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 ($7400) – Yes he is $1600 more expensive than any other TE and yes his team is favored to win this game big and no I do not really care. There is no other Tight End that has the safety, consistency, or upside of Rob Gronkowski. He can catch passes between the 20s to move the chains. He can break tackles and pick up Yards After the Catch (YAC). He can stretch defenses down the seems, he can line up outside as a WR, and he is a huge red zone target that can catch balls even when double teamed. At some point he will have a bad game and not reach value, but trying to figure out which game that is will burn money for you a couple times before it happens. Sure you may be able to save money and get one or two of the other guys who go off, but there’s fifty seven listed tight ends to choose from and no way of knowing which of the other 56 it will be. Gronk has a high floor due to his catches, targets, and yards while also having multiple touchdown upside which gives him the best ceiling. I got some negative feedback last week for saying he was matchup proof against the best team defending tight ends in the league over the last year and he still went out there and had 27.3 fantasy points. If you multi-enter lineups and have no exposure to Gronk, then you are doing it wrong. If you play cash games and have no exposure then you are doing it wrong. As long as he is not injured, playing Gronk is always a good idea.
Travis Kelce ($5000) – The first 55 minutes of the KC game last week were very tilting for most Kelce owners. He just was not seeing the ball and the offense had no big plays. Then he catches a pass and rumbles down the field for a huge gain and everyone wondered why they did not look his way more often. Kelce is a PPR guy usually. He is a TE and they run screen passes and quick hitter type stuff to him and let him pick up yards in addition to all the normal routes a TE would run. He is fast, strong, and a load to bring down. He also has good hands, so he is a complete offensive pass catching TE. There is a good chance they will be trailing in this one, which is likely to mean a more pass heavy approach and some garbage time yards too. If they make an effort to get him involved early and he adds those garbage points late, then this could be a big game for him at a square price.
Tyler Eifert ($4800) – Eifert is a legit threat to be a top 5 tight end this year in the NFL. He plays with a solid overall offense, which could limit his targets. As long as teams are rolling coverage to stop AJ Green and leaving him in one on one coverage with a safety or a LB, he is going to do some damage. He does have a shoulder injury, which limits his upside and puts him well behind Gronk and Kelce for me, but he is a big, strong, fast, and athletic target that can really make some plays. Dalton trusts him and he has seen a bunch of red zone looks already. He can stretch defense down the seam, find the holes in a zone, or even line up and run WR routes to create mismatches on smaller corners. He is the total package as far as pass catching TEs go. The Ravens are very good against the run usually, so he should see some short yardage 3rd down conversion looks, a few shots down the field, and hopefully his weekly red zone look or two. Those all add up to a chance to return nice value for him today.
Middle of the Pack
Coby Fleener ($3000) – This play hinges on the health of DWAYNE ALLEN ($3300). When Allen was out last year Fleener had some huge huge weeks. When both are healthy though, they limit the upside of each other. Both see a few targets and both may even see a few red zone looks, but neither guy has huge upside. When one or the other missed games last year though, that workload is consolidated into one player and the fantasy scores were huge. If Allen is out, Fleener is almost a must start at $3000. If Allen is in, I would have both guys on the bottom rung.
Eric Ebron ($3300) – The former #1 pick is a steal at this price. As long as Brandon Pettigrew remains out, Ebron will see the lion’s share (All puns intended) of the snaps and get some targets. He is big and fast, so he can stretch the middle of the field and get behind linebackers for big plays. He also sees a lot of single coverage as teams roll safety help over towards Megatron (Calvin Johnson) on the outside.This has allowed him to score in consecutive games, but I still think teams fear Calvin more, so he is likely to continue to see one on one coverage and have a chance to make plays. It is close between him and Ladarius for me, but I give him the nod because his team is more likely to be trailing and passing late, plus they are at home.
Ladarius Green ($3300) – Green is a big fast athletic tight end that can make plays and pick up yards after the catch. He is also a decent red zone target and has upside doing that. He will likely see 6-8 balls a game as Rivers spreads it out, but at only $3300, that is enough of a workload for him to reach double digit points and return 3 or 4 points per $1000 of cost. Minnesota has been an easy team to run on so far with a ton of yards allowed on the ground, but rivers is still a gunslinger and will throw it 30 times or more. Green is one of many pass catchers in that offense, but he will see some of those looks and be a solid play if he does.
Vernon Davis ($3200) – I am not a huge fan of the 49ers passing attack, but when they do pass, Davis is usually involved. He has yet to score a touchdown, but those will likely come. He gets enough targets and yards to pay off a salary of only $3200 when the game script is not too run heavy. I expect Arizona to score and force the 49ers to throw, so this is a nice spot to make him a guy you use.
Heath Miller ($3500) – He has seen a ton of targets without Lev Bell and Martavius Bryant in the first two games and will likely see those decrease as they come back into the fold from the suspensions. Pittsburgh’s offense has been one of the more dynamic and higher scoring, with a huge amount of pass plays since about the midpoint of last season. The philosophy shift has helped buoy Miler’s usefulness as he makes a few plays every game. He does not have huge upside, but is a solid safe serviceable option that is very cheap if you need money to spend elsewhere.
Kyle Rudolph ($3300) – Rudolph was banged up most of last year so people kind of forget about him, but he is a solid TE option, especially at this price point. The Vikings have few big guys to look towards in the red zone, so Rudolph will see a few looks there. He has five catches in each of the first two games, so while the upside is not huge, it’s definitely not bad for a guy who is only going to cost you $3300. Just remember this is Adrian Peterson’s team and Rudolph will likely only get looks on second and long or maybe third and 4 or more in the red zone and his upside depends on him getting a touchdown.
Crockett Gilmore ($3300) – the two TD game last week is going to shed some light on the youngster for the Ravens. He is the starting tight end on a team that desperately needs decent pass catchers, so his target numbers from the last game seem to be more in line with my expectations for him. He is not going to catch multiple touchdowns on a weekly basis though and since he did last week, he is likely to be over owned in week 3. While I do not think he is a guy I will be targeting this week, keep him in mind for future matchups with totals over today’s number of 44.
Martellus Bennett ($4600) – Bennett is a big target and Seattle struggles defending TEs most of the time. He will be catching passes from Jimmy Clausen this week and I do not know if that is better or worse for him then Cutler. Clausen is not as good as Cutler, despite the hate thrown Cutler’s way. That may not matter though as Clausen may like to use the security blanket more than Cutler did and that would be an uptick. I do not expect a good showing from the Bears offense and neither does Vegas, so the touchdowns will be rare if they show up at all. He does tend to see 6-8 balls a game though and 4-6 catches is not a bad haul. It’s not the upside we really want to see, but it is serviceable. I do not know how much success they will have doing so, but the Bears should be throwing most of the second half, so maybe he has a slight uptick in his numbers and would be a great value if he does find the end zone today.
Jared Cook ($2800) – Cook sees a few more targets and makes a few more catches then a lot of the guys on the bottom rung, plus he tends to pick up some good yardage when he does. $2800 is dirt cheap for a guy likely to see about 5 catches a game for close to 40 yards. The Touchdown would be real nice on top of this in a high total game that should feature some passing. He is a great flyer to take this week at only $2800 in order to be able to afford some bigger names in your lineup.
Greg Olsen ($4800) – It was nice to see his targets and catches go up in week 2, but the drawback is the offense as a whole. Carolina is content to play it safe, which means they control the clock, play good defense and usually have low scoring games. Olsen is the most talented pass catcher they have to be honest, but this is not an offense looking to sling it 40 to 50 times a game. Olsen is the best red zone target, but the defense knows that as well and usually make sure he is well covered down there. I do not forsee him having a huge year in the red zone or getting a ton of catches, but he is serviceable for 7-9 targets, a half dozen catches and 60 yards a game or so. Those are solid numbers that should be consistent from here on out, but really lack the upside we want in tournaments. Carolina is favored here and expected to score about 24 points. He may or may not get a TD, but he very likely will not get multiple touchdowns.
Rest of the Field
Jimmy Graham ($5800) – Graham is not on the saints anymore and I do not know why people are surprised he is not being used like he was there. He is a talented player and a solid pass catcher, but he is not a good fit for this offense. Rumblings this week are that he is not happy with his role, which narrative street believers will say is a sign he will get peppered with targets to keep him happy, but if you look at the spread on this game, the most likely scenario is maybe he gets some early and we see a ton of Marshawn Lynch late running out the clock of a big lead. Graham went from an offense that threw it 600+ times to one that barely throws it 400+ times. He has not been the RZ target many expected him to be and with the low number of overall targets, he is basically an expensive guy like a lot of those below him who is touchdown dependent for a good day. The difference is all those guys are $4K or less so a TD pays off their salaries. Graham needs at least two or a bunch of catches to come near paying off his.
Zach Ertz ($3500) – Ertz is a solid tight end, but definitely over hyped. He does not see enough targets consistently to really be a guy who makes sense to roster. Sure he could catch a TD or have a 5 or 6 catch game, but it is not his norm. He faces a tough defense in the Jets and I would not expect a huge game from him. He is one of many guys who is what I like to call touchdown dependent. If he gets one, he will return value, but if not he will get you 5-7 fantasy points and be a drag on your roster.
Jason Witten ($4500) – Witten has two bum ankles and a banged up leg. It’s really not a good spot for him at all here. There are rumblings he might not even play, so monitor it throughout the week. He has Brandon Weeden under center here too, so that has to be a downgrade from Romo who has his detractors, but he was playing well this year. If he is out, GAVIN ESCOBAR ($2600) will likely be the man there.
Jason Cameron ($3800) – Left the last ame with a groin injury and could not come back when he tried to play again. He is very doubtful for this weekend. If he does not play, look for JAKE STONEBURNER ($2500) to get the start and the snaps.
Delanie Walker ($3400) – If Walker can go he is another one of those guys who sees 3-6 targets and has a chance to score in the red zone. He actually has a little more upside then others in that category when healthy and would likely be up in the middle section if he was. His status is uncertain too, but if he is out, ANTHONY FASANO ($2800) makes a nice play for a few targets and TD potential at a very cheap price in a high total game.
Charles Clay ($3100) – Another decent pass catching option who does not see enough volume or play on a team that passes often enough for me to see him as anything more then a guy who may be able to get you value if he scores a TD. If he does not then you get 2-4 catches for 15-25 yards and a low score which hurts your roster.
Jacob Tamme ($2800) – the price warrants his inclusion on this list, because he should continue to see 4-6 targets a game. His upside is also capped without a TD, but the price is so cheap a four or five catch performance for 50 yards would be useful if you needed the salary savings. The pace of this game may be slow, so without the TD, I doubt he makes value.
Bottom of the Barrel
There are dozens of tight ends that see the field sparingly and see very few targets if any most weeks. Some of them may catch a TD here or there, but none of the rest of this list are guys who have big upside. They may make 3-5 catches and maybe even get a TD, but they have nothing to show that is something that is repeatable, predictable, or normal for them. I would not be looking to use anyone else not on the list, unless injury pops up. Even if that happens, I do not see these guys as a high probability play when you can get guys for a few hundred to a thousand more that play consistent snaps and see consistent targets.
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