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Fantasy Football: Classifying Tight Ends, Part 1

Gregory Payan-AP Photo

What category does your go-to tight end belong in?

Tight ends are oftentimes the forgotten men on fantasy rosters, but the right option at the position can win you a title. Whether you go for consistency or upside, who you select can either set you back or propel you forward in your league’s standings. For this upcoming season, viable options at the tight end position have worked their way into five distinct categories. Here is a look at the first two.  

Disclaimer: These are not preseason TE rankings, merely classifications. All positional rankings and point totals are per ESPN Standard Scoring.

Category #1: Captains Of Consistency  

Members of this club have accomplished the rare feat of being consistently above average, both game-to-game and year-to-year. This is no small task; as fantasy football becomes more and more unpredictable, this trio is about as dependable as you can get. Draft them with confidence. 

Greg Olsen  

Olsen is perhaps the poster child for this category, as he has long been one of the most consistent fantasy options in the league. The Panthers’ tight end has topped 1,000 receiving yards three years running, the first tight end in NFL history to accomplish such a feat. In each of those seasons, he finished within the top five at the position. Furthermore, the durable stalwart hasn’t missed a game since 2007. Olsen is about as close to a sure thing as you can get at the tight end position.  

Travis Kelce  

As 2016’s top-ranked tight end, Kelce has been a top-10 option since his rookie year in 2014. He took the next step toward stardom last season, finishing with over 1,100 yards as he became Alex Smith’s go-to option. Additionally, the Chiefs’ tight end has also been an iron man thus far in his career, as he has yet to miss a regular season game. Look for Kelce to at least match last year’s production in the 2017-2018 season.   

Delanie Walker  

Since coming over to Tennessee from San Francisco, Walker has been one of the steadiest producers at the tight end position, finishing top-10 in each of the past three seasons. His age, coupled with potential lost targets to Corey Davis, make him slightly riskier than the other two members of this category, but the Titan should still be one of the first tight ends off the board.   

Category #2: Frustrating Transcendent Talents  

Members of this club are just as likely to lead your team in scoring one week as they are to spend the next week on your bench or IR. Whether it be injuries, inconsistency, or a combination of the two, this quartet has a history of dominance followed by heartbreak. Draft them if you want to maximize your potential at the position, but buyer beware of the risk. 

Rob Gronkowski   

When healthy, there is no question that Gronk is the best tight end in the game. The problem, of course, is that he has had trouble staying on the field. His style of play leaves him susceptible to dangerous hits, and his lengthy injury history is proof of that. Gronk was the 15th best non-QB during the 2015 season, and when fully healthy in 2016 he averaged over 14 fantasy points a game. The upside is clearly enormous, but so is the risk.   

Jordan Reed  

Reed has gained the reputation of being one of the more injury-prone players in the league; he has yet to make it through a full NFL season. But much like Gronk, when he plays, he can be a force to be reckoned with. Despite appearing in just 11 games last year, Reed finished the season ranked in the top 10 at the position anyway. The Redskin can be a huge asset to any fantasy team, but just know there’s a good chance he misses a few games. 

Jimmy Graham   

Since coming to Seattle, Graham’s star has faded a bit, but he remains one of the premier options at the position. What makes the Seahawk frustrating to own, however, is not necessarily injury concerns (although he missed five games in 2015), but general inconsistency. Despite finishing last season as the fourth-ranked tight end, he had seven games with less than five points. Graham can explode in any given matchup (see Week 9 against Buffalo), but he’ll also throw up some duds.   

Tyler Eifert  

Eifert is a double whammy as far as frustrating goes. Not only has he missed over half of his possible games the past three seasons, but his over-reliance on touchdowns also makes him incredibly inconsistent. In the past two seasons, over 22% of Eifert’s receptions have resulted in touchdowns. To put that in perspective, over the same time frame Greg Olsen has reached the end zone on just over six percent of his receptions. The Bengals’ tight end is a true touchdown-or-bust player, making him a risky play. 

Stay tuned for the next three categories, coming soon.

Edited by Jazmyn Brown, David Kaptzan.

How many tight ends are in the NFL Hall of Fame?
Created 5/14/17
  1. 5
  2. 7
  3. 8
  4. 10

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