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Week 17 Tight End Rankings - Standard Leagues

This feels like preseason.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to a wonky week of fantasy football, ladies and gents. With a few playoff scenarios already solidified, some formerly reliable players will get some rest this week, opening the door for some prominent backups to blow up our DFS lineups. Here’s lookin’ at you, Fitzgerald Toussaint.

The Cowboys, Steelers, Texans, and Giants have all clinched playoff berths and cannot improve upon their playoff scenarios. For more in depth study on motivation, here is a really simple read. Here is another one. Now let’s dive into Week 17, shall we?

1 Travis Kelce

This guy deserves to be in his own tier to end the season. I do believe the injuries to Jamaal Charles and Jeremy Maclin contributed to some increased opportunity for Kelce this year, as he already has 12 more targets than he did in 2015 with one more game left to play. He should finish with around 20 more targets and 15 more receptions than he did last season. Heading into 2017, Kelce is my top option at the tight end position. In head-to-head matchups, he is more valuable to me for his consistency than the oft-injured superstar...sorry, Gronk.

2 Zach Ertz

3 Eric Ebron

4 Jimmy Graham

5 Kyle Rudolph

Rounding out the top five are our (relatively) safe options. Ertz gets the nothing-to-play-for Cowboys, who were already bad against tight ends. Ebron gets a divisional matchup at home against the Packers for a chance at winning the NFC North. I like both of these guys because of their matchups and because of the lack of quality receivers available on their respective teams. Jimmy Graham has underwhelmed recently but the matchup against the 49ers is prime real estate. Kyle Rudolph is what he is—the second-most targeted tight end of the year behind Greg Olsen. He generally won’t lose the week for you, and that counts for a lot at this horrible position.

6 Greg Olsen

7 Delanie Walker

8 Martellus Bennett

9 Jared Cook

10 Coby Fleener

I continue to loosely cluster my tiers, but if I were really being specific I would draw a line after Bennett’s name. Delanie is a total stud, but he will be receiving passes from Matt Cassel this weekend. That has to hurt a little, right? I am also down on Olsen because he only played 58% of the snaps last week with an elbow injury. He is a veteran on a dead team, on the road against a motivated divisional opponent. At this point he is a decent bet for yardage but his upside has been capped all season due to Carolina’s offensive woes. Olsen also did not practice today (Thursday). Stay tuned on that one.

Last year I ranked Richard Rodgers as the #9 tight end during Week 10 and he delivered as the TE9 for that week. So slotting a superior athlete in Jared Cook into that same spot for the most meaningful game of the season is not insane, okay? Cook and Fleener are similar dart throws. Both are wed to inner-circle Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks and both have great matchups this week (Cook @ DET, Fleener @ ATL). You could do far worse at the tight end position at this juncture of the NFL season.

11 Antonio Gates

12 Dennis Pitta

13 Charles Clay

‘Old Man Gates’ is what I have called Mr. Antonio for a few weeks last now. Original, I know. Last week the Old Man was peppered with 13 targets as the Chargers chased the elusive tight end scoring record. That would be significant if it were to occur again, as anyone can be viable on that sort of volume. The problems are the Chiefs and Eric Berry, who have dominated opposing tight ends all season. Kansas City has allowed only one tight end to score all season and have not allowed more than 55 yards receiving to any single tight end. We also found out on Wednesday of this week that Gates plans to return for next season, which means the Chargers now have no incentive to force-feed targets to him. I will pass on the Old Man against this highly-motivated defense.

I really like Pitta’s matchup, even though the swan song of Steve Smith, Sr. may take precedence this weekend. The Bengals defense may also be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. I am less excited about Charles Clay now that Tyrod Taylor is out and E.J. Manuel is in, but we are quickly running out of options and the Jets have been bad at pass defense all season.

14 Gary Barnidge

15 Jesse James

16 C.J. Fiedorowicz

17 Vernon Davis

18 Hunter Henry

19 Jack Doyle

20 Jordan Reed

I do not expect Ladarius Green to play this week depsite his (limited) presence at practice on Wednesday. His concussion history is concerning and the Steelers have zero reason to risk him in a meaningless game. Therefore, look for Jesse James and possibly Xavier Grimble to exploit the porous Browns defense this weekend.

Vernon Davis burned me in Week 16, but in a game that Washington desperately needs I expect him to offer something of value. Jack Doyle gets a slight bump due to the likely absence of Donte Moncrief, who we all know by now is Luck’s primary red zone threat. I suppose I will have to refrain from ranking Dwayne Allen in the 30s since Moncrief is out...ugh. I know I am not using Jordan Reed this week, but he is expected to play and every option after him is just awful.

21 Dwayne Allen

22 Jason Witten

23 Brandon Myers

24 Jermaine Gresham

Thus conclues our TE2 options for this week. What a sad lot.

25 Ryan Griffin

26 Dion Sims

27 Jeff Heuerman

28 Garrett Celek

29 Lance Kendricks

30 Trey Burton

I cannot say that I am upset that the season is over. The tight end position has truly suffered in 2016 with the losses of key players like Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Zach Miller, Julius Thomas, and others. For my part, this has left me anxious to move on to baseball—but not before one last awesome week of daily fantasy. I expect a ton of surprises in Week 17. Good luck out there.