The TE position in the NFL continues to be most top-heavy position in the game. There’s a handful of guys that are consistently good, and then there’s about 20 guys that just become matchup plays. That’s what makes selecting the right TE one of the most difficult decisions of any draft. You don’t want to draft one too early, and miss out on the second level RBs and WRs. But at the same time, you don’t want to wait too long, and miss out on one of the top-5 guys. There’s always the opportunity to get the unknown stud in Week 3 after a fast start to the season, but that’s always a crapshoot.
Personally, I generally have one or two targets heading into the draft, and I take one in the 5th round. You can generally get a top-6 guy in the 4th and 5th rounds. I put more stake in loading up WRs before taking a TE, but I know how important a steady TE can be. Gronk is always the unanimous favorite, for good reason. I don’t like the injury history. I’ve never owned Gronkowski in any league I’ve ever played, and I have a pretty solid record of at least reaching the championship round. Generally speaking, Gronk owners don’t get to the ‘ship because of him. Come fantasy playoff time, he’s usually not playing, and if he is, he’s certainly not 90%-100% healthy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fantastic football player, and one of the best (if not THE best) TE to ever play; but I want a more reliable player (he’s still rated very highly because, I mean, he’s Gronk, and you rate on upside/potential).
In standard ESPN PPR leagues, there were 3 TEs that broke the 200-point threshold, which is the desirable number for the position. Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, and Zach Ertz lead the way with 233.5, 227.4, and 202.4 fantasy points respectively. After those 3, there is a near 30 point dropoff to Delanie Walker at #4 with 174.5 points. That’s a huge difference between players in the top-5. You don’t see that at any other position except maybe QB (depending on rules: 4 point passing TDs really benefit the rushing QB).
Without further adieu, here’s my list of top 10 QBs for 2018 (writeups follow list):
- Travis Kelce (chiefs)
- Rob Gronkowski (patriots)
- Zach Ertz (eagles)
- Evan Engram (giants)
- Jimmy Graham (seahawks)
- Greg Olsen (panthers)
- Kyle Rudolph (vikings)
- Delanie Walker (titans)
- Tyler Eifert (bengals)
- Jack Doyle (colts)
Kelce has become the most reliable and consistent TE in fantasy. Whether it’s Alex Smith or Pat Mahomes (more likely) throwing the ball next season, Kelce will be the #1 target and see the ball often. I can realistically see him being a late 1/early 2 pick in 2018. Personally, I believe late 2nd round is the ideal time to target Kelce.
Gronk will likely be the top TE taken in the majority of drafts, especially in leagues with the casual football fans. When healthy, he’s obviously the most dominant, and with Tom Brady seemingly not slowing down yet, can’t go wrong with him.
The Eagles are here. Carson Wentz is legit. Wentz’s favorite target: Zach Ertz. In 11 games this season with Wentz, Ertz averaged 14.8 FPPG. In 3 games without Wentz, he averaged 13.1 FPPG. Not a big dropoff, but enough that makes the 2018 return of the would-be MVP makes Ertz a great fantasy option.
You would think the return of Odell Beckham, Jr. would take away from Engram’s targets. I think the opposite. I think the OBJ factor will only elevate the play of Evan Engram. This season, he was the Giants’ only receiving threat, and still managed to catch 64 balls for 722 yards and 6 scores. With the defensive gameplan sure to defend Beckham, Engram should have much more room to operate and put his game-changing speed to work.
Since entering the league in 2010, Jimmy Graham’s 69 TD receptions trail only Rob Gronkowski’s 76 for TEs. Whether it’s Drew Brees or Russell Wilson throwing him the ball, Jimmy finds the endzone. I don’t see that slowing down in 2018. If only the reception and yards would elevate a bit, he’d be even higher on this list.
An injury riddled season is the only thing keeping Greg Olsen outside the top-3. In 2017, Olsen only played 6 games and scored less than 6 fantasy points in 5 of them. When healthy, we all know what he’s capable of. He can be one of the most dominant TEs in the game. But I’ll need to see it again, after all, 33 isn’t young in this game.
Kyle Rudolph is not flashy, but very steady. He scored at least 8 fantasy points in 12 of his 16 games this season. Doing it with Stefon Diggs in and out of the lineup as well as bouncing between Sam Bradford and Case Keenum for the first couple games. He’s one of the guys I target in round 6 if the top-5 guys listed are already off the board.
Delanie Walker has the potential to be the highest scoring TE in the NFL if he was in any other offense. The Titans’ are a very run-heavy offense with a dominant O-line and a great 1-2 punch in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Nevertheless, Walker is still a very consistent, and very solid option at TE every year.
The biggest question mark at the position belongs to Tyler Eifert. Since catching 13 TDs in 2015, he’s played just 10 games over the past 2 seasons catching 33 balls for just 440 yards and 5 scores. He’s as dynamic as they come when healthy with his size and speed combo at the position, as he showed in 2015. But, he has a lot to prove to fantasy owners (and NFL owners), and he’s on the list simply for potential. I would certainly take a flier on him and pair him with a Kyle Rudolph or Jack Doyle.
Jack Doyle wasn’t an unknown, per se, but I don’t think anyone expected him to perform the way he did in 2017; especially without star QB Andrew Luck. He averaged 11.3 FPPG with Jacoby Brissett throwing passes for most of the season. If Andrew Luck can return in 2018 healthy, Doyle’s stock will be up and he could be a steal in the middle rounds (7-9) of your drafts.
As always, let me know your thoughts!