The 2016 free-agency period and NFL draft are in the books, which means we have a pretty good idea what each team's roster will look like this season. We're still a couple of months away from a majority of fantasy drafts, but the season never ends in dynasty leagues, and it's never too early to start thinking about your keeper picks.
To answer your keeper/dynasty league questions, below are my 2016 rankings for tight ends. Although a non-PPR scoring system is assumed, keep in mind that a switch to PPR would yield only minor changes since we're looking at each player's long-term contributions.
Ages shown are as of Sept. 8, 2016 (years-months).
1. Rob Gronkowski (NE), Age: 27-3
Gronkowski remains the clear top tight end in both the NFL and all fantasy formats. Still in his prime, he's well worth consideration late in the first round of your dynasty draft.
2. Jordan Reed (WAS), Age: 26-2
3. Tyler Eifert (CIN), Age: 26-0
If Reed can put together a full season at the level he played in 2015, he will join Gronkowski in the top tier next year. Eifert's touchdowns are certain to regress in 2016, but his workload will rise some after the departure of Marvin Jones. Both Reed and Eifert will be 26 years old when the regular season rolls around.
4. Zach Ertz (PHI), Age: 25-9
5. Travis Kelce (KC), Age: 26-11
6. Greg Olsen (CAR), Age: 31-5
I considered combining the second and third tiers, but this trio's upside falls just a step below Reed's and Eifert's. Ertz is a terrific two-way tight end, but hasn't found the end zone very often -- yet. He's the youngest among our top nine tight ends. Kelce has a high floor and enjoys a massive target share in Kansas City. Olsen is a Tier 2 player in the short term, but he has never been a great source of touchdowns and is now 31 years old.
7. Ladarius Green (PIT), Age: 26-3
8. Coby Fleener (NO), Age: 27-11
9. Delanie Walker (TEN), Age: 32-0
10. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TB), Age: 23-11
11. Eric Ebron (DET), Age: 23-4
12. Julius Thomas (JAC), Age: 28-2
13. Jimmy Graham (SEA), Age: 29-9
Green is a size/speed freak who takes over as Pittsburgh's top tight end after four years backing up Antonio Gates. The sky is the limit with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Fleener's four years in Indianapolis weren't particularly impressive, but he's a quality receiver and will benefit greatly from the presence of Drew Brees. Walker is 32, but is a target hog and just signed a three-year extension with the Titans. Seferian-Jenkins has a massive ceiling, but can't seem to shake the injury bug and now has Cameron Brate on his heels for snaps in Tampa Bay. Ebron was a first-round pick in 2014, but has dealt with injuries and drops. Thomas produced fringe-TE1 numbers down the stretch last season and figures to score more touchdowns at the expense of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns moving forward. Graham's career has been derailed by a torn patellar tendon, but once recovered, he has a few years left of high-end production.
14. Hunter Henry (SD), Age: 21-9
15. Dwayne Allen (IND), Age: 26-6
16. Clive Walford (OAK), Age: 24-10
17. Gary Barnidge (CLE), Age: 30-11
18. Maxx Williams (BAL), Age: 22-4
19. Kyle Rudolph (MIN), Age: 26-9
20. Jordan Cameron (MIA), Age: 28-1
21. Charles Clay (BUF), Age: 27-6
22. Martellus Bennett (NE), Age: 29-5
23. Antonio Gates (SD), Age: 36-2
24. Jason Witten (DAL), Age: 34-4
25. Zach Miller (CHI), Age: 31-11
Our fifth tier includes a combination of fading stars, potential TE1s and seasoned veterans with obvious question marks. Both second-rounders, Williams (2015) and Henry (2016) were the top tight ends picked during each of the past two drafts. Both are blocked for extensive playing time in 2016, but should be stashed on dynasty benches. Fleener's departure opens the door for Allen to finally emerge as a fantasy-relevant player in Indianapolis. Walford was the second tight end picked in the 2015 draft and is a good bet to be third in line for targets in Oakland as soon as this season. Barnidge exploded onto the fantasy scene at age 30 last season and is a good bet for repeated success over the next year or two. Rudolph, Cameron and Clay sit atop the depth chart in their respective cities. Rudolph is somehow still only 26 years old, but is limited by the Vikings' conservative offense. Cameron is a candidate for a resurgence with Adam Gase now in control. Clay will again enjoy a massive target share behind Sammy Watkins in Buffalo. Bennett is now behind Gronkowski in New England, but he will play a ton in two-tight end sets and is an injury away from top-end TE1 status. Gates is basically a situational wide receiver at this point in his career, but he is targeted enough to generate TE1 production for at least one more season. Witten enjoys a boost from the return of Tony Romo, but the tight end is now 34 and lacks a high fantasy ceiling. Miller had some fantasy success last season, but he'll be working in a run-heavy offense and Kevin White joins the mix this year.
26. Jeff Heuerman (DEN), Age: 23-9
27. Tyler Higbee (LA), Age: 23-8
28. Austin Hooper (ATL), Age: 21-11
29. Jace Amaro (NYJ), Age: 24-2
30. Richard Rodgers (GB), Age: 24-7
31. Will Tye (NYG), Age: 24-10
32. Nick Vannett (SEA), Age: 23-6
33. Jared Cook (GB), Age: 29-5
34. Crockett Gillmore (BAL), Age: 24-9
35. Blake Bell (SF), Age: 25-1
Heuerman, Amaro and Bell are intriguing prospects who are currently in position to start this season. Rodgers and Cook will compete for targets in Green Bay, but the team's WR-heavy scheme means that a committee would likely crush the fantasy prospects of both players. Higbee, Hooper and Vannett were among the first tight ends selected in this year's draft. With only Lance Kendricks and Jacob Tamme, respectively, in their path, receiving specialists Higbee and Hooper are positioned with a chance to earn a starting gig as soon as late 2016. Vannett is more of an all-around tight end who will wait in the wings behind Graham. Tye will compete with Larry Donnell and rookie Jerell Adams for the top job in New York. Gillmore's 2016 status is in question after offseason shoulder surgery.
36. Cameron Brate (TB), Age: 25-2
37. Vance McDonald (SF), Age: 26-2
38. Lance Kendricks (LA), Age: 28-7
39. Niles Paul (WAS), Age: 27-0
40. Mychal Rivera (OAK), Age: 26-0
41. Josh Hill (NO), Age: 26-3
42. Dion Sims (MIA), Age: 25-6
43. Gavin Escobar (DAL), Age: 25-7
44. Jerell Adams (NYG), Age: 23-8
45. Darren Waller (BAL), Age: 23-11
46. Larry Donnell (NYG), Age: 27-10
47. Ryan Griffin (HOU), Age: 26-7
48. Benjamin Watson (BAL), Age: 35-8
49. Virgil Green (DEN), Age: 28-1
50. Jermaine Gresham (ARI), Age: 28-2