Making Sense of the Messy Tight End Position

Matt Hicks, Staff Writer

The TE position is always one of the hardest to get right in fantasy football. There’s very few consistent players we can count on year in and year out. To make matters worse, injuries have gutted any stability within the position. Injured TE’s this season include all of the go-to TE options like: Gronk, Reed, Olsen, and Kelce as well as other TE1 options: Clay, Doyle, and Eifert. With some much instability it’s easy to write off this position and try to stream TEs based on match-up the rest of the season.

Don’t do that, it’s lazy and won’t pay off. Dig into the position and my TE rankings. If you don’t have one of these players prioritize them as a waiver claim for put together a good trade offer. You’ll need a good TE to make a deep run in your league.

  1. Rob Gronkowski

Gronk is still Gronk. He’s one of the most dynamic players on one of the most dynamic offenses. He has 318 receiving yards and 2 TDs in the four games he’s played this season. It is concerning how quickly his Week 5 status escalated but coming off the long week he appears to be healthy and ready to go for Week 6. Gronk remains the top TE option because he is the only TE who legitimately can win you your match-up on any given week.

  1. Zach Ertz

I’m all in on Ertz. He’s as consistent as they come this year. He’s brought in at least 5 receptions and 55 yards each week. His lowest fantasy output was 13 points. The Eagles have shown the desire to throw the ball this season and Ertz had benefitted from it in a big way. If you have Ertz, don’t trade him because you have what nobody else has: a fantasy TE you can rely on every week.

  1. Travis Kelce

Kelce is basically just a mid-west version of Gronk. He’s got huge upside and has scored 24 fantasy points in two games this season. However, he also put up just 1 point in Week 3 against the Chargers. He could be higher on this list but the concussion(s) he suffered in Sunday’s game are concerning. He’s still a dynamic option for any fantasy owner.

  1. Cameron Brate

Brate has 3 TDs in just 4 weeks, which is more than Gronk, Ertz, or Kelce. After a slow Week 2, Brate has been red hot scoring 13, 18, and 17 fantasy points. Brate has brought in at least 4 receptions in each of those weeks and makes the most out of his targets, with 14 yards per reception. I mentioned in my waiver wire targets article that Brate is owned in just 51.9 % of leagues. If he’s available in yours make his claim a priority.

  1. Delanie Walker

Walker blew the doors off the TE position the first two weeks of the season. He scored 30 fantasy points by racking up 11 receptions for 137 yards. Since then he’s calmed down a bit, likely because he’s been without Mariota for the last game and a half. Walker has great match-ups coming up against the Colts and Browns. Expect him to bounce back and be a big fantasy option moving forward.

  1. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins

ASJ (yeah that’s right I’m not typing that name out more than once) has been a strong addition to a surprisingly successful Jets offense. He’s proven to be an immediately consistent option for McCown, and that’s everything we could want from a TE. He scored 8 points in each of his first two weeks and then pulled in 6 receptions and a TD to put up 14 in Week 5. I expect him to only get better and he continues to carve out his role in this offense which focuses on short, accurate passing.

  1. Evan Engram

Going into Week 5, Engram likely would’ve been the #3 TE option. He’s been a popular target for Manning, who has had to throw the ball 40+ times a game most weeks. He scored between 8 and 14 points Week 1-4. He went without a reception in Week 5, however, and that’s a huge red flag. With OBJ and Marshall on IR it’s likely Engram gets a lot more attention of offense. That could be huge for his value or the extra attention could prove troublesome for the rookie. Proceed with caution on Engram but know his upside is huge.

  1. Jimmy Graham

Remember the days when we’d argue whether Gronk or Graham was the best TE in fantasy? Ah, yes, the good ole days. Graham will never return to the relevance he saw in New Orleans, however, he has had three great weeks. Graham has 21 receptions (17 came Weeks 3-5) and 179 yards (170 Weeks 3-5) with 1 TD. His value is trending up, but I caution you from getting too excited about him.

  1. Hunter Henry

It appears the Chargers have stopped pretending like Henry isn’t a great offensive weapon. When he’s involved in the offense he performs: pulling in 138 yards and 2 TDs on the games he’s been active in. The concern for Henry, though, is that the Chargers left him out of their game plan twice this season. I expect Henry to be utilized more moving forward, making him a TE1.

  1. Jared Cook

Cook was heavily involved in the Oakland offense when Carr was healthy, racking up 16 receptions, 131 yards, and 1 TD in the first 4 weeks. Don’t bail on Cook while Manuel in is, ride it out and reap the benefits once the offense flips a switch with Carr back in the driver’s seat. For now, though, he’s a low end TE1 option.

  1. Tyler Kroft

Kroft has come out of nowhere the last two weeks to be a relevant fantasy TE. He scored 2 TDs in Week 4 to go along with his 6 receptions and 68 yards. He followed that up with 4 receptions and 38 yards for a solid 7 fantasy points in Week 5. He’s not an impact maker yet, but he’s only owned in 9.9% of leagues and is worth making a claim on; he could breakout big following his Week 6 BYE.

  1. Jordan Reed/Greg Olsen

I hate to say it but Reed is still Reed, he deserved to be a TE 1 if he’s on the field. That’s a big if, though, and even if he does start the game there’s never a guarantee he finished the game. Olsen is in here because his injury was not season ending. Keep an eye on him once it appears he’s ready to rejoin a now very dynamic Carolina offense.

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Published by

Matt Hicks

Matt’s writing is focused on dynasty and devy fantasy football. He loves blending his experience writing research in the field of education with fantasy football stats. Matt currently lives in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @TheFF_Educator

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