2017 fantasy football position rankings: Tight Ends

Continuing our series of position rankings for the upcoming 2017 fantasy football season, we’ll take a look at the top 24 tight ends before turning to defenses next week. We’ve ranked the QBs 1-32running backs from 1 to 36 and wide receivers 1 to 36. Defenses and kickers will be ranked 1-12.

Any of the top four tight ends listed here could end up being the best in the league this season. There’s even a chance any of the top seven could end up being TE1. In addition, a mix of rookies and second-year players are in good situations to contribute.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots—He might as well change his first name to “if he’s healthy” because it seems like every year we say, “if he’s healthy, he should be the best tight end in the game.” His new contract is full of incentives, so he should do everything he can to stay on the field to dominate.

2. Jordan Reed, Redskins—Another tight end that needs to find a way to stay on the field is Reed. He was on the injury report more than a handful of times last season. He’s going in the middle of the fourth round in mock drafts so you might as well wait on the position unless he falls to the fifth.

3. Travis Kelce, Chiefs—He’s getting drafted in the fourth round as well, and he may end up being a safer pick than Reed. He had a late-season streak of games in which he had at least 100 yards receiving. His biggest week came against a tough Broncos defense in fantasy championship week.

4. Greg Olsen, Panthers—His success is somewhat dependent on Cam Newton being able to complete more than just 53 percent of his passes. Olsen had a terrible second half of the season and didn’t score a touchdown after Week 9. The addition of Christian McCaffrey could end up taking pressure of Newton, allowing him to connect better with his receivers.

5. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks—He struggled in the first week of the season last year, but picked it up after that. And that was with a hobbled Russell Wilson slinging the ball around while under a lot of pressure. With Wilson back healthy enough to scramble things should improve for the veteran.

6. Tyler Eifert, Bengals—He’s bound to play a full season, right? Eifert hasn’t played all 16 games in his four years. Here’s hoping he can get it done in his fifth. There’s no doubt that when he’s on the field he’s incredibly tough to cover. Eifert scored five touchdowns in just half a season last year.

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) catches the ball during an NFL Football game between Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Oct. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

7. Delanie Walker, Titans—Marcus Mariota is entering his third year and looking like the real deal. That’s good news for Walker, who had 800 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016. He didn’t have fantasy-relevant numbers until his 8th year in the league but has been solid ever since.

8. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings—He’s currently going in the ninth round of fantasy mock drafts and that’s outstanding for the type of production he’ll be capable of this year. Rudolph had the second-most targets last season—not for tight ends—overall. Short-passing Sam Bradford targeted the tight end 132 times, allowing Rudolph to catch 83 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns.

9. Hunter Henry, Chargers—The 22-year-old may end up making it ok for Antonio Gates to ride off into the sunset. Henry caught eight touchdowns in his rookie season to go with 478 yards. The Chargers improved their offensive line and that should allow Philip Rivers to find his receivers.

10. Martellus Bennett, Packers—He’s coming off a season in which he filled in for a hurt Gronkowski, amassing 701 yards and seven touchdowns in New England. Only one tight end in Green Bay has had over 500 yards receiving in the last four years, but Bennett is possibly the most talented one they’ve had since Jermichael Finley.

Martellus Bennett #88 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Jets during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

11. Zach Ertz, Eagles—He caught four touchdowns last season with a rookie quarterback at the helm. That matched a career high. Ertz had 816 yards receiving and was targeted over 100 yards for the second year in a row, signaling that he’s a clear weapon in their offensive scheme.

12. O.J. Howard, Buccaneers—The rookie enters a situation in which he can become one of many weapons for Jameis Winston. The Bucs added DeSean Jackson to help stretch the field and take pressure off of Mike Evans. Defenses should be worried about covering those two outside options, leaving Howard to do some damage in the middle of the field.

13. Austin Hooper, Falcons

14. Julius Thomas, Dolphins

15. Jack Doyle, Colts

16. Eric Ebron, Lions

17. Evan Engram, Giants

18. Vance McDonald, 49ers

19. Coby Fleener, Saints

20. Jesse James, Steelers

21. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans

22. Jason Witten, Cowboys

23. Tyler Higbee, Rams

24. David Njoku, Browns

Fantasy football Week 8 preview

Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.

Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit for your upcoming fantasy matchups.

Starts

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals — He obviously has a great weapon in A.J. Green, and Tyler Eifert is expected to be more productive after coming back from injury last week. Dalton should be good to go against a Washington pass defense that’s middle of the pack.

Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers — Feel free to let him loose on an Oakland defense that is 29th in points allowed to quarterbacks.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — He’s been terrible since the bye, and he’s had only one really good game this season. If he can’t do well against the Saints this week, leave him on the bench.

Devontae Booker, RB, Broncos — Booker was already making an impact, but now that C.J. Anderson will miss significant time, he should be the lead back in Denver.

Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker (23) runs against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker (23) runs against the Houston Texans during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers — Rodgers is coming off two straight 100-yard games and faces an Oakland defense that is 23rd in points allowed to running backs.

Ty Montgomery, RB/WR, Packers — Sure, he’s getting touches at running back, but he’s been targeted a total of 25 times in the passing game in the past two weeks. That volume leads to big results.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers — Facing the Falcons, a team that gives up nearly 300 yards passing per game, there’s room for more than two Packers receivers to be successful. Cobb has been on a tear the past three weeks. Heck, even Jordy Nelson, who has struggled recently, might have a good game.

Wide receiver Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Wide receiver Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Will Fuller, WR, Texans — Brock Osweiler doesn’t instill confidence in you, but Fuller is due a good game. He faces a Lions defense that is 26th in points allowed to wideouts, and the speedy rookie has been targeted no less than six times in each game he’s played.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks — The Saints are middle of the road in points allowed to tight ends, but Graham plays like a wide receiver. He should get his this week.

Sits

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears — The only people happy about him starting are Alshon Jeffery owners. Cutler will target Jeffery at will, but that doesn’t mean he’ll produce well himself.

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers — The last time he faced the Broncos he started the game on fire, but after San Diego took the lead, the game script left him with a bad game. This time he faces Denver on the road with DeMarcus Ware possibly back in the lineup.

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Jordan Howard, RB, Bears — He’s gained just 62 total yards in his last two games and faces a tough Vikings defense on Monday night.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — He’s rushed for more than 77 yards only one time this season, and the Cowboys are actually really good at limiting running backs’ fantasy points.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins — His hamstring and shoulder are bothering him and he hasn’t played like a WR1 since Week 3. Sit him against a good Bengals pass defense.

Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) waits on a pass defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) waits on a pass defended by Detroit Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Travis Benjamin, WR, Chargers — Benjamin had just 17 yards receiving the last time he faced the Broncos. He’s dealing with a knee injury as well, so it makes sense to sit him even if he plays.

Martellus Bennett, TE, Patriots — Play a starter who is the No. 1 tight end option on his team instead of Bennett. He hasn’t been good for two games in a row, and the Bills are fourth best at limiting points by the position.

Fantasy football Week 6 preview

Fantasy owners already know who their must-start players are, but everyone has a few decisions to make when it comes to setting a lineup. We’re here to help with those tough decisions.

Each week this space will be dedicated to whom you should start or sit for your upcoming fantasy matchups.

Starts

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals — This game will be telling. If he produces against a poor Jets pass defense, then he can be trusted after enduring a concussion and a couple of poor outings. If not, this top-tier QB could slip down a tier.

Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a pass during the second half of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals makes a pass during the second half of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks — It appears as if he’d be a must-start every week, but he started the season terribly. He righted the ship in Week 4 and has had a bye week to prepare for a bad Falcons defense.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars — He’s had two weeks to prepare for a Bears defense that is ranked in the middle of the road against quarterbacks.

Lamar Miller, RB, Texans — Don’t hold his poor performance against the Vikings against him. They’re shutting everyone down. He should bounce back against the Colts, who are 29th in points allowed to running backs.

Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Minneapolis. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller (26) runs the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Minneapolis. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks — Michael is even proving to be effective in the passing game as he caught a TD pass in his last game. His matchup is great, and it should be apparent in his point total.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers — He’ll be back in the lineup for the Panthers and gets to face the team ranked last in points allowed to running backs, the Saints.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Eagles — Despite getting just 16 touches last week, Mathews produced a touchdown, and he has a great matchup against Washington. If he’s productive in the passing game, he could have a big week.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) rushes against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Philadelphia Eagles running back Ryan Mathews (24) rushes against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks — He’s been alternating between good and bad weeks, and he’s due for another big week.

Will Fuller, WR, Texans — You were right to sit him last week against the Vikings as he was shut out. This week’s matchup is much more favorable. The Colts are 19th in points allowed to wideouts.

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks — This could be a record for the number of players suggested as starts from one team, but when the Falcons are 31st in points allowed to tight ends, it’s justified.

Sits

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons — Didn’t like him starting last week, and I suggest he not start again as he faces the Seahawks in Seattle. They’re the best at limiting quarterbacks’ fantasy points.

Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers — You might be interested to see what he’ll be able to do after not starting for quite a while, but that’s no reason to start him until you see some positive signs.

Terrance West, RB, Ravens — He has a tough matchup against the Giants. They allow 96 yards rushing per game and have surrendered just three rushing touchdowns. Expect low-end flex numbers if you have to start him.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals — With his pass-catching ability, Giovani Bernard has a better chance to contribute since the Pats are stout against running backs.

Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals is injured after a hit during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals is injured after a hit during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Arian Foster, RB, Dolphins — Even if he’s 100 percent, I’d sit him until he has a really good game as a Dolphin. That backfield is ridiculously crowded right now.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, 49ers — With the quarterback change, I’d wait until we see how that affects the suddenly relevant receiver.

Victor Cruz, WR, Giants — Sterling Shepard is getting targeted heavily, and Cruz was held without a catch last week. No need to start someone who appears to be the third-best option on a struggling offense.