Club Fantasy – 2016 Year-End Recap: Tight Ends

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By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson

When the 2016 football season began, many in the fantasy football community argued and debated about the logic and sensibility of selecting a tight end in the first round. That tight end was Rob Gronkowski. In every single one of my drafts, Gronk went in the top 15 picks. Are you curious as to how he finished this season? He scored 99 points, good for 25th. That’s it.

I get it. You can’t predict injuries, he was worth the gamble because of how the Patriots use him, blah blah blah. If you listened to our podcasts during the summer, The Commish and I debated and came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t select a tight end before the end of the third round.

gronkinjury

Rob Gronkowski, of the New England Patriots, ended 2016 on Injured Reserve.

When you look at where the top tight ends finished this year, the third round seems like a reasonable spot.

Greg Olsen jumped out to a commanding lead at the position, becoming the focal point of the offense as Cam Newton’s safety valve in Carolina. He was easily proving that taking a tight end in the first round wasn’t such a bad idea. But then he put together a string of below average games that likely cost a lot of fantasy owners games down the stretch and cost a few teams a first round bye. But because of that hot start, he finished second this season.

Who finished first? How about Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs? Andy Reid knows how to use the tight end position. He had a string of good ones in Philadelphia and has a great one with the Chiefs. The problem was, how can you trust Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense? Kelce let you know you can trust him. He was the starting tight end on the championship team in the Skrip Club, putting the final nail in yours truly’s coffin.

There were a few surprises too. How about Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings? With Mr. Dink-and-Dunk Sam Bradford running the Vikings offense, Kyle Rudolph became Mr. Move-the-Chains, en route to a third place finish at the position. And Cameron Brate. Jameis Winston’s Ivy League educated tight end burst into everyone’s minds with a sixth place finish. Then there was Martellus Bennett, who filled in admirably for the in-and-out-of-the-lineup Gronkowski. He had a typical tight end season: some really great games, and some games where he provided his best David Blaine impersonation.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Jimmy Graham, the Seattle Seahawks star tight end, recovered from a torn patella tendon and scored 178.9 fantasy points in 2016, good for 5th.

And then there was the miracle on the gridiron. Jimmy Graham, thought to be a long shot to even play this year after suffering a torn patella tendon in his knee, fought his way back to remind us of his Saints glory days as a trusted go-to target for Russell Wilson. His unprecedented season was good for fifth amongst tight ends.

And that doesn’t even cover the busts. Remember when we and everyone else hyped the free agency signings of Jared Cook and Ladarius Green? They finished 38th and 40th, respectively. Sure, both spent weeks on the bench with injuries, but their history in the league should have warned us this was inevitable. Other disappointing performances included Coby Fleener (13th) and Gary Barnidge (20th). Barnidge was the more predictable one, with the Browns acting like a Triple-A squad. Fleener just couldn’t find chemistry with Brees. Maybe that changes in year two (2017). Potential rebound candidate right there folks.

What does all this mean for next year? With the top targets – Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed – consistently battling injuries, heed our advice and wait until at least the third round before taking someone like Greg Olsen, Travis Kelce or Delanie Walker. Truthfully, I may wait until the fourth. And really, the consistency at the tight end position pales in comparison to running backs and wide receivers. Sure, every couple of seasons, one tight end will break out and score over 250 points, but that doesn’t happen as often as you’d like. Don’t be the guy who reaches, when no tight end tops 225 points.

You know, like this year.

Below are how the TEs of 2016 finished. Scoring is from weeks 1-16 and scoring is in Club Fantasy format:

Tight Ends Team Points
1 Travis Kelce KC 223.2
2 Greg Olsen CAR 204.1
3 Kyle Rudolph MIN 180.3
4 Delanie Walker TEN 179.6
5 Jimmy Graham SEA 178.9
6 Cameron Brate TB 171
7 Martellus Bennett NE 155.8
8 Jordan Reed WSH 155.6
9 Jason Witten DAL 150.3
10 Dennis Pitta BAL 148.8
11 Zach Ertz PHI 144.7
12 Jack Doyle IND 136.4
13 Coby Fleener NO 132.5
14 Eric Ebron DET 132.1
15 Antonio Gates SD 131.3
16 Charles Clay BUF 131.2
17 C.J. Fiedorowicz HOU 124.7
18 Zach Miller CHI 119.6
19 Hunter Henry SD 115.5
20 Gary Barnidge CLE 115.2
21 Vernon Davis WSH 107.4
22 Lance Kendricks LA 106.7
23 Dwayne Allen IND 101.2
24 Ryan Griffin HOU 101.2
25 Rob Gronkowski NE 99
26 Tyler Eifert CIN 98.4
27 Vance McDonald SF 91.1
28 Jermaine Gresham ARI 88.1
29 Jesse James PIT 87.2
30 Will Tye NYG 84.8
31 Clive Walford OAK 84.2
32 Julius Thomas JAX 82.1
33 Dion Sims MIA 75.6
34 Garrett Celek SF 72.1
35 Trey Burton PHI 66.8
36 Richard Rodgers GB 66.7
37 Austin Hooper ATL 64.1
38 Jared Cook GB 62.1
39 Jacob Tamme ATL 61
40 Ladarius Green PIT 54.4