The dynamic at tight end for fantasy football players has changed dramatically over the course of just one season.
While Jimmy Graham was the consensus top fantasy tight end last season, there were another three or four options that fantasy owners were salivating over before hitting another tier of players with solid upside potential.
However, in 2015, there is one player standing atop the mountain for fantasy purposes and that is Rob Gronkowski.
You need to make a bit of a trek down the hill before you reach the next tier of four players, none of whom has a chance to supplant Gronk as the number one option provided he remains injury free in 2015.
After that, you might as well ignore the position since there is little to differentiate the third tier of fantasy tight ends. This is a group riddled with some combination of age, injury or other issues that will cause varying levels of concern for fantasy owners.
Here are our initial 2015 fantasy football tight end rankings for redraft leagues, before the NFL Draft.
1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Even if Jimmy Graham remained on the New Orleans Saints, it still would have been Gronk as the top ranked fantasy tight end. Now that Graham is a Seattle Seahawk, the gap between the two widened considerably. Sure, there is injury risk here but the upside is too much to ignore.
2. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks
While Graham’s talent is undeniable, his inability to produce when nicked up coupled with his move to one of the league’s top rushing teams sees his fantasy value tumble in 2015. While he still should find the end zone plenty, it seems unlikely that he will top 1,000 receiving yards.
3. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Despite their struggles at wide receiver, Kelce was an underutilized option in the Kansas City Chiefs passing attack in 2014, catching 67 of his 87 targets (a completion percentage of 77%) for 862 yards and five touchdowns. Even with Jeremy Maclin now in Kansas City, Kelce is still a sure fire bet for over 100 targets this season.
4. Greg Olsen, Panthers
Olsen posted career highs across the board in 2014 with 84 receptions for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. While the Panthers will look to fill the hole at wide receiver opposite Kelvin Benjamin, we still see Olsen as a solid, low risk option in 2015.
5. Martellus Bennett, Bears
Bennett reached career highs in all major categories last season with 90 receptions for 926 yards and six touchdowns on 128 receptions. Brandon Marshall left town. If Bennett remains healthy, he will be a top five tight end.
6. Julius Thomas, Jaguars
Incredible stat – Thomas hauled in 12 touchdowns on just 62 targets last season. Let’s go out on a limb and predict 90 targets for him this season in his new home in Jacksonville (his career high is 89). How many fantasy points can we give him? Does a line of 65 receptions for 780 yards and five touchdowns seem fair? Don’t reach for Julius.
7. Zach Ertz, Eagles
This is where things get dicey. As in, at this point in my fantasy auction, I’m waiting on the tight end position. Since Ertz has upside and the Philadelphia Eagles have lost their leading receiver in each of the last two seasons, he gets the nod as the top pick amongst the also-rans at tight end.
8. Jordan Cameron, Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins dumped receivers Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, leaving them with Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and a quite possibly washed up Greg Jennings. If Cameron can stay healthy (a major if), he should put up solid numbers in his first year in Miami.
9. Antonio Gates, Chargers
After hitting pay dirt nine times in his first eight games last season, Gates went five games without scoring while averaging 38.2 yards per game in those contests. Gates will turn 35 in June and the San Diego Chargers are planning to reduce his snap count. Gates is a low ceiling option in 2015.
10. Dwayne Allen, Colts
Allen produced eight touchdowns in 12 games on just 50 targets last season and the Indianapolis Colts did little to address their size issue at wide receiver. With Allen their top receiving option in the red zone in an offense that rates amongst the league best, he should reach TE1 status albeit almost certainly with continued consistency issues.
11. Jason Witten, Cowboys
Witten is another low ceiling option but with Terrence Williams having failed to make major strides last season, Witten should come close to another 90 targets this season as Tony Romo’s security blanket. It’s worth noting that Witten hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2003.
12. Delanie Walker, Titans
Healthy for 15 games, Walker posted career highs in receptions with 63 and yards with 890 while finding the end zone four times. However, he was a boom or bust fantasy option, tallying 50.1 of his 113.0 fantasy points in just three games. Expect another solid season from Walker given the dire state of the Tennessee Titans’s depth chart at wide receiver.
13. Jordan Reed, Redskins
Dude is talented but he can’t stay healthy and we have no idea what to expect out of the Washington Redskins offense in 2015. Reed looks better in the wrapper than he does out of it.