Rob Gronkoswki overvalued? Fantasy TEs to wait on


Anyone who's ever played fantasy football knows that the best part of the season is the draft -- especially if you engage in a live draft with the rest of your league mates. That's when the jokes and trash talk are usually the sharpest. In my League of Record, one of the longest-running gags has to do with someone reaching a little too high to take a player.

Flashback to 2010. Ryan Mathews is a rookie and drawing plenty of hype as a potential sleeper running back. Knowing that the league is based in Fresno and made up of Fresno State fans and alums, Mathews is probably going to come off the board a little earlier than he would have in most other leagues. But were we ever surprised when one of the members of the league put Mathews' name on the board with the second overall pick. That's not a typo. Ryan Mathews went No. 2 overall.

After a moment of stunned silence, our league commissioner bellowed ... "THAT PICK WAS EEEEEAAAAAARRRRRRRLLY!" It's a quote that has resonated in our league ever since. It's okay to reach for your guys, but no one wants to be the person that totally overdrafts a player. For the record, the guy who took Mathews failed to make the playoffs that season.

In an effort to help you not be that guy (or girl), we've been giving you our lists of the most over-valued players in fantasy football. Now we get to the tight ends. The position has had its ups and downs in recent seasons but it appears that we've returned to a place of relative depth. Still that doesn't mean there aren't players that could end up being more coveted than their potential production warrants.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

TE1 on, TE1 on

I'm going to get some tweets about this. I can just feel it. Look, I'm not suggesting that Gronk isn't the top tight end in fantasy football or that he's not going to be good this year. This is more about being aware of where you should target him in your drafts.

For the past couple of seasons, it's become damn near a reflex to start looking at Gronk with the final pick in the first round. In those seasons, it made plenty of sense to go with the guy who was light years better than anyone else at his position. But times have changed and that gap is starting to close. In 2014 Gronkowski averaged 12.3 fantasy points per game, more than two points better than the next best tight end. Last season, that gap fell to just one point.

Then there's the little matter of Gronk not having his normal quarterback for the first four games of the season. I'm confident that Jimmy Garoppolo is smart enough to look for his top pass-catcher in just about any situation. But if you think the Patriots offense is going to run anywhere near as efficiently as when Tom Brady is calling the shots, you're nuts.

Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

TE4 on, TE4 on

This one is certainly subject to change if we get more information on exactly how long Eifert is going to be out of action. But for now, there are a number of better tight end options than a guy who could potentially miss up to four games to begin the season. There should also be some requisite concern about Eifert's immediate effectiveness once he returns after rehabbing an ankle injury.

The upside for the talented tight end is that he's likely to be a big red zone target for Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Eifert will once again be extremely touchdown dependent, much like he was last season. For all of his fantasy production, Eifert's per game totals were't exactly the stuff of legend. In his 13 games, he averaged just 5.7 targets per game compared to players like Gronkowski, Greg Olsen and Gary Barnidge who were closer to eight targets per game. Meanwhile Delanie Walker saw nearly 10 targets per game for the Titans.

There is still plenty of space in the offense for Eifert to see targets upon his eventual return, though it's fair to wonder if there is enough volume in the Bengals passing game for him to see a major increase in targets. Last season, Cincinnati had the seventh-fewest pass attempts of any team in the league. If you believe the Bengals are going to struggle this year (*slowly turns head to look at Adam Rank*), then maybe the game scripts look a little different and Dalton ends up throwing the ball more. But as the way things currently stand, I can't imagine paying a fifth-round price for Eifert.

Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks

TE11 on, TE12 on

I get it. This is mostly a flier for people hoping Graham can return to the form that made him a near consensus first-round fantasy pick just a few years ago. But right now there are plenty of things working against him, perhaps the biggest being that he's recovering from a patellar tendon tear that has put plenty of athletes on the shelf for an extended period of time (see: Cruz, Victor). Who knows when we'll see Graham back on the field for sure?

Oh and does anyone remember that Graham was ... less than good when he was on the field last season? It was obvious pretty early that he wasn't a great fit in the Seahawks offense and only after he was out of action did Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and the passing game really take off. Even if Graham is somehow ready to go at the start of the season, it seems unlikely that he's going get any time to try and gain that comfort level in the offense.

Maybe something miraculous happens and we see Jimmy Graham circa 2013, but is that mythical pile of hope and good luck worth anything more than your absolute last pick in the draft ... if that? Meanwhile upside guys like Clive Walford, Zach Miller and Jared Cook are still hanging around on draft boards. Big names aren't always a great thing. This is just a case in point.

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Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.