2016 Fantasy Football – Forecasted Tight End Rankings: Top 10

By Chet Gresham – @ChetGresham
Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Here I’ll forecast which tight ends are likely to be top scorers next season.

Check out the other positions: Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver

First let’s look at the 2015 Top-10 Tight Ends in fantasy points per game:

  1. Rob Gronkowski
  2. Jordan Reed
  3. Tyler Eifert
  4. Gary Barnidge
  5. Delanie Walker
  6. Greg Olsen
  7. Antonio Gates
  8. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
  9. Ben Watson
  10. Travis Kelce

Of course, there are slight variations based on league scoring and in-game injuries, but for the most part this list looks about right compared to what we saw during the season.

Let’s take a look at the fantasy points per game leaders from 2014 for comparison:

  1. Rob Gronkowski
  2. Julius Thomas
  3. Jimmy Graham
  4. Antonio Gates
  5. Greg Olsen
  6. Martellus Bennett
  7. Coby Fleener
  8. Delanie Walker
  9. Dwayne Allen
  10. Travis Kelce

There was quite a bit of turnover in the Top-10 per-game tight ends. After Gronkowski, the top tight end spots were up for grabs, and Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert came on strong this season to secure their spots near the top.

After Gronk, projecting tight end finishes is a tricky business. They need to be in the right situation, which usually means situations in which a tight end is the No. 1 or 2 target on the team. And, such players also need to stay healthy, which is sometimes tough for these big-bodied receivers, who spend their time taking big hits over the middle of the field.

  1. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
    Gronk could play on one leg tied behind his back and still end up as the No. 1 fantasy tight end. His dominance over the rest of the field continues to give him value in the first round of drafts as well. The losses around him in the offense and his own injury, had defenses keying on him and made him miss a game, but he still dominated the position. You can expect more of the same going forward, as he will have just turned 27 years old going into next season.

  2. Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers
    Olsen doesn’t have the upside of some of these other tight ends, but his consistency makes him a safe pick, but it will also probably push his ADP up above some guys who have higher upside. I usually draft a bit riskier at tight end, hoping to hit on a Jordan Reed or Tyler Eifert, but the safety of Olsen is appealing.

  3. Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins
    Reed has battled injuries for most of his career, but he stayed healthy for 14 games this season and showed just how good he can be. He averaged over eight targets per game, which was only behind Delanie Walker. Kirk Cousins seems to love throwing Reed the ball and for good reason, as he put up a line of 87/952/11 through those 14 games. Reed played nine games his rookie year, then 11 in 2014 and 14 this season. Sometimes it just takes some on-the-job training to learn how to keep yourself healthy in the NFL, and I don’t see any reason Reed can’t continue to put together mostly full seasons moving forward.

  4. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
    Even after missing a couple games this season due to injuries, Eifert still finished near the top of the tight end fantasy rankings. His targets weren’t where we want a No. 1 tight end, but he was used heavily in the red zone and scored a touchdown per game, with 13 in 13 games played. Touchdowns are tough to predict, but there’s no doubt he’s Dalton’s favorite red-zone target.

  5. Delanie Walker, TE, Titans
    After Mike Mularkey took over mid-season as interim coach, Walker led all tight ends in targets, receptions and yards. The Titans as a whole were awful, so he was fourth in tight end touchdowns, but still wasn’t awful in that department. Walker’s age is my biggest concern, as he’ll turn 32 before next season, but there is a decent chance he leads the team in targets once again. Injuries did help him lead all tight ends in targets, despite missing a game, but there is a good chance he remains the most reliable receiver on the team in 2015.

  6. Julius Thomas, TE, Jaguars
    Thomas also has had trouble with injuries, but is set up in a good passing offense as, what should be, the No. 2 target after Allen Robinson, while Allen Hurns works more as the deep threat. There was no doubt Thomas had ability other than having had Peyton Manning throwing to him (see Eric Decker), and now he’s developing with Blake Bortles, who looks like he’ll be a dynamic passer. Thomas is no lock, but his upside is real and could be spectacular.

  7. Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
    We all know Kelce’s upside is great, but unfortunately, he plays for Kansas City, which for some reason doesn’t take fantasy stats into consideration. Kelce was a steady fantasy contributor, but never saw enough targets to set him apart from the rest of the riff-raff. Will that change next season? Probably not by much. The Kansas City aren’t going to start airing it out, and even if they did, Kelce wouldn’t become the No. 1 target. He did leave some receptions and yardage on the field in 2015, so an uptick in efficiency is a decent possibility. Much will depend on his ADP, but there is a good chance the shine on his prospects has dulled enough that you can get a steady producer at value.

  8. Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
    The hope for Zach Ertz is that new coach Pat Shurmur uses him better than Chip Kelly did. Ertz is an extremely talented tight end and with enough targets, would put up good numbers, as seen at the end of 2015. Over his last five games, Ertz averaged 10 targets, catching 7.4 for 91.8 yards and .4 touchdowns. In the 10 games before that, he averaged 6.2 targets, 3.8 receptions for 61 yards and no touchdowns. His main competition for targets will be Jordan Matthews, and they should make a good 1-2 punch in what should be a more Ertz-friendly offense in 2016.

  9. Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers
    Both Green and Antonio Gates are free agents, and the odds of Green getting a good shot as the No. 1 tight end somewhere (including San Diego) are very good, and that should easily shoot him into Top-10 fantasy tight end land. Gates missed the first four games in 2015, but unfortunately, Green was also hurting. He did manage to put up decent numbers in the three games he played without Gates, with 14 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns. At 6-foot-6, 238 pounds and with 40 time of 4.45 seconds, the intangibles are there, and we’ve seen Green play well when given a chance. Hopefully in 2016, he gets a starting job so he can prove just how good he can be.

  10. Gary Barnidge, TE, Browns
    There are quite a few questions around Barnidge for the upcoming season. Will Hue Jackson use him in the same way? Who will Cleveland’s quarterback be? At 31 to start next season, will Barnidge be able to repeat his late-bloomer break out? The answers to those questions aren’t readily available, but he did just sign an extension and the Browns have very few big receivers, let alone someone the size of the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Barnidge. I expect he’ll at the very least be a big part of their red-zone offense and should remain a capable chain mover.

For more recommendations, check out WalterFootball.com’s Fantasy Football Rankings.

More 2015 Fantasy Football Articles:
Fantasy Football Rankings

2015 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Flex Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 8/27 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 8/27 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings - 5/14 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Dynasty - 5/14 (Walt)

2015 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 9/3 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/27 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/20 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/13 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Experts Draft - 8/11 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/7 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 8/6 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 7/31 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft - 7/23 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft (2-QB) - 7/15 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Mock Draft (PPR) - 7/6 (Chet)

2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 PPR - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 2-QB - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 Touchdown League - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Custom - 9/10 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: Dynasty Rankings - 9/10 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Top 200 Rankings - 9/4 (Chet)
Chet Gresham's 2015 Fantasy Football Positional Cheat Sheet - 9/4 (Chet)
Chet Gresham's 2015 Fantasy Football Overall Cheat Sheet - 9/4 (Chet)

2015 Fantasy Football Articles:
2015 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Training Camp - 9/10 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Tight End Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/9 (Chet)
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/8 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 9/8 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Running Back Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/7 (Chet)
Fantasy Football Quarterback Matchup Chart: Week 1 - 9/6 (Chet)
2015 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Quarterback Targets - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Busts - 9/4 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Goal-Line Running Backs - 9/3 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football News - 9/1 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football: Better Than ADP - 8/31 (Chet)
Daily Fantasy Football: Running Backs - 8/27 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football: Late-Round Running Back Fliers - 8/24 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Fallout: Jordy Nelson Injury - 8/24 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Players to Target - 8/22 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Spreadsheets - 8/22 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Round-by-Round Strategy Guide - 8/20 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: The Perfect Draft - 8/20 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Players to Avoid: LeSean McCoy - 8/18 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Values: Wide Receivers - 8/14 (Chet)
Daily Fantasy Football: Wide Receivers - 7/29 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Value Profile: Brian Quick - 7/22 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football Value Profile: Eli Manning - 7/17 (Walt)
Daily Fantasy Football: A Primer - 7/10 (Chet)
2015 Fantasy Football Value Profile: Jarvis Landry - 7/7 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Offseason Stock Report: Up - 5/15 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Offseason Stock Report: Down - 5/15 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: First-Round Bust History - 2/17 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: Overdrafted Players - 2/15 (Walt)
2015 Fantasy Football: Running Backs with Most Carries - 2/15 (Walt)

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12