Every season we see the growing trend that is ‘PPR’ Fantasy Football. PPR stands for ‘point per reception and while I wouldn’t say it’s the best format, it’s pretty much the best format. I love PPR, I feel that it evens out some leagues and it obviously allows you to find fantasy points in unusual places. In a standard league 8 catches for 80 yards is nice, it’s 8 points; but in a PPR league that’s 16. Guys like Delanie Walker who might put up 8-9 receptions and 50 yards have value in a PPR league that they wouldn’t have in a standard league. I’ll be bringing you the Rankings for TEs in PPR leagues throughout this season.
I’m excited about the season and interested in seeing what happens with all this new TE talent. Guys like Tyler Eifert, David Ausberry, Ladarius Green, and Travis Kelce to name a few. The problem is that we have to be realistic and go with the guys whose roles are already defined and give us the best chance to win; guys we know will receive targets, before guys we hope will receive targets. I want to see what Tim Wright does in New England as much as anyone else, but I’m not tossing him in my lineup this week.
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1. Jimmy Graham – This guy is a starter for your team every week, don’t let him leave your lineup because if any tight ends can score while they’re on a bye, it’s going to be him (don’t leave him in your lineup for his bye week). I don’t know if there will be many weeks that Graham is not the best option but this week is not one of them.
2. Julius Thomas – I feel like Thomas is another every week starter, I’m not worried about him because there are just too many men to for the opposing secondary to cover that I think Thomas will get his targets regularly. The Colts were a little stingy with TDs to TEs last season, but this is a PPR league so you need to stick with him.
3. Rob Gronkowski – If Gronk plays this week he has to start for you; he’s a matchup nightmare no matter how you look at it and they’re going to feature him heavily as long as he’s healthy enough to play. Rob Gronkowski should be in your lineup as long as he suits up for the Patriots and its also nice that Miami was fairly generous to tight ends last season; really good news for the owners of one of the best TEs in the league.
4. Jordan Cameron – I’m not worried about Cameron; he’s one of the guys you draft to start every week and the only other guy to go to is Andrew Hawkins. I expect Cameron to be involved all season and although the Cleveland/Pittsburgh matchups are low scoring at times, there should be plenty of receptions to make up for it.
5. Greg Olsen – Greg Olsen is another guy you, more than likely, drafted to start and though it does get a little bit muddy with TEs outside the top 4. I think he’s going to be very involved and this season and this week is no exception; last season Olsen managed 11.1 and 13.5 vs. the Bucs. A lot of people think he’s going to have a bigger role this season, including myself. I think he’s in line for a bigger role; I’m starting him.
6. Jason Witten – Witten is a regular starter in PPR leagues. He’s going to see his targets one way or another. San Francisco allowed a TD to a TE in each of the last 4 games of the regular season last year and their defense hasn’t improved since then. Witten should be in line for the normal 6-8 receptions with 50-80 yards and a possible TD; leave him in your lineup.
7. Jordan Reed – I don’t see Houston putting much of a stop to Reed, if he is in fact part of the game-plan. Reed is a very athletic tight end and last season Houston put more of a clamp down on the wide outs. It is a different coaching staff so we should see some changes but I can’t imagine that they’d focus on Reed when they have Garcon and Jackson to worry about. Washington might need the shorter intermediate passing game against Houston this week; Reed should be in your lineup for week one.
8. Vernon Davis – Dallas has been known to give up chunks of points to TEs in the past and it doesn’t help that Sean Lee isn’t there to help them defend that part of the field. I still think he’s only going to be involved in games that San Fran is having trouble scoring and at the same time Kaepernick likes Davis and that means something. He’s a high-ish risk/high reward guy and this is a great match-up; start Davis.
9. Dennis Pitta – Pitta should be more consistent this season, I like him this week but it might not be the best representation of what we’ll see all season. Don’t get too pumped up about a good performance; last season Pitta caught 8 passes for 63 yards in the season’s finale vs. the Bengals. He only played the last 4 games of the season but I can’t see a reason why you should bench him that you didn’t already hear before the season started.
10. Zach Ertz – This season I think we’ll see what plans the Eagles had for Ertz when they drafted him. I want to believe he’ll be a factor from the start after what we saw at the end of last season. I’m worried about starting him in 10 team leagues because of the guys that are ‘safer’. I like Ertz, I’m just not sure we can say he’s a TE1; on the bright side he’s in a great match-up so you deep leaguers can disregard. Ertz has upside; it’s up to the team to use it.
11. Martellus Bennett – The Bills were great at putting a stop to TEs last season and while I feel like that had to do with Kiko Alonso as much as anyone, Bennett has never been very consistent. I do think Chicago gets him more involved this season but I’m not going to risk having him in my lineup if I’ve got a more appealing match-up.
12. Heath Miller - I think Heath Miller is in for a bigger season than most people do. You can’t underestimate how much a QB liking his TE can mean. If you don’t have a big upside guy I think Miller can score a TD this week because the Browns’ defense is tough. I’m not expecting a bunch of receptions, though. There are plenty of more appealing options to go with in week one.
13. Kyle Rudolph – I’m one of the many people that like Kyle Rudolph this season. So it’s hard to say this but I think if you have a better guy you might want to take a chance with them. The Rams allowed the least amount of points to fantasy tight ends last season; that includes a matchup with Jimmy Graham in which Graham came away with only 2 receptions for 25 yards even though he was targeted 6 times. I’m concerned for Rudolph owners this week because all indications are that the Rams are tougher on defense this season; not the best thing to hear.
14. Charles Clay – It’s not easy seeing Charles Clay being a top 10 guy for a lot of people; at least that’s what I think when I look at his ADP; I think this week might change people’s minds. If Bill Lazor is bringing a taste of Chip Kelly’s offense Clay will be open. And ever since the Dolphins signed Dustin Keller I’ve been convinced that they want to use the TE in their game plan. The tough part is that Clay mentioned that last season’s second encounter with the Patriots left him impressed with the way they took him out of the game. This is not a game to ‘expect’ anything but should give us an idea of what he’ll do this season. If he’s your starter you probably have to roll with him but this isn’t the best matchup.
15. Antonio Gates – This season I’m worried about both San Diego TEs; Green because of Gates, and Gates because of the rest of the talent on this offense. Stay away, if you can.
16. Delanie Walker – I feel like a lot of people are underestimating Walker and I’m fine with that, he’s an upside flier, anyway. Walker looked good to me in SF and again last season when targeted. We’re still not sure how often he’ll be targeted this season in the new offense but I liked that he had a 7 point preseason game. I feel like he has a small chance to make an impact this season but you don’t want this match-up. If KC plays anything like they did last season vs. the TE, I don’t want to take the chance that he’s not a target in the new offense even though I feel like he had to be (same offense that threw to Gates 100+ times last season).
17. Jared Cook – On top of Cook’s inconsistency, we don’t want to trust in this run heavy offense. Cook is very talented but we’re looking at the upside guys with no production role from here on down.
18. Dwayne Allen – Allen is convinced that he is an ‘elite’ NFL TE and he’s starting to convince me. He’s down far enough that most leagues don’t need to consider this at all but if he’s better than Coby Fleener at more than just blocking, this could be a break-out season for Allen. They’re facing a Denver defense that has upgraded their secondary but Allen is going to run underneath. If you’re still holding on to Ladarius Green this might be the best/last time to drop him and the last chance to stash a guy that’s probably going to be on the field more often.
19. Ladarius Green – Green lands here because of the possibility of a great game; that is the only reason. Green is not a PPR guy but deserves to be here because of his ‘lotto ticket’ status.
20. Garrett Graham – Graham has my attention because of Coach O’Brien, and Graham’s mention of O’Brien’s usage of him in this new offense. Graham looks to work in Hernandez’s old role and that’s interesting enough to bring up.