Fantasy Football: Tight End Rankings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Tier 3: Breakouts
These are my favorite picks this year; They are all available later in drafts and they all have the upside to end up in the top 5 TEs overall if they stay healthy and catch a few breaks. These are the guys I’m waiting for in my drafts and have high hopes for all of them. This is the last tier I would consider starting material.
Jordan Reed, Redskins – If concussion issues hadn’t limited Reed to 9 games, he may have already broken out. Reed showed flashes of being a dominant TE and a top 5 talent at the position. RG3 has looked shaky so far in his transition to a pocket passer which may actually help Reed as he could end up being RG3’s safety valve and getting even more targets per game than last season. If Reed stays healthy he is going to have a big season, count on it.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings – New Vikings OC Norv Turner helped make Antonio Gates a household name in fantasy and then did the same to Jordan Cameron in Turner’s one year in Cleveland. The fact that Cameron caught 80 passes with a combination of Jordan Campbell, Brian Hoyer, and Brandon Weeden throwing him the ball is pretty amazing. Rudolph is a talented receiver who has been hindered by injuries and awful QB play. He’s going to get targets in Turner’s offense and has looked healthy and faster than ever in the preseason so far. After the top 3, Rudolph has the talent and opportunity to be the next best fantasy TE in the league.
Zach Ertz, Eagles – Brent Celek is still around, but the Eagles used a 2nd round pick on Ertz last year and Chip Kelly is familiar with him after facing him at Oregon for two years so he is familiar with his skill set. Ertz had a pretty strong rookie year (36, 469, 4) and has been the talk of training camp so far. He should be a reliable red zone weapon for Foles and the Eagles this year.
Martellus Bennett, Bears – Had the best season of his career in his first season in Chicago (65, 759, 5) and it could have been even better had nagging injuries not forced him miss drives pretty much every week. Bennett and Cutler showed a natural rapport and if Bennett can stay healthy and on the field the majority of the time he could catch 70-80 balls easy.
Ladarius Green, Chargers – He doesn’t have quite the breakout potential of the players in front of him in this tier, but it’s only because he is playing behind Chargers legend Antonio Gates. Green has more talent than Gates in pretty much all aspects of the game and all he needs is a chance to get on the field. In limited snaps last year, Green led the league in DVOA (45.3%). Chargers HC Mike McCoy admitted late in the season that he should have played Green more so hopefully he remembers that and gets Green on the field for around 50% of their offensive snaps. If so, Green is a sure thing top 10 TE.
Charles Clay, Dolphins – Technically he broke out last year going from 18 catches to 69, but I think Clay has room for growth still. If the Dolphins weren’t switching to a new offense this year under for Eagles QB coach and Chip Kelly disciple Bill Lazor, Clay would be higher. The uncertainty of their offensive scheme keeps Clay just outside of the top 12 for me, but he has top 10 potential. He lined up all over the field last season and the new OC Lazor will find a way to use Clay’s versatility. If he’s still available in your league, keep an eye on how the Dolphins use Clay the first few games of the season.