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Fantasy points per touch: 2017 tight end recap

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Fantasy football is all about points. The more you score, the better chance you have to win.

(It ain't rocket science, folks).

While the final scoring leaders offer a look at how well a player performed in the stat sheets, it fails to offer us a complete picture on how good the player really was for fantasy fans. Case in point, Tyler Kroft ranked 15th in points among tight ends this past season. However, he averaged more points per touch than all but three tight ends in the league (minimum of 40 touches). So, Kroft was a useful fantasy option when he was allowed his share of opportunities in Cincinnati's pass attack after starter Tyler Eifert went down for the season due to injuries.

So, let's take a deeper look into the numbers to see how our heroes performed when the football was in their hands. In the case of the tight ends, here are the position's top 20 players ranked based on a combination of receptions and rush attempts and the positive points that resulted via receiving and rushing yards gained, receptions and total touchdowns.

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (3.30 FPPT): Gronkowski, who is expected to return for another season with the Patriots, continued to put up solid numbers for fantasy owners with 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. He found the end zone once for every 8.6 receptions, and just four tight ends had more touches than the big man from Arizona. He'll remain a top-30 pick in most drafts next season.

2. Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks (3.00 FPPT): Graham finished with his lowest yardage total since his rookie season, but his fantasy value was saved due to his prowess as a red-zone target. The veteran led all tight ends with 10 touchdowns last season, and he found the end zone once for every 5.7 catches he hauled in from Russell Wilson. A pending free agent, Graham should remain a No. 1 tight end.

3. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.98 FPPT): Brate's inclusion in the top three might surprise some fantasy fans, but it's due to his modest catch totals (48) and six touchdowns. During a five-game stretch, the veteran found the end zone four times and averaged a solid 3.14 fantasy points per catch. Of course, he'll be passed on in 2018 drafts as O.J. Howard will be a popular sleeper candidate.

4. Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati Bengals (2.96 FPPT): Kroft didn't make much of an impact over his first three games, but he started to make a great impact once the Bengals lost Eifert. In his next 12 games, Kroft scored seven touchdowns and averaged 3.65 PPR points per reception. With Eifert now slated to become a free agent, Kroft could see a bigger role for the Bengals in what is a contract campaign.

5. Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins (2.83 FPPT): Davis was inconsistent in the stat sheets at times last season, but he did score three touchdowns and averaged almost three points per catch for the Redskins. Most of those contests came with Jordan Reed on the sidelines, however. Assuming Reed is back at 100 percent for training camp, Davis won't be drafted in most 2018 fantasy football leagues.

6. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers (2.82 FPPT): Henry had a bunch of stinkers last season, but when he was good ... he was awesome. During a late-season three-week stretch, the talented pass catcher averaged over three PPR points per catch before suffering a lacerated kidney in Week 15. Henry figures to be a potential top-five fantasy tight end next season, so he'll be a middle- to late rounder.

7. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (2.78 FPPT): Rudolph saw significant declines in both receptions and yardage compared to his 2016 totals, but he actually scored one more touchdown. That moved him into the top 10 in points-per-catch average among tight ends. The Vikings could have a new quarterback (Kirk Cousins?) next season, but Rudolph figures to remain one of fantasy's more prominent tight ends.

8. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (2.75 FPPT): Kelce has finished as the No. 1 tight end in fantasy football in each of the last two seasons, so it's no surprise to see him atop the targets category at the position in 2017. During a four-week stretch that included the fantasy postseason, Kelce averaged more than three points per reception. He'll be a top-40 overall selection in most 2018 PPR drafts.

9. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (2.74 FPPT): Ertz is coming off the best season of his career, as he finished third in PPR points among tight ends. In his first eight games, the veteran averaged over three fantasy points per catch while scoring six of his career-high eight touchdowns. While Gronkowski and Kelce will still be picked ahead of him in most 2018 drafts, Ertz won't be too far behind.

10. Evan Engram, New York Giants (2.67 FPPT): Engram recorded one of the best seasons ever for a rookie tight end, finishing fifth in PPR points at the position. That includes a four-game stretch where he scored four touchdowns and averaged a ridiculous 3.88 points per reception average. While a sophomore slump is always a concern, Engram seems like a player who should avoid such a fate next season.

11. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (2.50 FPPT): Ebron finished the season on absolute fire, averaging seven catches and 70 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 2.55 PPR points per reception.
12. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (2.48 FPPT): Kittle, a sleeper for next season, averaged 3.3 fantasy points per recpetion during a three-game stretch with Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
13. Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders (2.46 FPPT): Cook was inconsistent in the stat sheets for fantasy fans, and his points-per-catch average would have been better had he not scored just twice.
14. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons (2.44 FPPT): A deep preseason sleeper, Hooper failed to score more than six PPR points in five of his final six games of the fantasy football campaign.
15. Julius Thomas, Miami Dolphins (2.39 FPPT): Thomas had 10-plus PPR points just three times last season, and he scored a touchdown for every 13.6 receptions. He's a candidate for release.
16. Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (2.38 FPPT): Clay averaged just under three points per catch in his first four games, but an injured knee caused him to miss time and de-railed his season.
17. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (2.33 FPPT): Witten scored two touchdowns and averaged 2.6 points a catch in his first two games, but it proved to be an unsustainable start for the veteran.
18. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (2.30 FPPT): Walker ranked fourth in PPR points among tight ends this past season, but he averaged just one visit to the end zone for every 24.7 catches.
19. Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers (2.28 FPPT): "The Road Dog" scored just three touchdowns and was overshadowed by Vance McDonald at times last season. He finished with just three scores.
20. Benjamin Watson, Baltimore Ravens (2.25 FPPT): Watson hauled in 61 passes for 522 yards in what might have been his last season in Baltimore, but he found the end zone just four times.

Michael Fabiano is the senior fantasy analyst for NFL Digital Media and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. For the most up-to-date fantasy football news, updates and analysis, follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

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