These 2017 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings consist of some big guys. I’m a big guy, so I like this! Plus, some of them are getting up there in age. I’m getting up there in age! So I like this more!
Of the top 15 tight ends from 2016, six of them were over the age of 30 years old, but only one was over 35 (Antonio Gates). There were just two 30-year-olds among the top-20 wide receivers last year, and just three running backs over 30 inside the top 20. (Speaking of which, here are my top 60 Fantasy Football running back rankings!)
Even the quarterbacks position, a position known for having older players that matured into solid playcallers, had just four 30-year-olds among the top 15 (granted, three of them were the three best QBs).
“Get to the point, old man!”
Big, Old & Hurt: The Life of a Good Fantasy Tight End
My point is – this is a position, much like a catcher in baseball, usually requires some maturity. But once a tight end becomes a quality tight end, they have a much longer shelf life than the average wide receivers – and definitely running backs.
Unfortunately, tight ends endure more injuries on the line of scrimmage because they deal with much more contact with bigger players. Arguments could be made that running backs getting tackled by 350-lb. linemen is no picnic either, but tight ends are engaged with defensive linemen much more, and they are vulnerable to huge hits across the middle by head-hunting safeties and linebackers.
It’s almost a Fantasy paradox – tight ends get dinged up more, but they seem to last longer.
Longer To Develop, Longer To Retirement
You’re reading rankings midsummer, so you’re a Fantasy Football veteran, and you understand you don’t take a rookie tight end as your starter. They take longer to develop.
Tight ends are asked to learn offensive playbooks from different perspectives, including as blockers for the running game and as receivers in the passing game. Yes, running backs and wide receivers block, too, but tight ends have to know the offensive line’s blocking schemes, and often work with the hogs on the line.
A good tight end has the ability to stretch his career out over a decade or so because the same speed requirements aren’t asked of them like they are wideouts and tailbacks. If you lose a step when you turn 30 years old as a tight end, you can still be productive if you run great routes, win 50/50 balls, break tackles, have good hands and block the edge well.
The Problem with Fantasy Tight Ends
Much like quarterbacks, there are plenty of good players at the tight ends position, making it unnecessary to reach for one early. With that said, it’s tough to pass up on players like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen.
But you should also remember good sleepers always pop up at this position, like Kyle Rudolph or Cameron Brate last year, or Gary Barnidge and Ben Watson in 2015, or Larry Donnell and Travis Kelce in 2014. Sure, sleepers pop up everywhere else, too, but you have a relatively limited group of players to find sleepers from here, which is a good thing.
Great Sleepers Among the 2017 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings
When you think sleepers at tight end, you have to consider players with newfound opportunities, or newfound abilities (a loose term I’m using for someone that has developed).
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers: Yes, I understand he’s not really a sleeper in that everyone knows he scored eight touchdowns last season, tying him with Brate for the NFL lead at the position. But I’m pointing him out as a possible breakout player, more than a sleeper. He’ll be available in the middle rounds or later (6.08 ADP), and if Antonio Gates gets hurt, Henry could finish as a top-three tight end.
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons: Who doesn’t love a second-year tight end in one of the greatest offenses of the past decade?
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns: With Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt at wideout, and Barnidge inexplicably elsewhere, this rookie could actually be serviceable in Fantasy play if the Browns can get a decent QB. Even without a good QB, they’ll likely have a quarterback checking down to his tight end often.
Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers: New head coach Kyle Shanahan runs 13 personnel formations (1 running back, 3 tight ends) more than any other NFL coach, and they pass out of that formation more, too. I see McDonald becoming an excellent low-price DFS play.
Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams: This is another second-year tight end with upside, and he works in an offense that would sooner check down to him than chance a downfield mistake. We’ll see what Sean McVay can do with Jared Goff, but Higbee could be see one of the biggest changes in target totals from last year to this.
2017 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings
These rankings are based on standard non-PPR leagues, but you can click the PPR tab to see how the rankings change for those leagues.
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If you’re looking for deep, deep sleepers, consider some players like Maxx Williams (back), who is now in his third season in Baltimore, and has more opportunity after Dennis Pitta’s latest hip injury.
Vernon Davis is still second on the Redskins tight end list behind Jordan Reed, but the latter has a history with concussions, and the Redskins need sure-handed players to take over the 214 targets thrown to Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson last season.
As far as possible tight end busts candidates go, Reed is certainly in that discussion because of the concussions, as is Rob Gronkowski, who is returning from back issues.
These 2017 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings have plenty of big fellas ready to help your team, but even so, they’re still not as important as running backs. Take a look at our recently updated 2017 Fantasy Football Running Back rankings!