As the NFL season rapidly approaches, we got our resident fantasy expert, Tyler, to share his top 10 fantasy players at each position. We’re moving onto the final entry now, so here are Tyler’s NFL Fantasy TE Rankings.
(All rankings articles are built with 0.5PPR and 4pt passing TD rules in mind. These are the default settings used in most fantasy leagues.)
1 – Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
If you were expecting anything else here, I don’t know what to tell you. This is on the Christian McCaffrey level of automatic. Travis Kelce is an utterly dominant football player. He is the best TE, playing with the best QB, lined up across from one of the best WR’s. How do you even try to stop him? You won’t find any fantasy TE rankings that disagree with this pick. Kelce is so good that if he was a wide receiver, he’d still be top 5 at the position. So, put it this way. You’re taking somebody who’d be a top 5 WR, but you get to play him at TE. The key here is the positional advantage. The advantage of having Travis Kelce over having the average TE is absolutely huge. Last year, only two wide receivers had a higher fantasy PPG than Kelce did (Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams). Take Kelce and you will have a legit advantage over everyone else – the catch… You have to take him in the first round.
2 – Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
The reason that Kelce is so good isn’t just because of his ability, it’s the sheer volume he gets. There’s another pretty damn good guy for that in the AFC West, though. Darren Waller has absolutely exploded into fantasy football relevance over the last two seasons. In his breakout 2019 campaign he finished as the TE3 and last season he hopped up to TE2. Waller was the only TE other than Kelce to break the 200-point mark last year and I expect a repeat. He is an elite athlete, as fast as he is strong, and has genuinely fantastic route running and hands. If you can get Waller in the second half of the second round, he’s a slightly more affordable way to get that all-important positional advantage at the tight end position.
3 – George Kittle, San Francisco
The final of the three elite options, George Kittle, is arguably the best of all three on a real NFL field. On top of his fantastic receiving ability, he is a great run blocker, which means he practically never misses a snap. The Niners star, unfortunately, got injured last year, after posting the TE2 season in 2019. Kittle is looking to bounce back and if he is healthy for 15 or more games, he will be a top 5 TE guaranteed. Great volume, awesome talent and a brilliant offensive play caller – the perfect storm for an amazing tight end. Kittle usually goes in the 3rd round of drafts, but don’t wait too long because once Waller has been taken, he is a clear tier-break as the final truly top-end TE.
4 – T.J Hockenson, Detroit Lions
Now onto the mere mortals – where all fantasy TE rankings actually begin – let’s start off with my personal favourite. TJ Hockenson, I believe, has earned the title as ‘best of the rest’. No, he probably won’t outscore Kelce, Waller or Kittle over a season, but he has all the talent that’s required to put up great numbers on a week-to-week basis. We all look back at his rookie debut fondly [6 receptions for 131 yards and a TD], so we know he has it in him. This season he has a new QB in Jared Goff – admittedly a downgrade from Matt Stafford – who has been more than capable of sustaining fantasy-relevant receivers and TE’s. In fact, Goff has had two really strong fantasy performers in Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods thriving on his service for the last few years. In Detroit, there will be no such competition. Hockenson is the best pass-catching option on that team, and the second-best is their running back. I’m expecting big things this year and beyond for the Lions TE. He finished as the TE4 last season, so it’s not hard for me to rank him accordingly and expect the same, but with more points, this year.
5 – Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
If you can’t get one of the three elite TE’s, why not draft someone else who has been there before. It is not an easy feat to be top 5 at a position for fantasy. Mark Andrews has done it twice in a row. The Ravens tight end doesn’t get the credit he deserves because fantasy owners categorise him as one of the TE’s on the outside, looking in at the top 3. Surely, though, a top 5 guy two years in a row should be drafted pretty confidently. Last season, Lamar Jackson had a down year in the passing department, and Andrews still did his job for fantasy owners. TE’s had a pretty terrible year on the whole last season, but he was still one of the best and this season may be a nice bounce-back for Lamar and Baltimore as a whole.
6 – Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Alright then, let’s talk about everybody’s favourite TE. If you play in a dynasty league, you already know all about the hype for Kyle Pitts. If you pay attention to the NFL draft or college football, you know all about the hype for Kyle Pitts. It’s pretty hard not to hear about how good he is. In Florida he was terrorising defenses and now he’s in the big leagues. Atlanta was a great landing spot for him, especially now that Julio Jones is gone. Matt Ryan is an accurate QB, the offense is very pass-heavy (and if it wasn’t, their defense would force them to be) and Calvin Ridley commands some real attention. I think this is one of the best landing spots we could have seen, honestly. In 2019, Austin Hooper was the TE6 and had 75 receptions, despite only playing 13 games. Give 75+ receptions to Kyle Pitts and he will set fantasy matchups on fire. Looking at points-per-game, Hooper was the TE3 that year. Everyone is excited to watch Kyle Pitts, why not be extra excited and have him on your fantasy team.
7 – Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
The Tight End that I seem to always end up drafting, now, Tyler Higbee is the start of another tier. You have the elite trio, then the three guys on the outside looking in, then Higbee. The Rams QB has been crowded out of volume since he entered the league, but now it’s finally time. There has been flashes from Higbee, most recognisably his 3 TD game in Week 2 last year, it’s just a case of seeing him with legit volume for a year. Matthew Stafford is a QB upgrade and if the Rams offense gets better this year, I think that the tight end will prosper as much as anybody else. The tight end position is a pretty low upside one, but if a player is capable of catching three touchdowns in a game, why not give him a look now that he has no competition.
8 – Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers
One of the most pleasant surprises in fantasy football for years, Robert Tonyan has become a fan-favourite. I keep talking about how much tight ends suck for fantasy, right? Well then, imagine how good it felt last year to pick up a nobody and see him explode to become the TE3 overall. After doing literally nothing in week one, he went on a little tear, scoring in weeks 2 and 3, then having an absolutely masterful game in Week 4. His performance in Atlanta that week broke fantasy – an unknown name getting 6 receptions for 98 yards and 3 TD’s. Glorious. He slowed down a little bit for a few weeks after that, but then from week 11 through 17, he only failed to score a touchdown in one game. 11 TD’s from a tight end that I didn’t know existed until Week 2. Tonyan returns to the Packers offense with no new competition and Aaron Rodgers’ return locks him in as a top 10 TE.
9 – Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
If you want a player that’s going to make all the points that he scores look really exciting, here is your man. Mike Gesicki is one of the most athletic TE’s in the NFL. His raw talent would put him higher on this list, without a doubt. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to lock down consistent opportunities. The frustrating part is that when he does, it’s generally very productive. Last year he would have a game with 3 targets and then a game with 11 targets the very next week. This inconsistency in target volume is worse than just a dent in production. It makes managers second-guess their decision to start him. Having to make a weekly decision on who to start at TE is a gross task. None of the TE’s outside the top 3-5 can be trusted week in and week out, which is why the position is so stressful for fantasy owners. Gesicki has the talent, we just have to hope that he steps up this year and asserts himself as one of the primary targets in the Dolphins offense. By the way, just because I feel the context is necessary – despite all the above inconsistency, he was still the 7th best TE in fantasy last year. This position is really bad.
10 – Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
In drafts, there are players where you say ‘if I don’t get anybody I like earlier, I’ll take him late’. Noah Fant feels like that player for me at TE this year. Every draft I join, my mentality is the same. I want an elite TE. If not I’ll take Hockenson, Andrews or Pitts. If they’re gone, Higbee is next. Then, after that, I just give up altogether. The late-round pick of choice for me is the Denver TE. Fant has the potential to be awesome, he just hasn’t really hit yet. He’s athletic and has solid receiving ability. The main issue is him getting banged up all the time. It doesn’t help that his QB-play isn’t exactly top-drawer. Mediocre QB or not, I still think Fant has more upside than everybody behind him in my rankings. If this year is the one where he’s healthy and consistent, he will be awesome value in the late rounds.