Coming into 2020, there are a few clear cut names as usual. Travis Kelce is one of them, who has had over 1,000 yards in each of the last four seasons. His touchdown production has been up and down, scoring 4, 8, 10, and 5 in that span. That beings said, we know the volume will be there with over 120 targets in each of the last three seasons. George Kittle has been in the league for just a few years, but has broken out to be one of the top tight ends in the game. He has back to back games over 1,000 yards. Zach Ertz has been a PPR stud, especially that 2018 season where he had 116 receptions. With the Eagles not having a ton of options, Ertz has been a reliable name.
There were a few new names who broke onto the scene in 2019. Darren Waller was one of them, who finished with a 90-1145-3 line. The touchdowns were disappointing, but in PPR leagues he finished as TE2. He also had 117 targets, and with Oakland not having a ton of options to throw to. The talent is there, and he will an attractive fantasy option again. Mark Andrews really connected with Lamar Jackson, and had a league high ten touchdowns among tight ends.
The other tier of names who have a chance to make a jump this year are Austin Hooper, Hunter Henry, and Tyler Higbee. I would also throw the rookies from last season, as Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson have a ton of talent but that curve for tight ends is always there before they start becoming relevant. This has been the case with most names. Hockenson and Fant both went first round, and have that draft capital tied to their names already. If Drew Lock turns out to be a solid quarterback, you are also factoring in that they have strong quarterbacks throwing to them as well. Overall there is about 10-11 strong tight end names, but then we get to plenty that are on the bubble. Looking at 2020, we should see a better scoring season for the position.
TE Fantasy Draft Strategy
Tight end can be a position that people pass over when it comes to draft research. There are obvious top names, and then after that the variance of production is pretty high year-to-year. However, there are always bargain buys that end up breaking out, and finding a consistent tight end does give you a slight edge over the field. Does it hurt your overall upside though? Because the top tier tight ends do not score as much as even the second tier running backs or wide receivers, you are passing on some higher production guys just to get safe at tight end. If you are drafting in the middle of order, then you are likely going to want to pass on tight ends till later. Now you can make the case for drafting one late in the second or early third round if you are on the edges of a snake draft where you have that quick turnaround.
The mid round is a good sweet spot. You have some guys who are still safe, like Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper, but they also carry some upside as well. Now you have the ability to draft other needs first, and then still round out your starting fantasy lineup with a quality tight end. If you want to go late in drafts, and nab a tight end, be prepared to dive into the waiver wire if needed. The safety of these names are not on the same page as the rest. The important thing is that you are drafting for upside this late, so finding the highest ceiling players for the season should be something you eye. There is no safe floor late, so don’t bother looking. League scoring will also have an impact on how you draft, so it is important to know how tight ends score in your league.
Tight End (TE) Fantasy Football Rankings Frequently Asked Questions
Who Are The Best Fantasy Tight Ends?
It starts with Travis Kelce, who has been a top two scoring tight end in four straight seasons. His production is extremely stable, which is what you want from a tight end that is always drafted so highly. George Kittle is also in the same boat, who has gotten steady targets since coming into the league, and has produced no matter who has been under center in San Francisco. Zach Ertz continues to rack up receptions, and has been one of the better red zone tight ends in the game as well. He is constantly looked at, and has had steady touchdown production. After a breakout 2019, Mark Andrews is someone I am comfortable putting into this range. He plays in a top tier offense that had an efficient passing game. Andrews also saw plenty of targets, and that should continue in 2020.
Who Is The Number One Fantasy Tight End?
Over the past four seasons, Travis Kelce has finished as TE1 in scoring three times. The one year he didn’t, he finished second to Rob Gronkowski. Now you can make the case for George Kittle as well, so this is sort of a 1A, 1B situation. But looking at Kelce, this is someone who plays in an excellent offensive system for fantasy production, gets steady targets, has been durable, and is also looked at in the red zone. It also doesn’t hurt having Patrick Mahomes throwing to you. He checks off all of the boxes as the number one option.
How Many Tight Ends Should I Have On My Roster?
Having depth at tight end is not quite as important as it is for other positions, but having a backup tight end isn’t the worst thing in the world either. It gives you some weekly flexibility, where you can start some guys based on strong matchups. If you are dealing with a smaller bench, where maybe you have only 4-5 bench spots, I would look towards having just one tight end on your roster and moving on. That means other teams are in the same boat, so the waiver wire will have options.
What Should I Look For In Drafting Fantasy Tight Ends?
Volume is crucial when looking to find fantasy tight ends. Outside of Jared Cook, any tight end that scored over 110 fantasy points last season had over 95 targets. We will get to guys like Cook in a minutes. Volume translates to fantasy points, but there is only a select group that is getting this type of volume. That is why names like Kelce and Ertz are drafted so highly. It gives you some safety. Much like receivers, we want to also find guys that are getting looks in the red zone. Once again we see names like Ertz, Kittle, and Kelce dominate this department. Mark Andrews did as well, so it wasn’t a surprise to see them produce strong seasons and be up top when the season was over. In 2019, Kyle Rudolph wasn’t a big scoring tight end, but his 10th ranked red zone targets had him score six touchdowns, carrying his fantasy worth.
When you get past the top tier, you can find some tight ends who were on teams with bad defenses. This helped the game flow where they saw a few more targets because the offenses had to keep throwing the ball. Darren Waller was one of the top tier names who benefited from a bad Oakland offense that had to throw the ball chasing games. Mike Gesicki is another name, as Miami’s defense struggled and the Dolphins threw the ball a ton. He ended up 7th in targets. Greg Olsen ranked 11th in targets, and the Carolina passing game was at a high volume. Now looking at Jared Cook, he was a deep threat in a talented Drew Brees offense. His average depth of target was high, and he would only need a few targets a game to have the chance to breakout. On a weekly basis, the floor is low, but his ceiling numbers are higher than most.
How Do I Stream Tight Ends?
Because the tight end position is not as deep, there is a strategy to steam the position as the season goes on. To understand this, streaming is simply a strategy where you rotate tight ends depending on matchups or recent trends such as an increase in targets. That means you have passed on the top and mid tier tight ends in drafts and are taking a few names at the end of the draft who have upside. Before the season starts, if you are planning on streaming, look at the first few weeks and identify some possible options. This is all going to be on the fly, so you can always adjust later on. Drafting targets still with upside is the way to go, because if they do hit as a late round steal, then you are in good shape.
Getting into the season, on a weekly basis you might be changing your starting tight end. On occasion you might be able to use the same tight end for two-three weeks in a row. Identifying which teams struggle against tight ends is something to note. Last year the Cardinals were brutal, allowing the most fantasy points per game. Oakland wasn’t far behind. Names like Eric Ebron, Jimmy Graham, Darren Fells, and Jonnu Smith all had strong fantasy weeks against them, and were largely streaming options most of the 2019 season. We still want to find targets and red zone looks too, so be on the look out for trends pointing towards stability in targets. Mike Gesicki was a name that came on the second half, and had a large share of targets, producing in fantasy on occasion over the final few weeks.
How Do Different Scoring Formats Effect Tight Ends?
Each scoring system has a potentially major effect on fantasy tight ends. It can create more of a need for touchdown producers, and drop the relevance down on guys who rack up receptions. There are three different fantasy football formats that are considered popular, however PPR has been the more popular of late. PPR is when one reception equals one fantasy point. Some leagues will do half-PPR, and then leagues will also not count receptions towards any stat. There are tight ends who do need that PPR help, and going to standard formats, this position can get really ugly. It becomes a very touchdown dependent position, and that is a high variance department to project.