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Fantasy Football: Week 1 Tight End Rankings

By Alex Butler
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Fantasy Football: Week 1 Tight End Rankings
Washington Redskins' tight end Jordan Reed makes a catch during the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at FedExField on November 15, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo

MIAMI, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Tight end is noticeably shallow to begin the 2016 fantasy football season.

While the usual studs rank near the top of everyone's list of who to start for Week 1, it is more difficult to forecast players on the fringe who could mean the difference between a win and a loss.

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If you drafted a perennial stud, it is unlikely you will put them on the bench. But most fantasy owners wait a bit longer to draft for their tight end slot. That's where research comes in handy, before making the final decision to set your lineup.

To make those choices easier, here are our tight end rankings for Week 1.

RELATED Fantasy Football: Week 1 Wide Receiver Rankings

If you haven't drafted yet, check out our top 150 fantasy football rankings for 2016 or view our Draft Kit, complete with overall and positional rankings, and cheat sheets.

TOP SHELF

Washington's Jordan Reed and New England's Rob Gronkowski are easily in a class by themselves this season. While Gronkowski will typically be featured as the world's best tight end on a weekly basis, I'm giving the nod to Reed this week. Reed's Redskins face an easier match-up than Gronk's Patriots. The Pittsburgh Steelers allowed the fifth-most touchdowns in the NFL to tight ends in 2015. Gronkowski should still be able to produce as an elite play in Week 1, but don't expect his rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo to be anywhere close to the relationship he has with Tom Brady.

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SNEAKY PLAYS

New Orleans Saints' Coby Fleener, Cleveland Browns' Gary Barnidge, Philadelphia Eagles' Zach Ertz, and Indianapolis Colts' Dwayne Allen are top-10 fantasy plays this week. Fleener's Saints face an Oakland Raiders squad that allowed the third most fantasy points per game to tight ends in 2015. Barnidge and Ertz are playing in the same game against equally sub-par second units. Robert Griffin III and Carson Wentz should be eyeing them early and often to find offensive rhythm.

LONGSHOTS

Green Bay's Jared Cook, Dallas' Jason Witten, and Oakland's Clyde Walford all have super match-ups to kickoff 2016. Cook lines up with Aaron Rodgers against a Jacksonville defense that allowed the sixth-most points per game to tight ends last season. Witten's Cowboys face the Giants, who were the second-worst team in the NFL in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to tight ends in 2015. Walford's Raiders face the Saints, who allowed the most fantasy points per game to the position last season.

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RANK NAME TEAM OPPONENT
1 Jordan Reed Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh
2 Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots at Arizona
3 Delanie Walker Tennessee Titans vs. Minnesota
4 Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego
5 Coby Fleener New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland
6 Greg Olsen Carolina Panthers at Denver
7 Gary Barnidge Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia
8 Julius Thomas Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay
9 Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland
10 Dwayne Allen Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit
11 Martellus Bennett New England Patriots at Arizona
12 Jared Cook Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville
13 Antonio Gates San Diego Chargers at Kansas City
14 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
15 Virgil Green Denver Broncos vs. Carolina
16 Clive Walford Oakland Raiders at New Orleans
17 Jesse James Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington
18 Eric Ebron Detroit Lions at Indianapolis
19 Zach Miller Chicago Bears at Houston
20 Vance McDonald San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles
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