2018 Fantasy Football Tight End Tiers

by Ryan Lopes ·

Tight end remains the most frustrating position in fantasy football.

Nothing changes from year to year.  This position always remains so top-heavy. While you could argue the same for the running back spot, the difference is how quickly things thin out for the tight ends. After the first three or four tiers, the dice rolls become apparent and, more often than not, you’re better off punting the position until the later rounds.

As in recent seasons, I’m targeting guys like Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce in the very early-rounds. They occupy the tight end position on the field but are essentially wide receivers given their target frequency and playmaking abilities. Rostering one of these true elite TE1’s gives you such an advantage over the field.

If I’m unable to secure one of the these top-tier options, I’m content doubling-down on Jordan Reed (once again, and for the last time, mind you) in late-early rounds and then pairing him with “safer” option such as Jack Doyle to give myself a relatively safe floor and high enough ceiling.

Below are thoughts with a redraft focus, full-point PPR in mind.

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski (TE1), NE: Future first-ballot Hall of Famer and the greatest player to ever play the position. When he’s on the field, he’s the definition of “weekly difference-maker”.

Tier 2

Travis Kelce (TE2), KC: At his peak, Kelce impacts the game on a Gronkowskian-level. Love the new QB pairing.

Tier 3

Zach Ertz, PHI: Drew 110 targets in 2017. The Eagles may be without Carson Wentz early on, but Ertz should continue to standout in the red zone regardless of who’s under center.  His QB will affect his opportunities/frequency, however.

Jimmy Graham, GB: Aaron Rodgers‘ new go-to option in the red area; could hit and surpass double-digit scores once again.

Delanie Walker, TEN: Positive touchdown regression candidate after a three-score 2017 campaign; Titans’ offense is on the rise.

Greg Olsen, CAR: Seemingly quiet offseason on the injury/recovery front, which is good news. The bad news is that Carolina boasts more pass-catching options nowadays.

Tier 4

Evan Engram, NYG: Elite athlete who produced a dominant-at-times rookie season largely due to injuries across the Giants’ roster. Will still be a factor, but safe to temper expectations with everyone starting the season healthy.

Trey Burton, CHI: Buried in Philadelphia but flashed when called upon, new Bears head coach Matt Nagy promises to move the newly-paid Burton around a la Kelce. Looks as advertised through the preseason; arrows stays pointing up.


Kyle Rudolph, MIN: Kirk Cousins on the controls, and he leans heavily on his tight end position.

Jordan Reed,  WAS: This will be the last year I push my chips in with Reed. He’s a top three or four option when healthy, but we know that’s been few and far between. I blame Scott Barrett for the optimism.

Tier 6

Jack Doyle, IND: Criminally overlooked; super-steady and consistent hands and an Andrew Luck-favorite early in the preseason thus far. Expect that to carry-over.

George Kittle, SF: Unfortunately dinged up (shoulder), the team does expect him on the field Week 1 and the Garoppolo connection was obvious in 2017. Expectations will be high for the SPARQ-freak upon return.


David Njoku, CLE: Speaking of SPARQ freaks, Njoku’s usage should steadily rise in 2018. Very active through two weeks in the preseason. Buy plus-athletes in improving offenses.

Eric Ebron, DET: New home, fresh start? Expectations never quite aligned with production. Now tied to Luck.

Ricky Seals-Jones, ARI: Breakout candidate in a transitioning Arizona offense.

Tier 7

Austin Hooper, ATL:  Lots of praise out of camp, Hooper could have a bigger role for the Falcons’ top-tier offense.

O.J. Howard, TB: Highly efficient rookie campaign, but missing Jameis Winston through three games and contending with teammates like Chris Godwin, vying for targets.


Jared Cook, OAK: Jon Gruden has talked-up the tight end early and often through training camp. Expect some exotic looks and Cook’s consistent involvement, especially in the red area where the team’s missing Michael Crabtree.

Tyler Eifert, CIN: Similar to Reed, the missed time has been the story (but so has the difference-making ability, especially in the end zone, when on the field).

Tier 8

Vance McDonald, PIT: Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Raiders but have promising rookie James Washington ready to gobble-up free targets, too.

Charles Clay BUF: Someone has to catch passes on what appears to be a putrid Bills team, on paper.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, JAX: Plenty of options at wide receiver in Jacksonville, with nobody in particular standing out. TE1 post-Mercedes Lewis, but Blake Bortles is still under center.