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Fantasy Football: Tight end rankings 08.28.15 at 1:14 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski hasn't had to worry about rehabbing this offseason. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski is in a class of his own among tight ends. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

This week we are taking a look at the tight ends for fantasy purposes. I’ve broken down the top 32 options and placed them into tiers as I did with the quarterbacks and wide receivers. I’ll be back next week with the running backs. If you can’t wait until next week, don’t worry. You can check out my full top 500 rankings at Rotobahn right now.

As Jim Hackett and I said on Thursday’s Fantasy Football Podcast, there are not a lot of tight ends who you can really count on, but there are a bevy of options with potential. The key to drafting tight ends in 2015 is knowing how to tell the two apart and avoiding the duds. I’ll endeavor to guide you through that in this article.

If this is your first dose of preseason fantasy football at weei.com, here are some links to what you’ve missed.

Jim and I will be back on Sunday morning, as usual, so tune in to 93.7 and catch the entire hour starting at 8 a.m. I hope you can join us! To keep tabs on all my preseason fantasy football content including all rankings and cheat sheet updates, follow me on Twitter.

Tier 1

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots (1)

Do I need to say anything here? He’s the best, and he’s got a Hall of Famer throwing him the football. Gronkowski also is as healthy as we’ve seen him in years — coming off of a surgery-free offseason. He’s the biggest no-brainer in the 2015 positional rankings — outclassing the field and even Jimmy Graham by several lengths.

Tier 2

Jimmy Graham, Seahawks (2)

Maybe the only tight end who has Gronk-like upside, Graham has posted elite numbers in the past and is a red zone beast. He is going to a less-pass-happy offense than the one he’s used to, but he’ll be the best weapon Russell Wilson has ever had, and I suspect they will hook up often. Graham is the easy choice once Gronkowski is off the board at tight end.

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Read More: Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce
Fantasy Football: Redraftable rookies 08.21.15 at 3:46 pm ET
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The 2015 draft class is a strong one, and you need to be on top of these guys for fantasy purposes. We saw more rookie breakouts in 2014 than we’ve seen in recent memory. While 2015 is not quite in that same category, it’s still well above average. I’ve isolated the 22 most important rookies for fantasy consideration in seasonal or “redraft” leagues. If you want to get an even deeper feel for these players, follow the scouting report link to the right of the player’s name. Most of them will take you to my free site and there you will find a detailed breakdown and some game film so you can do a little scouting yourself.

I’ll be expanding this article next week over at Rotobahn to include deeper options for those of you who play in bigger leagues. Head over and check that out if it applies to you. To keep tabs on all of my content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter.

Please join Jim Hackett and myself at 8 a.m. Sunday morning for the third preseason installment of WEEI’s Fantasy Football Hour on 93.7 FM. We’ll be discussing draft strategy and a lot of the players in this article.

Ameer Abdullah, RB, Lions — scouting report

He’s in line for a significant workload, and he’s perhaps the least game-flow-dependent running back in the rookie class. Todd Gurley also would be in that category if he was 100 percent. My glowing scouting report on Abdullah (linked above) cites ball security and staying healthy as my only concerns with this player. He looks like a solid RB2 to me in all formats and he has more upside if your league uses PPR scoring.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers — scouting report

He’s got more value in non-PPR scoring, but San Diego invested heavily in Gordon and he’s been the early-down back from the moment his name was called. Capping his value, particularly in PPR, is Danny Woodhead, who should play in most passing situations, and that includes third downs in the red zone. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to Patriots fans.

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Read More: Amari Cooper, Ameer Abdullah, Melvin Gordon, Nelson Agholor
Fantasy Football: Wide receiver rankings 08.14.15 at 12:41 pm ET
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Welcome to the 2015 wide receiver rankings! I posted the quarterbacks last week and I’ll be hitting the running backs and tight ends next week as we near prime drafting season. As always, if you are looking for an even deeper look at the player pool, head over to my site, Rotobahn, and enjoy all we have to offer at no charge. We won’t even ask for your name or email. It’s an informative yet non-invasive experience. A rarity on the net these days.

Tune to 93.7 on Sunday morning for the second installment of WEEI’s Fantasy Football Hour, hosted by Jim Hackett and myself. If you missed the first episode, you can catch up here.

On Sunday, Jim and I will break down this article and a host of other fantasy football topics. Please join us! For those of you who sleep in, check out the online version on WEEI.com. I’ll be sure to post a link to the show on Twitter, so follow me if you do not already. All right, let’s get into the top 36 fantasy receivers for 2015!

Tier 1 (1-6)

Dez Bryant
Antonio Brown
Demaryius Thomas
Calvin Johnson
Julio Jones
Odell Beckham

Take your pick. These are the elite options for a reason. All of these receivers have top-shelf ability, are the clear No. 1s on their team and have proven quarterbacks. That’s the trifecta. If you play in standard scoring, you should trust your gut and take the player who makes sense for you. In PPR, I put Antonio Brown at the top and recommend that you do the same.

Tier 2

A.J. Green (7)

Green is absolutely as special as the guys in Tier 1, but he lacks a top-flight quarterback, and that costs him statistics at times. This leaves Green a notch below the elite but a notch above the third tier.

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Read More: Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant
Fantasy Football: Quarterback rankings 08.07.15 at 3:43 pm ET
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Fantasy football preparation is in full swing, and I’m kicking off my positional ranking articles with the quarterbacks. And why not? After all, the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. I’ve broken them down into tiers for you, and you have viable options all the way through with the exception of the last tier, which should be avoided like discounted seafood. Still, even without the final tier, you have more quarterback depth than I have ever seen. The benefits of waiting to draft your quarterback have never been greater. As we move through August, there will be changes to these rankings. To keep pace with these changes, you can always go to Rotobahn. It’s 100 percent free and its updated on a daily basis.

If you missed Thursday’s article on players who can drastically outperform their draft-day cost, you can access it here.

I’ll be back next week with a look at the running backs and receivers. And, be sure to tune in this Sunday at 8 a.m., when Jim Hackett and I will be live on 93.7 with this season’s first edition of WEEI’s Fantasy Football Hour. Please join us! We’ll make it worth your while.

Andrew Luck is the surest bet at the quarterback position for fantasy owners.  (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Andrew Luck is the surest bet at the quarterback position for fantasy owners. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Tier 1

Andrew Luck
Aaron Rodgers

The elite are easy to spot this year. Luck and Rodgers stand alone atop the quarterback rankings. While they have as much upside as anybody out there, it’s their strong floors that make them such good bets. Both of these guys could have relative down years and still finish as QB1s. Injury is really the only concern I have for either of these studs, and I have more concern in that area with Rodgers, who has been banged up in both of the last two seasons. That’s why Luck gets the top spot.

Tier 2

Russell Wilson
Cam Newton
Ben Roethlisberger

Here we have three excellent stat producers who all got new toys this offseason. Cam Newton finally has respectable weapons in the passing game. And, what’s better is that his weapons are all tall targets. This works to minimize one of Newton’s biggest weaknesses — leaving too many passes up high. Roethlisberger is surrounded by outstanding skill talent, and that includes one of the best receiving running backs in Le’Veon Bell. The newest weapon, Sammie Coates, may not even be able to get on the field in 2015. That’s how incredibly deep Pittsburgh is when it comes to the skill positions. Russell Wilson has a lot of good young receivers, but the key addition obviously is tight end Jimmy Graham, who gives Wilson the kind of red zone weapon he’s sorely lacked throughout his young career. All three of these guys have up-pointing arrows. They are strong reasons to not go too early on a quarterback.

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Fantasy Football, Tom Brady
Fantasy Football: Players who can drastically outperform their ADP 08.06.15 at 10:16 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr
Fantasy football season has started, and I thought it would be good to kick off our preseason coverage with something that will make you think big thoughts –€” championship thoughts. Something that puts some wind in your preparatory sails. I want to get you all leaning in — eager to put in the time so you can be a dominant drafter in a few weeks.

As Calvin “œNuke”€ LaLoosh said in “Bull Durham,” “I love winning, man. I [expletive] love winning. You know? Like it’€™s better than losin’€™!?” Profound words from a simple man. Yes, winning is undoubtedly better than losing and in fantasy football, it’€™s a whole lot better. I think we all know the sting that goes with a losing fantasy football season. Today’€™s article is step one toward dumping that pain on everybody in your league but yourself.

Would Mike Evans be a good fantasy football pick? (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Would Mike Evans be a good fantasy football pick? (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

As I said to Jim Hackett yesterday on the WEEI Fantasy Football Podcast, to win championships, you need to target players who can drastically out-perform their draft position. That is the focus of thi€™s article. I’ve used ADP to isolate 10 players who can return value that greatly exceeds the price you will pay to acquire them.

The ADP data I used was obtained at Fantasy Pros and it’s a combination of data from ESPN, FFC, Yahoo, NFL.com and CBS. You can access it here. Before we get into the players, I want to invite all our readers to join Jim and I this Sunday at 8 a.m. on WEEI 93.7 FM for this year’s first live edition of WEEI’s Fantasy Football Hour.

1. Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers — ADP 27

Evans is entering his second season, so it’€™s somewhat understandable that his ADP is where it is. Drafters are taking a conservative approach with him. And, while I do have him slotted significantly higher than his ADP in Rotobahn’€™s seasonal rankings, what we are talking about here is his upside — his ability to out perform even my higher ranking. Evans had 12 touchdowns as a rookie, and while some experts will scream “€œregression,” I’€™m looking at his improved quarterback situation and thinking he could be even better in Year 2. If Evans was to break out in full, he could post numbers that you’€™d expect out of a guy in the first round. Not bad for a receiver who is often slipping into Round 3.

2. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seahawks — ADP 28

Graham is getting into the third round with regularity and I have actually drafted him in the fourth on several occasions. Rob Gronkowski is state of the art at the tight end position, but Graham is a tremendous target in his own right. This player has amassed 51 total touchdowns over the last four seasons and that is without being fully healthy at various points in time. In moving to Seattle, Graham may have lost Drew Brees, but he landed with a young stud in Russell Wilson. If the Seahawks put their season on the line by passing on the goal line, you can bank that Graham is the guy they throw it to this time. Graham is a steal at his third-round ADP. He has first-round upside.

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Read More: Fantasy Football, Jimmy Graham, Jordan Matthews, Lamar Miller
NFL combine preview: Quarterbacks 02.21.15 at 9:12 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdrToday we look at the most important position — quarterbacks. The 2015 quarterback class is not a great one by any means, but there is some talent worth rostering, both in NFL terms and in fantasy football terms. As always, my rankings emphasize future fantasy value. Of course, there’€™s a strong correlation between success in fantasy and success on the field. Rarely do we see a great fantasy quarterback who is not helping his real life team.

Here’s the positions we’ve broken down over the past few days:

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

I’€™ve broken my top ten quarterbacks down into tiers as I did with the other skill positions. If you want to check those rankings out, you can access them via the links below. There is good game film on most of these players available at Draftbreakdown.com, so dig in.

Tier One

Who will go No. 1 overall, Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Who will go No. 1 overall, Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota? (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Jameis Winston, Florida State
Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Is it choose your weapon or pick your poison? There are widely varying opinions on these two quarterbacks and while I’€™d love to offer you some clarity, I’€™m still wresting with it myself. The thing about Winston is that he’€™s playing NFL football already when you watch his game tape. He makes tons of NFL throws, he’€™s got all the physical tools that you want your quarterback to have. All he needs to do is gain a measure of consistency and reduce the mistakes. If he works hard and stays on the good books, the improvements should come with experience and time. If that happens, he’€™ll pay off for the team that drafts him.

Mariota is a different player altogether. He’€™s got all the intangibles you could ask for and he’€™s going to test extremely well in Saturday’s drills. The questions with him are the kind you can’€™t answer without a crystal ball. He almost never plays from under center, so it’€™s hard to evaluate that aspect of his game. More importantly, he is not accustomed to making the number of reads a typical NFL quarterback makes on a typical play. Of course, there’€™s no strong evidence to indicate he can’€™t do this. It’€™s an incomplete grade. Teams will have to project what he would be in their system. Obviously this would not be the case for Chip Kelly, the granddaddy of the Oregon offense, should he decide to make a draft day move or should Mariota somehow fall into his lap. The Jets are another team that may see Mariota as being desirable as currently constructed. Chan Gailey, the team’€™s new offensive coordinator, likes to use a lot of spread formations. A team like the Jets may be in a better position to play Mariota right away compared to a team like the Titans, who project to run a more traditional offense.

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Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota,
NFL combine preview: Tight ends 02.20.15 at 10:12 am ET
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WEEI_FantasyFootball_2014_hdr

On Wednesday and Thursday, we covered the wide receivers and running backs, respectively. In this post we’ll knock down the top 10 tight ends. I’ll be back with the quarterbacks Saturday morning. As always, I’ll be ranking these players with an eye toward future fantasy appeal, and this year’s tight end class is a bit more appealing that the 2013 group from that perspective.

As with the receivers and backs, I’ve broken the tight ends into tiers. As we move through the draft process, these rankings may move a bit, though I really doubt that anybody makes a move for the top spot. I’m that impressed with Maxx Williams. I’ll be posting full scouting reports on most of these tight ends in the coming weeks. Check weei.com later Friday, when Jim Hackett and I will be talking combine and looking ahead to 2015 fantasy drafts.

Tier 1

Maxx Williams, Minnesota

Yes, I am giving him his own tier. Williams is such a potent weapon as a receiver that I think he merits the distinction. The ex-Minnesota star is a mismatch nightmare, as I said the other day when I speculated about Williams as a potential Patriot. And, as much as I want to emphasize Williams’ receiving upside, it should be noted that he’s a solid blocker both in-line and out in space. He would fit right in on a team like the Patriots or the Eagles. If Chip Kelly fails to move up for Marcus Mariota, Williams would be a nice consolation prize.

Tier 2

Devin Funchess, Michigan
Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State
Clive Walford, Miami
Ben Koyack, Notre Dame

Funchess is working out as a receiver, and that most likely has something to do with his agent and the Jimmy Graham situation from last season. In my view, after breaking down his game film, Funchess is worth more as a joker tight end in the Aaron Hernandez mold than he is as a wide receiver. In the end, it may only be semantics. He’ll be a chess piece for some team, but he’s not game-ready. I expect a typical learning curve. Heuerman is an interesting player. He’s prototypically sized and I like his chances of early success because he’s been well-schooled by Urban Meyer. A good combine could raise his profile considerable. Walford is a traditional two-way tight end and he’s close to game-ready. His blocking chops should make him an every-down player eventually, and that lends itself to fantasy value. Koyack’s inclusion in Tier 2 may surprise some people, but I like his overall game. He’s a versatile receiver with good hands and he’s got plenty of potential as a blocker.

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Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Ben Koyack, Clive Walford, Devin Funchess
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