2015 Shuffle Up: Gronkowski runs alone

Roto Arcade

With only seven months until draft season kicks in, we better get some rankings out to the people. In this edition, we'll tackle the tight ends. 

I'll be shuffling all the major positions out the door this week, one at a time, just to give us something to talk about. I'm not in any way married to these 2015 ranks or opinions; surely I'll forget many (most) of them by the time pitchers and catchers report, if not sooner. But lists are fun, rankings are fun.

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A few rules: players at the same price are considered even; the dollar values are merely comparison tools and are arrived at unscientifically; and I refuse to rank rookies before the NFL draft. We have to draw the line somewhere.

Rob Gronkowski $33
Jimmy Graham $28
Julius Thomas $27
Greg Olsen $23
Travis Kelce $22

If we ignore Gronkowski's messed-up 2013 season, here are his TE ranks for his career: fifth, first, third (despite 11 games) and first. He was the sixth overall scorer in the Value Based Drafting rankings for 2011 (we're talking about all positions here), and 11th this season. You've seen the numbers and you've definitely seen the tape. How do you cover this guy? How do you not consider him with a first-round pick next year? Age is on his side; he turns 26 in May. And Tom Brady is still playing at a Pro Bowl level. 

Everyone can see Kelce's gross underuse - everyone but the Chiefs, that is. He led the position in yards per target, and he was third in catches of 20 yards and up, despite ranking just 14th in overall looks. Surely a larger market share is on the way next season . . . The underrated Olsen bit was fun while it lasted; that probably evaporates next year. His EOS rank the last three years: 4th, 8th, 7th. Carolina's passing game basically had two options in 2014. 

Martellus Bennett $20
Dwayne Allen $19
Jordan Cameron $17
Zach Ertz $17
Delanie Walker $17
Jordan Reed $16
Antonio Gates $16
Charles Clay $14

Although Clay missed two games and wasn't at full throttle for many others, he still received plenty of use, especially around the scoring area. His 20 red-zone targets ranked second at the position, and his 13 looks inside the 10-yard line were tied for first. Miami obviously doesn't have a freakish wide receiver talent for those shorter looks around the scoring stripe, and while Clay isn't gigantic by TE standards (he's 6-foot-3), he's a monster compared to the other receiving options here . . . Gates is a lot like Tony Gonzalez, one of those aging-gracefully players who's going to be fantasy relevant until the day he retires. Nonetheless, Gates turns 36 in June, something we can't ignore. And I doubt Keenan Allen will score just four touchdowns in 2015. Keep in mind Gates scored 7, 7 and 4 touchdowns before exploding for 12 spikes this year. 

Kyle Rudolph $12
Jason Witten $12
Larry Donnell $10
Coby Fleener $8
Mychal Rivera $8
Austin Seferian-Jenkins $7
Jace Amaro $7
Dennis Pitta $7

A lot of sunshine was sent Rudolph's way before 2014, but injuries wrecked the story. Teddy Bridgewater was playing some snappy football at the end of his rookie year . . . Rivera would be near the bottom of the list if we were picking Olympic decathletes, but he understands how to get open in tight spaces and he's established some rapport with Derek Carr. And there's nothing special on Oakland's wide receiver depth chart.

Eric Ebron $6
Ladarius Green $6
Luke Willson $6
Heath Miller $5
Tyler Eifert $4
Vernon Davis $4
Tim Wright $4

Perhaps it's better to be a year late than a year early with respect to the Green-type breakouts. His emergence might not completely happen until Gates walks away from football . . . Maybe I'm overreacting to what Willson's shown the last two weeks, but the Seahawks have always raved about his raw abilities, there's a star quarterback in-house, and nothing special at the other receiving spots. Go look at that Week 16 tape again, tell me it's not gorgeous . . . I'll admit I have no idea what to do with Davis. Like Colin Kaepernick, at least he's getting a coaching reboot at the right time. 

Richard Rodgers $3
Jared Cook $3
Jermaine Gresham $3
Brent Celek $2
Owen Daniels $2
Scott Chandler $1
Niles Paul $1
Gavin Escobar $1
Crockett Gillmore $1
C.J. Fiedorowicz $1
Andrew Quarless $1
Troy Niklas $1

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