Fantasy Football: TE Rankings Analysis

Where is the best place to draft a TE in 2015? Early, middle, or late rounds?

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Fantasy QB Rankings Analysis](http://www.colts.com/news/article-fantasyfootball/Fantasy-Football-QB-Rankings-Analysis/fdbdbfb2-45d3-45d7-be85-db35924e0137)

INDIANAPOLIS --- There was one dominant tight end in fantasy football last season, Rob Gronkowski, but not even Gronk was dominant enough to crack the top-15 FLEX eligible scoring leaders (RB/WR/TE). So the real question in 2015 isn't who are the best tight ends, but when is the right time to draft one, so that we aren't overpaying for a position with only one starting spot in your fantasy lineup.

First, here are the rankings:

2015 NFL.com Fantasy TE Rankings (Average Draft Round on NFL.com 10-team leagues)

NE Rob Gronkowski (2nd)

SEA Jimmy Graham (4th)

CAR Greg Olsen (6th)

KC Travis Kelce (7th)

JAC Julius Thomas (7th)

DEN Owen Daniels (15th)

IND Dwayne Allen (7th)

IND Coby Fleener (8th)

CHI Martellus Bennett (8th)

MIA Jordan Cameron (13th)

SF Vernon Davis (14th)

TEN Delanie Walker (14th)

SD Ladarius Green (16th)

BUF Charles Clay (12th)

DAL Jason Witten (13th)

*Chargers tight end Antonio Gates dropped from 6th to 16th after news of his 4-game suspension

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Is Gronk worth a top-15 pick? - No. At face value, he's the dominant player at a position where you only start one player. It would appear you could have a weekly advantage over every other team in your league at the TE position. Is that really the case though? Last year, Gronkowski outscored the #2 TE in fantasy (Antonio Gates) by 30 points in standard leagues. That wasn't more than Antonio Brown outscored the #2 WR by, and if we're using the week-to-week advantage over other TEs argument, Gronkowski only scored more than 20 fantasy points in a week once in 2014. In fact, Gronk was only the top-scoring TE in fantasy 3 out of 16 weeks in 2014. We haven't even hit on him not having Tom Brady at the start of the season, or the fact that anybody that spent an early round pick on Jimmy Graham last year regretted it. My 2015 TE strategy will involve waiting until the 6th round or later to grab one.

The TE Run - In between the 6th and 8th rounds, an average of 7 tight ends are going off the board in a span of 25 picks. That number will drop soon when people stop drafting Gates with his suspension, but that's when the run is coming. So if you particularly want Olsen, Kelce, Thomas, Allen, Fleener, or Bennett on your team, be prepared.

Graham at the 3-4 turn - It's going to cost you a 3rd round or high fourth round pick to get Jimmy Graham on your team this year. With his move to Seattle, is it worth it? He should be the most targeted pass catcher for the Seahawks this season, but how many targets is that? Doug Baldwin led Seattle with 98 targets last year (for 66 receptions). That's a tiny number. Graham had 124 targets in New Orleans last year, 144 in 2013, 135 in 2012, and 149 in 2011. I can't see him getting that volume of passes coming his way in Seattle with Marshawn Lynch still around. Maybe his touchdowns will make up for it, but is that a chance you want to take with one of your first four picks? Reminder: Graham didn't even finish top-2 at TE in fantasy last year.

Who is the #3 TE? - The best value at the TE position to me in 2015 is whoever is going to finish 3rd behind Gronk and Graham, because it won't cost you a pick in the first five rounds to get him. Who is that tight end though? I think NFL.com has it right with Greg Olsen, but many are arguing Travis Kelce. Olsen had 8 double-digit scoring weeks in standard scoring last year (pretty consistent as far as TEs go), with Kelce only finishing with 3 double-digit weeks (1 was in week 17). Kelce did come on strong towards the end of last year, but I'm still going with Olsen, especially with Kelce also competing with Jeremy Maclin for targets now in KC.

Peyton Manning's new TE - Word out of Denver is that the Broncos will use their TEs to block more in 2015, but if you know anything about a Peyton Manning offense, it's that the TE is going to be fantasy viable. Owen Daniels seems to be that guy, as he reunites with Gary Kubiak. Keep an eye out for Virgil Green too.

Which Colts TE Do You Pick? - Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener became the first TE teammates to each catch 8 touchdowns in NFL history last year. Which do you take now? It's a really hard question. Colts.com beat writer Kevin Bowen is leaning Fleener, because he thinks Fleener is more likely to repeat those 8 touchdowns. I'm leaning Allen, because I believe he'll play more snaps, because of his added reliability as an in-line tight end. The correct answer might be to just find a different fantasy tight end that isn't sharing reps, as good as both Allen and Fleener are in real life.

Biggest Value TEs - I'm going with Bears TE Martellus Bennett and Titans TE Delanie Walker here. Chicago lost Brandon Marshall. Yes, they added Kevin White, but I'd expect Jay Cutler to rely on Bennett a little more, after he already finished as the #5 TE last season. An 8th round pick for him is a big value. As for Walker, he is not being drafted until the 14th round! With inconsistent quarterback play all season in 2014, Walker finished as the #9 TE in fantasy. He scored at least 9 points in six separate weeks, with three explosive games of at least 14 points in standard scoring. I think these numbers only improve with Marcus Mariota at quarterback, who is already being praised for his accuracy this offseason. Walker should benefit.

Sleepers (could finish in the top-5 TEs) - Martellus Bennett, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Ladarius Green,

Deep Sleeper (outside the top-15 ranked TEs) - Eagles TE Zach Ertz, because somebody has to make up for Maclin's targets with him in KC now. Why not Ertz? He already had five weeks last year with at least 9 fantasy points, including a 15 reception, 115 yard game week 16.

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