By: Nate Leer
When it comes to fantasy football drafts this year, no position is as scarce as TE. I am rarely an advocate of reaching in drafts but TEs literally have to be drafted using a separate list from the rest of the positions. Depending on your league’s settings and how your draft goes, you will have to do what it takes to get one of these players or risk getting very little production from the position most weeks. It is a tremendous gamble to not get one of the guys listed below and maybe 2 of them as you move down the list.
In 10 team leagues, I am definitely going to take one or 2 of these guys before taking a QB (check out my post about being patient at QB) and likely will do so in 12 team drafts as well. There is no shame in reaching for the TEs ranked 6-10 below after getting 2 RBs and 3 WRs/flex
Top 10 TEs, one of whom needs to be on your roster:
1. Rob Gronkowski – NE: Gronk is healthy and that makes him clearly the top choice. I still view Gronk as a top 10 player overall but even doubters should recognize that he may be an absolute difference maker as a 2nd round pick. If I have to reach for a position, I would like to get the best guy possible. After the likes of RB Devonta Freeman and WR AJ Green, I see significant question marks for the rest of the players available so I like gambling on a guy who could literally have 150% of the production of the next best player at his position.
2. Travis Kelce – KC: Speaking of next best at the position, Kelce takes the spot as Jordan Reed continues to struggle with injury. Kelce need only improve his TD total to move into a truly elite class. However, he remains the #1 target for his QB so his value has a pretty solid baseline.
3. Jordan Reed – Was: Reed has more upside than Kelce but does not appear close to playing yet. His downside is therefore much greater and more likely than Kelce’s. If you take him, try to get another player from this list as insurance. And, as the injury issue continues, Reed could be a good speculative pick if he falls.
4. Greg Olsen – Car: Olsen is an older, still highly productive version of Kelce with a great role, excellent reception and yardage totals but not a lot of TDs.
5. Tyler Eifert – Cin: Eifert is a bit of an opposite asset to Olsen. He is clearly well behind WR AJ Green in the Bengals target pecking order. However, only Gronk can compare as a red zone target. If Eifert gets healthy, he could be a monster. Similar to Reed, get insurance.
6. Jimmy Graham – Sea: Graham seems to be getting back to the level of productivity that made the Seahawks trade for him in the first place. Maybe they will figure out that their best receiver should be used as such on virtually every play.
7. Martellus Bennett – GB: I am intrigued to see how the most talented TE Aaron Rodgers has ever had will fair with the stud QB. One detraction is that the element of his game that sets him well above the likes of Jermichael Finley and Jared Cook is his elite blocking ability, which can limit targets.
8. Kyle Rudolph – Min: Rudolph is in a very different situation than Bennett which makes him a similar, though less talented, value. Rudy is the likely #1 option in an O and with a QB (Sam Bradford) that funnels touches to him. The Vikes also seem to acknowledge that Rudy is way more valuable running routes than blocking. (Pete Carroll should take notes!)
9. Delanie Walker – Ten: Walker is on the backside of his career but has demonstrated that he is maybe QB Marcus Mariota’s fave target. That’s still a good spot in this emerging O.
10. Zach Ertz – Phi: Ertz is a bit of a gamble as he seems to always get nicked up. However, his upside is enough to take a flyer on along with a follow up pick of one of the players below.
If you don’t get any of the top 10, grab two of these guys ASAP and hope one really emerges while playing matchups: Jack Doyle – Ind, Eric Ebron – Det, Hunter Henry – SD, Antonio Gates – SD.