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Keelan Cole burst onto the scene at the tail end of the 2017 season. This is leading lots of critics to say he can be a star in the fantasy world in 2018 and one reason as to why the Jaguars let Allen Robinson leave in free agency. Now even though Cole was a hot ticket item at the end of the season (especially during the fantasy playoffs), his first half of the season spelled no reason to consider this guy would become a household name in the fantasy football universe. Look at his numbers over the course of the first half of the season and the second half:

Games 1-8: 26 targets, 11 receptions, 158 yards, 0 touchdowns, 3.35 average fantasy points per game
Games 9-16: 57 targets, 31 receptions, 590 yards, 3 touchdowns, 13.5 average fantasy points per game

This goes to show that players can start slow or be non-existent, but then totally become a must-start player in the latter half of the season. The opposite can also be true, where some players come running out the gate at full speed. Then either other players emerge, or defenses start game-planning for them and they become second-half duds.

Let’s now use this metric to look at the tight end position group from 2017 and see how players performed in the first half of the season versus the second half.

2017 Tight End Splits

Name (Team)GamesTargetsReceptionsYardsTouchdownsFantasy PointsTotal Fantasy Points
Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)1–84732271377.1158.2
9–163425261581.1
Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts)1–85542378291.8173
9–165338312281.2
Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)1–84835319384.9149
9–163928241264.1
Austin Hooper (Atlanta Falcons)1–83525331270.1119.6
9–163024195149.5
Eric Ebron (Detroit Lions)1–83618195143.5134.4
9–165035379390.9
Jermaine Gresham (Arizona Cardinals)1–82617163139.377.2
9–162016159137.9
Coby Fleener (New Orleans Saints)1–82216196247.663.5
9–128699015.9
Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)1–859445564123.6234.8
9–1663394824111.2
Stephen Anderson (Houston Texans)1–82214191033.165.2
9–163011151132.1
Cameron Brate (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)1–84832214477.4123.1
9–162916177245.7
Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans)1–85437395076.5172.7
9–165737412396.2
Ed Dickson (Carolina Panthers)1–83222349056.979.7
9–1616888122.8
George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)1–83724250155106.5
9–162619265151.5
Jimmy Graham (Seattle Seahawks)1–85733328489.8169
9–164224192679.2
Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)1–856345095114.9225.4
9–1649355753110.5
Martellus Bennett (Green Bay Packers)1–83824233047.358.6
9–126653011.3
Hunter Henry (Los Angeles Chargers)1–83223312266.2125.9
9–163022257259.7
Charles Clay (Buffalo Bills)1–82820258257.8116.8
9–164629300059
Vernon Davis (Washington Redskins)1–83123384167.4125.8
9–163820264258.4
Marcedes Lewis (Jacksonville Jaguars)1–82610154449.485.8
9–162214164136.4
David Njoku (Cleveland Browns)1–83218195355.594.6
9–162814191139.1
Tyler Higbee (Los Angeles Rams)1–82915187139.760.5
9–161610108020.8
Evan Engram (New York Giants)1–86334412499.2172.2
9–165230310273
Benjamin Watson (Baltimore Ravens)1–83931220265137.2
9–164030302272.2
Jesse James (Pittsburgh Steelers)1–82820193251.398.2
9–163523179146.9
Julius Thomas (Miami Dolphins)1–83623256154.698.2
9–162618136243.6
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (New York Jets)1–83931201369.1103.7
9–163519156034.6
Zach Ertz (Philadelphia Eagles)1–864435286131.8204.4
9–164631296272.6
Tyler Kroft (Cincinnati Bengals)1–82925287371.7124.4
9–163317117452.7
Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders)1–84631373174.3134.8
9–164023315160.5
Zach Miller (Chicago Bears)1–83520236255.655.6
9–1600000
Virgil Green (Denver Broncos)1–812912012739.1
9–1610571012.1
  • As usual, elite players will be elite. Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski are the only two tight ends that posted at least 110 points in both halves of the season. Rankings be damned!

Games 1-8 Splits

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Games 9-16 Splits

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  • Cameron Brate saw a big drop from the first half of the season into the second. He averaged a little over nine points per game in his first eight games, but that drastically dropped to 5.7 points per game in the last eight games. This is because of the emergence of O.J. Howard in the offense and this led to split time between Howard and Brate.
  • Delanie Walker was the opposite case. He started the season a little slow but then turned it on during the back end of the season. He saw a 20-point jump in his fantasy scoring between the first half and second half of the season. He was a focal point for a Tennessee Titans team that was making a push to clinch a playoff spot. This led to his point difference between the two season halves.
  • Zach Ertz saw the biggest change in point differential in the first half of the season versus the second half. He posted a sensational 131.8-point total in his first eight games. With the Eagles securing the number one seed in week 15, Ertz had no reason to play in the final two games of the season. This led to his drop in point total in the final eight games, as he saw a declination of 59.2 points.

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  • Eric Ebron was able to cash-in during free agency based on the recency bias. By having a stellar second half of the season, Ebron was able to earn a lucrative contract even though the first half of his season was lackluster. He had the biggest positive point differential between season halves, with a rise of 47.5 total points over the back half of the season. Let’s see which version of Ebron the Colts will get in 2018.

Understanding these rankings can really help see how players will play in 2018. Knowing how these players will potentially play in both halves of the season, can really affect how you draft your tight ends. Let’s jump into the 2018 projections.

2018 Fantasy Tight End Rankings – Season Splits

2018 Fantasy Tight End Totals

 Name (Team)GamesTargetsReceptionsYardsTouchdownsFantasy PointsWeeks RankTotal Points
1.Zach Ertz (Philadelphia Eagles)1–861454735122.32245.1
Zach Ertz (Philadelphia Eagles)9–1657474585122.82
2.Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)1–8655151041261244.5
Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)9–1649385055118.54
3.Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)1–857415464119.63238.7
Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)9–1651404915119.13
4.Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)9–1660455435129.31225.8
Greg Olsen (Carolina Panthers)1–84840385396.56
5.Evan Engram (New York Giants)1–854474073105.74212
Evan Engram (New York Giants)9–1658404234106.38
6.Jimmy Graham (Green Bay Packers)9–1653423896116.95205.4
Jimmy Graham (Green Bay Packers)1–84233375388.510
7.Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts)9–16423646051126205
Jack Doyle (Indianapolis Colts)1–850423902939
8.Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans)9–1651414674111.77198.5
Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans)1–85640348286.812
9.Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)1–84738384394.48192.6
Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota Vikings)9–165139412398.29
10.Trey Burton (Chicago Bears)1–85843385399.55183.5
Trey Burton (Chicago Bears)9–16493234038411
11.Vernon Davis (Washington Redskins)1–85645379294.97174.8
Vernon Davis (Washington Redskins)9–164936319279.913
12.Benjamin Watson (New Orleans Saints)1–84537328387.811167.2
Benjamin Watson (New Orleans Saints)9–164032294379.414
13.Charles Clay (Buffalo Bills)9–16493038038610164.7
Charles Clay (Buffalo Bills)1–84534327278.713
14.O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)9–164532315381.512151.1
O.J. Howard (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)1–84030276269.616
15.George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)9–163529318378.815148.4
George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)1–83730276269.617
16.Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati Bengals)1–84131288271.814142.5
Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati Bengals)9–163528247370.716
17.David Njoku (Cleveland Browns)1–83630278269.815127.7
David Njoku (Cleveland Browns)9–164028239157.920
18.Dalton Schultz (Dallas Cowboys)1–83730276269.618126.7
Dalton Schultz (Dallas Cowboys)9–162922231257.121
19.Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jacksonville Jaguars)9–163225245261.519120.1
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jacksonville Jaguars)1–83429236158.622
20.Hayden Hurst (Baltimore Ravens)9–16292321036218119.5
Hayden Hurst (Baltimore Ravens)1–83530215157.523
21.Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders)1–83427289161.920118.9
Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders)9–16312421025722
22.Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins)1–83827247263.719118.7
Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins)9–16372419025523
23.Austin Hooper (Atlanta Falcons)9–164031234266.417117.3
Austin Hooper (Atlanta Falcons)1–83426189150.925
24.Ricky Seals-Jones (Arizona Cardinals)1–8373120015724110.4
Ricky Seals-Jones (Arizona Cardinals)9–162724174253.425
25.Ryan Griffin (Houston Texans)1–83527213260.321102.1
Ryan Griffin (Houston Texans)9–163024178041.828
26.Ed Dickson (Seattle Seahawks)9–163023185253.52498.5
Ed Dickson (Seattle Seahawks)1–8282514014527
27.Jake Butt (Denver Broncos)1–827202101472694.8
Jake Butt (Denver Broncos)9–162319168247.826
28.Jesse James (Pittsburgh Steelers)9–162823179146.92789.7
Jesse James (Pittsburgh Steelers)1–82620168142.828
29.Levine Toilolo (Detroit Lions)1–83021156142.62981.5
Levine Toilolo (Detroit Lions)9–163219139138.929
30.Tyler Higbee (Los Angeles Rams)1–83423175040.53076.1
Tyler Higbee (Los Angeles Rams)9–162815146135.630
31.Jordan Leggett (New York Jets)1–82015147135.73167.5
Jordan Leggett (New York Jets)9–162416158031.832
32.Virgil Green (Los Angeles Chargers)9–16261895133.53166
Virgil Green (Los Angeles Chargers)1–82520125032.532

2018 Games 1-8 Splits

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2018 Games 9-16 Splits

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  • Based on the schedule, Zach Ertz has a strong chance of becoming the best fantasy tight end in the league. Even with his breakout season in 2017, 2018 will be a bigger one as he takes a bigger role in the passing offense, especially in the red zone.
  • Greg Olsen will start out slow, facing tough opponents like the Ravens, Eagles, and Cowboys. The second half of the schedule is a lot kinder to Olsen and the Panthers and he can be a great midseason trade acquisition.
  • Two rookie tight ends worth keeping an eye on would be Dalton Schultz in Dallas and Mike Gesicki in Miami. They may not be worthy of getting drafted but based on their schedules and projected usage in their respective offenses, Schultz and Gesicki could be great waiver wire additions.

So with these rankings, you can understand more about how a player will perform in the beginning half of the season and the closing half. Having this knowledge can be beneficial when you are not only drafting your team but managing it throughout the season as well. These projections can help you determine to push accept on a trade or whether to pick-up that player on the waiver wire you are on the fence about. Use these rankings with the caveat that it won’t guarantee you a championship title, but it can make the difference between making and missing the playoffs.

Amar Desai

Author Amar Desai

Have been a sports fan my whole life and football has been my sport of choice. Growing up in the Bay Area (San Jose), I have been a San Francisco 49ers since day one. Avid fantasy football player and just love learning, reading, and talking about football.

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