The tight end position has been revolutionized in recent years. There have been no two better than Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2017, Kelce and Gronkowski were number one and two among tight ends in fantasy football. You can’t go wrong with drafting either one of these lethal offensive weapons, but who should you draft first? This article is going to break down the pros and cons for each tight end.
Rob Gronkowski – Tight End – New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski finished the 2017 season with 69 receptions, 1084 yards, and eight touchdowns in 14 regular season games. He averaged an NFL best 15.7 yards per catch. Six of Growkowski’s touchdowns came in the red zone. Gronkowski finished second among tight ends in fantasy football with 227.4 points.
Gronkowski benefits from having a great quarterback and the greatest head coach in NFL history. Bill Belichick’s early success of incorporating the regular use of tight ends gave the Patriots a head start in taking advantage of the extra offensive weapon. Gronkowski was the most utilized player on the New England Patriot’s offense. He had the second most targets, behind Brandin Cooks, but had the most receptions and touchdowns for the Patriots. Bill Williamson wrote on all22.com , “I watch it every week, he’s the biggest mismatch I’ve ever seen,” Horton said. “That’s the thing about Gronk. He’s a mismatch and always will be. Safeties are too small to cover him and linebackers are too slow to keep up with him.” The results match the hype. Gronkowski has been in five pro bowls and is a four time first team all-pro.
Gronkowski has missed 24 games in his eight season career. He has a nagging back problem that has required three back surgeries, He’s missed games with two concussions, and has had both ACL and MCL surgeries. It’s widely known that Gronkowski is injury prone, but he never seems to miss a beat. He continually puts up unreal numbers. There was talk this off season that he was considering retirement. How serious he was is still up in the air considering he’s at Patriots training camp. They say once you start thinking about it, you’re already there. Gronkowski is entering his ninth season
Travis Kelce – Tight End – Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce finished the season with 83 receptions, 1038 yards, and eight touchdowns. He averaged 12.5 yards per catch with a dink and dunk quarterback in Alex Smith. Like Gronkowski, Kelce had six red zone touchdowns. Kelce beat Gronkowki in fantasy points with 233.5.
Travis Kelce had played 63 straight regular season games up until week 17 of this past season. So far in his career, Kelce has been more durable than Gronkowski. He had knee surgery his rookie season, but has played every game since then. Kelce was the Chiefs leading receiver in targets, receptions, and touchdowns. The Chiefs have plenty of weapons at their disposal in Tyreek Hill and rookie Kareem Hunt. Kelce leading in those categories says something about how much Andy Reid trusts him. Kelce too benefits from an outstanding scheme under Andy Reid, who was once dubbed one of the best offensive minds in football while he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelce has played in three pro bowls and was a first team all-pro in 2016.
Kelce will be experiencing a new look at quarterback this season. Second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be filing the void left by Alex Smith. Smith and Mahomes are two very different quarterbacks. Smith is a more conservative “Charlie check down” type, but Mahomes is a “Bobby bombs away” type. We haven’t seen Mahomes play any meaningful games, but there’s no question he has the stronger arm. The Chiefs will take more risks this season which potentially means more mistakes. With Mahome’s arm and Kelce’s athleticism, the risks could pay off. The Chiefs season relies on Mahomes ability to play quarterback and get the ball to his playmakers.
With all this being said, Rob Gronkowski should be the first tight end off the board. Travis Kelce wont’t be too far behind him. Gronkowski is simply unguardable. He creates a mismatch anytime he steps on the field. Gronkowski’s injury problem is something that scares plenty of drafters, but his pros out weigh his cons. Kelce’s major red flag isn’t even something he can control, it’ll be his quarterback play. Gronkowski will get high level play from Tom Brady week in, and week out.