Win. Your. League.

Receive 3 Free Downloads More Details

The New Reality No.106: 2018 Free Agent Wide Tight Ends

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of dynasty fantasy football

The fourth installment of the 2018 NFL free agency preview of available players, cut candidates, and landing spots, here is a look at the tight end position around the NFL landscape:

2018 FREE AGENT tight ends

TOP SHELF

Graham is an all-time performer at the position but outside of touchdowns, his production has taken a sharp decline in terms of yards-per-catch to an anemic 9.1, by far a career low. Graham film this year also shows a tight end struggling to separate and looking like a shell of his former self athletically. Teams viewing Graham as still in his prime or on the decline will determine whether he gets a top of the market contract or a shorter-term deal for less than $8-10 million per year. Eifert has been a one-hit wonder through five NFL seasons, his touchdown-centric 2015 year of 13 scores on 52 receptions. Eifert is one of the few 'split out and win as a standalone receiver' types at the position, but injuries have been the largest speed bump to-date with 41 games misses over those five years. Expect a prove-it type deal for Eifert, who could be one of the bigger dynasty values pending health and landing on a less crowded passing game depth chart than some of his Cincinnati time.
 

STARTER UPSIDE

Watson may be the stretch of the trio but has been a starter on three different NFL teams over the years from New England to New Orleans to Baltimore. Watson is eroding in his later 30s but offers stopgap upside if a depth chart is grooming a younger option for later in 2018 or beyond. Brate held off rookie O.J. Howard for the first part of 2017, but has relented snaps of late as Howard continues his rise to the No.1 role (and is the likely Week 1 unquestioned starter for 2018). Brate is a restricted free agent but will be one of the more in-demand options on the market. Brate is averaging more than half a touchdown per game over the past two seasons and offers TE1 upside. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a reclamation project, flashing at times with the Jets in 2017. Seferian-Jenkins had one of the better size-movement profiles and was a top metric prospect entering the league. However, Seferian-Jenkins has yet to produce for any significant length of time and is averaging just 8.5 yards-per-reception over the past two seasons.
 

ANCILLARY OPTIONS

None of these options have much of a chance to land a starting gig in 2018. Troy Niklas has the most draft pedigree of the bunch as a former second-round pick, but an oversized blocking-centric build yet to show much as a receiver. Gates, Miller, and Lewis are former producers on their last legs in the NFL. Luke Willson has flashed at times and could be an upside play if landing a No.2 role.

CUT CANDIDATES

These tight ends have cut potential with their contracts. Listed next to each underperformer is how much the team would save if moving on from their current contract.

Eric Ebron progressed through his first three seasons before turning into a shadow in 2017, playing fewer snaps than Darren Fells most weeks and averaging less than three catches per game. Vance McDonald has no dead cap remaining on his deal with Pittsburgh, which has been a lost season with injuries keeping McDonald's opportunity at bay. McDonald has the physical tools but has been one of the more inconsistent options in recent years. Witten and Reed are the big names on this list. Witten, the long-time Cowboy and future hall of fame selection, is eroding and a year-to-year basis contract-wise. Reed's injuries have mounted over the years but is one of the difference-makers of the position when healthy, which has not been the case in a lost 2017. 

2018 tight end LANDING SPOTS

Landing spots are based on projected free agents, offensive strength, and potential cut candidates.

TE1 AVAILABILITY

  • Jets
  • Bengals
  • Broncos
  • Lions
  • Ravens
  • Dolphins
  • Jaguars
  • Seahawks
  • Saints
  • Steelers

In terms of passing games without a strong No.1 receiver and possessing a good quarterback (the best equation for top fantasy production for tight ends), the Ravens and (maybe if they get a quarterback upgrade) Jets/Jaguars stand out. Denver and Miami offer the worst combinations of the aforementioned criteria on the list for a tight end to thrive at present.

TE2 AVAILABILITY

  • Colts
  • Cardinals
  • Cowboys
  • Bills
Jermaine Gresham is a lackluster de facto No.1 in Arizona, so their situation could elevate to TE1 availability in short order. Jason Witten departing offers upside to the top tier for Dallas' appeal. Jack Doyle and Charles Clay are solid starters - for now - with the Colts and Bills.