Part of your fantasy football draft strategy should involve mock drafts because you need to get a feel for player depth and the other nuances of this years draft. But to save time, here's a tight end draft review for PPR and standard leagues. After doing three PPR and Standard league mock drafts I found that people are placing a premium on tight end more so than last season. The mock drafts I conducted were 12 man PPR or Standard, 1 Flex and Quarterback, and my picks were from the 4th, 8th, and 12th picks. The ADP (average draft position) is solo based on the three mock drafts not the industry ADP.
- Rob Gronkowski (NE) PPR ADP 2nd round, Standard ADP 2nd round
Gronkowski is coming off another injured plagued season. When he does play he tears it up and becomes one of the best tight ends in the league and in fantasy. It does help he has a future Hall of Fame quarterback throwing him the ball in Tom Brady. His numbers will take a hit this year because of the addition of wide receiver Brandon Cooks and tight end Dwayne Allen. Taking Gronkowski any sooner than the 3rd round this year will be a risk. He can not stay healthy, he has missed 10 games in the last three years. It's nice to have a Ferrari but if you can only drive it twice a month then what is the point of owning it?
I have him projected for: 65 catches 850 yards 7 touchdowns
- Travis Kelce (KC) PPR ADP 3rd round, Standard ADP 5th round
Travis Kelce just got his Christmas gift early this year. With wide receiver Jeremy Maclin getting cut and no other main threats at receiver, Kelce should be seeing the ball a lot more this year. He has the perfect quarterback, Alex Smith, to get him the ball. Kelce will get plenty of those 8-10 yards dink and dunk balls. All his stats other than touchdowns have gone up since his rookie year. He hasn't missed a game in three years, so you know he will get his games in. Kelce going before Gronk in PPR drafts would not be a big surprise. I would prefer Kelce over Gronk this year. The 3rd round for Kelce is a pretty good spot to take him. Any sooner you would be risky because you would be missing out on a stud receiver or running back. Taking Kelce later than the 3rd or 4th, well good luck he probably won't be there.
I have him projected for: 96 catches 1,200 yards 8 touchdowns
- Jordan Reed (WAS) PPR ADP 4th round, Standard ADP 4th round
Just as Gronkowski can't stay healthy, neither can Reed. He missed 11 games in the last 3 season but when he is on the field Reed puts up really good numbers. Now that DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon have left Washington Reed could see a lot more balls thrown his way. I don't expect Terrelle Pryor to overtake Reed in the receiving department. Taking Reed in the 4th round is not a bad spot for him, but if TE's are falling below their ADP in your draft then go ahead an wait until the 5th or 6th round if possible as Reed does have a pretty bad injury history.
I have him projected for: 75 catches 900 yards 7 touchdowns
- Greg Olsen (CAR) PPR ADP 4th round, Standard ADP 4th round
Every since Greg Olsen came into the league he has been unstoppable. He has only missed two game his entire career (9 years). His stats have been consistent his whole career. He is the go to guy in Carolina. Even with the drafting of Christian McCaffery, as a pass catching running back, this should only help Olsen. Drafting Olsen in the 4th round may be a little bit of a gamble because of the other position players you can get there instead. But if you really like him and want the PPR then take him there. If he were to fall to the 5th or 6th rounds steal him and laugh your way to the playoffs.
Project Stats: 85 catches 1,100 yards 6 touchdowns
- Delanie Walker (TEN) PPR ADP 5th round Standard ADP 6th round
Delanie Walker is one of those players who you are scared to draft because he isn't that sexy pick. He will put up the numbers to win a week or two for you but he isn't consistent enough to carry your team to the playoffs. With the signing of Eric Decker and the drafting of 1st round pick Corey Davis you would think the ball is about to be spread out even more in an already run-first offense. He did peak two years ago with 94 catches and hasn't come close to that since. This year won't be any different. Anything before the 6th or 7th round would be a huge gamble, as there are better tight ends out there.
I have him projected for: 60 catches 800 yards 5 touchdowns
- Tyler Eifert (CIN) PPR ADP 5th round Standard ADP 6th round
When healthy he is a threat anywhere on the field. He missed 26 games in the last three years. One of those years he missed 15 games. Be careful not to over draft him because of the injury risk. Anything after the 6th round would be ideal to draft him. Don't reach for him though, but if you do, be ready to draft a back up. He's not even sure if he will be ready for training camp.
I have him projected for: 55 catches 750 yards 8 touchdowns
- Kyle Rudolph (MIN) PPR ADP 6th round Standard ADP 6th round
This year could be Rudolph's breakout season. He is teaming up with quarterback Sam Bradford, who loves tight ends, and will be seeing plenty of passes this year. The running game is up in the air with injuries and a rookie. Other than Kelce, Rudolph is the safest bet in his years draft. I would even go up and get him in the 4th or 5th round if my draft strategy would allow it. Take him all day in the 6th round and walk deep into the playoffs this year.
I have him projected for: 100 catches 1,000 yards 10 touchdowns Editors note: Typically you would not reach 2 full rounds over ADP for a player unless there is a serious "run" on that position. Anyone can make a strong case for doing so, especially when you project for that player to produce at a 3rd round level. But usually you don't want to reach, even if you "feel" like that player is worth the pick. This is because most of the time you can get value out of the player by drafting him around his current ADP. Back to the "position run"... A position run is when people drafting before you start drafting the same position back to back. For example, a position run on TE may start in the 3rd round and 4 or 5 tight ends are taken. If this happens then you'll need to adjust because ADP is no longer valid and quality players at that position are now much more scarce. In this case I can see you "reaching" to take a specific tight end you have high hopes for in the 4th round that might otherwise have an ADP in the 5th round. Another strategy is to not play catch-up and "chase" the position run. Opting for two late round tight ends and use the position run at TE to obtain extreme value by drafting a different position.
5 Tight Ends who are going between the 6th and 7th rounds
- Jimmy Graham (SEA) (PPR and Standard 6th round) - even with the pass attempts ramping up each year in Seattle, Graham has yet to carve our a significant fantasy role. If he drops low enough (late round 7 or later) I'd take a stab but this would be the last year I'd expect improvement out of him in Seattle.
- Zach Ertz (PHI) (PPR 7th Standard 6th round) - He has become a cheap yet reliable PPR TE after back to back years with 70 plus receptions.
- Hunter Henry (SD) (PPR and Standard 7th round) - his stock is so high I'd rather buy cheap with Gates in town.
- Martellus Bennet (GB) (PPR and Standard 7th round) -
- OJ Howard (TB) (PPR 9th and Standard 7th round) - If history tells us anything, rookie tight ends do not live up to their draft position in year 1. Stay away.
Teams are using the tight end more in the passing game by spreading them out as a receiver. If you are going to draft one of the top 3 this year in the first three rounds you better have plan to fill out the rest of your roster. But if I was you I would wait and start taking your tight end in the 6th-8th round. There is still great value there. What you miss in fantasy points with the tight end you could make up with a receiver. And don't forget, if you draft Gronk, Reed, or Eifert you better have a upside backup as those guys seem to keep having injury concerns.