As our own Mike Wright would put it, 2016 was the year of the “Barfy Tight Ends”. There wasn’t a single tight end that you could put your trust in for the entire season. You could have thrown your preseason TE rankings out of the window by Week 2. Now, we look forward to what must be a better 2017 season for the tight end class because it can’t get any worse, right? Here’s hoping our early top 5 TEs for 2017 will give you something to look forward to and get you excited for a new season!

The Fantasy Footballers’ Writing Staff have ranked the top 10 players at each position to give a clear picture of the consensus top 5. Below you will see our consensus top 5 TEs.

2017 Top 5 Tight Ends (Half PPR scoring)
Consensus Rank Player Team Highest Rank Lowest Rank
1 Rob Gronkowski NE 1 3
2 Travis Kelce KC 1 3
3 Jordan Reed WAS 1 4
4 Tyler Eifert CIN 2 10
5 Greg Olsen CAR 4 8

*Also received a top 5 vote: Z. Ertz #6, J. Graham #7, D. Walker #8, K. Rudolph #9

After looking at our collective rankings, let’s ask some of the other writers to answer a few questions. My hope is to paint a better picture as to how we came to our top 5 TEs.

Q1. Who did you rank in the Top 5 that did not make the consensus?

Zach Ertz
Zach Ertz clocked in at #5 for me.  The #1 TE over the back half of the season, Ertz balled out when healthy.  I expect him to continue to improve and benefit as Carson Wentz gains more NFL experience.
Keaton Denlay@KeatonDenlay

I ranked Zach Ertz 5th. He just missed our consensus top 5 as he ranks #6. In his last 5 games, Zach Ertz had 4 games with 79 yards or more and 3 touchdowns. Two of those games he had over 100 yards receiving. Ertz is a great weapon for a young Carson Wentz to use as a safety blanket and I expect Carson to do just that in 2017.
Nate Hamilton@DomiNateFF

Jimmy Graham
I have Jimmy Graham as #4 and truly think he belongs there. Drafting him in 2016 carried a major risk as he was coming off of a torn patellar tendon. He answered the doubts with 923 yards, 6 TDs and a career high 14.2 average yards per reception. He’s coming into his third year in the Seahawk’s system, healthy and possibly in the absence of Tyler Lockett to start the season.
Travis Strickland@DFS_Travis

Kyle Rudolph
I ranked Kyle Rudolph 5th, while he comes in 9th in our consensus ranks. Why all the love? He finished 2016 as the TE3 with 83 receptions for 840 yards and 7 TDs; nothing flashy, but a workman-like performance. While he wasn’t a frequent week winner (just one 100+yard game and only two over 18 PPR points), he also rarely hurt your team, registering only 4 games under 10 PPR points, the best of any TE in 2016. By comparison, both TEs to finish ahead of him registered 6 games each under 10 PPR points. All signs are pointing towards coaching continuity in Minnesota for 2017, along with the expectation that Sam Bradford will retain the starting job. Continuity on the team and consistency in the box score is worthy of a top 5 ranking for me.
Michael Wenrich@mpw270

Q2. Three different TEs received a number 1 ranking (Gronk, Kelce, & Reed). Who did you rank 1 and why? 

Rob Gronkowski
Gronk is my #1…for now. To me, it’s binary. He’s either going to be ready to go in 2017 making him the clear #1 TE or he’s going to roll into the season hurt in which case I won’t touch him even if he’s expected back sometime during the season.
Eric Ludwig@FF_Gouge

I went with Gronk and his thrice surgically repaired back. Despite being far from a safe investment, he’s still the biggest difference maker at the position to me. Reed has plenty of injury concerns of his own to keep him behind Gronk in my ranking. And while I admit Kelce is probably the safest of the 3, I also believe that predicting injury is a fool’s errand. He just doesn’t have the same ceiling as Gronk in terms of potential touchdown numbers.
Travis Strickland@DFS_Travis

Travis Kelce
I, unenthusiastically, ranked Travis Kelce as #1 based solely on safety.  Considering the injury history of other guys in the Top 5 discussion, I went with the sure thing.  I may move Reed and/or Gronk up if they are healthy going into training camp.
Keaton Denlay@KeatonDenlay

Jordan Reed
Look, I realize there are injury concerns with this man, but his talent is on a level of its own when healthy. Jordan Reed has the size of a tight end but the speed and appearance of an outside receiver making it very difficult for defenses to match up against him. He was clearly injured at the end of the season as his production tapered off, however, in 8 of the 12 games Reed played in, he had at least 53 yards receiving and in 5 of those games he had at least 70 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. I ranked him #1 last season and I am sticking with it.
Nate Hamilton@DomiNateFF

Q3. Which barfy tight end has the best chance to bounce back from last season and be a top 5 option in 2017?

Eric Ebron
Does Eric Ebron count as ‘barfy’? If so, he is primed to bounce back from a disappointing 2016.  Despite playing just 13 games and only recording 1 receiving TD, the young TE still finished as the TE14 on the season.  I expect his TDs to jump up into the 5-6 range with a chance at double-digits.
Keaton Denlay@KeatonDenlay

Austin Hooper & Hunter Henry
I’m going to go with two young guns in Austin Hooper and Hunter Henry. Both were very impressive in their rookie campaign’s (rare for a TE), surpassed the veterans that began the year playing ahead of them and should have good enough talent at QB to support a solid season in 2017.
Travis Strickland@DFS_Travis

Tyler Eifert
Almost every TE was barfy last year and nearly every TE can be a top-5 option because, aside from Gronk and Jordan Reed who are each one injury away from the end of a career, no one gets the targets and red zone opportunities to dominate. That being said, there are two things I like about Tyler Eifert. I like his 18 TDs in his last 21 games and his late fifth to early sixth-round ADP because his injuries have burned so many fantasy owners. I know he hasn’t had a 16-game season in his four-year career, but I’m willing to take the risk/reward on a guy that will be huge if he puts it all together.
Eric Ludwig@FF_Gouge

Greg Olsen
Although Greg Olsen was the best tight end in the league for the first half of the season, he did slow down enough in the second half to create some doubt and haters out there (That includes you too, Jason Moore!). Now, I do currently have him ranked 8th amongst tight ends for 2017 but these are very early rankings and a lot of that decision was based on my concern for how Cam Newton played in 2016. I do expect Cam to bounce back in 2017 and Greg Olsen, as his favorite target, will reap the benefits which could easily place Olsen back into the top 5 TE discussion for me.
Nate Hamilton@DomiNateFF

 

If you haven’t yet, check out our other articles in this series, the Way Too Early RBs for 2017, and the Way Too Early QBs for 2017. Stay tuned for The Fantasy Footballers’ writers consensus Top 5 at WR of 2017.