The fourth installment in my early rankings is here. Ironically, I’ll be updating them all in a week or two in prep for the redraft season. But for now, here is my TE ranks. Let’s start off by saying I don’t like anyone at TE this year as a blue chip. Your traditional studs all have serious question marks around them and the rest are all big upside but big downside guys. I think my strategy will be wait and watch, the guy who starts the majority of my season at TE is likely to come off the waiver wire I think. But here is how it looks.
- Rob Gronkowski: Well duh, when he is healthy he is clearly the best fantasy TE in the game. He also has the least amount of uncertainty around him, but there is still uncertainty. His QB is stable but grumpy, he has hinted at retirement, and there were trade rumors around him during the offseason. Oh and he gets hurt. All. The. Time. His last complete 16 game season was 2011.
- Travis Kelce: A change at QB worries me but you cannot deny the consistency. Kelce has also had a few missed games from injury but his track record is better than Gronk in the health category. I think you can look to him to have at least 900 yards and 6 TDs this year and with a weak TE class, thats good enough for second. OR ISIT….
- Zach Ertz: The “emergence” of Zach Ertz last year was really a lot of smoke and mirrors. The only stat that was really up was TDs which doubled from 4 to 8 from 2017-2018. The rest of his stat line is so predictable, he might as well be a regular who doesnt wait for his drink at Starbucks. Targets, Receptions, Yards and catch rate are all relatively steady. He caught more touchdowns which escalated his value and the decline of other more popular options have escalated him way over true value. In short, he is a 6th round option going in the 3rd round.
- Delanie Walker: And here is where the merry go round completely breaks down. Walker had a great thousand yard season in 2015 and appeared ready to ascend to the next level but the last two seasons of 800 yards and fluctuating TDs have injured that bit. The good news is he has Mariota back and he did have seven touchdowns with him in 2016. I like him but not as much as I thought I would a year ago.
- Greg Olsen: Olsen spent a lot of last year injured and had a rough time when he was on the field appearing in only seven games and posting the worst season of his career. Many have speculated that the Panthers are moving away from him, but I think he is a great value play this year. I’m looking at him in mid to late rounds when the TEs start to disappear and I’ll snatch him given the chance. Heck, if I can pair him with Newton, that might raise his value in my personal rankings.
- Evan Engram: He posted decent numbers for a rookie in New York and all the indicators are good for an even stronger, potentially breakout year. HOWEVER, Odell is back, Manning is a year older and they went out and drafted a running back. So, do these ‘additions’ cut into his work load or provide the Giants with much needed options that will ultimately enable Engram to have a great season?
- Jimmy Graham: The move to Seattle was not good for Jimmy. It just was not an offense that suited his skills, so will the move to Green Bay improve that or is the window closed? Yet another guy with great upside but with question marks all around him. Have you seen a trend yet? I think his numbers will improve under a QB who is always looking to pass rather than run most snaps.
- Kyle Rudolph: By now, you’re screaming at the computer, “Make it stop!” but here we are again with another guy who people are big on who simply isnt producing. The truth about Rudolph is he had a big 2016 and failed to live up to the hype in 2017. He went down in every major category except TDs which went up by one to a total of eight last year. I’m not big on him this year,m but in TD weighted leagues, he should be ranked higher.
- Jordan Reed: If you are still reading this, congratulations, you’ve earned a point of endurance or constitution or whatever, because this has been a hairy group. Bottom line, if Jordan Reed plays, he might get you numbers. The problem is, he is the only guy on this list LESS reliable than Gronk. At this point you’re better off waiting and going elsewhere in a later round.
- Charles Clay: We reach the bottom of my list. Let me put this simply, since arriving in Buffalo three years ago, Clay has been good for about 50 catches a year for at least 500 yards and around 3 TDs. If you’re cool with that, then draft him. I don’t know what else to tell you.
This might be the hardest article I’ve ever written. There are two verifiable studs (one gets hurt hourly and the other is in a changing offense with a new QB), there’s the high profile guy at three who hasn’t really done much and the rest of this list all have serious production concerns. Honestly, I’d be waiting on TE this year, taking three of them late in best ball and be prepared to work the waiver wire in redraft. I’m sorry if that’s depressing or down, but the outlook at this position is depressing in 2018.
Thanks for hanging in there with me this week. The 50th Episode of the Football Fignuts Podcast will hit tomorrow and will cap off Season 1. Then buckle in because its prep time and season two kicks off the first week of July!