The start of the NFL Season has arrived. The time for talk is over, it’s now to time to put up or shut up. This week in the Fantasy Spotlight we focus on the top five tight end plays for week one. The tight end position has evolved over the years into a position that offers some big fantasy value. While every year there are standouts such as Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen, occasionally, a new name joins the list of productive tight ends. A good example of this would be Hunter Henry last season. As we prepare to kick-off the 2017 NFL season let’s look at some of these key tight ends in this week’s edition of the Fantasy Spotlight.
2017 Fantasy Spotlight: Top Five Week One Tight Ends
Week One Matchup: vs Kansas City Chiefs
We aren’t really going out on a limb here with Gronkowski. When healthy “The Gronk” is far and away the most dangerous tight end in the NFL. His connection with Tom Brady is second to none and his ability to carry defenders on his back is other worldly. The Patriots begin their Super Bowl title defense at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. Over the last five seasons, Gronkowski has played in three season openers, missing two (2012, 2016) due to injury. In those three games played he has scored a touchdown in each one and scored three times against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. He is your no-doubt about it number one tight end this week.
Week One Matchup: at Washington Redskins
Zach Ertz has flirted with being an elite fantasy tight end for the past few seasons. In 2016 he put together a very solid campaign with 78 catches for 816 yards and four touchdowns. Carson Wentz is only going to get better and with aging wide receivers on the outside in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, Ertz will be a big piece of the Eagles offense. He gets a Washington Redskins defense that was 29th against opposing tight ends allowing 114 catches against in 2016. Over the past three seasons Ertz has had games against the Redskins of ten, 13 and 15 catches. Look for him to put up a big game in the season opener.
Week One Matchup: at San Francisco 49ers
A model of consistency at the tight end position for years, Greg Olsen is our third ranked tight end for week one. Olsen is coming off a 1,099-yard season even though his touchdowns were down (3). Despite that, he was constantly a target in the Panthers offensive attack. In a week two win last year against the 49ers, Olsen caught five passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. With this game being on the road, we expect Cam Newton to ease his way back from injury and look for his safety-net Olsen often.
Week One Matchup: vs New York Giants
Some people may question this ranking, but you really shouldn’t. Jason Witten has gone un-drafted in many season long leagues, and while that may be warranted, there is no disputing his success against the New York Giants. Over the past four seasons Witten has scored seven touchdowns against the division-rival Giants. He caught nine passes on 14 targets in last season’s opening game against “big blue.” With the status of Ezekiel Elliott still a question mark, Witten becomes a valuable piece for Dak Prescott. Look for the old-timer Witten to find the end zone this week.
Editor’s Note: Despite his six game suspension getting upheld, Elliott is expected to play Sunday against the Giants.
Week One Matchup: vs Oakland Raiders
Delanie Walker may be one of the most underrated players in the NFL. He goes late in most fantasy drafts and is widely unnoticed because he plays in Tennessee. Walker is coming off an eight touchdown season in 2016 and gets the Oakland Raiders 22nd ranked defense against tight ends in the opener. Oakland allowed over 1,000 yards (1,027) and seven touchdowns to tight ends last season. The Titans/Raiders match-up week one has the potential to be the most exciting game on the schedule. Look for points galore and watch for Delanie to “walk” into the end zone on Sunday.