The top tight ends to draft for the 2015 fantasy football season in keeper/dynasty leagues.
1. Rob Gronkowski (NE) Age: 26
|Receiving Stats||Rushing Stats|
|2015 Projections||View Rob Gronkowski's 2015 projected stats.|
Gronkowski's status as the league's best tight end was never doubted, but his durability entering last season caused the risk-averse to hesitate after he missed 14 games the previous two years and was coming off ACL and MCL surgeries. Gronkowski was still getting healthy when the season started last year and averaged just three receptions for 37 yards in the first four games as Tom Brady and the offense struggled with the team's playmaker at less than 100 percent. It didn't take long for him to put injury concerns to rest, however. Weeks 5-16 he averaged six catches and 88 yards a game. He also scored nine touchdowns in that span as his surgically repaired knee was no concern. Gronkowski led tight ends in yards, touchdowns (tied) and catches of 20-plus yards (19), and he did it in 15 games because he sat out a meaningless Week 17. At 6-6, 265, with 4.68 speed, a huge wingspan (34-inch arms) and good leaping ability (34-inch vertical), Gronkowski is simply uncoverable. He's too fast for linebackers and too big and physical for defensive backs. The Patriots line him up in tight, in the slot and split wide, creating mismatches he easily exploits. In the red zone he is nearly unstoppable, catching 11 of 16 targets for nine touchdowns last season. With Jimmy Graham now in a run-first offense in Seattle, Gronkowski is in a tier of his own. Of note of course is that Brady is slated to serve a four-game suspension to start the season, but we'd still expect QB fill-in Jimmy Garoppolo to lean heavily on the likes of Gronkowski and wideout Julian Edelman early on.
2. Jimmy Graham (SEA) Age: 28
|Receiving Stats||Rushing Stats|
|2015 Projections||View Jimmy Graham's 2015 projected stats.|
It's perhaps remarkable what Graham accomplished last year considering he played most of the year with a sprained shoulder. He finished second among tight ends in receptions and touchdowns and fifth in receiving yards. But thanks to the injury, he averaged a career-low 10.5 yards per catch as his production fell dramatically even though he had just one fewer reception than in 2013. He was routinely jammed at the line, struggled to fight through double-teams and was accused of "alligator arms" because he couldn't fully extend to catch passes. As a result, his targets of 20-plus yards and receptions of 25-plus yards both fell by 10, and his long-distance scores dropped from five to one. The shoulder healed with offseason rest, but the concern this year is the blockbuster trade to the league's most run-heavy offense in Seattle. The Seahawks likely will use him as a wide receiver at least as much, if not more, than the Saints, creating mismatches on defensive backs with his size (6-7, 265) and on linebackers with his speed (4.56). And Russell Wilson will take advantage of Graham's 38.5-inch vertical at the goal line, as Graham has turned 27 receptions inside the 10-yard line the last four years into a league-leading 23 touchdowns. But while double-digit touchdowns seem within reach, Graham's opportunities for yards won't be as plentiful going from the league's second-ranked offense in attempts to the 32nd.
3. Travis Kelce (KC) Age: 25
|Receiving Stats||Rushing Stats|
|2015 Projections||View Travis Kelce's 2015 projected stats.|
After losing his rookie season to a knee injury, Kelce entered last year in a timeshare with Anthony Fasano. It didn't take long for him to become the team's best receiver and one of the league's best playmakers at tight end. Despite only starting 11 games and playing limited snaps early in the year, Kelce led the Chiefs in receiving, finishing sixth among tight ends in catches and yards. In a run-first offense that didn't do much downfield passing, Kelce took advantage of defenses that stacked the box to stop Jamaal Charles, totaling a position-leading 512 yards after the catch. His 7.6 YAC average also led tight ends as his speed (4.61 40) and elusiveness in the open field helped him gain a whopping 59.3 percent of his yards after the catch. He had 9.9 yards per target (1st) and had 15 receptions of 20-plus yards (3rd). At 6-5, 260, Kelce was too much to handle even with double-teams and safety help that appeared later in the year. Kelce, who only scored five touchdowns, has room for growth, too, as the Chiefs didn't use him much at the goal line (three targets, two scores inside the 10). Fasano was not re-signed, leaving behind 36 targets, including five in the red zone. And with new WR Jeremy Maclin stretching the field, secondaries can't focus solely on stopping Kelce, who could see 100 targets this season.
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