We’re now one month into the 2016 NFL regular season and we’ve already learned plenty about many important players around the league. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time updating my dynasty rankings and have been sharing some insight about the changes and my most current set of positional ranks. That series concludes with this Dynasty Stock Market, a look at the top 50 tight ends for dynasty leagues.
Typically when building dynasty teams, I am not targeting the top tier option at the tight end position. Instead, similar to the quarterback spot, I am content to wait until the middle rounds of a draft and acquire multiple tight ends, usually one low ceiling, high floor type player and one younger option who could really see his value grow if he hits.
Here’s how I currently view the tight ends around the NFL.
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TE1 Rob Gronkowski, NE (27 years old)
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been on of the league’s most frustrating players through the first month. He was a surprise inactive in week one with a hamstring injury and still isn’t healthy. Even more unnerving was Gronk suiting up the past two games, only to score a total of two fantasy points. With all that said, he’s still my top ranked player at the position and even deserving of his own tier. Some of the players in the second tier have certainly closed the gap in the past year, but they have their own injury issues, which make me comfortable with this current separation.
TE2 Tyler Eifert, CIN (26)
TE3 Travis Kelce, KC (27)
TE4 Jordan Reed, WAS (26)
TE5 Greg Olsen, CAR (31)
These players have all been quite impressive over the past couple of seasons, but there are also specific reasons why each fail to crack the Gronk tier. Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert enjoyed a breakout 2015 season after an injury cut his 2014 season short. Again this season, he has been kept on the sidelines and despite his talent, some are beginning to worry if these injuries are mounting and becoming a trend. Considering I still rank him as the second over tight end, I am not too worried. He’s an excellent buy low until he returns to action.
Travis Kelce has show flashes of being the next superstar at the position, but has also disappeared for long stretches, including multiple games in the past three seasons. The story with Jordan Reed is well known. He is one of the best talents in the game, as he displayed often in the past two seasons, but his downfall both in the dynasty community and on the field is his history of concussions. Unfortunately, we have just learned that Reed suffered yet another concussion recently and his playing status is in doubt. There has even been some talk that Reed should consider retiring, though he has yet to comment on that idea. His talent is certainly top tier, but his value could bottom out at anytime due to the mounting number of head injuries he’s suffered.
Carolina’s Greg Olsen continues to play at a very high level, but his age keeps him out of the same tier as Gronkowski in my rankings.
TE6 Zach Ertz, PHI (25)
TE7 Eric Ebron, DET (23)
TE8 Hunter Henry, SD (21)
TE9 Coby Fleener, NO (28)
TE10 Austin Hooper, ATL (21)
TE11 Clive Walford, OAK (24)
TE12 Julius Thomas, JAX (28)
TE13 Ladarius Green, PIT (26)
This third tier is almost exclusively filled with young tight ends who could end up landing in the second tier, or even higher, in the next couple of years. Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron and Ladarius Green have all been slowed by injury this season and most of the players in this tier have seen their value remain stagnant. The biggest riser is probably the rookie from San Diego, Hunter Henry, who has seen an increased opportunity with veteran Antonio Gates dealing with an injury himself. We have grown accustomed to waiting on young tight ends to develop rather than investing early in their career and being disappointed. Henry could be bucking that trend though. At just 21 years old, he has the best chance to rise to the second tier with a continued high level of play as Gates nears the end of his Hall of Fame career.
TE14 Maxx Williams, BAL (22)
TE15 Jimmy Graham, SEA (29)
TE16 Kyle Rudolph, MIN (26)
TE17 Delanie Walker, TEN (32)
TE18 Martellus Bennett, NE (29)
TE19 Cameron Brate, TB (25)
TE20 Tyler Higbee, LA (23)
TE21 Dwayne Allen, IND (26)
TE22 Jesse James, PIT (22)
TE23 Vance McDonald, SF (26)
TE24 Jason Witten, DAL (34)
TE25 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ (24)
TE26 Virgil Green, DEN (28)
TE27 Antonio Gates, SD (36)
TE28 Dennis Pitta, BAL (31)
TE29 Zach Miller, CHI (32)
TE30 Gary Barnidge, CLE (31)
The fourth tier is really the last one where I consider every player a must own player for typical dynasty leagues. This group is a mix of young players who have yet to truly prove their value, including Maxx Williams, Tyler Higbee and Jesse James, along with players whose best days are behind them. That includes stars such as Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett and Delanie Walker. The best thing about those players is that they are heavily discounted due to their age, but they routinely post fantasy starter caliber numbers. If you need a short-term option at the position, your options are plentiful and might only cost you a future third round rookie pick.
Vance McDonald and Virgil Green are two players who received a lot of off-season hype and even though I have never been a big fan of either, I started to buy in. I should’ve stuck to my guns. Both players have been disappointments for fantasy players and are nearing the next tier, which means they have very little roster value remaining.
Another player that I was very wrong about over the past off-season is Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, who made an impressive comeback after missing nearly two full year. Pitta has been a target monster and a surprise at the position. I still have major concerns about his ability to stay healthy and he is already 31 years old, so he doesn’t have much room to move in my rankings, but I’ll definitely be cheering for him as he continues his comeback season.
Maybe my favorite player from this tier is trouble tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. ASJ had a colorful off-season and there were rumors the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would release him after a summer tantrum that saw him booted from practice. They stuck with him and he regained the starting job, until an early season DUI was the final straw. The Bucs parted ways with him and he landed in New York with the Jets. Seferian-Jenkins is far from a sure thing at this point and many dynasty owners even dropped him after his recent run in with the law, but he does have plenty of talent and now has the opportunity to earn the starting job with the Jets. If he can stay out of trouble, he could quickly regain that lost dynasty value.
TE31 Jace Amaro, TEN (24)
TE32 Charles Clay, BUF (27)
TE33 Jacob Tamme, ATL (31)
TE34 Richard Rodgers, GB (24)
TE35 Tyler Kroft, CIN (23)
TE36 Jared Cook, GB (29)
TE37 Larry Donnell, NYG (27)
TE38 Will Tye, NYG (24)
TE39 Jordan Cameron, MIA (28)
This group is another mixed bag of young players who don’t have quite enough upside to have any substantial dynasty value and older veterans who have quickly slowed down. Most of these players likely belong on the waiver wire, but if I somehow end up with a free spot, these are players I would consider.
TE40 Stephen Anderson, HOU (23)
TE41 Dion Sims, MIA (25)
TE42 Crockett Gillmore, BAL (24)
TE43 CJ Uzomah, CIN (23)
TE44 Niles Paul, WAS (27)
TE45 MyCole Pruitt, MIN (24)
TE46 Jeff Heuerman, DEN (23)
TE47 Josh Hill, NO (26)
TE48 Luke Willson, SEA (26)
TE49 Jerrell Adams, NYG (23)
TE50 Mychal Rivera, OAK (26)
This final tier is here…well…because we were asked to rank 50 tight ends. None of these players are worth a roster spot, though some of these younger players are definitely on my “watch list,” a list of free agents across my leagues that I could add if and when a roster spot becomes available. I am somewhat intrigued by Houston’s rookie Stephen Anderson and with the recent injury news of Jordan Reed, Niles Paul could quickly become relevant and rise up my ranks.
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