Now that traditional fantasy seasons have ended, it's time for owners to begin to prepare for the 2016 NFL season. If you're sticking to re-draft leagues, one or two well-drafted rookies can help make the difference between a playoff team and a championship. If you're in a dynasty league, then scouting rookies is imperative. Drafting is a key aspect of almost all dynasty leagues, and by knowing the market heading into the offseason, you will have a leg up on the competition. We'll start out with tight ends. Note that this is pre-draft, pre-combine, and so on, so these rankings may change heading forward. Projected draft rounds are for the NFL draft, not fantasy drafts.
1. Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas. Henry is easily the best tight end in the 2016 NFL Draft class, and the one sure-fire fantasy prospect heading into the draft. He projects as a potential first round pick, and should be a day 1 starter on most NFL teams. If you're banking on a tight end heading into the 2016 draft, Hunter is Henry is your guy; he's the most complete TE in this draft.
2. Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford. Hooper is another guy that should see some snaps in the NFL. Stanford relies on him heavily in the passing game, and Hooper is one of the top two tight ends in a weak class, which should propel him into the 2nd or 3rd round. He's not a guy that's going to be an every game starter in the NFL, but he should be a nice matchup play. If you're looking for a fantasy starter, target Henry, but if you're looking for someone with upside depending on system and miss out on Henry, Hooper's not a bad second option.
3. Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State. Vannett is a guy that hasn't put up huge reception totals, but he is a big play machine. He is a solid pass catcher, but he's also a good blocker for a tight end, which should help him carve out a starting role (or at least a significant time share) in an NFL offense. Depending on how he performs at the combine and Senior Bowl and on where he falls in the draft, his ranking could definitely change. However, given the uncertainty at this stage in the game, I'm keeping him at 3rd. Vannett is considered by many to be a better tight end prospect than former teammate Jeff Heuerman. Leggett and Williams could be decent too, but right now, Vannett and Hooper have the most upside behind Henry.
4. Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson. Leggett is an intriguing option at tight end. He could go anywhere from the 2nd round to the 5th or 6th round, and has a ton of upside; he's the type of guy with a lot of raw athletic ability that will leave offensive coordinators drooling. He's put up decent numbers and has great hands. If he declares for the draft, he could be a sneaky pick in deeper dynasty leagues especially. There's uncertainty about his role at the next level, but he's also got some nice upside.
5. Bryce Williams, TE, Eastern Carolina. While other tight ends in this class are better blockers, Bryce Williams has shown flashes of potential as a receiver. He's a bit of a project player and might not be a day-1 starter in the NFL, but he's a guy to pay some attention to. He has the potential to carve out a nice role in the right offensive system, and could be a nice matchup play in the future. He projects as a middle round pick.
At this point in the draft process, it's tough to get much deeper at tight end as far as rankings, so I'm sticking to a top five fantasy tight end list right now. Updates to come as the draft process continues!
Hope this helps as we head into the fantasy offseason!
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