As I prepare for my own drafts, I'm looking at what players I've ranked higher than their Average Draft Position to see if I still like them at that spot and to see who I'm liking more than the public at large. Below is a portion of that list, highlighting the Tight Ends I'll most likely own just based on the law of averages and personal preference.
Delanie Walker (TE7), Titans
Walker should remain Marcus Mariota's favorite receiver due to his consistency, and he should continue to be a favorite for fantasy footballers for the same reason. Walker has finished as the seventh-best or better tight end in fantasy over the last three seasons and should get an uptick in efficiency and scoring with Frank Reich as offensive coordinator this season.
George Kittle (TE13), 49ers
The 49ers have a great offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan, but they aren't flush with top targets for their up-and-coming quarterback. Yes, Pierre Garcon will return, and they picked Austin Pettis, but I see Kittle as being a big part of this offense after putting together a solid rookie season for a tight end.
Vance McDonald (TE21), Steelers
McDonald flashed when healthy last season and really picked things up with a big game in the Steelers' playoff loss. He's a much better receiver and runner than Jesse James and can out-shoot Billy The Kid. He has had plenty of health trouble that has kept him off the field, so he will remain a risky pick, but I'll take that risk at his current ADP.
David Njoku (TE15), Browns
The Browns have too much talent to feel confident about who gets what targets, but in his second year, Njoku has the starting job wrapped up, and he showed me enough last season to be excited about his prospects in his new role.
Charles Clay (TE29), Bills
Clay and Kelvin Benjamin are the two most reliable targets in Buffalo and whoever is quarterback will need to rely on them. Clay is risky due to his prematurely aged knees, but as the 29th tight end off the board, I don't see how you can lose.
Jared Cook (TE18), Raiders
Cook was inconsistent last season, but he did finish as the ninth-best fantasy tight end and this season won't battle Michael Crabtree for red-zone looks. Cook had just nine red-zone looks in 2017 compared to 10 for Amari Cooper and 14 for Crabtree, while Crabtree also missed four games and wasn't 100 percent for others. Jordy Nelson is on the downswing of his career; Seth Roberts is on the roster bubble; and Cooper hasn't shown great red zone prowess; so I'm okay with Cook, especially as the 18th tight end off the board.
Ben Watson (TE26), Saints
Watson's best season as a pro came two seasons ago with the Saints, when he finished as the eight-best fantasy tight end. He will have trouble getting the targets he did that season, but he will also be on a great offensive team and set up for good touchdown numbers. We know Drew Brees likes throwing to the tight end, and even with Jimmy Graham getting traded in 2014, the Saints still have ranked fifth in red-zone targets to the position.
Eric Ebron (TE20), Colts
Ebron's inconsistency got him shipped out of Detroit, but when you look at the numbers, there is plenty to be hopeful for, especially when you consider that he just turned 25 and Frank Reich, the Colts new offensive coordinator, loves targeting tight ends. Unfortunately, Jack Doyle, who is not inconsistent, is going to hurt Ebron's total numbers. The question is, how badly will he hurt them and can Ebron win the 1a job and push Doyle to 1b? I don't have a definitive answer, but I do think Ebron is a better offensive weapon than Doyle and can beat him out for the target lead this year.
Jake Butt (TE36), Broncos
Butt had all the makings to be an early pick in the 2016 NFLraft but ended up suffering a torn ACL in his last bowl game. He now has worked his way back and is getting praise for his ability during the offseason program. The starting tight end job is up for grabs, and Butt could quickly take the lead and then sit on it all the way to a healthy 2018 fantasy season.