Fantasy Football: Three Tight Ends You Can Trust in 2018
The tight end position may be the most difficult to trust in fantasy football. Year after year, the position can be a crapshoot once you get beyond the top 3 or 4 TEs. The most popular take with the position this year is “if you don’t draft a top 3 TE, wait until double-digit rounds to draft one”. I am guilty of saying that exact thing. The truth is, not everyone feels that way and someone has to draft the mid-tier tight ends, right? If you miss out on the top 3 TEs (Gronk, Kelce, Ertz) and would like to roster the next tier of tight ends that will give you solid production on a weekly basis, then this article is for you!
Check out where Andy, Mike, and Jason have these TEs projected in the Ultimate Draft Kit.
For those of you that are using the “Aaron Rodgers doesn’t target the tight end position” argument, Aaron Rodgers has not had a red zone target like Graham. At 6’6″, 259 lbs, this red zone monster has the size and hands to bring down anything Rodgers throws his way. He led the league last season with 26 red zone targets and 10 red zone touchdowns. This is where Graham will do his damage and now he has the best QB in the league throwing to him.
If you’re worried about Graham’s consistency, don’t be. Since 2011, Jimmy Graham has been a top-4 option at the position. He fell outside of the top-4 in 2015 as he only played 11 games due to injury. Because people are smart and realize Jimmy Graham has Aaron Rodgers as his QB, you will have to pay up a bit for Graham as he is currently the 4th TE off the board at the 5.02. If you already have yourself 2 quality RBs and 2 WRs and there’s a tight end that has double-digit touchdown potential sitting there for you in the 5th round, that would be a solid start in your fantasy drafts!
Since becoming a Carolina Panther, Greg Olsen has become one of the most consistent TEs in the game. He has averaged 113 targets per season and has been a TE7 or better each year since 2011 (not counting injured 2017 season). For those worried about the injury from last year and assume that Olsen as an injury risk, this is just not who he is. Before 2017, Greg Olsen had only missed 2 games in his NFL career. In case you were wondering, his NFL career began back in 2007.
The Panther’s offense has added weapons this season. This should only help, not hurt Olsen’s value. Christian McCaffrey is an established piece of the offense and the Panthers have added running back C.J. Anderson and rookie wide receiver, D.J. Moore. These additions, much like the Titans, will only improve scoring opportunities for the Panthers. There’s no doubt that this presents more red zone production for Cam Newton‘s favorite target (Greg Olsen) since entering the league in 2011.
There are only 2 tight ends in the last 4 seasons to have over 800 receiving yards per season. Travis Kelce and you guessed it, Delanie Walker. In addition, Walker has been a top 8 TE (2014: #8, 2015: #4, 2016: #5, 2017: #6) with 100+ targets in each of those 4 seasons.
Titans’ QB, Marcus Mariota, had a bit of a down year in 2017. He threw for the most interceptions of his career while pairing that with his worst TD total to date. As a result, Delanie Walker had his lowest TD total since 2012 and still finished as the TE6. Walker’s consistency in receiving yards is nice and he’s proven he doesn’t need a high touchdown total to be a top TE in the game, however, TDs are king and can only improve his fantasy value. In order for Walker to get more scoring opportunities, his offense is going to have to improve.
Good news for Delanie Walker. The Titans offense is a contender for a bounce-back season with the emergence of a couple of young wide receivers, Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. The Titans also have young talent in the backfield with the expected role increase of Derrick Henry and offseason addition, Dion Lewis. If this offense can improve their scoring ability as expected, then Walker should see a higher TD total as Mariota’s favorite veteran, red zone target. You can get Delanie Walker at the end of the 7th round as the 8th TE off draft boards.