2018 fantasy football composite rankings: TE

The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead.

Tiebreakers were decided by both Joe and Braxton.

For longer explanations, you can find their individual rankings here: Joe and Braxton.

Here are the composite tight end rankings:

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 1

Joe’s rank: 1

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 4

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 4

5. Evan Engram- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 5

7. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 9

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 7

10. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 11

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 10

12. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 15

13. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 12

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: 14

15. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 19

16. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 13

17. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 16

18. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 21

19. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 24

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 20

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Cameron Brate- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 17

22. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 26

23. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 27

Joe’s rank: 18

24. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 23

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

Braxton’s rank: 21

Joe’s rank: 22

26. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 27

27. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 28

28. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: 30

29. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 22

30. Tyler Kroft- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: N/A

 

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2018 fantasy football tight end rankings

2018 Fantasy football tight end rankings

I have had some colorful discussions with my colleague, Joe DiTullio, about writing this series. Debating the position of quarterback, running back and wide receiver for our composite rankings has been great. But now, we have to rack our brains to just name 30 tight ends with fantasy value, let alone rank them. So here is, essentially, my best educated rankings for our 2018 fantasy football tight end.

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots

This was a no-brainier. Rob Gronkowski plays in one of the most tight end-friendly positions in NFL history. Gronk is often put in a position where he has a drastic advantage over his defender, and his quarterback consistently trusts him to win that matchup.

The only discussion worth having about Gronk is when to draft him. In my experience, it is all about preference. From a total points perspective, Gronk is among a small group of tight ends who are better far and away in terms of production. So, you have to compare Gronk to players at other positions in his average draft position.

Personally, I would rather take the 10th or 11th best running back, than the No. 1 tight end. Don’t believe me? Take a look. In PPR scoring formats (which I hate) last season, 10 running backs scored more fantasy points than Rob Gronkowski.

2. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia, while not as good as New England, is another offense that utilizes the tight end well. We saw that even when Zach Ertz was hurt. So with Ertz being incredibly talented on top of that, it is a recipe for a top-three player at the position.

What gives Ertz the nod over Travis Kelce is the consistency in which he is targeted in the red zone, and the fact that he has produced with both quarterbacks. Ertz had 29 total red zone targets, five more than Kelce. He also had 12 targets inside 10 yards, as opposed to Kelce’s four.

3. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs

I stated the first part of my case for Zach Ertz over Travis Kelce already. Red zone usage is critical to a tight end’s production and upside.

The other side of the argument for having Kelce third in my tight end rankings is his quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is talented, no doubt about it. However, you never know how quarterback preference and style will impact a player’s production.

Kelce will still be productive, as I can make the case that he is the best tight end in the NFL once he catches the ball. His leaping ability and change of direction is rare for a player his size. Kelce led all tight ends in yards after catch in 2017 with 441.

4. Evan Engram – New York Giants

Evan Engram is going to explode this season. Rookie seasons are not historically kind to tight ends. Engram was the exception to that rule. He turned his 64 catches into more than 700 yards and six touchdowns.

What is unclear is how he will be deployed under Pat Shurmur. In Minnesota, Kyle Rudolph was not an incredibly productive tight end. However, Engram is not the same type of tight end. He is not the run blocker Rudolph is, and Rudolph is not the receiver Engram is.

With players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley on the roster, Engram will almost never be the primary or secondary focus on a defense’s gameplan.

5. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers

Despite coming off an injury, Greg Olsen has proven to be a favorite target of Cam Newton. He has been productive every year since being in Carolina, and Norv Turner will likely add to his production.

When he has had talent at the tight end position, like Antonio Gates and Kyle Rudolph, he uses them. I do not think Olsen will be explosive, but that was never what made him successful. His large frame and route running will still make him a problem for safeties and linebackers.

6. Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers

I was a year early to the “Hunter Henry is a top fantasy tight end” discussion. I am not proud of it, but we all make mistakes.

Everything sets up for Henry to have his best season as a pro. He finally assumes the starting tight end role and will benefit from all the formational matchups that Antonio Gates saw throughout his career. Even though Henry only saw 56 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, he was still targeted 23 times in the red zone, including 11 targets inside 10 yards. His production is going to skyrocket when he sees more than 65 percent of the offensive snaps in 2018.

7. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans

Delanie Walker was a favorite of mine in daily fantasy last season. While he struggled to find the endzone consistently, he was tied for third among tight ends in catches with 74, and fourth in yards with 807.

Even if Marcus Mariota does not take a large leap forward, expect his number of touchdowns to increase as a result of regression to the mean. He has averaged just over five touchdowns a year since starting for the Titans, and it is likely that he will reach that number again in 2018.

8. Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings

Last year may have seemed like a down year for Kyle Rudolph. He played great in 2016 and had career highs in catches and yards. Sadly, that season is an outlier if you look at Rudolph’s career. In 2017, Rudolph had 57 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, he averages 46 catches, 450 yards and five touchdowns.

His numbers could experience an increase given the arrival of Kirk Cousins. However, I don’t see him getting enough targets to make him a top five fantasy tight end.

9. O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I was screaming to anyone who would listen last season that Cameron Brate was the more valuable fantasy asset, and I was right. Even though Brate had a slightly lower snap rate, he had 22 more catches, 159 more yards and the same amount of touchdowns.

However, all of that is going to change in 2018. Howard is going to take over the starting role and will have more catches and yards than Brate.

The only problem is that Brate has tremendous chemistry with Jameis Winston in the red zone. Brate had 18 red zone targets, compared to Howard’s 12 in 2017.

10. Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers

While the move from Seattle to Green Bay looks great on paper, I have zero faith in Jimmy Graham as a top-eight tight end. Yes, he gets to play with Aaron Rodgers. Yes, he gets to play in an offense that will allow him more favorable matchups.

But, Green Bay does not feature the tight end in their offense. It is simply a matter of scheme. Since Mike McCarthy took over in 2006, the best fantasy season for a tight end was Jermichael Finley in 2011, where he had 55 catches for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. That production in 2017 (PPR Scoring) would have resulted in the seventh best tight end, beating out Jack Doyle by 1.6 points.

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Trey Burton – Chicago Bears

After the top 10, you can essentially make the case for any of these players in any order. I personally like Trey Burton at the eleventh spot because Chicago needed to replace Zach Miller after his gruesome injury, and because the Bears did not pay him $22 million guaranteed to not produce.

I firmly believe that Burton could have a similar trajectory to Delanie Walker when he finally gets a chance to start. Burton is not the overall athlete Walker is, but he is a bigger target, and one that Mitch Trubisky will rely on.

12. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins

If you are reading this, I am going to do you a favor. Under no circumstances should you draft Jordan Reed in the first nine rounds. He has shown everyone that he cannot stay healthy and that he cannot do something every great NFL player can do: play hurt.

If it is the 10th round or later, then sure, take Reed. If he starts playing well, I would flip him for anything because he is absolutely going to get hurt and take up space at the end of your bench.

13. Ben Watson – New Orleans Saints

Ben Watson is on a short list of players that I am bullish on heading into this season. In 2017, playing for one of the worst passing games in the league in Baltimore, Watson finished 11th in scoring among tight ends with 61 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns.

Now he gets to play in one of the best offensive systems ever, with one of the best quarterbacks ever. Even at his advanced age, Watson will be productive because the Saints have lacked a player who could dominate the middle of the field since Jimmy Graham left. Coby Fleener and Josh Hill clearly are not the answer.

Watson will be the most dangerous in the red zone as defenses will have to focus on Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.

14. Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals

I feel about Tyler Eifert the same way I feel about Jordan Reed. If you do not think he will get hurt again, look at his contract. The Bengals signed him to a one-year deal for $8 million, with $3 million guaranteed.

I would rather take a chance on a player like Tyler Kroft (depending on the size of your bench) to be your second tight end because he will eventually start. Eifert joins Reed on my personal list of undraftable players.

15. David Njoku – Cleveland Browns

David Njoku could be poised for a breakout season. I would love his prospects even more if Jarvis Landry was not on the roster. Landry does most of his damage out of the slot, and as a result, will create less space for Njoku to exploit mismatches in the middle of the field. It is also unpredictable how Cleveland’s quarterbacks will distribute to their targets.

16. Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts

Jack Doyle was a player I was passionate about heading into last season. Similar to my negative thoughts on O.J. Howard, I was incredibly excited about Jack Doyle. Rob Chudzinski had a track record of producing relevant fantasy tight ends. However, he is no longer in charge of calling plays.

All reports say Andrew Luck will be back for Week 1, but we saw Doyle produce last year without Luck. Hopefully his role in the offense will not take a significant step back in 2018.

17. Hayden Hurst – Baltimore Ravens

I have no idea what to expect from Hayden Hurst. Baltimore spent a first-round pick on Hurst. However, they also spent a third-round pick on Mark Andrews, the dynamic tight end from Oklahoma.

Joe Flacco has a history of targeting tight ends from Dennis Pitta to Ben Watson. But when you consider all of the new receiving threats they added this offseason, the distribution of targets will likely be unpredictable.

18. Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills

Charles Clay had a good season last year, but almost nothing is going to carry over. Clay is playing with a new quarterback, an inferior offensive line and will no longer benefit from the read option and play action Buffalo ran with Tyrod Taylor.

I am not touching Clay. Unless AJ McCarron or Josh Allen treat Clay like a No. 1 wide receiver, which we will not know until three or four games in, I am not interested in Clay.

19. Austin-Seferian Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars

Austin-Seferian Jenkins (ASJ) is a substantial upgrade over Mercedes Lewis at the tight end position. He proved that he can be a red zone weapon. The Jaguars do not throw the ball enough for ASJ to be productive between the 20s, but he will absolutely catch four or five touchdowns at a minimum in 2018.

20. Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders

After stints with the Titans, Rams and Packers, it appears that Jared Cook has found a home with the Raiders. Cook has always been an athletic mismatch, but he has failed to be productive for an entire season without fading.

He also has a documented problem with drops. It is unclear how Jon Gruden’s system will affect this entire offense, let alone Cook’s production.

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins

Mike Gesicki is wildly talented as a pass catcher, but he is not capable of being a blocker at this point in his career. Gesicki will probably finish as a top-20, maybe even top-15 tight end, but don’t waste a valuable pick on him.

22. Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts

This player was the bane of my DFS existence last season, so much so I am not going to mention his name. He drops passes at seemingly the most pivotal moments. The Lions were so done with him that they did not even pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. The only way he should be considered as a starter is if Jack Doyle gets hurt, and Andrew Luck has shown a propensity to target the tight end.

23. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle is going to see a lot of snaps for San Francisco. However, the upside is not there. He is not overly fast, quick, big or strong. He is a solid player and one that should be considered if you need a replacement at tight end.

24. Dalton Shultz – Dallas Cowboys

Don’t believe the Rico Gathers hype. Dalton Shultz will be the starter for the Dallas Cowboys, and I will bet money on it. Shultz, unlike Gathers, is a true football player and is a massive player at the tight end position.

25. Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Goedert is the one player in this section of the rankings I would take a chance on. He will play in an offense that uses multiple tight end sets often, and we have a track record of the backup producing when the starter gets hurt.

26. Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

O.J. Howard will likely take over more of a starting role this season. If anything happens to Howard, Brate is a must-add off the waiver wire.

27. Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons

Austin Hooper is a starting tight end on a top offense in Atlanta. I do not think he will be anything special this season, but he would be a decent fill-in on bye weeks or if there is an injury.

28. Ricky-Seals Jones – Arizona Cardinals

He is essentially a wide receiver. Hopefully, they will feature him more in the offense, but it is unlikely since Larry Fitzgerald plays the slot and controls the middle of the field.

29. Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Kroft can potentially be a top-20 tight end if and when Tyler Eifert gets hurt. Until then, he is not worth a roster spot.

30. Gerald Everett – Los Angeles Rams

The Rams spent a second-round pick on Gerald Everett, so I expect them to incorporate him more in his second season. It is an incredibly crowded receiving core, so he will not produce unless there is a massive injury or offensive shift.

 

Featured image from USA Today

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2018 fantasy football TE rankings

The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. The rankings are for standard leagues. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead. Here are Joe’s TE rankings:

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

Gronkowski is the sure-fire top tight end after scoring the most at the position last year. He will continue to be Tom Brady’s best target. There are questions about his desire to play and injuries, but at the end of the day, no other tight end can take the top spot from Gronkowski. He missed three games last year and was still able to hold the top spot.

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

Last season, Ertz missed a few games due to injury and placed third among tight ends. If he stays healthy he should be able to move up to spot with good quarterback play (whether they start off with Nick Foles or Carson Wentz) and an offense that should be improved. Travis Kelce will be with a new starter at quarterback, so Ertz moves up to two.

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

There are three tight ends in the top tier of fantasy and they are Gronkowski, Ertz and Kelce. Kelce finished second last year, but will now have to adjust to having Pat Mahomes as his starting quarterback. He will still produce but will be passed up by Ertz.

Greg Olsen catching pass

Greg Olsen (Photo by panthers.com)

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

Don’t reach for a tight end if the top three are gone, as the next few should finish right about in the same range. Olsen was injured last season but finished in the top five for tight ends for every year before that dating back to 2012. He should be expected to finish top five again if he stays on the field.

5. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

He finished 11th last year, but now Antonio Gates is out of the picture. Henry will be the featured option at tight end and should see a significant boost in production.

6. Evan Engram- New York Giants

Engram was number five in fantasy points last season and with all the injuries to the receivers last year, he was the only viable target for Giants’ quarterbacks. Having Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Sheppard on the field will make him less of a featured target, but he will still be a huge part of the offense.

7. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

The tight end isn’t a featured part of the offense or else Graham would be higher on the list. He is going to work with Aaron Rodgers but there isn’t much of a history of him using tight ends to back up having Graham much higher on this list. Graham finished fourth among tight ends last year and could be a value pick in drafts if he and Rodgers can work well together.

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

Rudolph has been solidly in the top ten each of the last two seasons, finishing third two years ago and sixth last season. He got hot late in the season last year with five touchdowns in four games from weeks 12 through 15. The Vikings and new quarterback Kirk Cousins love using tight ends, so Rudolph should see good production yet again.

9. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

The seventh tight end last season, Walker will be in the top 10 again this season. Every year since 2009 he has finished in the top 10 making him a reliable option.

10. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

He finished ninth last season and if Andrew Luck can come back healthy, Doyle will be a top 10 tight end again. Jacoby Brissett certainly limited the production of the offense last season and Doyle will be a top target for Luck. He will compete for targets with Eric Ebron at the tight end spot this year.

Tight End rankings: 11-20

11. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

The biggest problem for Reed is staying healthy, as he has never played a full 16 game season and misses multiple games every year. This is compounded by the fact that he has had so many concussions. With Alex Smith as his new quarterback, he will be utilized a lot if he’s able to play.

2018 fantasy football TE rankings

Tyler Eifert (Photo by wcpo.com)

12. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

Another tight end with the same problem. In 2014 Eifert played in one game, in 2016 he played in eight and last season he played in two. If he can play similarly to his 2015 season, Eifert is a top-five tight end, but he can’t stay healthy enough to be relied upon. His injury has allowed Tyler Kroft to get more opportunities, which could hurt his value as well.

13. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

Clay has been under-utilized in his time in Buffalo. The quarterback play won’t be great, but A.J. McCarron or Josh Allen will need to rely on Clay this season, as they are newly minted starting quarterbacks.

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

An ageless wonder, Watson finished 15th in fantasy points for tight ends last season. He was with the Ravens last year and his production should increase as a member of the Saints this year.

15. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

Burton has moved on from Philadelphia and to Chicago. He will now get his chance to be a feature tight end for the Bears after finishing 21st last season.

16. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

He was able to finish 13th last year and now will have to fight for targets with Amari Cooper, Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson. He should get some production but may need to be played on a match-up basis.

17. Cameron Brate- Tampa Buccaneers

Many thought that Brate wouldn’t be brought back and O.J. Howard would be the lead tight end, but then the Bucs brought Brate back. He finished eighth among tight ends last season. This year he will be in competition with Howard for targets, but should still get more to live up to his contract.

18. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

Hooper started off last season hot but finished 17th in fantasy points. He too was affected by the play-calling of Steve Sarkisian. Things will open up more this season with Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Calvin Ridley, but that also means fewer targets. If Jones doesn’t get thrown to in the end zone, Hooper should get those targets.

19. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Howard’s value was severely hurt when the Bucs decided to bring Brate back. At the end of the day, he is a boom or bust play and it won’t be known when he will go off for a big day.

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

Although he wasn’t highly thought of coming into the NFL, Kittle had a solid rookie season for the 49ers. He ranked 18th for tight ends and seemed to form some chemistry with Jimmy Garoppolo with two 10 point games to close out the season.

Tight End rankings: 21-30

21. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

Njoku was a top 20 tight end last season and now has talented skill-position players around him. The question is if Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield can get him the ball.

Vance McDonald Steelers

Vance McDonald (Photo by steelers.com)

22. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers’ GM Kevin Colbert is excited to have Vance McDonald for a whole offseason, which may hint that the team is heading in a different direction than Jesse James, who has never had a season of over 500 receiving yards or more than three touchdowns. McDonald’s game against the Jaguars in the playoffs has Steeler fans excited for what he could do this season.

23. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

The Colts acquired Ebron and will now have two decent tight ends with him and Doyle. If Luck is on the field, they should both get some decent work.

24. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville has a new tight end to fill in for Mercedes Lewis. Seferian-Jenkins is going to get another chance at being a top tight end, but shouldn’t be owned unless it is a great matchup or a deep league.

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins needed a tight end for Ryan Tannehill and got Gesicki in this year’s draft. He is a very athletic, receiving tight end who will struggle with blocking, but be effective on passing downs for Miami.

26. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore selected two tight ends this year to help replace Benjamin Watson. Hurst was taken in the first round and should be more NFL-ready at the age of 26 when the season starts.

27. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

Jason Witten’s retirement surprised the Cowboys and they took Schultz to replace him. He should be seen as the front-runner to be the starting tight end for Dallas. Dak Prescott uses his tight ends and slot receivers at a high rate, so Schultz could move higher than this if he wins the job.

28. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

Seals-Jones was a wide receiver in college at Texas A&M but played tight end last season for the Cardinals. Troy Niklas is now a Patriot so he should get more of an opportunity this season.

29. Ryan Griffin- Houston Texans

The Texans don’t have a dominant tight end and Griffin will seemingly get most of the looks at the position.

30. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

Everett is a forgotten man in the offense, but finished 29th last year and should be in the same range for the upcoming season.

 

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Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Way-too-early Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart prediction

With the NFL Draft over and training camp over a month away, we are officially in the “dead zone” of the NFL offseason. With that being said, it is never too early to speculate how teams’ depth charts will look heading into next season.

The Minnesota Vikings have the majority of their depth chart set in stone, aside from some spots on offense. Here is a way-too-early Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart prediction.

Offense

Below is the current projected depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings. Rookies are in bold.

1 2 3 4 5
Quarterback Kirk Cousins Trevor Siemian Kyle Sloter
Running back Dalvin Cook Latavius Murray Mack Brown
Fullback C.J. Ham
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs Adam Thielen Kendall Wright Laquon Treadwell Tavarres King
Tight end Kyle Rudolph David Morgan Tyler Conklin
Left tackle Riley Reiff Rashod Hill
Left guard Nick Easton Cornelius Edison
Center Pat Elflein Josh Andrews
Right guard Mike Remmers Danny Isidora Colby Gossett
Right tackle Brian O’Neill Cedrick Lang
Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Kirk Cousins as a Washington Redskin. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There are not too many surprises with the quarterback position. The Vikings signed Cousins to a massive three-year, $84 million contract during free agency. He will be the team’s franchise quarterback going forward.

Dalvin Cook missed most of last season due to an ACL tear. Prior to the injury, Cook was a favorite to win rookie of the year. His dynamic ability as a runner and receiver out of the backfield will make this offense one to be reckoned with.

There was some movement along the offensive line, as this was the Vikings’ biggest need heading into the offseason. Second-round pick Brian O’Neill will start at right tackle, forcing Mike Remmers inside at guard. It is likely that several of these linemen rotate to find the best combination of players.

Defense

Now moving on to defense, here is the anticipated depth chart. Again, rookies are in bold.

1 2 3 4 5
Left defensive end Danielle Hunter Brian Robison
Left defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson Jalyn Holmes
Right defensive tackle Linval Joseph Jaleel Johnson Dylan Bradley
Right defensive end Everson Griffen Tashawn Bower
Weak-side linebacker Ben Gedeon Reshard Cliett
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks Eric Wilson
Strong-side linebacker Anthony Barr Kentrell Brothers
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes Trae Waynes Terence Newman Mike Hughes Mackensie Alexander
Strong safety Andrew Sendejo Anthony Harris
Free safety Harrison Smith Jack Tocho
Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Sheldon Richardson as a New York Jet. (Photo from turnonthejets.com)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only new starter on the Minnesota Vikings’ defense is Sheldon Richardson. Richardson signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the team in March. He should provide an additional pass rush to Minnesota’s already stout defensive line.

Due to the amount of depth on the Vikings’ defense, rookies Mike Hughes and Jalyn Holmes will struggle to find playing time in 2018. However, Hughes should get on the field early as a returner.

One big question on the defense is the fate of linebacker Kentrell Brothers. Last month, Brothers was suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Seventh-round pick Devante Downs has the best chance of any of the Vikings’ linebackers to fill in for Brothers. However, this remains unlikely, due to Downs recovering from a serious leg injury.

Special Teams

Minnesota Vikings depth chart

Former Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson. (Photo by Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

  • Kicker: Daniel Carlson
  • Punter: Ryan Quigley
  • Long Snapper: Kevin McDermott

Don’t forget about special teams! The only change from the Vikings’ 2017 roster is at the kicker position. It is facetious to guess who will win the Vikings’ kicking job this early, but Daniel Carlson does appear to be the favorite.

At Auburn, Carlson displayed one of the strongest legs in football. Although his accuracy took a small dip in 2017, the Minnesota Vikings believe he can be the team’s long-term answer at the position.

 

Featured image by Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Minnesota Vikings receivers

Roster Breakdown: Assessing the Minnesota Vikings’ pass catchers

We’re now halfway through the month of February, and the celebration in Philadelphia has finally died down. The 2017 season ended only a few weeks ago, but front offices throughout the league are already preparing for next season.

Organizations are frantically trying to free up cap space and lock down their key players with long-term contracts. An important part of this preparation process is to identify any major weaknesses on the team’s roster.

For the Minnesota Vikings, this means evaluating every single position from top to bottom. So far, we have discussed the Vikings’ needs at the quarterback and running back positions, and now we move on to assess their deep group of pass catchers.

Stefon Diggs

Minnesota Vikings receivers

Stefon Diggs catches a sideline catch that would soon be remembered as the “Minneapolis Miracle.” (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Stefon Diggs quietly enjoyed another productive season despite being outshined by fellow receiver Adam Thielen. Last season, Diggs caught 64 passes for 849 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers don’t jump off of the page, but Diggs did just enough to keep the Vikings’ offense clicking. Diggs averaged over 13 yards per catch, displaying impressive speed and quickness.

Diggs ended his season with an exclamation point with the “Minneapolis Miracle” in a playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints. The former fifth-round pick will only be under contract through the 2018 season. This likely means that Diggs is due for a big payday this time next year.

Adam Thielen

Aside from quarterback Case Keenum, wide receiver Adam Thielen was the talk of the town in Minnesota during the 2017 season. After spending his first two years in Minnesota on special teams, Thielen impressed many in 2016.

To follow up his impressive third season, Thielen caught 91 passes for 1,276 yards, earning himself a Pro Bowl nod. Thielen demonstrated his shifty route running ability, allowing himself to consistently get open, as well as relieving pressure from Diggs.

The Vikings’ front office is extremely fortunate to have re-signed him prior to his career year in 2017. Thielen and the Vikings agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal last March, allowing him to stay in his home state through the 2020 season.

Kyle Rudolph

Minnesota Vikings receivers

Kyle Rudolph runs after a catch in the Pro Bowl. (Photo by AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Along with Thielen, Kyle Rudolph was the Minnesota Vikings’ second Pro Bowler from the offensive side of the ball. Rudolph has consistently been a solid starting tight end for the Vikings throughout his seven years in the league. The tight end out of Notre Dame has started every game in the last three seasons for the Vikings. During that span, Rudolph also has gained over 500 receiving yards twice.

Rudolph is currently under contract through the 2019 season and will earn nearly $8 million throughout those seasons.

Notable backups

If there is one thing that the Vikings’ offense struggled with in 2017, it would be spreading the ball. Diggs, Thielen and Rudolph accounted for 77 percent of the Vikings’ receptions by wide receivers or tight ends.

Minnesota Vikings receivers

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, runs a pattern during rookie minicamp. (Photo by AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Not including these three, the Vikings’ top pass catcher would have been Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell was a first-round pick in the 2016 Draft who has struggled to find playing time so far in his career. In 2017, Treadwell only caught 20 passes for a meager 200 yards and no touchdowns.

Also on the depth chart are wide receivers Jarius Wright and Michael Floyd, as well as tight end David Morgan. These three combined for 38 receptions and 371 yards.

Floyd is the only one of these four players that will not return to the Vikings in 2018, and will be an unrestricted free agent in March.

What to Expect

The Minnesota Vikings have one of the most underrated receiving corps in the NFL. Although they don’t have a true No. 1 wide receiver, it is unlikely that the Vikings will target a wide receiver in either free agency or high in the draft.

The one-two punch of Thielen and Diggs is one of the best duos in the NFL. This, along with Rudolph as a safety blanket, forms a very solid group of pass catchers.

If the Vikings do decide to make a change with this position, they will most likely release Wright. Releasing Wright would save the Minnesota Vikings over $4 million in cap space.

 

Featured image by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

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Top 5 fantasy TE

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14

In week 13, Rob Gronkowski had a late hit on Tre’Davious White after he intercepted one of Tom Brady’s passes. This hit caused White to endure a concussion and gave him a one week suspension. This doesn’t only hit the Patriots hard, but it also is a huge loss for fantasy owners either already in their playoffs or trying to get into their playoffs.

Now fantasy owners have to try and replace Gronk and the waiver wire is the place to find viable options. Tight ends on the waiver wire won’t always get you points like Gronk does, but here are three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a rough 2017 season, but one of their bright spots has been rookie tight end O.J. Howard. In his first 12 games, he has hauled in 21 receptions for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Howard has found success in the end zone and has amassed more yards than people thought he would have by now. Also if need be, he’s a great fill in at tight end in fantasy.

The Buccaneers face the Detroit Lions in week 14, a team who is struggling to defend against the tight end in recent weeks. Last week against the Baltimore Ravens, the Lions gave up three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown and gave up two touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph the week before. O.J. Howard is facing some competition playing alongside Cameron Brate, but here’s why Howard should see your starting lineup instead.

In weeks nine through twelve, Howard out snapped Brate and put up two good weeks with three receptions for fifty yards in both. Even though Brate had a better game than Howard, it seems that Howard is the go to guy in Tampa Bay and he is a good fill in in week 14.

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

(Courtesy of; AL.com).

Julius Thomas (Miami Dolphins)

Julius Thomas has had a bounce back season in Miami in 2017. He’s had 37 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns, all of which have come within the last five weeks. Thomas has had a great stretch over his last five weeks with 20 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns. A trend which should continue in week 14 against the Patriots.

The Patriots have been mediocre against tight ends this season averaging an opposing 6.5 fantasy points per game against opposing tight ends. Julius Thomas found success against the Patriots already this year in week 12 when he caught five passes for 52 yards. The Dolphins are coming off of a huge week against the stout Denver defense exploding for 35 points.

They’ll look to continue this trend against New England, as will Julius Thomas if you decide to put him in your lineup week 14.

Three players to fill in for Rob Gronkowski in week 14.

Julius Thomas (Photo by: miamidolphins.com)

Dwayne Allen (New England Patriots)

The first name that comes to mind when replacing Rob Gronkowski is none other than his backup, Dwayne Allen. Allen hasn’t had a great start to his Patriots career, however he has been better as of late. When Gronk sat out week five against the Buccaneers, Allen played a season high 50 snaps. He also has been getting used much more in the passing game as of late.

In the last four weeks Allen has had five receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown. Before week 10, Allen hadn’t caught a pass all year so those numbers may not seem very strong, but compared to his early season struggles, he’s on the up and up. Allen isn’t the strongest candidate to replace Rob Gronkowski, but given that he’s in the same system and playing with Tom Brady, he deserves some consideration in replacing Gronk this week.

Feature Image courtesy of washingtontimes.com

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Dalvin Cook injury fantasy football

Fantasy football injury: Dalvin Cook

The Minnesota Vikings can’t seem to get the monkey off their backs. Last year, running back Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus in week 2. This Sunday in week 4 against the Detroit Lions, the Vikings fear that rookie running back Dalvin Cook has damage to his ACL.

In the third quarter, he tried making a cut, but his left knee gave out. He was helped off the field where he was able to walk on his own. However, an update reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero saw Cook leaving the locker room in crutches and with his knee in a brace. This most likely means that his season looks to be over.

This is a big blow to the Vikings’ offense. He was a huge factor who benefited from an upstart passing game. In fantasy, it’s a bigger blow trying to replace Cook, a RB2 or flex on most teams.

First Look: Replace Him with Latavius Murray

After Cook’s injury, running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon led the rushing tandom. Let me say this first: don’t expect them to be phenomenal starters for your fantasy team.

Dalvin Cook injury fantasy football

Latavius Murray (Photo by: fanragsports.com_

But in hindsight, Murray has more fantasy appeal then McKinnon. Murray will be the guy that will get more looks to run the ball. Last year, he was a touchdown-heavy back behind a terrific offensive line with the Oakland Raiders. Murray had seven carries for 21 yards on Sunday after the injury.

Murray can’t play every down like Cook, but expect him to get most of the early-down and goal-line work. He is capable of handling this type of workload as he scored 12 touchdowns last year with Oakland. He can excel behind this offensive line as they have been surprisingly good.

McKinnon can be looked at, but mostly for PPR leagues if you’re desperate. He will be in the mix as the feature back, but not as much as Murray.

McKinnon hasn’t had the opportunity to run the ball much. Even though he had a career-high 159 carries last year, he only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. McKinnon will handle most of the pass work, whether as the running back or in the wildcat.

I expect Murray to be the most sought player added to fantasy teams, not just to those who have Cook, but to those who need any running back help because of his role down at the goal-line.

Other options

For those who like to play the best matchups, give Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers a look. He plays the Dallas Cowboys next week, who were torched by Todd Gurley this past Sunday. Even though Dallas is in the middle of the pack in rushing defense, they aren’t the best defense. If Ty Montgomery (ribs) isn’t badly injured, Jones could get the majority of snaps, even if the original back Jamaal Williams (knee) plays.

Jones had a solid outing against the Bears, running for 49 yards and a score on 13 carries. Both him and Williams could be decent pickups this week if Montgomery misses a couple of weeks.

Another guy to look at if you need a flex filler is wide receiver Will Fuller V of the Houston Texans. He will be a popular pickup after his performance coming back from a broken collarbone. He found the end zone twice in week 4 against the Tennessee Titans on four catches for 35 yards. He’s off to a good start, matching his touchdowns from last season. With the Texans’ offense looking confident, he could be a guy you give a crack on.

Fantasy Outlook on Vikings players

As I mentioned, this has a big affect on all Viking players. Cook created a solid game, which helped create the passing game. Now with him and Bradford both hurt, the Viking offense won’t be the same. After his injury, it all went downhill for the Vikings on Sunday.

Dalvin Cook injury fantasy football

Case Keenum and Sam Bradofrd (Photo by: sportingnews.com)

As for Murray, who I expect to start, he is a RB3 in week 5 against the Chicago Bears. If Bradford plays, receivers Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph are must starts.

For future reference, if you have Viking players on your fantasy team, have quality backups. They have bad luck when it comes to non-contact knee injuries. First Teddy Bridgewater in 2016, then Bradford and now Cook.

 

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2017 NFC South division preview

2017 NFC North division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. In the blink of an eye, Sep. 7 will arrive and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off the 2017-2018 NFL season. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further ado, here is the 2017 NFC North division preview.

4: Detroit Lions

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo Credit:https://images.fantasypros.com)

Last season: 9-7

Strength of schedule: 21

The Detroit Lions made the playoffs on the back of Matthew Stafford and it was barely enough. Detroit’s defense was bad considering the little amount of time they spent on the field. The schedule is relatively easy but the Bears, Vikings and Packers all made vast improvements.

As mentioned previously, the Lions’ defense is bad. They spent the second fewest amount of plays on the field at just 60.2 per game but ranked 13th in points (22.4), 19th in passing yards allowed per game (269.2) and 18th in rushing yards allowed (106.3). Stafford and the rest of the offense kept the defense off the field and they still couldn’t stop a nosebleed.

A great defense starts with a fearsome defensive line. Ezekiel Ansah is not healthy yet and without him, there is no legitimate pass rusher. Haloti Ngata is well past his prime and will not be able to hold down the fort in the middle. The linebacking corp is young and will be starting a rookie linebacker. There is potential but a rookie linebacker isn’t going to turn this defense into a world beater.

Detroit’s secondary is led by Darius Slay and Glover Quin, both are great players who don’t get enough credit for how good they are. The problem is they can’t cover for eternity and without a pass rush something bad will transpire.

With a below average defense, the offense will be expected to carry the team yet again. Stafford proved he could do that but how long can he continue to do so without a running game to balance out the offense? The Lions did not have a running back carry the ball 100 times. None of their running backs ran for more than 360 yards. Opposing defenses won’t have to spend more than five minutes preparing for the Lions’ running game.

The passing attack is missing a true number one receiver. Golden Tate is not a true number one and Marvin Jones is barely a number two receiver. Somehow, Matthew Stafford still makes it work. This year his shoulders will not be able to make up for all the team’s deficiencies. Due to a below average defense, a one-dimensional offense and an improved division, the Lions struggle mightily.

Prediction: 3-13 (0-6), miss the playoffs

3: Chicago Bears

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: https://images.fantasypros.com)

Last season: 3-13

Strength of schedule: 19

The Bears were ravaged by injury last season. They also struggled in close games, going 1-7 in games decided by seven points or less. Many believe that had they remained healthy they would have been a better team. Unfortunately for Bears fans, the team didn’t really agree with that because they hit the reset button by moving on from Jay Cutler and signing Mike Glennon and trading up for Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears may be talented but could be in for a rough 2017.

There is no question the Bears possess one of the most talented offensive lines in the entire league. The line is so good it is ranked fifth by Pro Football Focus. Jordan Howard benefited the most from this solid unit, rushing for 1,313 yards in his rookie season. There is no reason the Bears can’t duplicate this success on the ground this season.

The problem with the Bears’ offense is in the passing game. Mike Glennon is not the guy and has looked shaky in the preseason. Mitchell Trubisky has shown some flashes, although it has been against backups and vanilla defenses. Trubisky has also looked best on rollouts in which he only has to read half of the field. Good defensive coordinators will be able to minimize his ability over the course of a 60-minute game. Trubisky may be the guy of the future, but this season the Bears are not in a position to succeed due to their quarterback situation.

Bears’ fans should be optimistic about the defense. They are fast and athletic, a typical John Fox defense. The front seven is good and highly underrated. Leonard Floyd has looked outstanding and will be playing alongside Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Wille Young, Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan, all of which are big time players.

The only question for the Bear’s defense is the secondary. Former first round pick Kyle Fuller seems to be in the doghouse with coaches. Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara are the starting corners. Both have been too inconsistent to really know how they will perform this season. The current safety tandem of Adrian Amos and Quinton Demps also have a lot to prove. Eddie Jackson will likely end up in the starting lineup by seasons end.

The Bears are in a tough division with the Packers and Vikings. Chicago may not be admitting it but they are still rebuilding. The defense is coming together but a questionable secondary will hurt them. The bread and butter of the offense will be the running game but quarterback play will leave much to be desired. The Bears are on the right track but will have another long season before getting where they want to be.

 

Prediction: 4-12 (2-4), miss the playoffs

2: Minnesota Vikings

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: https://images.fantasypros.com)

Last season: 8-8

Strength of schedule: 27

It is very hard to fathom how the Vikings finished 8-8 considering everything they had to endure last season. Franchise quarterback goes down on a non-contact injury. An injury so bad that Teddy Bridgewater said he could have lost his leg. Adrian Peterson played in two games and his Vikings’ career was abruptly over. Minnesota also lost approximately 500 offensive linemen. Okay, not that many but you get the point.

The Vikings are led by their extremely talented defense. Defensive ends Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter have the talent and ability to combine for 30 plus sacks. Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks can defend the run and the pass due to how fast and athletic they are.

The secondary is led by Harrison “The Hitman” Smith, arguably the most underrated player of the last 20 years. Smith can do it all from playing the pass, coming up and making a tackle in the run game or even blitzing and sacking the quarterback. He is a true swiss army knife that Mike Zimmer gets everything out of.

Xavier Rhodes is also a top three corner and is disrespected around the league outside of Minnesota. I can put countless stats of how good he is, but all that needs to be said is record breaking Odell Beckham Jr. got shut down so badly that he said football wasn’t fun anymore after facing Rhodes.

Minnesota’s defense is a top three unit and anything less would be a huge disappointment to both the fans and head coach Mike Zimmer.

Offensively, the Vikings have some work to do. The offensive line was in shambles last season, paving the way for the worst rushing attack in the NFL at 75.3 yards per game. Minnesota has a new look offensive line with Riley Reiff, Nick Easton and Mike Remmers. Rookie interior lineman Pat Eflein may also get an opportunity to contribute this season. If the offensive line can be an average NFL unit, the Vikings will become extremely dangerous.

Longtime franchise cornerstone Adrian Peterson is gone. Latavius Murray was signed and Florida State’s all-time leading rusher, Dalvin Cook, will look to replace the Viking’s greatest running back. The two are more than capable and Minnesota will have an improved rushing attack.

Football minds outside of Minnesota say their receiving corp is weak but Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen are more than capable of both topping 1,000 yards. Paired with Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings have more than enough weapons to have a top 15 passing attack. Sam Bradford will continue to protect the football and this offense will be leaps and bounds better than it was last season.

With one of the easiest schedules in the league, a top three defense and a much-improved offense the Vikings will be in contention for a playoff spot.

Prediction: 10-6 (4-2), wildcard candidate

1: Green Bay Packers

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: https://images.fantasypros.com)

Last season: 10-6

Strength of schedule: 18

There are two words on why the Packers deserve to be the favorite in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers. Despite not having a running game and a secondary that most colleges wouldn’t start, Rodgers was still able to carry the Packers to the NFC Championship.

This team goes as far as Rodgers can take them despite their deficiencies. Green Bay has a wide receiver who has converted to running back and will most likely lose his spot to Jamaal Williams during the season. When that happens the Packers offense will improve.

Green Bay is a lock to make the playoffs, they have made the postseason for eight straight seasons and nine of the 11 seasons that McCarthy has been in charge.

Rodgers has been given plenty of offensive weapons to throw the ball to. Jordy Nelson is a top five wideout and Davante Adams had a breakout season in 2016 catching 12 touchdowns. Randall Cobb seems like a forgotten man but is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Health is the only thing capable of holding him back. The Packers also improved their tight end position by adding Martellus Bennett. Rodgers has been set up to succeed in the passing game and can throw for 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.

The Packers Achilles heel is on the defensive side of the ball. Green Bay’s secondary got torched in the NFC Championship game. Davon House, Quinten Rollins, Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix have a lot to prove this season.

Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are the known studs at linebacker but Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan are more of the question marks who must step up if this team wants to become a Super Bowl contender.

The Packers will make the playoffs because that is what they do under Mike McCarthy. It helps to have Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback too. Green Bay will make the playoffs, and likely win the division, but must watch out for the Vikings who will be on their tail.

Prediction: 11-5 (5-1), division champion

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Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

The tight end position is known for big targets that can create space and are touchdown machines in the red zone. Tight ends can sometimes be nerve racking because there aren’t many that are elite. When its draft time it’s all about patience especially for tight ends as you don’t want to reach too high or wait to long for your starting TE.

Here are the top-5 fantasy tight ends you should consider for your fantasy team in 2017.

No.5 Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

To start, my number five tight end is Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings. In 2016 he was the most heavily targeted tight end in the league. This was due in part to Pat Shurmur replacing Norv Turner as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator in early November. Tight ends have accounted for a 24 percent target share during Shurmur’s 122 games as a head coach or coordinator since 2009 according to ESPN.

In 2016, Rudolph  paced all tight ends with 128 targets and ranked in the top four in receptions, yards, touchdowns and end zone targets (11). In the past, Rudolph would average around three receptions and 27.8 yards per game, basically becoming a touchdown-or-bust tight end. Rudolph flipped the switch in 2016 and put up 5.2 grabs and 52.5 yards per game. This helped him finish second at the position in fantasy points, his best ranking since he landed 11th in 2012.

In 2017, Rudolph should continue to be a featured option in the Viking offense as Shurmur is still around. He’s not a top-tier option but he’s much better than the tight ends you’ll find at the end of your draft.

No.4 Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

Jordan Reed has proven to be a valuable target in Washington. In 2016 he ranked in the top 10 tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns despite only playing 12 games.

Reed has posted a pair of top-10 fantasy seasons in the past two seasons. In 2015, he had his best season to date with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, which allowed him to finish as the No. 3 fantasy tight end in standard leagues. In 2016 he still produced at a high level with 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns but finished as just the No. 8 tight end in standard formats. An impressive stat is that Reed has caught at least three-quarters of his targets during each of his four NFL seasons. That’s scary good.

The one issue with Reed is injuries. He has yet to play a full 16 games in his career. Last year he missed two games with a shoulder injury and one with a concussion. But these injuries haven’t prevented Reed’s numbers to drastically decline. However in 2017 he should become the number one option in Washington with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both moving on.

No.3 Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

My number three tight end is Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers. He may not be the flashiest player, but without a doubt he’s the most consistent tight end in the NFL.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

Greg Olsen (Photo by: nj.com)

Olsen finished third in fantasy points and in the top-seven at the position in targets, completions and receiving yards each of the past five years. In 2016 he had seven games with eight-plus fantasy points. He did, however, only have three touchdowns, his fewest since 2007. Olsen is still the main piece in the Panthers passing game especially in the red zone . He had another 1,000 yard season for the third year in a row and maintains consistency in targets and receptions.

The thing that Olsen excels in is durability. He hasn’t missed a game since 2007. He is always a reliable TE1 and expect him to bounce back in touchdowns and being consistent.

No.2 Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (Photo by: washingtontimes.com)

I know I will have some hate mail, but if it weren’t for injuries Gronkowski would be my number one tight end. The three-time top fantasy tight end has missed at least one game during each of the past five years and a total of 24 during that span. However, outside of fantasy he is the best tight end in the NFL and always a top two in fantasy.

In 2016 he appeared in eight games and finished with 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns on 38 targets. He still finished as the No. 20 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues which goes to show how good he is. From weeks 6-10 he was the top fantasy tight end in fantasy points. He’s finished in the top five in touchdowns, fantasy points and yards per target during the past four seasons in which he’s appeared in at least 11 games. In fact he has double digit touchdowns in all but two seasons of his seven year career and they were due to injuries.

Again, people will not agree with this ranking but I fear Gronkowski will again have injury issues. He hasn’t seen a full 16 games since his first two seasons. In 2014 and 2015 he only missed a total of two games and had top fantasy seasons. We hope he plays at least 13 games because when he’s healthy he’s easily the best fantasy tight end in any format. If he can do that he will be the Gronkowski that we can rely on. I do expect him to be ready and also to be the first tight end off the board in Rounds 2 or 3.

No.1 Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Everyone might question this but I’m going with Travis Kelce as my number one tight end for fantasy in 2017. The first thing is why is he in front of Gronkowski? . Gronkowski hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2011. Kelce has played in 16 games three of his four seasons and has started 42 of his 49 career games.

But other then durability Kelce had a breakout 2016 season. He led almost every category at the tight end position including yards, yards per game, catches for 20 and 40 plus yards, and had the longest catch among tight ends. The Chiefs tight end was also second in receptions. Kelce finished as the No. 1 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues with 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns on 117 targets. Another interesting stat about Kelce is that he was second among receivers with 100 plus yard games behind only Julio Jones with six. He had a span where he had four 100 plus yards game towards the time of the fantasy playoffs.

Kelce if anything he should see an increase in usage this year with the release of Jeremy Maclin.  Even though he will be picked as the second tight end behind Gronk, Kelce is a good option and is valuable in both standard and PPR leagues. Look for him around the 4th to 5th round to be off the board as he has become a top tier tight end in fantasy.

 

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The 5 Best Underpriced Players for Week 9

What we know

As we approach the back nine of the NFL regular season, there are a few things we know for sure. The London series is awful, Tom Brady is worth every penny, and you can’t trust Blake Bortles. We have also identified players who are routinely underpriced and roster them without hesitation. Here are the best underpriced players for week 9.

5. Dak Prescott – $7,600

The Cowboys Quarterback has taken the NFL by storm and deserves all the credit in the world for his on field success.  On the other hand, his fantasy production is often overlooked. Since his second game against the Redskins, Prescott has scored at least 17.5 points in every game he’s played, including two games in which he scored over 23 points. This level of consistent play is usually exclusive to the most expensive Quarterbacks. But not even Brees, Rodgers, or Newton can say they have scored at least 17.5 points in every game since week one.

Dak Prescott looks to extend his great play against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.

Dak Prescott looks to extend his great play against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.

This week’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns could be another monster day for Prescott. The Cowboys will have no trouble moving the football against a bottom eight rush and pass defense. Inside the Red Zone, expect the Browns to do everything they can to stop Ezekiel Elliot and Jason Witten. Their focus on stopping Elliot and Witten will create huge running lanes that Dak will take advantage of inside the 10 yard line. Also, Prescott’s underpriced value allows for great player stacks like Dez Bryant or Ezekiel Elliot.

 

4. Kyle Rudolph – $5,000

The Vikings, specifically their offense, were exposed these past two weeks versus Philadelphia and Chicago. The element that both of these defenses share is the ability to rush the passer. Both the Eagles and Bears rank among the top 10 teams in sacks. Luckily, the Lions are not a top 10 team in terms of sacks. This means that Sam Bradford will have slightly more time to deliver the ball to the largest target on the field, Kyle Rudolph.

While he hasn’t scored a touchdown in three games, expect that to change this Sunday. The Detroit Lions have been incredibly inept when it comes to covering Tight Ends this season.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-10-43-49-am

How is this possible? Well, the Detroit Lions continually used Outside Linebacker Kyle Van Noy to cover the opposition’s Tight End. Van Noy was so brutal in coverage that the Lions traded him to the Patriots, so clearly he’ll find a way to excel in New England’s system, because that’s what they do. Even though he wasn’t covering CJ Fiedorowicz Sunday, the defense proved to still be vulnerable to the Tight End position.

Rudolph’s $5,000 price tag gives great flexibility to any DFS lineup. But this week, it’s more about the Lions inability to cover Tight Ends than the underpriced Kyle Rudolph.

3. Emmanuel Sanders – $6,800

Emmanuel Sanders will play a pivotal role in the Bronco’s game plan Sunday night. Sanders has one of the most fantasy friendly matchups of the week as he faces off versus the 27th ranked pass defense, but the matchup is even more favorable than expected. Non-number one receivers have had great success against Oakland. This includes Russell Shepard of Tampa Bay (9.4 points),  Marqise Lee of Jacsksonville (14.2 points), and Travis Benjamin of San Diego (15.2 points). Sanders is no doubt more talented than all of those receivers and has seen a minimum of six targets in every game this season, including two games with 13 targets.

On the other hand, Sanders hasn’t scored a touchdown in four games. But, the Raiders have allowed other pass catchers to break out of their End Zone slump including Steve Smith (3 games), Julius Thomas (3 games), and Cameron Brate (3 games). While this isn’t the greatest stat ever, it does breed more confidence in starting the underpriced Sanders, who is due for a touchdown given the volume of targets he is getting on a weekly basis.

2. Frank Gore – $6,300

Even at 33 years old, Frank Gore still finds a way to be a productive DFS player. This is the lowest price tag for a starting Running Back that does not operate in a committee situation. Gore has scored a touchdown in five of his eight games and has accumulated over 63 all-purpose yards in each of his games.

Other Running Backs in this price range include Terrence West, Jonathan Stewart, and Jerick McKinnon. All of these Running Backs combined only have eight all-purpose touchdowns compared to Gore’s five. Gore has also produced against top defenses. He scored at least 11 points against Denver, Houston, and Tennessee, all of which are in the top 10 FanDuel defenses. Meaning, Green Bay’s seventh ranked defense shouldn’t scare people away from using Frank Gore this weekend.

At this point, Gore hasn’t shown a propensity to record a performance with more than 20 points, but that is a result of the Colts always playing catch up. While I don’t see Gore getting his first 20 point performance this Sunday, I absolutely see him getting his usual 13-17 points which is a bargain for his underpriced value.

1. Michael Thomas – $5,800

I’m not sure how Michael Thomas is still valued under $6,000 at this point in the season. Thomas has established himself as the number two Wide Receiver on the highest scoring offense in the NFL with a hall of fame Quarterback at the helm. In four of his seven games Thomas has scored at least 12 points and has been targeted at least five times in each of those four games.

The only other Wide Receivers with comparable numbers in this price range are Anquan Boldin and Tavon Austin. Boldin has only scored at least 12 points in two of his eight games and Austin has done the same three times in seven games. What makes Thomas underpriced is that his floor is much higher than Boldin and Austin.

Thomas’ least productive day was against the Giants, in which he scored 7.6 points. Boldin and Austin’s least productive games were 0.9 points against the Texans and 3.5 points against the Niners respectively. Thomas should be rostered whenever possible and is a must play if you are considering a New Orleans stack.

Michael Thomas has emerged as the Saints' go to Wide Receiver and is poised to to have a great day versus the 49ers.

Michael Thomas has emerged as the Saints’ go to Wide Receiver and is poised to have a great day versus the 49ers.