Fantasy Football: Way Too Early Top 10 TEs for 2018

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With 2017 in the rear view mirror, it’s time to turn our attention to the 2018 season and that means rankings! Fellow writer, Nate Hamilton, released his article about the Way Too Early Top 10 Rankings for RBs in 2018. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the tight end position and look at the top options heading into this off-season.

The TE position is one of the more polarizing positions in fantasy football, as having a difference maker at this position can really give you an edge over your opponent. In 2017, there was a top tier of options consisting of 3 to 4 guys and then beyond that, it was pretty much a dice roll, making the position very streamable on a week to week basis. With the emergence of some nice young talent at the position including Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, O.J. Howard, David Njoku, and George Kittle, will 2018 be a bit more balanced across the TE position, or will 2017 repeat itself?

The Fantasy Footballers’ Writing Staff has ranked the top 10 players at each position to give a clear picture of the consensus top 10.

2018 Top 10 Tight Ends (Half point PPR)
[lptw_table id=”52703″ style=”default”]

Now that we have our top 10 rankings, I’ve asked some of the other writers to explain their decision making process in ranking the TEs for 2018. Below are my questions and their answers.

1. There is a clear ‘top 3’ in Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Zach Ertz. Who did you rank #1 and why?

Zach Ertz
I ranked Zach Ertz number one with the expectation Carson Wentz returns to full health in time for the start of the 2018 season. This really just boiled down to a process of elimination for the top 3 tight ends. Gronk is no doubt the greatest tight end to ever play the game but there are talks of him possibly retiring. Even if he doesn’t, it at least brings into question where his head space is for 2018. He also doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to injuries. Travis Kelce just lost his quarterback that relied so heavily on him in that offense. Kelce may not skip a beat with Patrick Mahomes, but let’s face it, he’s a rookie QB. That leaves Zach Ertz. The youngest of the top 3 TEs with proven production and a quarterback situation that will improve as Carson Wentz gets healthy. – Nate Hamilton, @DomiNateFF

Travis Kelce
Kelce. I think the switch to Mahomes is going to benefit Kelce, not hurt him. Kelce — and the TE position in general — is becoming more of a field-stretching, seam-running, downfield weapon (largely thanks to his fantasy rival, Rob Gronkowski). Mahomes will capitalize on that in ways that even 2017’s upgraded Alex Smith could not. Meanwhile, Gronk is nearly a lock to miss games, and I foresee the Patriots reducing his workload a bit to ease the wear and tear that many have cited as cause for retirement. Ertz is elite as well, but simply doesn’t possess the domination factor the other two do. – Matt Okada, @FantasySensei

2. Three second year TEs: O.J. Howard, David Njoku, and George Kittle are all expected to take a step forward in 2018.  Of these three, who did you rank highest and why?

O.J. Howard
I gave the edge to Howard, though he and Kittle both sneak into my top 15 at the position. This primarily hinges on Cameron Brate getting signed elsewhere this offseason, as he is a restricted free agent and is likely on the outs considering the Bucs’ investment in Howard. If he does, Howard takes over a lucrative role catching passes from Jameis Winston and potentially enters the conversation for double-digit touchdowns in 2018. Kittle is attractive as well, as he’s working with Jimmy Garoppolo, a.k.a. The G.L.O.A.T. (Greatest-Looking Of All Time), but Howard has the higher upside and earns my vote. – Matt Okada, @FantasySensei

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George Kittle
I have George Kittle ranked the highest among these 3 as the TE14. He’s a big target at 6’4″, 247lbs. He ended the season with 11 receptions on 14 targets in his last 3 games including a 100 yard performance to finish the year. Now that Jimmy G has signed a contract with the 49ers, it will be exciting to see how he utilizes Kittle in this offense. It’s not like the 49ers have a ton of options to throw to at the moment which helps George Kittle’s value as well. – Nate Hamilton, @DomiNateFF

Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Everyone needs to keep hitting the snooze button and continue sleeping on the potential George Kittle has to take a step forward in 2018. We don’t even have to fast-forward too much to see there were some bright spots in 2017. Kittle had 16 red-zone targets, only one less than Zach Ertz. And as detailed in our 25 TE Statistics article earlier this offseason, Kittle had as many top 2 PPR weeks (2) as Delanie Walker, Zach Ertz, Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, Kyle Rudolph, and Jack Doyle… COMBINED. With Jimmy Garoppolo set as the franchise QB, he’s a double-digit round steal and a PPR weapon waiting to happen. Wake up to some Kittles-N-Bits! – Kyle Borgognoni, @kyle_borg

3. Which TE that is outside the consensus top 10 has the best chance of finishing inside the top 10 at the end of the 2018 season?

Eric Ebron
Ready for this? Eric Ebron. He is outside our consensus top 10 but I have him ranked as the TE9. Although it feels like Eric Ebron has been in the league for a long time, he will only be 25 years old for the 2018 season. It appears something clicked between Ebron and Stafford at the end of the season. Ebron had 86 targets last year and he received over 1/3 of his targets in the last 4 games! Those 32 targets in the final 4 games of the season is a great sign Matthew Stafford still trusts his TE and if given the volume I believe he will get, he should make it in the top 10 for the 2018 season. – Nate Hamilton, @DomiNateFF

Tyler Eifert
Though it’s a dangerous bet, I’ll say Tyler Eif-hurt-myself-again finally conquers the injury bug in 2018 and puts together another top 10 season. Eifert is one of the only guys capable of threatening Gronkowski numbers in receiving TDs and has finished fifth in fantasy in only 13 games before (2015). He’s coming off a third back surgery and is waiting on a new contract, so the risk is about as high as it gets in fantasy. But considering the basement-level price tag and the massive potential reward, he’s also a risk worth taking. – Matt Okada, @FantasySensei

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