2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Our experts debate their tight end rankings

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Put these tiers to work with our tight end overview and strategies

We use Slack to communicate internally, and now we're going to use it to communicate with you guys. Every Wednesday, we're going to have our trio of Fantasy football experts — Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard and Heath Cummings — discuss (and maybe debate) their rankings. We're talking about tight ends this week. 

chris.towers: Alright, we'll start the discussion with a softball: Is there anything you guys have to say about Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, or Zach Ertz? It's a consensus top three, both at CBS Sports and around the industry. Is there any reason it shouldn't be? Speak now, or forever hold your piece.

Or is it "peace?"

dave.richard: It's peace.

heath.cummings: Definitely peace. 

There are tight ends with upside to surpass Kelce or Ertz, but none that we should expect to do that

dave.richard: High target volume plus red-zone production/potential is really hard to find at tight end. All three of these guys have it.

chris.towers: Dave, you've got Ertz ahead of Kelce. I assume it's a razor-thin margin. Would positive reports from Alshon Jeffrey move Kelce back ahead of him?

dave.richard: No. I'm worried Sammy Watkins takes juuust enough touchdowns and targets away from Kelce. That addition is bigger than any the Eagles made. If anything, Ertz's situation is a little better with Trey Burton and Brent Celek out of town. I could even see an uptick in targets for Ertz — he had 110 in 14 games last year.

jamey.eisenberg: I'll say the same thing I said on our podcast about this: It would not surprise me to see the combination of Darren Sproles and Mike Wallace -- as well as Dallas Goedert -- doing more for the Eagles collectively than Watkins does for the Chiefs. While Watkins is the better talent, clearly, the collection of guys for Philadelphia are going to impact Ertz enough to keep him where he's at or, potentially, make him worse. That's taking into account Jeffery being healthy; if he misses time, that's the only way Ertz sees an uptick in targets.

chris.towers: There's no consensus on No. 4 at tight end, with Greg Olsen, Evan Engram, and Jimmy Graham all getting some love. But I want to talk about someone Jamey has No. 5: Trey Burton. He's moving into the same offense Kelce has starred in for years. Is there any reason to think Burton isn't the best bet to join that Big Three at the position?

heath.cummings: We've never seen Trey Burton in a feature role. He could be anything. He could even be a 1,000 yard receiver like Greg Olsen has been, or a 10-touchdown guy like Jimmy Graham was last year. I am very excited about Burton in Matt Nagy's offense, and it's not outside the realm of possibility he finishes No. 4. But I think it's a bridge too far to rank him there.

dave.richard: Right, he's the only one of the tight ends in that No. 4-7 range who hasn't done it before. We also have barely seen Matt Nagy call plays. There's a lot of "newness" in Chicago, and it could take some time for everything to gel.

jamey.eisenberg: I have no problem being the kid to fall for the shiny new toy here, and I would rather shoot for upside in a great situation than "settle" for the other guys in this range. To Heath's point, the times we've seen Burton featured when Ertz has been hurt, he's produced fairly well for the Eagles over the past two seasons. I'm counting on Burton's talent and Nagy's system to make him into the next great Fantasy tight end.

chris.towers: That brings up a good point: If you can't get one of the Big Three, shouldn't you just shoot for upside at tight end? Trey Burton can't lose you a season at tight end, because so many people are going to get nothing from the position. But isn't he one of the few league winners out there?

dave.richard: I think it's awfully ambitious to call any tight end outside of the Big Three a "league winner." That's why the Big Three are the Big Three. But if we're talking upside to get over 800 yards and six touchdowns, which are pretty damn good numbers for a tight end, then Burton's got it. One of a handful.

And yeah, no one should shoot for "safe" at tight end unless they're looking for a warm body to start after pick 90 or so.

jamey.eisenberg: It's a matter of expectation and draft value. Based on current ADP, you need a big season out of guys like Graham or Engram since they are being drafted in Round 5. No thanks. I'd much rather wait out Burton, George Kittle, Jack Doyle or any of the guys going in Round 8 or later because there's a better chance of them helping you win if they hit.

dave.richard: You're not getting Burton in any of our leagues if you're waiting until Round 8.

jamey.eisenberg: Expert leagues, no.

Every other league, yes

dave.richard: I need to play in those other leagues.

jamey.eisenberg: Maybe you'll finally win – ha.

dave.richard: Who's the one with a trophy at his desk?!

jamey.eisenberg: That you bought yourself, you.

chris.towers: Burton's ADP on FantasyPros.com is 93 overall, for what it's worth.

No. 10 tight end for Burton, which feels like stealing. At that price, if he misses, it costs you almost nothing.

jamey.eisenberg: Right.

dave.richard: (Note: trophy is currently not at my desk because it's getting engraved with my name on it -- for the second year in a row)

chris.towers: So, who is your favorite "reach" tight end, and who is your favorite "settle" tight end?

jamey.eisenberg: Reach -- Jordan Reed

Settle -- Delanie Walker

Going deeper, Ricky Seals-Jones, barring a suspension, or Benjamin Watson as a reach

dave.richard: I'm reaching for Engram and Burton. Walker's middle name is "settle."

Hey, wait: Is it reaching if I'm taking Ertz before 30th overall?

heath.cummings: I'll say Hayden Hurst, even though the only reaching you have to do is reaching into the last round of the draft. Love the opportunity in Baltimore. I settle for Charles Clay quite often, and pair him with one of the upside guys like Hurst, Kittle or Njoku. Going even deeper, I'm getting more excited about Jake Butt. One good preseason game and I'm going to get unreasonable. Plus, think of the team names!

chris.towers: We're looking at a few "time shares" at tight end, in Indianapolis with Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron, and in Tampa with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Should I rely on any of those four as a starter?  

heath.cummings: I'm getting really scared of O.J. Howard. Even if he gets 15-20 more targets, he'll have a hard time matching last year because his efficiency numbers were so crazy. I do think Ebron or Doyle have a chance to pay off because Indianapolis has one starting-caliber receiver on its roster. 

jamey.eisenberg: Yes, for sure. When Andrew Luck was the best quarterback in Fantasy, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen combined for 16 touchdowns. The receiving corps in Indianapolis is unproven behind T.Y. Hilton, so Ebron could essentially be their No. 2 receiver since he'll be split out wide a lot, with Doyle the traditional tight end.

dave.richard: I'm pretty much passing on all Colts and Bucs tight ends. Indy's going to use Ebron more as a receiver — he could be on the field a bunch with Doyle — but we've been fooled by Ebron before. Is he really going to play big now?

chris.towers: Hey, Ebron was good for like four weeks last year!

dave.richard: That's great you can draft him.

chris.towers: (I won't).

heath.cummings: Eric Ebron was the No. 4 PPR tight end in Fantasy the final seven games of last year

dave.richard: And the Lions liked it so much they let him go to Indy.

heath.cummings: No. 3 from Week 10-17!!!

chris.towers: What happened in Week 9?

OK, moving on, one last question ... Who is the tight end nobody is thinking about right now who will end up in the top-12 by the end of the season?

heath.cummings: Hayden Hurst

jamey.eisenberg: Blake Jarwin

dave.richard: Antonio Gates

heath.cummings: What a list!

jamey.eisenberg: Ed Dickson also. Seattle has to replace 20 touchdowns from last year with Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson and Luke Willson gone.

heath.cummings: Gates is two years younger than Hurst

dave.richard: Gates is two years younger than Abraham Lincoln

heath.cummings: Can we make Brandon Marshall tight end eligible?

jamey.eisenberg: Sure, Seals-Jones is WR eligible as of now

chris.towers: He might as well be. Larry Fitzgerald, too.

Alright. That's it. Thanks for the chat guys. QB Week is up next.

dave.richard: Can't wait for QB week, when we'll tell people to wait and wait to draft a QB.

Fantasy Writer

Though he can be found covering three different sports depending on the time of year, there is one unifying theme in how Chris Towers approaches sports; "Where's the evidence?" It doesn't matter how outlandish... Full Bio

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