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

Thursday night fantasy football preview: Texans at Patriots

It’s Thursday night and that means the NFL week has started. Here’s a quick look at the Texans at Patriots matchup.

Will Fuller has had at least 100 yards receiving in his first two games. If he can pull that off on Thursday night he’d be the first rookie in NFL history to have at least 100 yards receiving in his first three games. Fuller has earned his way into your starting lineup but I would consider him a low-end flex player for the game against the Patriots.

Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Will Fuller #15 of the Houston Texans runs with the ball in the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Of course you’ll start DeAndre Hopkins, and Lamar Miller is getting too many touches to sit. Brock Osweiler is a tougher call for me this week. I don’t hate the play, but I would like a better option.

Bill Belichick is a football genius, but can he pull off a win with a rookie quarterback against a stout defense?

You won’t start Jacoby Brissett, but it looks like Rob Gronkowski is finally going to play so that could help things for the Patriots. Even if Gronk isn’t 100% healthy you’ll want to start him.

LeGarrette Blount is another player you’ll want to start as the Patriots have leaned on him during their quarterback troubles.

It’s time to start mock drafting

It used to be a good idea, but now it’s pretty essential to go through a few mock drafts in order to prepare yourself for an upcoming fantasy football season. I took part in one this week and learned a couple of things. First off, here’s the team I selected in a standard league mock draft on NFL.com.

mymockteam

mymockteam2

Drafting from the tenth and final spot of the round posed an interesting challenge. The first mistake I made was not taking a running back with my first two picks in the snake order. Though there’s some depth at the position on this team, there’s no clear RB2. Some might argue that Carlos Hyde isn’t even an RB1 at this point, but if he’s healthy I think he will be. Questions are swirling around DeMarco Murray, T.J. Yeldon, Thomas Rawls and Dion Lewis, however.

The wide receiver spot looks pretty good with A.J. Green and Amari Cooper taking the WR1 and WR2 spots, with either Donte Moncrief or new Lions receiver Marvin Jones taking a flex spot.

Tight end is probably the most solid position, but with Rob Gronkowski going without Tom Brady for four games Coby Fleener could get a couple starts if he has an instant connection with Drew Brees.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is a solid starter with Antonio Brown as his main weapon and let’s hope he doesn’t have to miss any time with an aging Tony Romo as his backup.

A few other things I learned from the mock draft:

  • David Johnson is likely a top-5 pick. The person with the first pick in my mock draft took him, but he should probably go no lower than sixth.
  • Le’Veon Bell probably won’t be the first, or maybe even second, running back selected. My draft had Johnson and Todd Gurley go ahead of him.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is no-doubt a first round pick. He went eighth in this mock draft, but I’ve seen him go higher.
  • Don’t be surprised if the first round is half running backs, half wide receivers. Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green went in the first round of this mock.
  • Lamar Miller is right in the late first round, early second round territory. Don’t feel like you’re being too risky taking the new Texan in the first.
  • If DeMarco Murray has a bounce back year, someone will be happy having taken him in the sixth or later.