Fantasy instant debate: Travis Kelce vs. Julius Thomas

Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham are unquestionably the top two fantasy tight ends in the game right now. After that, things get a little murky at the position. However, two names are sure to draw plenty of interest in most drafts -- Travis Kelce and Julius Thomas. Which of these two will have the better fantasy season?

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  • Michael Fabiano NFL Media Senior Fantasy Analyst
  • Kelce primed for bigger things

This one is a no brainer for me ... I'm going with Kelce. The fact that the Kansas City Chiefs released Anthony Fasano should mean more of a prominent role for Kelce, who figures to remain a popular target for Alex Smith. As a result, Kelce will be a one of the first five tight ends drafted in 2015. On the flip side, Thomas' value took a massive hit when he left Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos for Blake Bortles (yikes) and the Jacksonville Jaguars. He could fall out of the top 10 altogether.

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  • Alex Gelhar NFL Media Writer/Editor
  • Kelce by a mile

I'm going with Travis Kelce and I don't think it's that close. Last season, Allen Hurns was the leading receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars (Julius Thomas' new team), and he posted respectable numbers with 51 receptions, 677 receiving yards and six touchdowns. By comparison, with the Chiefs Kelce notched more receptions (67), yards (862) and just one fewer touchdown (five). Kelce has a much better chance of replicating, if not building upon, that production again in 2015 as he's in the same system with the same coach and quarterback. Thomas will be fighting an uphill battle in Jacksonville to post anywhere close to his usual numbers. Sure, Cecil Shorts is gone and his 53 receptions are going to have to go somewhere, but what do we really know about Thomas as a player on his own? He was still learning the position in Denver, and a portion of his success heretofore has to be attributed directly to Peyton Manning, who is still in Denver. Thomas is an athletic specimen who very well could prove me wrong. I just won't be spending the requisite draft pick on him this fall to find out.

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  • Marcas Grant NFL Media Fantasy Editor
  • Orange Julius squeezed out

The dirty little secret of Julius Thomas' fantasy success over the past two seasons has been his huge touchdown dependency. The athletic tight end caught 12 scoring passes in both 2013 and 2014. But that's what happens when you play in a high-powered offense led by Peyton Manning. Yet, Thomas has never had 800 receiving yards in a season. Contrast that with Kelce, who posted 862 receiving yards in his first campaign as a starter. Nothing about Kelce's situation changes from 2014 while Thomas moves to a far less productive offense. Orange Julius' touchdowns are certain to fall, but it's hard to imagine his yardage totals rising enough to make up the difference.

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