Tight end drafting is always tricky. There are only ever a select few elite tight ends you want to draft, and then there is everyone else.
The positive is, unless you have Gronk or Graham, most of the teams in your fantasy league are in the same boat.
Now available: FNH's 2015 Draft Kit
This year, there is an elite tier of one. It's Gronk and no one else. Sure, someone might emerge, Gronk might get hurt, or Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham could connect early and often; but, the most likely scenario is that Gronk is in a league of his own.
There is also a second tier of near-elite tight ends, but it, too, is small. Graham, maybe Kelce. Then a third tier of satisfactory guys: Olsen, Bennett, and a few others. Then, nothing. Fortunately, the satisfactory group is large enough that you should be fine waiting on tight ends, unless you can snag Gronk early or get tremendous value for the second-tier guys.
Last year, I played in seven leagues, and I drafted Gronk in the third round in all seven. I was all in, and it paid off. I would still love to have him on all my teams, but I'm not spending a first-round pick to do it unless it's late and the top-tier RBs are gone. If I can get him in the mid- to late-second round, I'll do it in a heartbeat. Otherwise, I'm bargain shopping for whoever is left at the end.
Don't get scared by the first run of tight ends and draft a bad tight end just to have one. Your patience will pay big dividends.
Here are my top-20 tight ends for 2015:
1. Rob Gronkowski (NE) – In a league of his own.
2. Jimmy Graham (Sea) – Could be great or could fall back to the pack.
3. Travis Kelce (KC) – Great value in the middle rounds.
4. Martellus Bennett (Chi) – Yawn.
5. Greg Olsen (Car) – As steady as they come.
6. Jordan Cameron (Mia) – My biggest boom or bust pick.
7. Jason Whitten (Dal) – Hope last year was an aberration.
8. Julius Thomas (Jac) – Great talent, not so great offense.
9. Dwayne Allen (Ind) – TD machine.
10. Zach Ertz (Phi) – Still waiting for the long-anticipated breakout.
11. Antonio Gates (SD) – Should be top ten when he returns.
12. Delanie Walker (Ten) – Top ten upside if he meshes with Mariota.
13. Tyler Eifert (Cin) – See Ertz above.
14. Kyle Rudolph (Min) – If healthy, also a top ten guy.
15. Owen Daniels (Den) – Thomas is gone, but Peyton is not.
16. Eric Ebron (Det) – Somebody besides Megatron has to catch passes.
17. Coby Fleener (Ind) – He’s a top-12 guy if Allen gets hurt.
18. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TB) – Here’s hoping he lives up to last year’s hype.
19. Vernon Davis (SF) – He could have a big bounce back year.
20. Jordan Reed (Was) – Great rookie season, and his fortunes depend on RGIII.
If you play in deeper leagues, I like Jace Amaro. I just wish the Jets did, too. Garret Graham will have a big game or two, but you never know when they will come. And, always with potential for a big game, there's Jared Cook if you need a streaming option.
It's simple: get Gronk early, or wait to get your TE late.