Fantasy Football: The TRUTH About TEs in 2017

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Every year The Fantasy Footballers take a deep dive into the TRUTH behind fantasy football finishes from the previous year. Which players were actually consistent? Who provided week-winning performances and who killed fantasy football teams everywhere? All this and more revealed!

Get the full TE breakdown from Andy, Mike, and Jason on the podcast.

The TRUTH Scoring

Player finish, fantasy points, and consistency percentages are based on Half PPR scoring.

Great Games are more than 15 points (top 3 on average)
Good Games are more than 9 points (top 10 on average)
Bust Games are fewer than 7 points (outside top 16 on average)

1. Rob Gronkowski (192.90 points) – Consistency Rank #2

14 games — 69/1084/8 on 106 targets
Great 50% | Good 71% | Bust 29%
Defenses: +4.10 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -5.30 at Home

After further review, Rob Gronkowski did, in fact, play in Week 17. He logging 58 snaps but was not targeted, thus the zero box score. That said, since few people play in Week 17, you can really take his final stats and look at them on a 13-game basis and see how much of a game changer he really is. There are only a few TEs worthy of a high draft price, and Gronk is one of them. His draft cost will be “Re-Gronk-ulous” in 2018 drafts, falling in at the end of the first or early second round. His 50% “great” rate makes him a true difference maker to your roster, unlike most TEs.

2. Travis Kelce (192 points) – Consistency Rank #3

15 games — 83/1038/8 on 123 targets
Great 33% | Good 67% | Bust 27%
Defenses: -0.70 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +1.0 at Home

As Jason pointed out in the podcast episode, Kelce’s low 2016 TD rate was bound to return an improved TD rate in 2017, and he did, producing a 53% TD rate in games played. He’s been a target monster the past two seasons and should continue that trend in 2018, even if Alex Smith leaves and Patrick Mahomes is the QB. Unfortunately, the young QB could put a slight damper on the TD rate, but Kelce’s high “good game” rate should continue.

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3. Zach Ertz (165.40 points) – Consistency Rank #1

14 games — 74/824/8 on 110 targets
Great 21% | Good 79% | Bust 21%
Defenses: -2.40 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +3.40 at Home

2017’s most consistent TE is in a great spot to remain a top TE in fantasy circles for the foreseeable future. He very well could find himself as the #2 TE drafted due to his being tied to one of the most exciting young QBs in Carson Wentz. A consistent and heavy target volume prevents Ertz from being a bust. While he may not “go nuclear” like Gronk does, Ertz will also be a bit more palatable on draft day, coming off the board a round or two after Gronk. Sadly, Ertz will also represent one of the few TEs that is truly worthy of drafting early, as the rest of the TE’s on the list have ever-increasing bust rates.

4. Jimmy Graham (142.50 points)- Consistency Rank #5

16 games — 57/520/10 on 97 targets
Great 19% | Good 50% | Bust 38%
Defenses: -0.50 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -0.60 at Home

As Mike and Jason pointed out on the podcast, some owners will look back positively on Jimmy Graham’s 2017 based on the points scored. But a closer look shows that Graham hurt your team in 6 of his games and was only “good” in 8. It’s at this point that the reality sets in that there is really only three TE’s worthy of early-round draft picks, and really none worthy of a middle-round pick. As discussed, it’s a decision to dive in early or simply wait and stream.

5. Evan Engram (141.60 points) – Consistency Rank #4

15 games — 64/722/6 on 115 targets
Great 27% | Good 53% | Bust 33%
Defenses: -2.70 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -0.10 at Home

Speaking of streaming TEs- few owners drafted the Giants rookie TE to be an every-week starter.  With basically the entire WR corp sustaining injuries, the rookie was thrust into a prominent role. His 55% catch rate needs to improve in 2018 if we want to consider him moving into the upper tier of TEs.

6. Delanie Walker (137.50 points) – Consistency Rank #7

16 games — 74/807/3 on 111 targets
Great 0% | Good 50% | Bust 44%
Defenses: -2.0 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -1.80 at Home

From here on, the TEs are all very inconsistent. If you owned Delanie Walker, you know the rollercoaster ride. He was “good” 50% of the time, but the 44% bust rate shows the up-and-down nature of TEs. The lack of a single “great” game shows his lack of importance to your fantasy roster. His 3 TDs were the lowest total during his tenure in Tennessee, and the 33-year-old is clearly declining. 2017 will likely go down as the last time Walker is drafted as a primary starting TE in fantasy football.

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7. Kyle Rudolph (129.70 points) – Consistency Rank #9

16 games — 57/532/8 on 81 targets
Great 6% | Good 38% | Bust 44%
Defenses: -0.10 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -4.40 at Home

Just to show how perception impacts fantasy football, Rudolph tied Jimmy Graham in receptions, had a few more yards and just two fewer TDs. Those two TDs separated TE4 from TE7 and the gap from TE4 to TE10 was just 1.7ppg. After seeing 132 targets in 2016, owners drafted Rudolph expecting a consistent TE season. Unfortunately, he was only “good” in 6 games while hurting your team in 7, ranking 9th in TE consistency.

8. Jack Doyle (129 points) – Consistency Rank #8

15 games — 80/690/4 on 107 targets
Great 7% | Good 40% | Bust 40%
Defenses: -1.10 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -1.50 at Home

I was actually surprised to see that Jack “baby-hands” Doyle caught 80 passes. His 6 good, 6 bust games prevented him from grabbing the attention (bad pun intended!) of anyone but his owners. His targets and receptions put him in that odd position of “too good to drop” for some owners when he really should have been a streamer. While Mike has already claimed him in his leagues, the return of Andrew Luck and prospects of a (not yet official) Josh McDaniels offense should make Doyle a decent draft target in 2018.

9. Cameron Brate (119.10 points) – Consistency Rank #10

16 games — 48/591/6 on 77 targets
Great 25% | Good 38% | Bust 56%
Defenses: -3 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -0.30 at Home

Cameron Brate shows just how ugly the TE position was in 2017. I picked up Cameron Brate in my home-league after Week 1 and was pleasantly surprised by his run of productions from Weeks 2-7 where he posted a 29/381/4 stat line, representing approximately 65% of his season total. Unfortunately for me and many other owners, we tried making him a weekly starter and kept starting him for a few more weeks, where he posted a minuscule 6/78/2 stat line in Weeks 8-13. You read that right: 6 receptions in 5 games. Woof. Brate is a restricted free agent heading into the 2018 season and rookie O.J. Howard will continue to grow, limiting any prospect of Brate being a weekly starter in Tampa Bay.

10. Jason Witten (115.50 points) – Consistency Rank #14

16 games — 63/560/5 on 87 targets
Great 13% | Good 25% | Bust 50%
Defenses: +0.20 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -2.30 at Home

Your TE10 on the season was only startable in a handful of games in 2017 and was detrimental to your team in 8 games. He had the 5th lowest yards-per-target, leading to a TD-dependent boom/bust TE. The days of Jason Witten being a weekly starter are gone. He won’t be drafted in most 2018 leagues.

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14. Hunter Henry (104.40 points) – Consistency Rank #6

14 games — 45/579/4 on 63 targets
Great 7% | Good 50% | Bust 43%
Defenses: +1.90 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +2.50 at Home

2017 will go down as the last year you could acquire Hunter Henry at a discount. While still sharing time with Antonio Gates, Henry was quietly one of the more consistent TEs in the league. His targets increased slightly, but his TD rate dropped, which prevented him from finishing in the top 10. This is the perfect example of why season-long stats are less important than consistency; You were better off starting TE14 Hunter Henry and his 57% good/great rate than you were starting TE10 Jason Witten and his 38% good/great rate. It’s almost a guarantee that Hunter Henry will be one of the most hyped TEs for 2018 drafts.

18. Charles Clay (92.30 points) – Consistency Rank #12

13 games — 49/558/2 on 74 targets
Great 0% | Good 38% | Bust 54%
Defenses: +1.90 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +0.20 at Home

Charles Clay was the prototypical streaming TE. He had a few good games and was much better with Tyrod Taylor than without. The limited scoring potential of the offense limited Clay’s great game potential. Having an unknown QB situation headed into 2018 will drop Clay well down the 2018 rankings.

38. Jordan Reed (46.40 points) – Consistency Rank #24

6 games — 27/211/2 on 35 targets
Great 17% | Good 17% | Bust 67%
Defenses: -5.10 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -7.0 at Home

Rule 86 is officially amended; The only time you can start Jordan Reed is when he is starting and not on the injury report. Otherwise, you must approach with the utmost caution. After being a top 5 drafted TE, he will likely be a late-round flier in 2018, assuming he continues his football career.

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