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Exit Interview, TE: Rob Gronkowski takes over the world

In this article:
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All in all, it was a fun year with the tight ends. Antonio Gates defied father time. Greg Olsen turned in another rock-solid season. Travis Kelce gave us a splashy breakthrough, when Alex Smith and Andy Reid would allow it. And then we had that Rob Gronkowski fellow, destroying everything in his path over the final three months. What does it all mean going forward? Break it down, amino acids. 

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More Exit Interviews: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers

After watching Rob Gronkowski destroy all other tight ends in 2014, how early should we take him in 2015? Where is he on your preliminary Big Board?

Brandon — AT THE TURN. Realistically, I'm probably not the guy who ends up getting him in the draft. I feel like, after he played a full season in '14, it would be pressing your luck to try to get another 16-game run out of him in '15. That said, 1,000-plus yards and 12-plus TDs is his floor if he does go the distance again next season, and that warrants consideration in that 10-15 overall range.

Andy — Realistically, I doubt I'll ever get him. There seems to be at least one insane Pats fan in all of my leagues. But I think the right price is probably PICK SIX in Round 1, because A) he scores like an elite wide receiver and B) he figures to outscore the average fantasy TE by like 100 points.

Brad — The latter half of Round 1 is completely permissible to target everyone's favorite kitten cuddler. His 12.3 points per game output mirrored what Randall Cobb achieved this year. Given the position's lack of dependable options, entertaining his services anytime after the No. 7 overall pick sounds right. 

Rookies often emerge quickly at the other positions (and wide receivers went bonkers in 2014), but the tight end position seems to lag far behind. Is there a sweet spot (second year, third year, etc) for tight ends to emerge in the pro game? What's your general rule with tight end fantasy scouting? 

Dalton - There’s not much scouting for me, as this position continues to be dependent upon situation as much as any other, and there’s rarely a rookie I’m excited about. I was very high on Jordan Cameron entering the year, and there’s an argument pretty much every tight end was a disappointment relative to their ADP other than Rob Gronkowski. 

Brandon — I think you're looking for the right combination of experience and opportunity. You certainly wise to shy away from rookie TE targets. But I look at recent breakouts like Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron, who both had a couple seasons under their belts before breaking out in YEAR 3. Who might be the YEAR 3 breakouts in '15? How about Luke Willson, Gavin Escobar or Tyler Eifert? Each of those guys could find the experience/opportunity sweet spot next season.

Scott - For the most part I treat the young players as irrelevant until proven otherwise, unless they do something Kelce-like in the preseason. Past that, I want someone who's near the front of the line in his team's passing tree, even if he's not a monumental physical freak. Recall that Greg Olsen was criminally underrated in a lot of pockets last year when the setup was so obvious, and he already had a resume of consistent production. 

Release the Kelce (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Release the Kelce (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Pick out a breakout star, Bobby. Who's the Travis Kelce of 2015? 

Brad — MYCHAL RIVERA. The Raider ransacked opponents only over short stints in 2014, finishing just outside the top-15 in total points at the position. However, in his third year, Rivera should offer more consistency, especially given the expected growth and development of Derek Carr in Year 2. A 65-700-7 campaign could be on the horizon. 

Andy  — I'll go ZACH ERTZ, a player who's at least as talented as Kelce. We saw Ertz's potential in Week 16, when he caught a billion passes for a zillion yards. He's a serious threat, tied to a terrific offense.

Scott — My buddy Brandon Funston knows the Seahawks as well as anyone, so I'll tag along with his LUKE WILLSON endorsement. We finally saw some of Willson's potential flash in the Week 16 beatdown at Arizona, and obviously he's tied to a superstar quarterback. Better yet, there's no dynamic wide receiver on the roster to soak up targets in Seattle. 

Let's save owners some money and aggravation. Which tight end will be the biggest disappointment of 2015? 

Dalton  — JIMMY GRAHAM. I can fully see people talking themselves into making him another high pick, but Graham can’t stay healthy, and Drew Brees might very well be entering his decline phase for good now. I wouldn’t take Graham anywhere near his 2014 ADP next year. 

Scott  — Good luck to JULIUS THOMAS if the Broncos don't write the check. I'm also skeptical about JORDAN REED (how many times will we fall for the same setup?) and MAXX WILLIAMS (general TE rookie skepticism). 

Brad — JULIUS THOMAS. There's no guarantee he'll be back with the Broncos next year. Internal rumblings and rumors floating around the greater Denver suggest John Elway is unwilling to stack greenbacks to retain the tight end. If that's the case, severing ties to Peyton Manning could greatly reduce his value. However, landing spot means everything. The free-agent-to-be is definitely a player to monitor closely this offseason. 

Tomorrow's news today: give us your Top 15 tight ends of 2015. 

Brandon — 1) Gronk, 2) Jimmy Graham, 3) Julius Thomas, 4) Greg Olsen, 5) Martellus Bennett, 6) Travis Kelce, 7) Dwayne Allen, 8) Antonio Gates, 9) Jordan Cameron, 10) Delanie Walker, 11) Mychal Rivera, 12) Jordan Reed, 13) Larry Donnell, 14) Kyle Rudolph, 15) Coby Fleener

Andy — 1) Gronk ... 2) Graham ... .... ... 3) Olsen, 4) Thomas, 5) Allen, 6) Bennett, 7) Walker, 8) Gates, 9) Ertz,10) Reed, 11) Clay, 12) Rivera, 13) Maxx Williams, 14) Heath, 15) Fleener

Brad — 1) Gronk, 2) Graham, 3) Kelce, 4) Olsen, 5) Bennett, 6) Thomas, 7) Allen, 8) Gates, 9) Cameron, 10) Walker, 11) Rivera, 12) Reed, 13) Ertz, 14) Fleener, 15) Maxx Williams 

Dalton — 1) Gronkowski 2) Graham 3) Thomas 4) Olsen 5) Kelce 6) Cameron 7) Bennett 8) Allen 9) Witten 10) Walker 11) Gates 12) Davis 13) Reed 14) Fleener 15) Clay 

Scott — 1) Yo Soy Fiesta, 2) Graham, 3) Olsen, 4) Kelce, 5) Allen, 6) Bennett, 7) Thomas, 8) Gates, 9) Ertz, 10) Clay, 11) Fleener, 12) Rivera, 13) Walker, 14) Reed, 15) Miller