Fantasy Football 2017 – Tight Ends, Defenses, and Kickers

Fantasy Football 2017 – Tight Ends, Defenses, and Kickers


I am more or less willing to just punt the tight end position in the draft this year. Rob Gronkowski can provide a distinct advantage but his injury risk scares me away. In terms of the other tier 1 tight ends, they are going earlier than I am willing to go for a tight end. I rather invest in a running back or wide receiver I am high on. In terms of the Tier 2 tight ends, I would be willing to draft one after round 10 if there is one left that I really like. However, I am not inclined to just draft the best available to fill a need. I am willing to stream the position throughout the season. Accordingly, I will likely pass on any tight end in Tier 3 unless there is one I want to gamble on in the last couple of rounds in the draft.

Tiers based on Yahoo’s Average Draft Positions.

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski NE
Travis Kelce KC
Greg Olsen Car

He is the only tight end who can significantly differentiate himself from the rest of the field. Of course, he is arguably the greatest mismatch at tight end in history. However, he is a gigantic injury risk. On the other hand, he is taking better care of his body in hopes of prolonging his career. He has supposedly stopped drinking and begun Tom Brady’s diet. Of course, it is impossible to quantify what that means for Gronkowski until we see its effects. His average draft position of the third round correctly discounts his high reward but high risk status. Personally, I would still take a Tier 2 running back or wide receiver I really like over Gronkowski. Travis Kelce broke out last year with 1,125 yards. However, he still only had 4 touchdowns. If he could get those touchdowns closer to double digits, he would be Gronkowski equivalent. I would probably gamble on Kelce trending upwards rather than the injury issues of Gronkowski. Greg Olsen has been very consistent. He has received over 1,000 yards each of the last three years. His touchdowns did dip to 3 after 6 and 7 the previous two years respectively. However, I expect the Panthers offense to rebound and Olsen to put up 1,000 yards and 6-7 TDs again this year.

Hunter Henry

Tier 2
Jimmy Graham Sea
Jordan Reed Was
Tyler Eifert Cin
Delanie Walker Ten
Martellus Bennett GB
Kyle Rudolph Min
Zach Ertz Phi
Hunter Henry LAC

This tier does not generally put up as many receiving yards as the Tier 1 group. However, they do put up 4-8 touchdowns. With some luck, they put up double digit TDs. Nevertheless, it is difficult to predict touchdowns before the season.

Jimmy Graham used to be the best fantasy tight end in football and on par with Gronkowski. While he is past his best days, he is still very good putting up 923 yards and 6 TDs last season. It is a good approximation for his output this year. Jordan Reed definitely has the ability to be a Tier 1 tight end. Similar to Gronkowski, he has had injury issues. He has only played 9, 11, 14, and 12 games in the first four years of his career. In his 14 game season, he put up 952 yards and 11 TDs. As such, the upside is there if you want to take the risk at his ADP at the end of the 5th round. Tyler Eifert has a knack for catching touchdowns. However, his fantasy value is completely dependent on them and touchdowns are difficult to rely on. He has never had more than 615 receiving yards. I would likely pass unless he was one of the last remaining tight ends in this tier. Two years ago, Delanie Walker put up 1,088 yards and 6 TDs. His receiving yards dropped to 800 last season but his increased his TD count by 1 to 7. He is a solid tight end playing on an up and coming offense with a young QB on the rise. I really like him a lot as a value pick in the middle of this tier.

Martellus Bennett’s best year was in 2014 when he had 916 yards and 6 TDs for the Chicago Bears. He produced 701 yards and 7 TDs for the Patriots last year. He signed with the Packers in the offseason. Of course, playing with Aaron Rodgers is a plus but he was already playing with Tom Brady. I expect production between last year and his best year but I lean more toward last season’s stats. Kyle Rudolph’s targets increase by almost 60 from the previous year to 132. Accordingly, his production spiked to 840 yards and 7 TDs. They are solid numbers but not earth shattering. I also expect his targets to decrease this year. He is a solid tight end but not a great one. Zach Ertz has settled in to 800+ yards to 2-4 TDs the last two seasons. I do not think he has much more upside than those numbers. Hunter Henry had a solid rookie season with 478 yards and 8 TDs. Philip Rivers has lit it up with a tight end before (i.e. Antonio Gates). Henry is a popular pick for a breakout season this year.

OJ Howard

Tier 3
Darren Fells Det
Jack Doyle Ind
Jesse James Pit
O.J. Howard TB
Evan Engram NYG
Eric Ebron Det
Jason Witten Dal
Jared Cook Oak
Ladarius Green Pit
Dwayne Allen NE
David Njoku Cle
Cameron Brate TB
Antonio Gates LAC
Julius Thomas Mia
Coby Fleener NO
Zach Miller Chi
C.J. Fiedorowicz Hou
Austin Hooper Atl

By the time the field dwindles down to this tier, it may be time to just punt the position and pick someone up after the draft. Nevertheless, there are some names that pop out. O.J. Howard was the first top end drafted this year. He has a ton of talent but the Bucs have already said Howard will only be used as a blocker for now. As such, I would not draft him. On the other hand, Evan Engram is getting targets in preseason. Moreover, the Giants have a poor offensive line so he should play a lot. If I had to pick a rookie tight end, I would go with Engram. Nevertheless, his fantasy value will likely be dependent on touchdowns. Eric Ebron has improved every year and jumped to 711 yards last year. However, he only scored one touchdown. He will need to get it up to around 6 to generate tier 2 value. I do like Matthew Stafford though and Ebron is worth a flier late. Witten is settling in at around 700 yards and 3 TDs in recent years. He is decent value late if you need to just plug the position. However, do not expect anything special.

Dwayne Allen has a lot of talent. Obviously, the Patriots picking him up is a testament to his ability. He will fill in the second tight end. If Rob Gronkowski gets hurt again, Allen can certainly produce the numbers Martellus Bennett did last year. Cameron Brate had 660 yards and 8 TDs last year. The Bucs drafted O.J. Howard but Brate will still be the tight end to own for fantasy purposes, at least in the early going. Antonio Gates’s best days are behind him. However, he can still put up some decent numbers. Regardless, he is a stream during a week if you want to roll the dice. I would not draft him. Hunter Henry is the tight end to own in San Diego. Coby Fleener had a lot of unrealized talent in Indianapolis. Can Drew Brees get it out of him in New Orleans? Maybe but I am not counting on it. Fleener has done nothing in preseason. Considering C.J. Fiederowicz did not play with a NFL caliber QB last year, his 559 yards and 4 TDs were solid. A tight end is a good safety net for any inexperienced, young QB. Either Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson will be looking for Fiederowicz. Of course, I would not expect a huge spike in numbers unless Watson takes over and breaks out his rookie season.


Strength of schedule is critical in evaluating a defense for fantasy, I have included the strength of schedule based on each team’s opponent’s 2016 record, via ESPN, as an additional column with 1 being the toughest schedule. In determining defenses to target, I am looking for a sweet spot where a good defense meets a favorable schedule. If you are dead set in drafting a top ranked [top 10] defense [I advise against picking any defense before at least the 10th round]. Among the top defenses drafted, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, and Minnesota have some of the weakest strength of schedules. Although New England has the 12th toughest schedule based on last season, it should be much weaker based on this year. The New York Jets are intentionally losing and may field one of the worst defenses either. Buffalo has also decided to rebuild. Miami is decent but Jay Cutler is erratic. Based on their 6 Divisional games, I am high on the New England defense for fantasy purposes. Of course, they are really good in real life too. I also expect a rebound year in Carolina. Their front 7 is especially strong. However, they allowed their secondary to slip after their Super Bowl year. As such, they will definitely not be as good as two years ago. I also like the Giants defense. They have Snacks Harrison dominating as a run stopper and arguably the best secondary in football. On the other hand, their pass rush is not nearly as strong as it was in their Super Bowl winning seasons. Moreover, their offensive line has looked terrible so they may be on the field more than it should. In terms of the rest of the defenses, I would probably pluck one based on the strength of schedule.

  1. Denver 1
  2. Seattle T-25
  3. Houston T-25
  4. Kansas City 2
  5. Arizona 23
  6. Minnesota T-27
  7. New England 12
  8. Carolina 16
  9. Dallas T-10
  10. Atlanta 13
  11. New York Giants T-8
  12. Los Angeles Rams 17
  13. Tampa Bay 14
  14. Miami 6
  15. Washington 7
  16. Los Angeles Chargers 3
  17. Philadelphia T-10
  18. Pittsburgh T-27
  19. Tennessee T-30
  20. Buffalo 5
  21. Baltimore 24
  22. Oakland 4
  23. Green Bay 18
  24. Jacksonville T-30
  25. New York Jets T-8
  26. Cincinnati 29
  27. Indianapolis 32
  28. Detroit T-21
  29. Chicago 19
  30. New Orleans 15
  31. San Francisco 20
  32. Cleveland T-21


Just draft one among the highest projected points in the last round. I am swapping kickers in and out based on week to week matchups anyway.


For tiers for other positions:
Running Backs
Wide Receivers

Pat Wong

About Pat Wong

Patrick is a contributor for Rookerville. He is an avid sports fan. Before joining Rookerville, he was part of a defunct New York Yankees message board, NYYankeefans, where he was its top poster and was inducted in its Hall of Fame for his contributions. Patrick is also a passionate fan of movies. He has enjoyed reading movie reviews over the years and is excited about the opportunity to review movies. Patrick is also a passionate foodie. He is Yelp Elite for three years in a row and shares his great finds in New York and his travels.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: