The 2016 Fantasy Tight End rankings may have taken a bigger shift in the past six months than any other position in Fantasy. Several players swapped teams, but that doesn’t change the fact that this remains a very deep position.
I’m a big fan of tight ends in the NFL because they’re an underappreciated group of players, much like catchers in baseball.
When a tight end comes into the league, he has to learn blocking assignments against the world’s best pass rushers and linebackers, and he has to be able to run routes against secondaries filled with the best defensive backs on earth.
In the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen the Fantasy tight ends position shift considerably. Some third-year tight ends have climbed higher in the rankings, and some aging veterans have begun to either slowly slip down – or fall out altogether because of injury, trade or retirement.
2016 Fantasy Tight Ends on the Rise
Let’s take a quick look at those that have changed teams since we last saw them. First, we’ll examine the tight ends whose Fantasy rankings have improved since December:
1. Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh: Green replaces the retired Heath Miller, who became one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets in recent years – when he was healthy. With Martavis Bryant suspended all season, Green could be next in line for targets after Antonio Brown. And he’s finally out from Antonio Gates’ shadow.
2. Coby Fleener, New Orleans: This one’s such an intriguing spot, as his ranking has a wide range among experts. Many believe he’ll step right in and become Drew Brees’ new Jimmy Graham Jr. But I’m quite skeptical because of his recent play with Andrew Luck – a pretty good quarterback in his own right. Looking at Fleener’s ranking by the experts on FantasyPros, you see he averages a sixth-place ranking, but his best ranking is fourth and his worst is 13th. That’s a nine-spot swing!
3. Jared Cook, Green Bay: The Packers signed the 29-year-old tight end to a one-year deal this offseason, but he’s coming off of foot surgery. He had some decent Fantasy years in the past, including a top-12 finish at his position in his very first year with the Rams in 2013. Most rank him outside the top-20 tight ends this season – but with Aaron Rodgers under center, Cook could easily become a top-10 tight end.
2016 Fantasy Tight Ends on the Decline
And then there are those that have lost some Fantasy Football value over the past year, including the offseason:
1. Martellus Bennett, New England: After a pretty ugly divorce from the Bears, which included a suspension and being relatively phased out last year, Bennett was traded to New England. While playing with the best quarterback in the NFL sounds good, he’s now going to have to get scraps after Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman get theirs. There’s a sliver of a chance that he serves as the new Aaron Hernandez in this offense, but I like him better as a handcuff to those who draft Rob Gronkowski.
2. Jason Witten, Dallas: Sure, he hasn’t swapped jerseys, but this guy took a huge hit with Tony Romo sidelined because of a twice-broken collarbone. When Tony Romo back is healthy, Witten has been quite useful in Fantasy play, but there are just too many options at the position to bank on that entirely as your starter.
3. Jimmy Graham, Seattle: Once paired with Gronk as the only sure-fire possibilities as a top-two Fantasy tight end, Graham was shipped out to New Orleans in the offseason before 2015, then he tore his patellar tendon last fall. We got to see his Fantasy limitations in Seattle’s offense, though, before he went down.
The point I wish for you to take away from this article is that you should consider picking up Gary Barnidge, Zach Ertz or Delanie Walker in the mid-to-late rounds more than spending an early pick on a great tight end.
2016 Fantasy Tight End Rankings
These rankings are based on standard non-PPR leagues, but you will soon be able to click the PPR tab to see how the rankings change for those leagues.
Whether you choose to draft a tight end early or late, these 2016 Fantasy Tight End Rankings should serve you well, especially paired with FantasyPros’ Expert Consensus Rankings.
Jordan Reed Photo Credit: Keith Allison
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.