Fanelli’s Fantasy Files: Tight End Pro/Con Rankingsby Mike Fanelli September 2, 2021 0 comments
The 2021 NFL season is just around the corner, and fantasy football drafts are picking up the pace by the hour. When looking at fantasy rankings, it is always good to know the upside and downside of each player. As fantasy players prepare for their fantasy drafts, I have provided my current top-24 at the tight end position with quick pros and cons for each player.
These rankings are base on PPR scoring. Good luck to everyone with their fantasy drafts.
Be sure to check out all of my fantasy football rankings!
TE1 – Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
2020 Stats: 15 Games Played | 20.9 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE1 Finish
PROS: He has finished as the TE1 in five straight seasons, averaging 263.6 fantasy points per season. Kelce has the best quarterback in the NFL. Defenses can’t cover him one-on-one.
CONS: If Patrick Mahomes misses time, Kelce’s value takes a massive hit. He will likely regress from his historic 2020 season. Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman could have a larger target share this season at Kelce’s expense.
TE2 – Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 17.4 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE2 Finish
PROS: Waller improved on his numbers from his breakout 2019 season. He finished as a top-six tight end in 68.8 percent of his games last season. The Raiders didn’t add anyone in the offseason to threaten his target share.
CONS: Even though the Raiders did add an impactful receiver this offseason, Waller’s target share could decrease in 2021. Second-year wide receivers Henry Ruggs or Bryan Edwards could take a step forward and earn a higher target share.
TE3 – George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
2020 Stats: 8 Games Played | 15.6 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE19 Finish
PROS: He is one of the best tight ends in football. On a point per game basis, Kittle would have easily finished as the TE3 last season. Whether it is Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance under center, Kittle should be their top target.
CONS: The 49ers are a run-heavy team. Kittle had only a 79.7 percent route participation last season. He also only had a 9.8 percent red zone target share. Kittle is an injury risk after missing eight games last season.
TE4 – Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
2020 Stats: N/A
PROS: Pitts is an elite talent and was the first non-quarterback pick in the 2021 NFL Draft for a reason. He will step into a pass-happy offense with plenty of open targets after trading away Julio Jones in the offseason.
CONS: Calvin Ridley could lead the league in targets, limiting Pitts’ upside. Rookie tight ends rarely finish as top-12 guys, let alone top-five. Matt Ryan isn’t the most consistent quarterback.
TE5 – T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 11.0 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE5 Finish
PROS: He should see a massive jump in target share after the Lions completely redid their wide receiver core this offseason. Jared Goff has a history of targeting his middle of the field receivers, which will include Hockenson.
CONS: The Lions downgraded at quarterback from Matthew Stafford to Jared Goff. Defenses now can throw all their coverage at Hockenson without Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones on the outside.
TE6 – Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
2020 Stats: 14 Games Played | 12.2 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE6 Finish
PROS: Despite the Ravens’ passing attack regressing, Andrews finished as a top-12 tight end in over half of his games last season. He remains the Ravens’ top weapon in the passing game and a critical part of their offense.
CONS: The Ravens added three wide receivers this offseason, all of which should play a role in the offense. Can Lamar Jackson return to his passing numbers from 2019? Andrews has never had a 900 receiving yard season.
TE7 – Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
2020 Stats: 15 Games Played | 10.0 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE8 Finish
PROS: In the games with an actual quarterback that Fant played at least 10 percent of the snaps, he averaged 12.3 fantasy points per game. With Teddy Bridgewater under center, he will play with the best quarterback of his career.
CONS: The Broncos have several weapons at wide receiver and a solid backup tight end. Teddy Bridgewater has only a 3.4 percent touchdown rate in his career. The Broncos want to be a run-first offense.
TE8 – Jonnu Smith, New England Patriots
2020 Stats: 15 Games Played | 9.3 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE16 Finish
PROS: Smith should play a critical role in an improved Patriots passing attack. He was Tennessee’s go-to weapon in the red zone last year and should have a similar role for the Patriots this season.
CONS: He has never had over 450 receiving yards or 45 catches in a season. The Patriots also spent big money in free agency on Hunter Henry. Smith has missed time during camp with an injury.
TE9 – Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 11.0 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE3 Finish
PROS: Thomas had a breakout season in 2020, finishing as a top-12 tight end in over half of his games. He finished tied for second on the team with 110 targets and first with six touchdowns. Washington didn’t add a tight end in the offseason to threaten his starting role.
CONS: Washington added several wide receivers in the offseason, including Curtis Samuel. The new additions should cut into Thomas’ 19.2 percent target share from last year. Last season, he averaged only 1.6 fantasy points per target.
TE10 – Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
2020 Stats: 11 Games Played | 10.6 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE20 Finish
PROS: The Eagles lack proven weapons in the passing game besides Goedert and Zach Ertz. Last season, Goedert averaged a career-high 5.9 targets per game. He has taken over as the team’s No. 1 tight end.
CONS: Goedert dealt with injuries last season. The Eagles still have Zach Ertz, which will limit Goedert’s upside. The quarterback position comes with question marks.
TE11 – Hunter Henry, New England Patriots
2020 Stats: 14 Games Played | 10.4 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE12 Finish
PROS: Henry has finished as a top-12 tight end in each of the past two seasons. Last year, Henry finished as a top-12 tight in half of his games. The Patriots lack proven weapons in the passing game.
CONS: The team will be a run-heavy offense. The Patriots also added Jonnu Smith in the offseason, limiting Henry’s upside. Henry has never played a full 16 game season and is currently dealing with a shoulder injury.
TE12 – Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
2020 Stats: 15 Games Played | 8.5 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE17 Finish
PROS: With Gerald Everett now in Seattle, Higbee will have the starting role. Last season, Higbee averaged 2.1 fantasy points per target despite only a 56.7 percent route participation. With Matthew Stafford under center, Higbee has an upgrade at quarterback.
CONS: The Rams’ passing attack will still primarily flow through Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. In the offseason, the Rams added DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell at wide receiver and Jacob Harris at tight end.
TE13 – Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
2020 Stats: 15 Games Played | 10.6 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE7 Finish
PROS: Last season, Gesicki led the Dolphins with six touchdowns. Gesicki also finished second on the team in catches and targets. He finished as a top-six tight end in four games last season.
CONS: Gesicki was very boom or bust last season. While he finished as a top-six tight end in four of his games, he finished outside the top-12 in the other 11. In the offseason, the Dolphins added Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. Waddle will cut into Gesicki’s slot snaps.
TE14 – Adam Trautman, New Orleans Saints
2020 Stats: 15 Games Played | 2.5 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE57 Finish
PROS: In the offseason, the Saints let Jared Cook leave in free agency, giving Trautman the starting role. Michael Thomas will likely miss the first six weeks of the season.
CONS: He is currently dealing with an injury that will likely sideline him for at least Week 1, if not longer. The Saints are high on converted wide receiver Juwan Johnson while Marquez Callaway has stepped up during the preseason.
TE15 – Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 11.0 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE4 Finish
PROS: The Packers re-signed Tonyan in the offseason despite a tight cap situation. He finished second on the team with 52 catches and 11 touchdowns after 14 catches and two touchdowns combined in his first two seasons.
CONS: His 21.2 percent touchdown rate from last year will regress this season. The Packers added Amari Rodgers and Randall Cobb in the offseason. Jace Sternberger has flashed in camp and could take snaps away from Tonyan.
TE16 – Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 9.3 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE8 Finish
PROS: Gronk played in all 16 games for the first time since 2011 last season. His seven touchdowns finished tied for second on the team. He finished as a top-six tight end in 38 percent of his games last year.
CONS: The Buccaneers re-signed Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown in the offseason. O.J. Howard is returning from a torn Achilles. Gronk played on only 77.4 percent of the snaps last season and ran a route on only 57.7 percent of those plays.
TE17 – Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 5.8 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE24 Finish
PROS: The Seahawks added Everett in the offseason to take over as their starting tight end. Last season, the Seahawks targeted their tight ends 108 times. Everett has been the talk of training camp.
CONS: D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will both see over 140 targets this season. The Seahawks have been a run-heavy team in the past. When given the starting role in Los Angeles, Everett hasn’t turned into a fantasy starter.
TE18 – Evan Engram, New York Giants
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 8.8 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE15 Finish
PROS: Despite poor quarterback play last season, Engram finished as a top-12 tight end in 37.5 percent of his games. Engram played in all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2020.
CONS: Engram has struggled with drops in his career. The Giants added Kyle Rudolph, Kenny Golladay, and Kadarius Toney in the offseason. All of which should impact Engram’s 21.8 percent target share from last season. He is currently dealing with a calf injury.
TE19 – Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers
2020 Stats: 15 Games Played | 8.5 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE18 Finish
PROS: Cook has been a touchdown maker over the past two years, averaging eight per season. Despite playing only 47.5 percent of the snaps last season, Cook finished as a top-12 tight end in 40 percent of his games.
CONS: In Los Angeles, he will be fourth in the passing game pecking order. Reports are Donald Parham has impressed the coaching staff during camp. He could replace Cook as the starter at some point.
TE20 – Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
2020 Stats: 13 Games Played | 8.7 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE21 Finish
PROS: Despite the Browns having a run-heavy offense, Hooper finished as a top-12 tight end in almost half of his games. Hooper had an 18.9 percent target share last season despite the talent the Browns have at wide receiver.
CONS: While Hooper is the starter, the Browns have three tight ends they like. Odell Beckham Jr. should be 100 percent healthy coming off a torn ACL, which will limit Hooper’s upside.
TE21 – Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 3.9 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE41 Finish
PROS: Kmet started to earn more snaps and targets as the season went on last year. Whether Andy Dalton or Justin Fields is under center, it’s an upgrade at quarterback from last season.
CONS: Despite expectations, the Bears haven’t released Jimmy Graham. Last season, Kmet had only six red zone targets, and that number likely won’t increase much, limiting his touchdown upside.
TE22 – Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
2020 Stats: N/A
PROS: The rookie was the consensus No. 2 tight end in the draft class. He scored twice in the Steelers preseason game with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Freiermuth could quickly turn into one of the Steelers’ go-to weapons in the red zone.
CONS: Standing in Freiermuth’s way of a starting role is Eric Ebron. The Steelers have three very talented wide receivers. They will cut into Freiermuth’s potential target share.
TE23 – Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 5.2 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE25 Finish
PROS: Last season, Firkser finished fourth on the team with 53 targets despite playing only 30.9 percent of the snaps. In the one game Jonnu Smith played under 59 percent of the snaps, Firkser finished as a top-six tight end.
CONS: While Firkser will take over as the starting tight end, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones will account for most of the targets. Firkser has never scored more than one touchdown or 5.2 fantasy points per game in a season.
TE24 – Dan Arnold, Carolina Panthers
2020 Stats: 16 Games Played | 6.0 Fantasy Points Per Game | TE23 Finish
PROS: The Arizona Cardinals rarely used their tight ends last season. Yet, Arnold had a 12.9 percent touchdown rate. He will take over as the unquestioned starter in Carolina. Arnold and Sam Darnold have been clicking during camp.
CONS: The Panthers have two good wide receivers in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson. They also have high expectations for the rookie Terrace Marshall Jr., which will limit Arnold’s target share and fantasy upside. He has never averaged over 6.5 fantasy points per game in any season in his career.
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