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NFL Fantasy Preview; Tiered TE Rankings

The title says it all, really. These are the official PSF fantasy TE tiered rankings based on our Fantasy Preview series (check out the series for more in-depth analysis on each player). It assumes full PPR 12-team leagues and everything else is standard as it would show up in any of the typical host sites. Players in each tier are listed in order of descending projected points per game, but if they are in the same tier then they can be considered pretty similar. Without further ado, let’s dive in:

Elite TE1

Rob Gronkowski
Travis Kelce

These 2 TEs are the most likely to lead all TEs in fantasy scoring and should regularly produce high-end TE1 scores… On top of Gronk’s already strong yearly performance, the Patriots are bleeding WRs. He should see plenty of targets as long as he stays healthy… I have some concerns with a young QB now throwing the ball, but historically young QBs lean on their TEs. I hope this remains true for Kelce’s sake.

Semi-Elite TE1

Kyle Rudolph
Greg Olsen
Even Engram
Zach Ertz

These 4 TEs are unlikely to find themselves #1 overall, but anything less than a top-12 finish will be a drastic disappointment… Rudolph has been quietly solid for years now, and that should continue this year. After all, Captain Kirk does love himself some tight ends… Olsen has had a very healthy career, so if he says he’s fully healed from last year’s broken foot I believe him. The only real question is how targets get split when both CMC and Olsen are on the field… Engram won’t see the volume he got last year since the receiving corps isn’t all in the hospital anymore. However, he’s still the only reliable “big” receiver the Giants have, so it’s hard to see them not using him… The Eagles like to spread the ball around which limits Ertz’s ceiling, but it’s fair to say that he is their top receiver. He’ll be fine.

Low-End TE1

Delanie Walker
Jack Doyle
Jimmy Graham
Trey Burton
Jared Cook

These 5 TEs won’t put up elite numbers, but they should reliably provide top 12 weeks… You could set a metronome to Walker’s production. There is a new OC in town, but he’d be crazy to phase Mariota’s security blanket out of the gameplan… Doyle has proven to be reliable, and Luck is coming back to find that he doesn’t have many weapons left. Doyle should be the second most-targeted receiver on the Colts behind Hilton… Graham’s days of high volume receiving are over, but he still has plenty of juice left in the red zone. Good thing Rodgers is pretty adept at getting there… Burton is risky as he is coming into a new situation with no real track record behind him. Trubisky is young though, so if he follows the trope of the young QB relying on his trusty TE, Burton could have some value… It’s safe to say that Cook will never live up to his potential, but he’s quietly put together some respectable years and stands to do so again in Oakland.

TE2 – The Backups

Vance McDonald
Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Ricky Seals-Jones
Eric Ebron
George Kittle
O. J. Howard
Charles Clay
Cameron Brate
Austin Hooper
David Njoku
Hayden Hurst

These 11 TEs could sneak into the top 12 scores of the week every now and then, but will not reliably do so… McDonald has a lot of upside if he can stay on the field… ASJ leaves one low-volume offense for another. Nevertheless, he is talented and could become Bortles’s security blanket… Seals-Jones only had about 15 minutes of fame last season, but by all accounts has locked down the starting TE role in the desert… Ebron will most likely play behind Doyle. The Colts have no WR depth though, so Ebron could easily see some targets… Kittle is young yet, but flashed some upside last year… Howard is a big-play machine, but the resigning of Brate means that they are destined to once again steal work from each other. Both will be risky boom-or-bust plays… Clay’s floor and ceiling are about 3 fantasy points apart, and it’s been that way no matter who’s throwing him the ball. If you need a backup TE who will just do enough to not put up a 0, he’s your guy… Hooper and Njoku are talented, but so are the rest of their respective receiving corps. Victims of too many mouths to feed… Hurst is a rookie, but may be forced onto this list whether he’s ready or not. Baltimore has quite a collection of TEs and Hurst appears to have outplayed them all.

High Upside TEs

Jordan Reed
Tyler Eifert
Jake Butt
Mike Gesicki
Vernon Davis
Virgil Green
Tyler Kroft

These 7 TEs will not reliably produce much of anything, but under the right circumstances they could become valuable late-round starters… No list of high-upside TEs could be complete without Reed and Eifert. Both put up crazy numbers when healthy, but they seem to miss more games than they play nowadays… Butt doesn’t appear to have an easy path to many targets, but he’s talented and will be the top TE for the Broncos. Hopefully he’s put in a position to succeed… The Dolphins do have a lot of mouths to feed, but quite honestly Gesicki is being held back more by his own inexperience than any competition for targets. He should start making strides toward the end of the season in preparation for his coming out party next year… Davis and Kroft aren’t particularly high-upside in and of themselves, but given how often Reed and Eifert are injured they should see plenty of playing time… Green wasn’t supposed to be in this group, but after the Chargers released Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry tore his ACL it’s up to Green to step up. If he’s half as productive as those 2 he’ll be a steal in fantasy.

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