This is my first of a twelve piece breakdown in which I’ll be covering the top 24 quarterbacks and tight ends, along with, the top 48 running backs and wide receivers from the 2017 season. I’ll be displaying their ADP going into the 2017 season compared to their final ranking. Additionally, I’ll look at what we saw from the players and what we can hope for moving forward. I’ll be breaking each position into 12 player segments. Starting with the TE2s and working my way all the way through to the QB1s.

Tight Ends – 13-24 [Final rankings according to FantasyDatabase.com (PPR)]

Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers

2017 Position Finish – 13 (+4)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 17

2017 Recap: Hunter Henry started the season receiving zero targets in two of the first three games. He ended the season missing the final three weeks. In the middle of the season — weeks eight and nine to be exact — Henry combined for four targets, three receptions and 18 yards. However; in between the beginning, middle, and end we saw the Hunter Henry who finished his rookie campaign with eight touchdowns. We knew that touchdown mark was going to be hard to come by in a second straight year. But finishing 13th and the top TE2 is still a very good year for the sophomore.

2018 Outlook: Henry is only improving with time. The tight end position is the hardest to learn and you’ll notice a lot of younger guys finishing as TE2s because they’re still getting used to the physical and mental toughness it takes to play tight end in the NFL. Antonio Gates could be retiring, or seriously losing playing time at least. Therefore, if Rivers stays with the team there should be a high upside season for Henry coming up in 2018.

Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions

2017 Position Finish – 14 (+7)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 21

2017 Recap: Eric Ebron is another young tight end, but someone who should have progressed more by now. Ebron faltered coming out of the gate in 2017, which lead to a loss of confidence for the fourth year, first round pick. Ebron caught 24 of 46 targets in the first ten weeks, a catch percentage of 52%. Along with Ebron only scoring two touchdowns in those first ten weeks, he was getting booed by Detroit fans. That must have made him work harder, because from weeks 11-17 Ebron had 29 receptions on 40 targets (75%) and found the end zone another two times.

2018 Outlook: This is almost a make or break year for Ebron. He’ll be entering a contract year, which is something to be on the lookout for when drafting your team next year. We see what people who want to get paid, like Mark Ingram, can do. He also has another year of work with Stafford under his belt. The burst he had at the end of the season should carry over into the 2018 season. All of this piled onto the fact it looks like the Lions will be signing Matt Patricia, who saw first hand how the Patriots called plays set up for Rob Gronkowski and that could be adapted in Detroit.

Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals

2017 Position Finish – 15
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: Everyone was excited to see Tyler Eifert back on the field, but that only lasted a couple weeks. Then it was Tyler Kroft’s time to come in and shine on a lackluster offense. The tight end position is always a favorite for the Red Rifle, so when Kroft became a full-time starter he seemed to be a must pick up. He didn’t have a lot of big days, and two of his five touchdowns came in week 17. Kroft had a good stretch during weeks 4-11, but ending with seven games with one catch or less is not going to get you many TE1 finishes, and that’s why Kroft finished as a TE2.

2018 Outlook: Another tight end who will be entering a contract year. However, the guy who had beaten Kroft out for the starting gig — when healthy — Tyler Eifert, will be hitting the free agent market this year unless the Bengals re-sign him. If the Bengals part ways with Eifert, then Kroft will become a serious contender for a top 12 tight end next year. If Eifert returns, then we may have seen the peak of Kroft’s career.

Vernon Davis – Washington Redskins

2017 Position Finish – 16
2018 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: Jordan Reed was in the talk for best tight end coming into the season. Being drafted over Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and everyone else in some leagues. But, if you drafted him hopefully you backed the injury-prone tight end with his back up, because Vernon Davis was a worthy starter for a few weeks. Davis finished the season with the most receiving yards, targets and touchdowns since his Pro Bowl year in 2013 with the 49ers. Reed couldn’t find his way off the injury report, and durable Davis always seemed to be there to help Redskins fans forget about Reed.

2018 Outlook: I’m not going to be drafting Davis next year, but when Reed has an ankle injury in training camp the light in your head better be going off, reminding you that Davis did have five weeks in 2017 where he finished as a TE1.

Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills

2017 Position Finish – 17
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: With a lot of worry about the Bills offense, Charles Clay wasn’t being drafted in many leagues. And rightfully so, as Clay did tally up his worst statistical season as a Buffalo Bill. He finished with lows in targets, receptions and touchdowns. Clay was injured during week 5. Beforehand, he was a TE1 with 2 touchdowns and a 100 yard game in his pocket. After returning from the injury, Clay never clicked like early in the season. Whether it was a lingering health issue, the offensive woes, or a combination of both, Clay couldn’t recapture his fantasy prowess.

2018 Outlook: With the thought that Tyrod Taylor is on his way out, that would open the door for maybe a quarterback to come in. If that quarterback happens to be Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Eli Manning or even Baker Mayfield, the tight end position will get a huge bump in production. All of those quarterbacks heavily favor their tight end, especially when starting with a new team. It’s their security blanket. So if the Bills make a move for one of these quarterbacks, I won’t be surprised to be calling Clay a top five tight end next year.

Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons

2017 Position Finish – 18 (-5)
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – 13

2017 Recap: 2017 couldn’t have started out any better for Austin Hooper. 128 yards, 88 of which on his longest catch of the year, for a touchdown while throwing a brutal stiff arm in the middle of it. Hooper was a TE1 or TE2 in six of the first nine weeks. Unfortunately, after week nine Hooper couldn’t eclipse 38 yards and was held out of the end zone. There was a lot of high praise on Hooper, from myself included. It looked like he may be a pretty good low-end TE1, which is the most you can hope for if you’re drafting your tight end at the end, or drafting a backup for Reed or Gronkowski. Yet, with the drastic decline down the home stretch he became more of a liability on your team.

2018 Outlook: Hooper will be entering his third year, and second year with Steve Sarkisian. As mentioned earlier, this position is no joke in the NFL. Hooper did double his production in targets, receptions and yards. He improved his catch percentage from a terrific 70% his rookie year to an outstanding 75% his sophomore year. I’d like to see his touchdowns improve as they remained stagnant at 3. I probably won’t have as much hype for Hooper this season, but this is the perfect recipe for a breakout player so I’ll be keeping my eyes on the reports coming from camps in the summer.

*Just a note, Hooper technically started only eight games in 2017 according to www.pro-football-reference.com, just food for thought.

George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers

2017 Position Finish – 19
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: George Kittle had some very good games with Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard. However, it was the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo that got Kittle looking like a decent start in fantasy. Kittle became an escape goat for Jimmy GQ, and I couldn’t be happier for the rookie. Kittle played hard every week, and other than a couple promising weeks, there seemed to be not enough talent to get the ball to Kittle. Once the team started winning, you saw Kittle’s stats go up and I don’t think that it is a coincidence.

2018 Outlook: This could be a very big sleeper, and in my mind will be very similar to the Austin Hooper of 2017. The young, raw talent will generate its buzz, and the fact that everyone will be in love with Garoppolo will give Kittle an extra tick. But be weary of the young tight ends. There’s a reason why a lot of the young guns at the position are in the TE2 piece and not the TE1 piece.

O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2017 Position Finish – 20
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: O.J. Howard had some pretty lofty expectations coming into 2017. He finished his rookie year with six touchdowns, which was pretty surprising since his partner-in-crime Cameron Brate also finished with six touchdowns. Howard struggled coming into the NFL, eclipsing 17 yards just twice in his first nine games. However, after Winston went down, Howard started to catch some fire. Howard ended his final five games with three games of 50 yards or more and three touchdowns.

2018 Outlook: This kid will be a star in this league before we know it. If he can get a quarterback who has faith in him, he’ll shine. It seemed like Howard and Winston just weren’t on the same page last year, especially when Howard turned too early on the final play of a game. Yet, they did start to find each other more at the end of the season, so I’ll be watching intently this off-season to see if it looks like that’ll continue into Howard’s second season.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins – New York Jets

2017 Position Finish – 21
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: ASJ had a very good year and would have been further up on this list if he didn’t have two touchdowns called back that shouldn’t have. However, he did, and those touchdowns off the board had ASJ finishing with just three touchdowns for the year. Even though he had career highs in targets, receptions and yards his embarrassing 7.1 yards per catch was an ultimate low and he will need to address his YAC skills this offseason.

2018 Outlook: With the possibility of ASJ testing the free agency waters, the outlook possibilities are endless. If he remains in New York and they address their quarterback woes this season, a rookie tight end could help ASJ’s stats continue to improve. Or if he stays and the Jets bring back McCown as a starter,; that could mean another 70 target season which could be even bigger this season without the referees dragging him down.

Jesse James – Pittsburgh Steelers

2017 Position Finish – 22
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: Finishing with career bests in targets, receptions and yards, it was a career year for Jesse James. Though it wasn’t much to write home about for fantasy purposes. James was able to finish the season as a TE2 in large part due to his two touchdowns week one, and ten receptions for 97 yards in the week 13 shootout against the Ravens. Other than those two weeks, James never eclipsed 47 yards and only scored one more touchdown. James finished with 2 receptions or less in nine different games.

2018 Outlook: It’s hard to predict anything better than what James gave us this year. That seems to be his ceiling even with this year being a contract year. Although there is a certain paranoia that surrounds Pittsburgh and if they’ll be able to keep Bell on their team. If Bell ends up leaving, there will be more opportunities in the red zone for James. He won’t be drafted in many fantasy drafts in 2018, but we’ll have to see what goes on during the off-season.

Julius Thomas – Miami Dolphins

2017 Position Finish – 23
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: Julius Thomas had another year to forget. His struggles since leaving the Broncos continue to be obvious. Thomas was able to improve his catch percentage back to 66%, but after that there weren’t any highlights to speak of. He failed to earn one 100 yard receiving game and only found the end zone three times. He was able to eclipse 50 yards only three times in 2017. Miami did have quarterback problems, which didn’t help Thomas.

2018 Outlook: Thomas will be entering his second season in Miami in 2018. That will be a good thing, now that he’s learned the system. Adding starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill back from injury will also prove to be helpful for Thomas. However, I don’t foresee another twelve touchdown season for Thomas like his Broncos days, nor do I even see a six touchdown season ahead. Thomas will be another low-end TE2 if not high-end TE3 in 2018.

David Njoku – Cleveland Browns

2017 Position Finish – 24
2017 Position ADP (ESPN) – N/A

2017 Recap: David Njoku was targeted 60 times his rookie year, but only came down with 32 of them; a 53.3 catch percentage. This must improve. It isn’t all his fault as he played on the Browns, who had the worst starting quarterbacks all season. It was a solid season from the rookie that really started out in a big way, as he caught three touchdowns in the first five weeks. He was on a sizzling pace, but it cooled way down and Njoku was only able to haul in one more touchdown in the final 11 weeks.

2018 Outlook: As Njoku enters his second season as a Brown and under the Hue Jackson regime, if there is a quarterback who is able to throw the ball well on his way to Cleveland, then Njoku’s stock will rise quickly. He is a talented athlete who made the most of a bad situation in his first season. The Browns only have one place to go and that is up. They’ll need their young players to help get them on the right path, and Njoku will be right in the middle of that.

About The Author Nick Faber

Nick is an avid fantasy footballer and avid sports follower from Detroit, Michigan. He hosts the Ten in the Head video podcast which can be found at facebook.com/teninthehead.