains to be seen how he’ll fit in to the 49ers offense with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm all year, but at a generally underwhelming position, Kittle showed that he can be more than capable.
Charles Clay (TE14, ECR: 132, ADP: 185)
The Bills should be playing from behind a bunch this year, and while I don’t really expect their offense to be anything resembling “good”, I do think the volume should be there for Clay.
O.J. Howard (TE15, ECR: 137, ADP: 137)
Howard is a physical freak, and I’m really hoping that he unseats Cameron Brate as Tampa Bay’s TE1and becomes a focal point for this offense. In my eyes, he is the lottery ticket at TE.
If you end up with someone between Gronk (TE1) and Walker (TE6), you should probably only draft one TE. If you end up with someone in the “Who The Hell Knows?” section, I’d probably try to also grab a Jack Doyle, George Kittle, or Charles Clay in case your earlier pick blows up in your face (looking at you, Jordan Reed). If you end up with Kyle Rudolph and really don’t have a RB/WR that you love in the late rounds, I’d target a guy like O.J. Howard.
In summation, if you want to pay up for a TE, go for it, but make sure you have a solid foundation before then. If you end up with a high-risk guy, consider pairing them with a nice boring solid guy.
Follow Donald on Twitter @DonaldGibsonFF
I don’t know about you, but fantasy draft season is my favorite time of the year. You go into your draft fired up, ready to obliterate everyone. The first pick you have to make is, obviously, in the first round.
You skim the list of players (well you already know them because you’ve been reading FantasyFusion’s draft kit religiously, but “you” here can be some dweeb), and an odd emotion comes over you:
Usually, the first round is just a bunch of studs and you can pretty much get by just taking the next best guy that falls to you. This year, however, that may not be the case. There are concerns everywhere in the first round, and I just can’t get past them.
I’ll lay them out for you and hopefully you have the willpower to tell me I’m dumb and fire up those confident draft picks again.
The below 10 players are according to FantasyPros Average Draft Position (ADP) in PPR leagues. I’ve also included the FantasyPros Expert Consensus Ranking (ECR). My rankings are always updated here if you’re interested.
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1. Todd Gurley (ECR: 4)
Mr. Gurley is one of two or three with whom I don’t really have a problem. I would definitely expect some regression from the almost 2100 total yards and 19 total touchdowns he achieved in 2018, but he’s a workhorse and he’s what the kids call “good.” Gurley is my number one player and I’m totally cool with that.
2. Le’Veon Bell (ECR: 3)
Last year, Bell’s contract dispute apparently got the best of him, as he didn’t cross 100 yards from scrimmage in a single game until Week 4 after sitting out training camp and the preseason. The guy is absolutely a stud, but if he’s going to start slow again, that’s enough for me to be cautious taking him.
3. David Johnson (ECR: 2)
Very sadly, we barely saw any of David Johnson last year after a broken wrist ended his season very early. I have no concerns about DJ’s skill set and likely workload, but I don’t have the most trust in the Cardinals offense in general. Sam Bradford doesn’t inspire the most confidence, and I’d usually say that Larry Fitzgerald can’t keep it up but he does every year and that’s a trap I’m not willing to dive into. Two years ago, Todd Gurley couldn’t get anything going because defenses would just put eleven defenders, the defensive coordinator, three cheerleaders, and one big stupid mascot in the box, and he’d have nowhere to go. That’s my concern with DJ, though admittedly it isn’t an intense concern.
4. Ezekiel Elliott (ECR: 5)
Same story here with Zeke. Dak Prescott is fine but not any kind of gunslinger, and the Cowboys are currently starting Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, and Cole Beasley at receiver. Zeke should get plenty of carriers and he’ll be effective, but how effective can he be if the Cowboys go-to passing play is a 4-yard screen to Beasley?
5. Antonio Brown (ECR: 1)
Now Brown is interesting. I have no qualms about his skill set, as he is - scientifically speaking - a bananas athlete. My only concern around drafting Brown isn’t actually about Brown himself, but just that I’d really like to start my draft with a RB. I did a piece on FantasyPros for a RB heavy draft, and you can’t accomplish that by taking a WR first. To be clear, if I’m picking 5th and the four previous RBs are gone, I am definitely still taking Brown.
6. Alvin Kamara (ECR: 7)
The cautious narrative around Kamara is pretty simple and pretty well-known. He had one game with over 100 rushing yards, and his highest amount of carries in a game was 12 (three times). He also had 826 yards on 82 receptions, which is just lovely. His productivity was insane, but I - and many others - don’t see that repeating. Maybe you draft Kamara and trade him after Week 4 before Mark Ingram returns from suspension? Taking Kamara at his current ADP makes me more uneasy than anyone else on this list.
7. Saquon Barkley (ECR: 12)
This one is easy: kid’s a rookie. The Giants wouldn’t have drafted Saquon if they didn’t plan on using him, so he should be plenty productive. It’s always easy to use the rookie argument, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m as comfortable with Saquon here as I am with Antonio Brown or David Johnson at their respective spots.
8. DeAndre Hopkins (ECR: 6)
Last year, DeAndre Hopkins was an absolute force: 96 receptions on 174 targets for 1,378 yards and 13 TDs. I’m not immensely concerned about him, though I did see him be very unproductive two years ago. The issue with Hopkins is really the same as Brown - I really want to start with a RB.
9. Odell Beckham Jr. (ECR: 8)
Are we really drafting two Giants in the top nine? Is this real life?
I guess I’m fine with Beckham here. I still don’t want a WR first, and I’m also worried that the Giants take a massive swing back to favoring the running game, and Odell (and Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram) struggle to see the targets that we expect. If the top 8 go as they did here, I’d probably take Beckham and absolutely grab the best RB on the way back.
10. Kareem Hunt (ECR: 13)
Hunt was a victim of a RB carousel last year for some reason that no one understands. He had five games with less than 15 carries, and his yardage in those games was: 81 yards, 21 yards, 37 yards, 17 yards, and 40 yards. Everyone is allowed to have their bad games, but Hunt seemed to just randomly fall off the face of the earth at times and no one had any idea why. Let’s hope the Chiefs realize that he should be the face of their offense and continue to feed the man.
I hope your doubts aren’t as strong as mine, I really do. It’s a lot more fun to be blindly excited than finding concerns in all of your potential draftees.
Follow Donald on Twitter @DonaldGibsonFF. Do it.