Never-Too-Early 2018 Tight End Rankings

Never-Too-Early 2018 Tight End Rankings

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last update Feb 28, 2018

John Paulsen's picture

John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, and has finished in the Top 6 in seven of the last eight years. Cumulatively, John has been the most accurate expert from 2010-17 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

Follow John Paulsen on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Below you'll find my first stab at 2018 rankings for the tight end position. I don't generally like to publish rankings prior to free agency and the Draft, but I know that early mocks have already started up, best ball drafts will soon be underway, and 4for4 subscribers may be wondering where I stand on certain players heading into the offseason.

The rankings are based on PPR scoring systems. I’ve included 2017 points per game and two-year points per game (where applicable). I’ve also included the difference (DIFF) between my rank and the player’s current average draft position (ADP) of 12-team PPR drafts at Fantasy Football Calculator. A positive number means that I'm relatively high on the player while a negative number means – you guessed it – that I'm relatively low on the player.

Below the rankings you'll find some discussion about a few players that jump out as particularly good or poor values heading into the spring.

Early Tight End Rankings (2018)
Rank Name Team 2017 PPG 2-YR PPG DIFF
1 Travis Kelce KC 15.6 14.7 1
2 Zach Ertz PHI 14.5 13.8 1
3 Rob Gronkowski NE 16.1 14.7 -2
4 Hunter Henry LAC 9.1 8.9 3
5 Delanie Walker TEN 10.9 11.7 0
6 Greg Olsen CAR 6.0 10.8 -2
7 Jack Doyle IND 11.3 10.1 3
8 Evan Engram NYG 11.6 - 3
9 Kyle Rudolph MIN 9.9 11.5 -1
10 Jimmy Graham FA 10.6 11.2 -4
11 Eric Ebron DET 8.3 9.5 2
12 Jordan Reed WAS 10.0 12.7 -3
13 Jason Witten DAL 9.2 9.4 6
14 Charles Clay BUF 9.0 9.0 6
15 O.J. Howard TB 7.2 - 0
16 Cameron Brate TB 8.9 10.1 7
17 George Kittle SF 7.1 - -1
18 Jared Cook OAK 8.3 7.9 -1
19 Austin Seferian-Jenkins FA 7.8 6.2 2
20 Tyler Eifert FA 4.3 10.7 -8
21 Trey Burton FA 5.2 5.1  
22 C.J. Fiedorowicz HOU 5.3 8.0 -8
23 David Njoku CLE 5.9 - -1
24 Austin Hooper ATL 7.5 6.1 -6
25 Vance McDonald PIT 3.9 6.0 -
26 Adam Shaheen CHI 3.3 - -
27 Julius Thomas MIA 7.0 7.8 -

A Few Notable Players:

  • My ranking of Rob Gronkowski may raise a few eyebrows, but I’m not willing to take him first at his position as long as these retirement rumors keep up. When healthy, he’s the most productive tight end in the game, but the difference between Gronk and Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz isn’t enough to justify the retirement and injury risk. Kelce will be dealing with a new quarterback, but he’s an integral part of the Kansas City offense and I don’t see his role diminishing anytime soon. After having stretches of elite play in each of his first two seasons, Ertz put it all together last year with a No. 3 finish at his position.
  • We’ll need to keep an eye on free agent Antonio Gates, but if he’s not re-signed, then I think this is the year that Hunter Henry turns into a top five fantasy tight end. He posted the No. 11 per game average (PPR) last season on 65% of the snaps. Even if Gates re-signs, Henry should see at least 75% of the snaps and his production should rise accordingly. Over the past two years, 21.7% of the Chargers’ receiving yards and 35.6% of the receiving touchdowns went to tight ends. A double-digit touchdown total is within reach.
  • Greg Olsen’s production took a nosedive in 2017, but he had his moments. He had just 11 targets in his first four games but saw 39 targets in his final four games, including 12 targets against the Saints in the playoffs. He should bounce back with a good season if he can stay healthy.
  • Jack Doyle finished as the No. 6 tight end and had a top five per game average in PPR formats. He did this with Jacoby Brissett under center for most of the season. If Andrew Luck is fully healthy in 2018, Doyle should have another solid TE1 year. Unfortunately, that's a pretty significant "if."
  • Evan Engram bucked the trend. Rookie tight ends typically don’t produce, but he finished with 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns, which was good enough for a No. 5 finish. He benefited from all the injuries that the Giants had to their receiving corps, but given his rookie year production, he should continue to post TE1 numbers for years to come.
  • As a rookie, George Kittle averaged 72% of the snaps in his first eight games before exiting with a leg injury in Week 9. He finished the season in strong fashion, posting receiving lines of 4-52, 3-42-1 and 4-100 on 14 targets in his last three games. With Jimmy Garoppolo leading an improving offense, Kittle is primed to break out in his sophomore season.
  • Jared Cook and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are two more TE1-capable tight ends that are going in the later rounds. Cook finished as the No. 12 last year and the offense should be better under new HC Jon Gruden. Seferian-Jenkins is a free agent, but he had a stretch of three straight games with a touchdown. He has a ton of physical skill, so depending on his landing spot, he could post TE1-caliber numbers as well.
  • Trey Burton is hitting free agency and could move up these rankings quickly if he lands in a good spot as a starter. There are any number of teams looking for a "move" tight end with Burton's skillset. In the four games over the past two seasons that Zach Ertz has missed, Burton has averaged 3.5 catches for 45 yards and 1.0 touchdown per game.
Filed Under:

We are your friend's secret weapon.

  • Get 4 FREE downloads
  • Receive breaking news alerts & analysis.
  • Battle-Tested by 40,000+ fantasy football diehards since 1999.