2016 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings- Updated: Wednesday, August 24th
Scoring: These rankings are based on standard-scoring formats -- one point per 10 rushing yards, six points per rushing touchdown plus one point per 10 receiving yards and six points per receiving touchdown.
These rankings are from Kevin Hanson and are for the 2016 NFL season.
Here are our 2016 fantasy football tight end rankings:
1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Counting 10 playoff games, Gronkowski has a total of 75 touchdowns in 90 career games. And with the exception of his seven-game 2013 season, Gronk has double-digit touchdowns in five of his six NFL seasons. Gronk is one of the league's biggest mismatches and the clear-cut top option at his position. If there's any concern, it's a potential slow start (based on Gronk standards) with Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension to begin the season, but Gronk is in a tier by himself atop the position group.
2. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Dominant in the 2015 fantasy playoffs, Reed finished as the weekly TE1 in Weeks 14, 15 and 16 as he hauled in a total of 25 catches for 333 yards and five touchdowns during that three-game stretch. On the year, only Rob Gronkowski and Gary Barnidge scored more fantasy points than Reed. Durability is the obvious concern, but I expect Reed to average the second-most fantasy points per game at the position after Gronk.
3. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Olsen followed up his first career 1,000-yard season with another (77/1,104/7) and scored fourth-most fantasy points among tight ends in 2015. The durable and consistent tight end enters 2016 as a top-three tight end.
4. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce's 2015 numbers (875 yards and five touchdowns) were very similar to his 2014 numbers (862 yards and five touchdowns). Among tight ends, only Rob Gronkowski (2,300), Greg Olsen (2,112) and Delanie Walker (1,978) have more receiving yards than Kelce (1,737) over the past two seasons.
5. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
In his third season with the Titans, Walker blew away previous career highs in receptions (94) and yards (1,088) and tied a previous career high in touchdowns (six). Walker had 52-plus yards in each of his final 12 games of the season and due to that level of consistency, he finished as a top-12 fantasy tight end in 11 of 16 weeks last year. While he may not repeat last year's production, he's my TE5 heading into 2016.
6. Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
With 50-plus catches in each of the past three seasons, Fleener should have an opportunity to exceed that production by a considerable amount. In the team's first season without Jimmy Graham, Ben Watson essentially came out of nowhere to finish as a top-eight fantasy tight end in 2015. Playing with Drew Brees and with Watson gone, Fleener could not have landed in a better spot as a free agent.
7. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz set career highs in 2015 with 75 catches for 853 yards, but he had just two touchdowns. Ertz was especially good over the final four games of the season with a 35/450/1 line during that span. Obviously, he'll slow from his end-of-season torrid pace, but hopefully Ertz can build upon last year's positive momentum. One thing working in his favor is that coach Doug Pederson has said that he "fully expects" to feature Ertz in the red zone.
8. Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars
Missing much of training camp and the first four games last season, Thomas did not make the impact that he or the team expected when they signed him to a lucrative free-agent contract. Thomas should post much better numbers in 2016 provided he can stay healthy, but he has missed multiple games in each of his three seasons as a starter.
9. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Averaging a touchdown per game, Eifert finished 2015 with 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns over 13 games and the sixth-most fantasy points among tight ends in 2015. Exceeding 53 yards in only three games with all of those games occurring by Week 5, Eifert averaged only 37.88 YPG over his final eight games played. When healthy, however, Eifert should see a per-game boost in targets given the turnover in the receiving corps. That said, durability has been an issue and there's a good chance that Eifert (ankle) won't be ready for Week 1.
10. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Gates missed five games, but still finished as a top-12 fantasy tight end in 2015 at 35 years old. In fact, his 57.3 yards per game was a four-year high. If Keenan Allen stays healthy for a full season, he may average fewer yards, but he remains the favorite red-zone target of Philip Rivers and a top-12 option at the position despite heading into his age-36 season. In fact, Rivers recently stated that it's a goal to get Gates eight TDs to pass Tony Gonzalez for the most all-time by a tight end.
11. Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
Bennett is at least a back-end TE1 heading into his first season in Foxboro as the Patriots will likely use plenty of two-TE sets with Rob Gronkowski and Bennett. And if Gronk were to miss any time, Bennett would instantly become a top-five fantasy tight end with Gronk out.
12. Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns
It was the atypical 30-year-old breakout for Barnidge last season as he finished with 79 catches for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns, all of which exceeded his NFL production from 2008 to 2014 combined. In fact, only Rob Gronkowski scored more fantasy points than Barnidge in standard-scoring formats (TE4 in PPR) last season. While he may not finish as a top-five producer once again, he enters the season as a viable starting tight end.
13. Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
Allen has struggled with durability -- 21 missed games over past three seasons. If he can stay healthy, however, Allen is poised for a much larger role within the offense given Coby Fleener's free-agency departure.
14. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
In his second season, Ebron finished with 47 catches for 537 yards and five touchdowns. It was an up-and-down year, but he finished as a top-12 fantasy tight end in half of his 14 games played. Following Megatron's retirement, the former top-10 pick should be more involved in the passing game and could finish as a top-12 fantasy tight end provided he stays healthy. After a scare (initially reported as an Achilles injury), Ebron should be ok for the start of the season as he deals with a high-ankle sprain.
15. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
Graham failed to make the impact that many expected. In fact, Russell Wilson's strong performance in the second half of the season mostly occurred with Graham injured. Starting training camp on the active/PUP list, Graham (patellar tendon) has since been activated, but it's unclear how effective he'll be coming off his significant injury.
16. Zach Miller, Chicago Bears
With Martellus Bennett now in New England, Miller takes over as the team's top tight end. With Bennett sidelined over the final three weeks of the season, Miller hauled in 18 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown during that span.
17. Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
Missing the final three games of first season with the Bills, Clay had 51 catches for 528 yards, both of which were three-year lows, and three scores. Scoring the 20th-most fantasy points among tight ends following back-to-back top-15 seasons, Clay is expected to be more involved in the offense in 2016. I expect Clay to finish second on the team in receptions behind Watkins.
18. Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders
OC Bill Musgrave says that Walford "has a lot of ability, so we’re looking for him to be a big part of what we do." Despite his ATV accident that required surgery, Walford says he's "more comfortable" in the offense and he should easily exceed his rookie-season production (28/329/3) in year two.
19. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
In his age-33 season, Witten finished with 77 catches for 713 yards (career-low 9.3 Y/A) and three touchdowns. While there is virtually no upside with Witten, he had 11 games with 40-plus yards. As much as that sounds like I'm setting the bar low (and I suppose I am), only four other TEs had as many such games last season: Rob Gronkowski (13), Greg Olsen (13), Travis Kelce (12) and Gary Barnidge (11).
20. Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers
Over his final six games, McDonald had 21 catches for 262 yards and three touchdowns and he finished with the 11th-most fantasy points among tight ends over that span. Given the team's lack of offensive weapons, McDonald has the potential to pick up where he left off last season.
21. Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers gave Green a large contract this offseason to take over for retired Heath Miller. If (a HUGE if) Green is ready for the start of the season, he should shatter previous career highs and he has fantasy top-10 upside. Following offseason ankle surgery in January, Green still remains on the active/PUP list. Although Green denies it, reports are that he's on PUP due to recurring headaches, which could threaten his season or even his career. At a minimum, it seems more likely than not that Green will at least begin the regular season on the reserve/PUP list. If so, Jesse James would have upside as a sleeper tight end.
22. Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins
Cameron had a disappointing first season with the Dolphins and accepted a pay cut in part because Julius Thomas told Cameron that "he HAS to play for Gase." (Thomas had 24 touchdowns in 27 games over his two seasons as a starter with the Broncos.)
23. Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers
Expected to start over Richard Rodgers, Cook signed a free-agent deal with the Packers and has plenty of upside although he recently had foot surgery.
24. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Here's the good news: Rudolph played a full 16-game season for the first time in three years and set a career high in receiving yards. The bad news? His career high was 495 yards. Rudolph is a low-upside TE2.
25. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Based on talent, Seferian-Jenkins should be ready to take a big step forward. Based on immaturity and attitude as well as his durability track record, however, ASJ is hard to trust. So far in camp and the preseason, however, coach Dirk Koetter says that "ASJ has earned the right to share first-team reps with Cam Brate again."
Here are the next 25 tight ends in our rankings:
26. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
27. Will Tye, New York Giants
28. Jacob Tamme, Atlanta Falcons
29. Lance Kendricks, Los Angeles Rams
30. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
31. Jace Amaro, New York Jets
32. Ben Watson, Baltimore Ravens
33. Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers
34. Niles Paul, Washington Redskins
35. Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers
36. Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
37. Virgil Green, Denver Broncos
38. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
39. Darren Fells, Arizona Cardinals
40. Ryan Griffin, Houston Texans
41. Garrett Celek, San Francisco 49ers
42. Jeff Heuerman, Denver Broncos
43. Maxx Williams, Baltimore Ravens
44. Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens
45. Larry Donnell, New York Giants
46. Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
47. Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders
48. Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati Bengals
49. Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
50. James O'Shaughnessy, Kansas City Chiefs
More Rankings from Hanson:
- Fantasy Football QB Rankings
- Fantasy Football RB Rankings
- Fantasy Football WR Rankings
- Fantasy Football TE Rankings
- Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator
- Fantasy Football Strength of Schedule
- Fantasy Football Projections
- Fantasy Football Mock Draft
- Fantasy Football Profiles
- Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) Cheat Sheets