The 4th and final part of the 2017 Year in Review series focuses on the tight end position as well as some notes about kickers and defenses in 2017. With the tight ends, it’s pretty much the haves and have-nots. If you have a great one (Gronk, Kelce, Ertz), you don’t have to worry. If you don’t (everybody after Jared Cook), you’re trying to scrape by and not get stuck with somebody at their lowest point. Let’s take a look at some of the TE options from 2017.
Zach Ertz – 74 rec., 824 yds., 8 TD (TE #3)
Zach Ertz was the apple of Carson Wentz’ eye in 2017, seemingly finding him on every 3rd down and big play. He did miss a couple games, but by and large, this was the Zach Ertz we have been waiting for since he was drafted out of Stanford. With a full year of Carson Wentz and provided he has a clear bill of health next season, there’s no reason Ertz can’t stay among the top 4 at the tight end position for the foreseeable future. He could challenge Travis Kelce in terms of targets at the position and receptions, that is his ceiling.
Evan Engram – 64 rec., 722 yds., 6 TD (TE #5)
In what was a disastrous season for the New York Football Giants, a lone bright spot was the growth and maturation of Evan Engram as a viable and dynamic threat in the Giants’ passing game and in fantasy football. Rare is the tight end that as a rookie was a must-start option, but Engram became just that once the injuries piled up on the outside. In the games he played, he only had 3 games of his 15 where he had less than 4 catches. As a tight end with amazing speed at the position, he’s a matchup nightmare for whoever covers him and he has the tools to become a star in the NFL. Definitely trending upwards in fantasy, he’s a middle round selection depending on who is throwing him the ball. If it’s Eli Manning, I’d be happy with him in the 7-8th round range once the elites and next tier is off the board. Major upside.
Jimmy Graham – 57 rec., 520 yds., 10 TD (TE #6)
James Graham became Jimmy Graham-lite in Week 3 and then again starting in Week 5 and then reverted back to James Graham in Week 14 until the end of the season. As Jimmy-lite, he looked a bit like his old self in his New Orleans days, a matchup nightmare that Russell Wilson had confidence in, as evidence by 9 of his 10 touchdowns coming from Week 5 to Week 13. Graham may not have the speed he once had, but he’s still a worthwhile tight end in the NFL. He turned in a solid effort, while not as flashy as his 2016 where almost got to 1000 yards, it was still a successful season. He will hit free agency and his value will be tied to wherever he ends up. Keep an eye on where that destination may be, but right now, he’s a middle round selection with upside based on his location.
Jared Cook – 54 rec., 688 yds., 2 TD (TE #12)
Jared Cook started 16 games for the first time in his career, spanning 9 season, but frankly, it ended up as just the same as his previous seasons… lots of hype and the production not backing it up. Cook has always been an athletic marvel back to his days in Tennessee, somebody who could stretch the field and find mismatches along the seam. It’s looking like his career highlight will be the catch he made along the sideline as a Packer to set up the game winning field goal from Mason Crosby in the last season’s playoff game. The Packers chose to acquire Martellus Bennett over Cook and Cook went off to Oakland to link up with Derek Carr. The Oakland passing game was definitely Jared Cook-like, overhyped and falling flat, as Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree fell flat themselves too. Cook actually was 2nd on the team in receptions and amazingly, led that team in receiving yards, but from a fantasy standpoint, he was a marginal starter. Keep an eye though on Carr and the offense in 2018, if they get back to their potential under Jon Gruden, Cook could see an uptick in production. Realistically, Cook should be a waiver-wire target or a late round selection in drafts when 2018 training camp rolls around.
FANTASY TEAM DEFENSES IN 2017
Team defenses… if you ask me, drafting them in any round other than the last 3 rounds really limits your ability to find depth for your roster. The top options coming into 2017 were the Broncos (DEF #13), Seahawks (DEF #9), Chiefs (DEF #17), Vikings (DEF #11), and Texans (DEF #26). If you drafted of those after filling out your starting lineup, more than likely, you were streaming defenses for most of the season. It’s honestly not worth that hassle. It’s statistically better to take a sleeper, try to stay on top of waivers and get a defense to hold onto for the season. If you did this, you would’ve had your choice of the Eagles (DEF #3), Ravens (DEF #2), Chargers (DEF #5), Lions (DEF #6), and Bears (Oh my!… sorry, DEF #7). Save yourself the headaches, draft your studs and worry about the defense later.
FANTASY KICKERS IN 2017
Speaking of worrying about them later… who had Greg Zuerlein as the top scoring kicker? Just one? Well Greg, thank you for reading this article, but it’s safe to say that very few did. There is very little difference in selecting the top kicker versus the 16th ranked kicker, so try to select one either based on the strength of the team’s scoring offense, or maybe on a team with a middling offense that stalls a bit, like Baltimore with Justin Tucker or Kansas City with Cairo Santos and later, Harrison Butker. You can’t go wrong that way. But a kicker is a kicker, right? In distance leagues, you can’t go wrong with Detroit’s Matt Prater, who is going to play at least 9 games indoors (8 in Detroit, 1 in Minnesota) who has a booming leg (7 of 11 FG made from 50 yds. plus). Also, the ageless Matt Bryant, who also plays his games indoors, going 8/9 from 50 yards and further.
Well, there you have it for the recap for 2017. Check out my previous articles recapping the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers! Stay tuned to Pack to the Fantasy for more 2018 content to come! Thanks for reading!