This is a list of the top Tight End targets for NFL games based on potential production and price. The players are split into three tiers based on likelihood of success. Remember that these rankings take potential production and price into account, so some guys may be higher up on the list despite having a lower projected score for the week if the price point is favorable. Here are some options to consider:
Cream of the Crop
Rob Gronkowski ($7300) – If you don’t like seeing this name here, then don’t read this column. Gronk will be here as long as he is healthy. He is a beast, an athletic freak who can use his size and strength to make plays in the red zone or short yardage. He also has the speed to stretch defenses in the seem and pick up yards after the catch, which are not things we usually see most tight ends be able to do. He is a big part of that passing attack and will see targets in and out of the red zone. I’m not expecting three touchdowns a week from him, but the fact that he has that type of upside puts him well ahead of most other tight ends in the league just off that. $7300 is expensive, but not prohibitive of fitting him into a lineup. The matchup is tough against Buffalo, but Gronk is quite possibly the only tight end that is match up proof, so he still makes a top option this week.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($4100) – Jenkins had a great first game after being hyped up in the preseason. He also seems to have a good connection with Winston, which will lead to a lot of garbage time points this season if things keep going the way they did in the opener. TB faces New Orleans who allowed a huge game to Darren Fells in week 1. Jenkins is bigger, faster, and more talented a pass catcher than Fells is, so he too should be in line for a good day. His price is cheap and I still do not think his ownership takes a huge bump with most people being disgusted with Winston from week 1. I’m not defending Winston here either, but Jenkins is still a play regardless.
Tyler Eifert ($4200) – He is going to be very popular after his game last week and rightly so. Eifert really was visually impressive in this game. He ran all the routes and made all the plays you can ask of any pass catcher. He showed his athleticism when catching the jump ball in the end zone by going way up over the DB to do so. He had another TD catch on a slant from the slot, he stretched the defense with his speed over the top of the linebackers, and he also had a few of those little button hook and crossing pattern type catches we normally see from tight ends finding the weak spots in a zone. My problem here is obviously not the price, which remains at $4200, but he benefited from the Oakland team bracketing AJ Green all game and leaving him on linebackers for most of the game with no safety help. The NFL is a league of adjustments and I think his coming out party showed defensive coordinators that he needs to be game planned around as well, so I don’t think he will find as many favorable matchups in this one. That offense is loaded with weapons, so they will throw the ball where the weakness and mismatch is. All those guys including Jones and Sanu can make plays.
Jason Witten ($4300) – Witten is now the de facto #1 pass catcher in Dallas with Dez out. Romo also trusts him, so that makes it easy for the two of them to hook up often. He will see the targets and the Red Zone looks, although teams who watched the second half the other night know that too and will scheme to stop it. Witten is going to see about ten targets here and should wind up with half a dozen catches and 60 yards. If he gets a touchdown, he will be a great GPP play, but at the price with the expected targets, I think he makes a lot of sense in cash.
Greg Olsen ($4900) – The fact that he disappointed on opening day only makes him likely to be much lower owned. Travis Kelce torched this Houston team in week 1, and while they are different types of players, they can both put up numbers in favorable matchups. Olsen was one of the most targeted tight ends in the league last year. Carolina is still without a lot of talent at WR, so team’s can roll help towards Olsen more often, but I still think Olsen is going to be a big part of any success the Panthers may have this year. His price is still below $5K, which is a nice deal for his potential upside. Still like him better for cash too though.
Jordan Reed ($3700) – Reed has always been a great option for fantasy when healthy, especially when he is dirt cheap on a PPR site. He saw 11 targets and had 7 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown on a red zone look. All positive things we want to see out of a cheap option at the position. That St. Louis defense is pretty stout, but they did allow a solid game to Jimmy Graham last week which included a red zone touch, so they are not the worst match up. I expect the Skins to be trailing and Desean Jackson is out with an injury, so he should still see the targets and quite frankly the red zone looks.
Ladarius Green ($3500) – Green had a great first game. He caught 5 balls for 74 yards and a touchdown. Rivers will spread it around (Except if you Keenan Allen) so no one gets a ton of targets, but everyone gets a few. Green does not need a lot at $3500 in order to make value. He has speed, size, and good hands for a guy playing tight end. With Gates still out, he should see a lot of snaps, a good number of targets, and have a nice safe floor with GPP upside at the price.
Vernon Davis ($3000) – Dirt cheap price for a guy who led the team in targets and catches during a very run heavy effort. This next game might require more of the aerial attack to stay in it, so he should get an uptick in his numbers across the board. With the price being so cheap, if he catches a TD pass and/or gets 5 catches, he will likely return value with the upside of maybe 15-20 points for a measly $3K.
Middle of the Pack
Martellus Bennett ($4500) – Bennett almost had a horrible debut game until he caught a garbage time TD pass from cutler. That was a 9.4 fantasy point play and accounted for over half of his total production. He faces an Arizona defense that is pretty solid in this one. It’s not that I do not like Bennett, but he is clearly the third option at best in that offense. With Alshon healthy and Forte again carrying a big load, Bennett is likely to see the same level of action he had in this one. 5-6 catchers for 50-60 yards is likely his norm and the big games come when the TDs do. He is still cheap for what he can give you, but there is no certainty he scores a touchdown here against a stout defense.
Jared Cook ($3000) – Cook is another sneaky option here, although his team may be playing from ahead, which would limit his upside. He had 5 catches for 84 yards in the opener and is another guy who has that ability at $3K. It feels like tight end pricing is a tad too cheap this season, but these guys are safe cash game plays with the targets that they should get. If we had a WR who saw 6-7 targets and was likely to get 5 catches for 50 or more yards, I bet he would not be min price or go unnoticed if he was.
Jimmy Graham ($5800) – This is a guy who I like, but hate the price compared to his peers. Graham had a good day against St. Louis by another other TE standard. 6 catches, 51 yards, and a TD. The problem is for the price it was not great. He would need to put up a 25-30 point game and I do not see that happening in this offense. There just is not enough looks for him to put up 10 catch 100 yard performances when they commit as much as they do to running the football. He did see a bunch of those targets in the red zone, which is very encouraging, but unless Seattle gets down big and has to throw a bunch, the statline he got on opening day is about what to expect from him. It’s great and safe for cash, but lacks the upside we like in a tournament play at his price.
Jordan Cameron ($4000) – In a game where the phins were doing a lot of passing in the opener, he did very little in the way of production. Cameron is basically a touchdown dependent option with a safer floor than a punt. It does not look like he will see a ton of targets, even when they are trailing. In a game against Jacksonville which many are expecting them to be ahead in, he may see even less. If the game plan is run heavy, it only makes the TD more important for him. He will have 4 or 5 catches for 40/50 yards. If you are comfortable with a 2.5 return in cash, he can likely do that as a floor.
Heath Miller ($3500) – Miller will continue to see targets with Bell and Bryant still on the shelf. He actually tied Antonio Brown with 11 the other day against New England. He finished with 8 catches for 84 yards and for the price, he makes sense here too. You can not knock a guy who can catch 8 passes and do so at $3500 or less. That is almost three times value for him just on receptions. Even five catches for 50 yards is enough to do the trick at $3500.
Eric Ebron ($3300) – He looks much better this year and had a nice TD catch in the opener. My fear is the gameplan favors the run in this one, but that may actually help him as he could be a third down target. He would need 4 or 5 catches for 60 yards to really make sense, but that is doable for him.
Rest of the Field
Kyle Rudolph ($3500) – Minnesota may need to throw a bunch in it’s second game too, so Rudolph has some value at a cheap price. Like many cheap TEs though, his upside is limited unless he can catch a TD pass. It happens a few times a year, but when it does not, you get 3 catches for 25 yards and 5.5 fantasy points.
Zach Ertz ($3600) – He is a TE in a high powered offense. That is the case being made for two years now. He is also coming off an injury and playing less then his full number of snaps. He has a few catches for a few yards every game, but really lacks the upside on almost all of them. He will have a TD and 5 catches one of these days and the believers will be singing his praises, but he will revert back to 3 catchers for 40 yards before and after that game and remind us all why we do not like to play him.
Delanie Walker ($3500) – He is listed as questionable after leaving last game with a hand injury. He’s a solid option and the passing game should be featured and needed more here for the Titans. Monitor his status, but he is in play at the price if he plays. His status is the only reason he is on the bottom rung of the list.
Charles Clay ($3400) – Clay has great hands and is a guy who will get a few balls. The problem is his floor is not safe and his upside is limited, so what reason do you have to choose him with the other options priced near him?
Dwayne Allen ($3400) – He is the guy who was a better TE red zone target for Luck last year. The problem is he splits work with Fleener and both guys are ok options. Unless one or the other is out, neither makes my rosters.
Coby Fleener ($3000) – A tad cheaper, but the same thing for Allen holds true here. He does tend to get more catches though, so his floor is safer, especially with the lower price.
We also have a few other guys who see a decent number of snaps to choose from, but with the prices where they are, I would not venture down any further then some of the good options we already have at the $3000 price tag.
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