2016 Outlook: Few players have put together a run of dominance like Gronkowski. He has finished as the No. 1 or No. 2 fantasy TE in four of the past five seasons and has posted a top-10 week at least 70 percent of the time in each of those years. For perspective, no other TE has managed to crack 69 percent even once in the past four years. Gronk lined up at wideout on 78 percent of his routes last season and ranked among the top two TEs in average depth of target, yards per reception and yards after the catch. He's easily fantasy's top TE and worth first-round consideration.
2016 Outlook: Reed missed nearly half of his first two NFL seasons due to injury, leading to concerns that he would never emerge as a reliable offensive force. So much for that narrative. He broke out in 2015, finishing second among TEs in catches and TDs, fifth in receiving yards and sixth in targets. He missed two games, so durability remains somewhat of a concern. That said, he has locked himself into seven-plus targets per game as Kirk Cousins' favorite weapon and with it, top-end fantasy status.
2016 Outlook: Olsen is as reliable a tight end as you'll find this side of Gronk. He has ranked among the top 10 at the position in targets, receptions, receiving yards and TDs in each of the past four seasons. Olsen is also more of a deep threat than most TEs--his average depth of target (10.5 yards) was the highest at the position last year. He scored seven TDs last season, but with WR Kelvin Benjamin back from a torn ACL, Olsen figures to lose some red zone opportunities. Still, the fact that he handles more than 20 percent of Cam Newton's targets will easily make him a strong TE1.
2016 Outlook: The Titans kept Walker busy last season. He finished 14th in the entire league in targets (133), easily the most of any tight end. He also led TEs in receptions (94) and finished third in receiving yards (1,088). The Titans should be better--and healthier--at WR this season, so that will mean fewer opportunities for Walker. But Marcus Mariota clearly loves his tight end, and if the second-year QB makes as much progress as expected, Walker will benefit.
2016 Outlook: The Chiefs were popular targets of fantasy owners' frustration last season for supposedly not throwing to Kelce enough. In truth, he was plenty involved, with a 23 percent target share. He was on the field for 92 percent of the Chiefs' offensive plays and ranked among the top 11 TEs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns for the second consecutive season. Kelce might not have the massive ceiling of some of the best players at his position, but he's a safe TE1 option in the middle rounds.
2016 Outlook: What can the Saints' offense do for a tight end? Well, last year Benjamin Watson caught 74 balls for 825 yards and six TDs--the best numbers of his 12-year career. Fleener is younger and bigger than Watson and will be featured right away, so the potential for a breakout season is clear. In Indianapolis, Fleener caught 183 passes for 2,154 yards and 17 TDs in four seasons, despite splitting time and targets with Dwayne Allen. Fleener will have Drew Brees' undivided attention in New Orleans, which makes the veteran a lock as a TE1 and gives him a high ceiling.
2016 Outlook: Last season was finally Eifert's time in Cincinnati. After playing a situational role as a rookie and then missing all but one game in 2014, Eifert led all tight ends with 13 TDs in 2015. In fact, that was one shy of the league lead for all receivers. Those stats will also cause him to be drafted too high this year. Of those 13 scores, 10 came on 11 end zone targets. That's a 91 percent conversion rate, which isn't sustainable: the position-wide average is 45 percent. Eifert is still a quality TE1 option, but someone else will likely draft him earlier than anyone should.
2016 Outlook: There are late bloomers, and then there's Barnidge. The 30-year-old had caught just 44 passes in his career entering last season. In 2015, he hauled in 79 for 1,043 yards and nine TDs. Only 22 players saw more targets than the 123 balls that went his way, including 17 in the end zone--fifth most in the league and five more than any other TE. Barnidge found all that success despite a whopping 24 percent of balls thrown his way that qualified as off target. Barnidge's performance, then, was no fluke, and even with the Browns' QB issues, he'll see enough volume to produce like a TE1 again.
2016 Outlook: Ertz simply needs to find the end zone a bit more to join the fantasy elite. Last year he was targeted seven times in the end zone (ninth among TEs) but caught only one of those balls. That speaks to luck more than anything else. Other than the fact that he has scored just nine TDs in three seasons, his production has been solid. Since entering the league in 2013, Ertz ranks 10th in targets, and now he'll get a boost from new coach Doug Pederson, who made good use of Travis Kelce in Kansas City. With the expected increase in his TD output, Ertz is likely to be under.valued in fantasy drafts.
2016 Outlook: For fantasy purposes, Gates is a tight end, but he actually lined up at wide receiver on 91 percent of his passing routes last season. He's not as effective in that role as he used to be--Gates will be 36 this season and has seen his production dip over the past few years. Still, he continues to see heavy targets (7.5 per game last year), especially near the goal line. It's fair to worry about his durability, but the presence of Philip Rivers in San Diego's pass-heavy offense keeps Gates in the TE1 discussion.
2016 Outlook: Injuries have plagued thomas throughout his career, but he's been a strong fantasy asset when active. After a four-year stint in Denver, thomas signed with Jacksonville last year. His production was inconsis.tent, but after missing the first four weeks with a hand injury, thomas ranked 12th among TEs in fantasy points the rest of the way. He handled roughly seven targets per game in an improving offense, making him a solid TE1 option with upside. If healthy, he's a good bet to improve on his 2015 TD total of five, especially with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns (24 combined scores) inevitably headed for regression.
2016 Outlook: Miller was once an intriguing prospect in Jacksonville, but after failing to step up in three seasons with the Jaguars, he went another three years without seeing a single offensive snap. He resurfaced in Chicago last season and actually found his way onto the fantasy radar, moving into a significant role in Week 10 and thrice finishing among the top 10 TEs over the next seven weeks. With Martellus Bennett now in New England, Miller is locked in as Chicago's top receiv.ing TE. That puts him in position to put up numbers approaching TE1 status. But expectations should be tempered by the Bears' run-heavy approach.
2016 Outlook: Bennett has been fantasy's No. 7 scoring tight end over the past four years, but his stock took a significant hit when the Bears traded him to New England this offseason. While the Patriots score plenty of points, are short on WR talent and frequently use two-TE sets, Bennett simply won't enjoy the target volume he saw in Chicago and New York. After all, he'll play alongside a guy named Gronk. Bennett is fantasy's top TE hand.cuff and sure to be an asset near the goal line, but the position is deep enough that he should be viewed as a boom-or-bust TE2.
2016 Outlook: Graham was dominant during his five-year tenure with the Saints, but he couldn't match that production in his first season in Seattle. He tore his patellar tendon in Week 12, but even before that, he wasn't a particu.larly good fantasy producer. He scored in two of his first three games but then went eight straight weeks without a TD. He did average 8.5 yards per target, seventh best among tight ends, and he remains a TE1 consideration in Seattle's high-scoring offense. But keep an eye on reports about Graham's knee, which could limit his effectiveness this season.
2016 Outlook: Ebron has yet to justify his selection as the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Detroit hoped he could emerge as a star pass catcher, but he has struggled with injuries and limited opportunities in two seasons. When Ebron was active last year, he showed flashes of production, especially near the goal line. He posted eight top-13 fantasy weeks (seventh among TEs) and should see more targets this year now that Calvin Johnson has retired. Given that expected workload and Detroit's empha.sis on the passing game, Ebron is in position to take a third-year leap.