Why is Gronk the king of tight ends? Well, he holds the record for the most receiving touchdowns by any tight end in his first five NFL seasons with 54. In 2014, he finished with 30.3 more points than the second-best tight end, Antonio Gates, and scored at least one touchdown in 11 games, dropping three in one afternon in a win over the Bears. He has suffered myriad injuries during his five seasons as a pro but he remains the most formidable tight end in the league. Gronk presents a weekly advantage at the tight end position as his size-speed combination creates mismatches that defensive coordinators (and fantasy opponents) have nightmares about. The 26-year-old is a lock for double-digit touchdowns once again as long as he can stay out of harm's way. Yes, Tom Brady will be out for the first few games of the season, but who is Jimmy Garoppolo likely to rely on? That's right, Gronk. The big lug isn't likely to get past the first few picks of the second round in fantasy drafts this fall.
Graham finished third in fantasy points among tight ends last season, but he scored 72.6 fewer points than he did in 2013 and was one of the bigger disappointments of 2014. That's because as a top-10 pick in many leagues, Graham's 144.9 points were less than any of the other members of the top 10 overall selections based on average draft position (he even had two games where he finished with zero catches). Now, things will look a lot different for Graham in 2015, as he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks where he immediately becomes the No. 1 target of Russell Wilson. Graham remains the No. 2 tight end option in fantasy, but there's a wider margin between him and Gronk than in years past. Graham is leaving one of the pass-happiest attacks in the NFL and joining one of the run-heaviest, which will cut into his targets. He should still do tons of damage in the red zone, but he'll likely be hard-pressed to hit the nearly 89 receptions and 1,099 yards he'd averaged over the last four years.
Olsen is coming off the best statistical season of his career, posting 84 catches for 1,008 yards (Rob Gronkowski was the only other TE to total over 1,000 rec yards in 2014) and six touchdowns, while finishing fourth in fantasy points at tight end. He's been the model of consistency when it comes to finding the end zone too, as Olsen has put up at least five touchdowns in seven consecutive seasons. Not bad for a player with an ADP of Round 8 on NFL.com in 2014. He also led the Panthers in receptions for the second straight year, even with the emergence of rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin. He signed a fresh three-year contract extension this offseason, and will be looking to produce again during his age 30 season to get the Panthers back to the postseason. There's no doubt that he's capable of top-five fantasy tight end numbers once again.
Kelce was a popular sleeper candidate at tight end last season and fantasy owners who took a chance on him in late rounds or picked him up off the waiver-wire early on were rewarded nicely. Kelce led the Chiefs with 67 receptions for 862 yards and tied with Jamaal Charles for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with five. His second-year stat line was enough to rank him as a top-10 fantasy tight end when the curtain fell on the 2014 campaign. He should continue to improve statistically as he only played on an average of 66 percent of the Cheifs' offensive snaps for the year, even though he was the team's most dynamic playmaker after Charles. Kelce possesses rare speed for a player of his size, and should be highly involved out of the gate for the Chiefs in 2015. Grab him early and hope for a true breakout season.
Bennett scored four touchdowns in September of 2014, and has now found the end zone 10 times during the month in his career (24 games). In the months of October, November and December, he has scored a combined 10 touchdowns (84 games). Despite his reputation for only producing during the month of September, Bennett ranked as the fifth-highest fantasy scoring tight end when all was said and done in 2014. He finished with career highs in receptions (90) receiving yards (916) and touchdowns (six). His ridiculous 90 catches made him much more valuable in PPR formats. It's too early to tell if he'll have the same role in the Bears' offense with a new coaching regime taking over in 2015, but John Fox and Adam Gase turned Julius Thomas into a fantasy star in Denver so there's reason for optimism. Bennett needs to be considered a TE1 for 2015 with such a lack of consistent options at the position.
What a whirlwind of a year it's been for Julius Thomas. Last year, he had seven touchdowns through Week 4, the most by a tight end in his team's first four games in NFL history. He also became the first tight end ever to record back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons. However, Orange Julius scored just three touchdowns the rest of the season as he was slowed by injuries and Peyton Manning's noodle arm. Those were two big reasons why he dropped to seventh in fantasy points among tight ends at the season's end. Although Thomas was a touchdown machine, he ranked a mere 20th at his position in both targets and receptions, and 19th in yards, which is why his value has sunk now that he's a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The scoring opportunities will not be as plentiful down in Duval County, which forces Thomas to the lower end of the TE1 tier for 2015. He's worth drafting in the later rounds, but don't reach based on his production with the prolific Denver offense.
Walker was the most targeted pass-catcher last season in Tennessee, and led the Titans with 890 yards on 63 receptions (both career highs), but scored just four touchdowns (zero of which game after Week 8). Still, he finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end which says a lot about how bleak the position was from a fantasy standpoint last season. If Tennessee can get some dependable quarterback play out of their No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota in 2015, Walker should be able to produce respectable fantasy numbers again. Still, he'll have to rely on a rookie signal-caller or Zach Mettenberger to get him the ball, meaning he might be more of a matchup-based starter rather than a true every-week TE1.
On average, Cameron was the sixth tight end taken in fantasy drafts heading into the 2014 season ahead of guys like Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett and Antonio Gates. In a contract year, and with Josh Gordon suspended, Cameron was expected to play a major role in the Browns' passing game coming off an 80-reception season. But he went down with a shoulder injury in Week 1 and never really recovered, playing in just 10 games all year due to the shoulder and concussion issues. Now, he'll look to win fantasy owners over once again, this time catching passes from Ryan Tannehill in Miami as he enters his age 27 season. He's got all the talent in the world if he can stay healthy, but his concussion issues do present some risk. He's a low-end TE1 with loads of upside.
Allen was a touchdown machine for the first half of 2014, scoring a touchdown in seven of his first nine games. A late-season ankle injury stalled his production down the stretch, as he scored just once from Week 10 on. When the 24-year-old wasn't scoring touchdowns his yardage totals were not enough to warrant a fantasy start. In a contract year, the Clemson product will likely continue to share snaps with Coby Fleener in 2015 and may remain a touchdown-dependent, red-zone threat for Andrew Luck's pass-happy offense. There's a good chance that both Allen and Coby Fleener see an uptick in usage as Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks are out of the mix, but Andre Johnson will still eat up some targets. You should be able to draft Allen as a potential value pick in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts this summer given his slowed production late last year.
Fleener's third season as a pro was his best yet from a statistical standpoint. He ranked among the top 10 tight ends in fantasy with 774 yards and eight touchdowns, but his production was spotty to say the least. He put together a nice run with either 100 yards or one touchdown in three of four games between Weeks 9 and 13, with his biggest outing going for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the final game of the fantasy regular season. But with Dwayne Allen also lurking around in Indy, Fleener's output was far from consistent. Keep in mind that 2015 is a contract year for the 26-year-old, so he will likely be looking to further improve upon his impressive numbers and cash in with a big payday. It's definitely possible since his former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck is calling the shots. Fleener is a low-end TE1 for 2015, and his owners would be wise to draft a backup as well.
Witten's 703 receiving yards in 2014 was his lowest mark since 2003, but he finished as the10th highest scoring fantasy tight end, proving his consistency once again. His five touchdown receptions helped pad his overall fantasy point total, but by no means was Witten a reliable fantasy tight end, as he scored double-digit points in just two games all year. It's tough to advocate drafting the aging veteran as anything more than a low-end TE1 for fantasy purposes as it seems he may be on a statistical decline at this stage of his career. Keep an eye on third-year tight end Gavin Escobar, who scored four touchdowns of his own last season on just nine receptions, and could play a bigger role for Dallas in 2015.
Ertz was on many sleeper lists heading into the 2014 season and looked good out of the gate with 77 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Unfortunately, Ertz's production slowed down significantly after that. Although Ertz drew 89 targets last season, the second-year tight end played on just 50 percent of the Eagles' offensive snaps compared to veteran Brent Celek's 69 percent. Ertz still managed 702 yards and three touchdowns by season's end, but was not a reliable fantasy option, especially with Celek hanging around to vulture targets (51 of them to be exact). With the lack of depth at tight end, we can only hope that Ertz continues to see an uptick in playing time, but he will be tough to trust as a week-in, week-out starter. Look for him in later rounds of your fantasy draft in 2015 and have a backup plan in case he doesn't pan out ... again.
Miller put together a decent 2014 season on paper but from a fantasy perspective he was anything but valuable. In standard scoring leagues he had just two double-digit games and only managed to score three touchdowns all year. He still racked up 761 yards and played a full 16 games, but his wildly inconsistent play was enough to leave fantasy owners pulling their hair out. You can expect more of the same from the 32-year-old veteran in 2015. The Steelers just have too many other talented pass-catchers to spread the ball around to. Miller's value is ideally as a matchup-based starter or TE2.
Reed's 2014 campaign, like his rookie season, was plagued by injury. The lack of consistency at quarterback in Washington didn't help his cause when he was healthy enough to play, either. Reed had just one game of double-digit fantasy points last year and didn't score a single touchdown in the 11 games he played in. He still has some major upside due to his athletic talent, and will be just 25-years-old when the 2015 season starts, but his fragility raises a huge red flag for fantasy purposes (he just had a "little procedure" on his knee this June). He can be targeted as a TE2 in the later rounds of drafts, but tread with caution.
Last season, Gates was one of the top draft bargains in fantasy football, as he finished second in points among tight ends despite being picked in Round 13 on average on NFL.com. It was the first time the future Hall of Famer had broken into the top-five tight ends based on fantasy points since 2010, when he finished second behind Jason Witten. The veteran proved that he still has some gas left in the tank in his 12th season by posting 12 touchdowns (his highest mark since 2004) and over 800 receiving yards while staying healthy for an entire 16 games. Unfortunately, those days are in the past. The 35-year-old is facing a four-game suspension to start the season, crippling his fantasy value and thinning out and already paper-like tight end position. Gates is now only worth a later-round flier, hoping he comes in with fresh legs and can go on a tear from Week 5 on.