News & Analysis

Ranking the top fantasy tight ends in the 2018 draft class

By Jeff Ratcliffe
Apr 18, 2018

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STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 08: Mike Gesicki #88 of the Penn State Nittany Lions runs with the ball after a reception against the Maryland Terrapins during the game at Beaver Stadium on October 8, 2016 in State College, Pennsylvania. Penn State defeated Maryland 38-14. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

We’re just over a week away from the 2018 NFL Draft. To finish out our prep work, you’ll find the fantasy football scouting reports and rookie rankings for the tight ends below. This year’s class has some very intriguing talent, especially at the top. There’s likely to be future fantasy standouts in this group.

Remember, ranking players is a process that continuously changes as we get new pieces of information. The biggest piece won’t come until late April, when the player is either drafted, signed as an undrafted free agent, or passed over by the 32 NFL teams. For now, all the incoming players exist in a vacuum without a team and can be compared on even ground.

Don’t forget, you can also check out my fantasy scouting reports for the running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks. In total, 153 offensive skill position players are profiled.

1. Dallas Goedert, South Dakota St — Small-schooler with good size (6-5, 256) and athleticism. A receiving mismatch who plays the game more like wideout. Emerged in 2016 when he posted 92 catches for 1,293 and 11 scores. Followed that up with 1,111 yards and seven touchdowns on 72 receptions. Possesses very good speed, which makes him a vertical threat and also enables him to be very good after the catch. Averaged 8.2 yards after the catch per reception in 2017. Goebert’s athleticism and ability as a receiver projects favorably for fantasy purposes. He has the potential to be a long-term TE1.

2. Mike Gesicki, Penn St — A pass-catching tight end with a big frame (6-5, 247). Comes from a basketball background and can use his body to make contested catches. He caught 9-of-12 contested balls in 2017. His nine touchdowns ranked third in the nation among tight ends last season. Also tied for fourth at the position in catches with 51. Tested off the charts at the combine. Gesicki may not be much of a fantasy factor early in his career, but he has the potential to develop into one of the better fantasy tight ends.

3. Mark Andrews, Oklahoma — Athletic player who led all FBS tight ends in receiving yards with 959. A move option who ran 81.4 percent of his routes out of the slot last year. Caught 9-of-12 targets 20-plus yards downfield for 289 yards and two scores. Both his deep ball catches and yards were tops among FBS tight ends. Essentially a wide receiver playing tight end, Andrews is a constant mismatch. He has the potential to surface on the fantasy radar immediately with elite long-term fantasy appeal.

4. Hayden Hurst, South Carolina — Former minor league baseball pitcher who was drafted by the Pirates in 2012 and spent two years in rookie ball. Because of that, he enters the NFL in what will be his age-25 season. Very athletic and fast. He posted 14 forced missed tackles and averaged 7.0 yards after catch per reception. Excellent hands, he had zero drops in 2017 and just three on 155 targets during his college career. Hurst is a prototype move tight end who has intriguing long term fantasy appeal.

5. Jordan Akins, UCF — Athletic and speedy tight end who checks in at 6-3, 249 pounds. Drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2010 and played four years of minor league baseball. Then went back to college and started out as a wide receiver before moving to tight end in 2016. Effective on a per-route basis with 1.93 yards per route run, which ranked third among draft-eligible tight ends. Caught seven balls on targets traveling 20-plus yards in the air. His strong pass-catching skills make Akins the best bet out of the top four options in this year’s class to ultimately land on the fantasy radar.

6. Ian Thomas, Indiana — Athletic prospect who spent two years at the JUCO level before Indiana. Only had 28 catches at IU, but did manage five scores on 25 receptions in 2017. Possesses NFL size (6-4, 259). Has a basketball and track background at the high school level. Enters the NFL with a limited resume and is certainly on the raw side of the spectrum. Thomas isn’t likely to surface on the fantasy radar in the short term, but he’s a deeper name to remember as he develops at the pro level.

7. Christopher Herndon IV, Miami (Fla.) — Very athletic tight end who follows former teammate David Njoku to the NFL. Flashed strong receiving ability with 40 catches on 53 targets for 477 yards and four scores in 2017. Strong after the catch, he ranked fourth in the nation among tight ends with nine forced missed tackles. His 2017 season was cut short due to an MCL injury that required surgery. Still raw as a prospect. Comps to Ricky Seals-Jones, but he isn’t likely to have the same fantasy upside at the NFL level.

8. Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan — A former college basketball player who transferred to Central Michigan after playing one season of basketball at Northwood University. Productive as a receiver over the last two seasons with a combined 77 catches for 1,64 yards and 11 scores. But dealt with a Jones fracture that caused him to miss the first five games of 2017. Drops were an issue this past season with five on 69 targets. Has the athleticism to eventually emerge as a deeper fantasy option, but that could take some time.

9. Cam Serigne, Wake Forest — An H-back prospect who was very productive at the college level with 500-plus receiving yards in three of his four seasons at Wake Forest. Strong out of the slot with a catch rate of 77 percent. Also excelled in contested situations with a catch on eight of 13 targets. Undersized at 6-3, 240 pounds. Serigne’s pass-catching ability place him on the fringes of the dynasty radar.

10. Deon Yelder, Western Kentucky — Athletic move tight end who is slightly undersized at 6-3, 250 pounds. A one-year wonder who racked up 52 catches for 688 yards and seven scores last season. Had five catches on targets of 20-plus yards, which ranked second among draft-eligible tight ends. Also notched the third-most yards out of the slot with 412. Drops were an issue with six on 69 targets. Yelder’s athleticism and pass-catching ability make him an intriguing deep name to know for fantasy.

11. Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin — An agile and strong tight end with a good catch radius. Posted 45-plus catches and 500-plus yards in each of the last two seasons. Capable in contested situations with a catch rate of 45.5 percent. Somewhat lean frame at 6-5, 247 pounds. Missing the index finger on his left hand. His ability as a pass-catcher is a plus, but Fumagalli’s overall lack of athleticism bodes poorly for him surfacing on the fantasy radar in the NFL.

12. Jaylen Samuels, NC St — A hybrid player who lacks prototype NFL tight end size at just 5-11, 225 pounds. Heavily used as a receiver over the last three seasons with 199 catches and 500-plus yards each year. Samuels also found the end zone 19 times as a receiver and 28 times as a runner in his career. Ran 4.53 in the 40 at the combine. His athleticism and versatility are appealing, but Samuels’ lack of a defined position makes it very tricky to project his long-term fantasy value. He’ll likely end up in an “offensive weapon ” role which won’t likely result in the touch volume necessary to sustain consistent fantasy value.

13. Dalton Schultz, Stanford — Another in a seemingly long line of Stanford tight ends to make the jump to the NFL level. Tall and athletically built at 6-5, 244 pounds. Wasn’t heavily used as a receiver with just 55 catches for 555 yards and five scores in three years. Very good hands. Didn’t drop a single pass on 32 targets last season. Excelled as a run blocker in 2016, but regressed in that area last season. Schultz enters the NFL much closer to his floor than his ceiling and will take some time to develop. That said, he’s someone to keep fantasy tabs on over his first few years in the league.

14. Ryan Izzo, Florida St — An in-line tight end with good size (6-4, 256). Has ability as a receiver, but wasn’t asked to do much in this area in college. Notched 54 catches for 761 yards and six scores in four years at Florida State. More of a blocking option who isn’t likely to offer much for fantasy purposes.

15. Andrew Vollert, Weber St — Very athletic move tight end who checks in a 6-6, 239 pounds. Started at San Joes State then went the JUCO route before transferring to Weber State. Put up big numbers over the last two seasons with 62 catches for 840 yards and seven scores in 2016 and 61 catches for 773 yards and five scores last year. Ran a fast 4.54 40 time at his pro day. His ability to make plays as a receiver puts Vollert on the dynasty radar as a deep name to know.

16. Blake Mack, Arkansas St — A move tight end who is coming off a solid 2017 season where he put up 618 yards and seven scores on 48 catches. Capable downfield, he caught four balls on targets of 20-plus yards, which ranks third among draft-eligible tight ends. Strong after catch with a career YAC of 5.8 and 16 forced missed tackles on 98 catches. Undersized at 6-3, 229 pounds. Mack’s athleticism and ability as a receiver are appealing, but he’s still somewhat raw as a tight end. That said, he’s a name to keep under your hat in dynasty leagues.

17. Durham Smythe, Notre Dame — A blocking tight who was lightly used as a receiver in college. Caught just 28 balls in his four years in college. Did show a bit of a knack in the red zone with six career touchdowns, but was used more as a blocker. Has prototype size at 6-5, 253 pounds. Showed potential as a run-blocker in 2016, but was inconsistent in this area in 2017. Isn’t likely to be a fantasy factor at the pro level.

18. Jordan Thomas, Mississippi St — Absolutely massive (6-6, 265) and fast (4.74 40 time). Started out as a receiver in college despite his size. Lightly used with just 31 catches over the last two seasons. Had seven drops on 60 targets at Mississippi State. Off the charts from a height/weight/speed standpoint, but will enter the NFL very raw. A deep name to know, but he isn’t a strong bet for future fantasy success.

19. Will Dissly, Washington — A blocking tight end who checks in at 6-3, 262 pounds. Entered college as a defensive lineman and moved to tight end full-time in 2016. Wasn’t heavily used as a receiver with just 28 targets in 2017. Unlikely to be a factor in the receiving game at the pro level.

20. Ross Dwelley, San Diego — Small-schooler who started all four years and is coming off a strong 2017 campaign where he racked up 50 catches for 663 yards and 10 scores. Also found the end zone 10 times in 2016 to go along with 70 catches for 843 yards. The numbers are impressive, but Dwelley will see much tougher competition at the pro level and is likely to face a steep learning curve as a developmental prospect. He isn’t a good bet to surface on the fantasy radar.

21. Nick Keizer, Grand Valley St — Small-schooler who put up strong numbers in 2017 with 29 catches for 504 yards and nine scores. Despite the productivity, doesn’t project to be more than a blocking option at the pro level if he’s able to make a 53-man roster. Won’t be a fantasy option.

22. David Wells, San Diego St — A solid player who figures to be primarily a blocking option. Not heavily used in the passing game with just 38 catches on 49 targets over the last three seasons. Played an important role as a blocker for Rashaad Penny, though he was inconsistent in this area in 2017. Unlikely to be a fantasy option.

23. Ethan Wolf, Tennessee — A four-year starter who possesses good size (6-6, 248). Wasn’t asked to do a ton as a receiver, but did top 20 catches and 200 yards in each of his four seasons. Has NFL size, but his lack up upside at the college level suggests he isn’t going to be a fantasy option at the pro level.

24. Shane Wimann, Northern Illinois — A pass-catching option who scored 13 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Has decent size at 6-4, 250 pounds. Was productive at the college level, but isn’t likely to make an impact at the pro level.

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