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NFL Fantasy: Five tight ends to think twice about before draft day

Old history, new history, and changing history have me thinking twice about these tight ends on draft day.


Draft day is rapidly approaching and every fantasy player is searching for that bit of information destined to propel him to the top of his league standings. 

Mock drafts and early drafts are already providing data on average-draft-position (ADP). As always, we see several instances where owners are buying the hype and drafting certain players too early. 

Some of these tight ends may prove worthy of roster spots, but not at their current ADP. If any of these players slide down the draft board, grab them. 

But if you jump on them early, don’t say you weren’t warned. 

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (ADP- TE1 and overall ADP – 12 or 2.2-3.2)

We can explain! While it is true Gronkowski is not a typical tight end and is arguably the best of the bunch, we can’t seriously agree with owners picking him up in the second or third round when he probably won’t play a full season. 

Gronkowski’s injury history, age, and mileage do not warrant such a high pick at the expense of your first or second wide receiver or running back. He plays hurt, but his most important role last season was to tie-up defenders so New England’s wide receivers and backs could get open. 

Certainly, Gronkowski is the TE1. But seven tight ends finished within a point of Gronkowski’s 9.0 ppg last season. There were less than two points-per-game difference between Gronkowski and the TE15. Is that worth a second-round pick? 

2. Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers (ADP TE7)

When is the last time you saw a Green Bay tight end with a top ten fantasy rating? Whether it is the Packers’ offensive scheme or just that Aaron Rodgers’ gunslinger mentality favors his wide receivers, there simply doesn’t seem to be a big role for tight ends in Wisconsin.

Bennett will be a threat. We can see him making some big plays, but for week-in, week-out consistency, there are better options lower on the board. 

3. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (ADP- TE8)

Tennessee has had some forgettable wide receiver groups over the years. Tight end Delanie Walker was always counted on to provide a safe target for his quarterback. 

Last season, Tennessee added Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews to Marcus Mariota’s arsenal. Walker’s production dropped precipitously as Matthews took the majority of targets in the Titans’ run-first offense. 

This season, the buzz out of Tennessee is about two more drafted wide receivers, Taywan Taylor and Corey Davis, along with the addition of the veteran, Eric Decker. While the coaching staff promises more balance on offense, we do not expect to see Walker’s production increase or even match his 2016 totals. 

4. O. J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP- TE10)

When is the last time a rookie tight end made a fantasy impact? Well, actually it was just last year as Hunter Henry came in at TE11, which would have been higher if his teammate wasn’t Antonio Gates, who came in at TE10. 

But when was the last time before that? Trust us, it was a while ago. O. J. Howard looks like a potential beast, but he only caught seven touchdowns in four years at Alabama and never had high yardage totals. He is the second tight end on Tampa’s depth chart behind the trusted receiver, Cameron Brate. 

On top of that, Tampa Bay added a deep threat in DeSean Jackson to take the load off Mike Evans. We expect most of the passing action to involve the wide receivers, with Brate grabbing the bulk of tight end targets this season. Even in a keeper league, Howard is our third choice behind the Giants’ Evan Engram and Cleveland’s David Njoku. 

5. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (ADP- TE12)

There is a lot of talk about Doyle being a first-team tight end. We are not sure why. Maybe it is simply that Doyle is the starting tight end on a team with a premier passer, although that passer is unable to throw a football right now. 

Last season, Doyle averaged 5.5 points per game. That ranked 25th in the league. This season, the Colts receiving corps is healthier and there is an exciting rookie running back to whom the Colts coaching staff is determined to give targets from the backfield. 

Andrew Luck’s health could hurt Doyle’s fantasy value even further. There is no backup quarterback on the Colts roster who has done anything to make us worry less about the worst-case scenario with his shoulder injury. 

Heard enough? Let the debates begin and don’t forget to check back after the season to see what you should have listened to.

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Pat Opperman

Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

NFL Fantasy: Five tight ends to think twice about before draft day

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