The advent of NFL training camps is upon us as teams approach their first preseason games. With the return of football comes the return of our favorite form of legal sports betting, fantasy football. As you scour the internet for the latest news and rankings getting ready for your league’s draft, we’ll be providing you lists of the top fantasy prospects by position for this season. We’ll begin with the most important position on the field and likely on your team: quarterback. (Note: All fantasy stats are based on CBSSports.com scoring/rankings from last season and projections are based on this year’s CBS Sports’ projections.)
The top tight ends in the league have nearly turned into top wide receivers over the past few years, and this season will be no different. But, if you can’t get a Gronkowski, Olsen or a Kelce, there are still solid options to be had at the position who could be very productive for your team.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
No surprises here. Gronk, when healthy, has been a dominating force on the field, racking up 68 touchdowns through his seven seasons thus far. However, two out of the last four years he’s missed significant time due to injuries to his back and legs. He’s only played a full 16 game season once (back in 2011), but still, due to his dominance and having an offseason to rehab, Gronk tops CBS Sports’ projections. They have him hauling in 64 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns for a total of 131 fantasy points. If he’s healthy, those totals might be low.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Olsen is one of those consistent weapons year-in and year-out that we don’t talk about much in terms of fantasy implications. But, due to the inconsistency of the Panthers receivers over the last several years, Olsen has been Cam Newton’s most reliable target and it has shown in his numbers. He ranks second among tight ends in terms of three-year averages, behind only Gronk, and is poised for another solid season. CBS Sports projects him for a 1,000-yard seasons (1,043 to be exact) with 74 receptions and five touchdowns for a total of 128 fantasy points.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce could easily be number one on this list, especially considering the Chiefs decision to release top receiver Jeremy Maclin this offseason. He led this position group last year recording 85 receptions for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns, which was good for 131 points. This season, the projections call for him to be just short of that number with 125 total, but again, the loss of Maclin could mean an even bigger role for Kelce as Alex Smith’s favorite target.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
After the top three, there’s a little bit of a drop off to the next tier, but still some very solid options. Walker is one of those next tier guys and with a promising Marcus Mariota entering his third season, he could put some solid numbers up on the board. He was fifth among tight ends last year with 115 fantasy points and this season projects just short of that number at 109. The system calls for him to bring in 69 receptions for 826 yards and five touchdowns.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Reed has been a reliable target for Kirk Cousins in Washington and could see his role expand with the loss of both Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. The trouble for Reed has been staying healthy as he’s dealt with multiple concussions and other injuries through his young career that have caused him to not yet record a full season. His projections still have him in the top five this year with 75 catches for 688 yards and seven touchdowns (104 fantasy points), but, this one I’d be careful with due to the injury history.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz is another guy that has been a consistent top ten option at his position as he is ninth among tight ends in terms of three-year averages. He was one of Carson Wentz’s most reliable targets last year (106 targets 78 catches), but his role could decrease this season with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to the Birds offense. In keeping with that expectation, Ertz is projected for 98 points, thanks to totals of 76 catches, 786 yards and five touchdowns.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Lions fans have been waiting for Ebron to break out since the team made him their number one draft choice back in 2014. He started to show some promise last year with 61 receptions for 711 yards, but he recorded just one touchdown grab. That’s why I’m a little surprised to see him placed here as the Lions didn’t really lose much at the wide receiver spot with both Golden Tate and Marvin Jones returning. They did lose red zone machine Anquan Boldin (Buffalo), so maybe the projection system is handing a few of those touchdowns to Ebron. Regardless, Ebron is projected for 70 catches, 800 yards and four touchdowns totaling 97 fantasy points.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
Graham being this low surprises me, particularly because it seemed that the Seahawks figured out how to get him involved more last season. After a disappointing 2015 debut in Seattle, Graham got back towards his normal numbers, with 65 catches, 923 yards and six touchdowns. He finished as the number two tight end in fantasy behind Kelce last season, so seeing him this low is again, surprising. He’s projected to finish with 96 fantasy points on the strength of 56 catches, 723 yards and five touchdowns.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph was the fourth best tight end in fantasy last year earning 118 points thanks to 83 receptions, 840 yards and seven touchdowns. He was actually the most targeted guy on the roster by Sam Bradford last year with 132 targets, 20 clear of the next closest guy, receiver Stefon Diggs. On top of that, he had just one less catch than Diggs. With Bradford running the offense again, you can expect him to find his security blanket in Rudolph a bunch again this year. Projections have him hauling in 69 receptions for 671 yards and six touchdowns which adds up to a total of 94 fantasy points.
Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers
The final guy on this list is a guy that I like a lot, partly because of his consistent production, but also because he’s joining Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Bennett offers another weapon to Rodgers, one that he hasn’t previously had at the tight end spot. Granted, there’s plenty of good receivers here, so Bennett’s numbers may not be huge, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Bennett emerges as Rodgers’ primary red zone threat. CBS Sports has him projected for 86 fantasy points thanks to 61 catches for 615 yards and six touchdowns.