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With Rob Gronkowski retired, the fantasy tight end landscape will look a bit different in 2019, while still remaining as top heavy as ever. Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle comprise a small but extraordinarily productive top tier. Having any of those three guys will be an enormous advantage during the season. While owners of those three will get to sit back and enjoy WR2 or better production from the tight end spot, opponents will be forced to consider weekly matchups, or worse, to monitor the waiver wire.
That being said, although there should be a steep drop off in production between the three Tier One guys and everybody else, the rest of the tight end field isn’t exactly barren. This article will highlight some solid options for drafters who opt not to use one of their first three draft picks on a tight end. You can see the cheat sheet below as well as on our 2019 TE Fantasy Football Stats page.
TE Fantasy Rankings Cheat Sheet 2019
|Player||RTG||Tier||FPTS 2018||Team||GP||REC||SNP/G||TGT/G||Yards||YDS/R||100+ GM||TDs||Draftkings PTS/G||FanDuel PTS/G||Yahoo PTS/G|
|Chris Herndon IV||66||3||74.2||NYJ||14||39||39.1||4||502||12.87||0||4||8.09||6.69||6.69|
Players to Target
One of the most promising tight end options in the second tier is third-year man Evan Engram of the New York Giants. Even though he only played 11 games last year, Engram finished as the 13th highest scoring tight end in PPR formats. He had over 66 yards in each of his last five games and appeared to be overcoming his rookie season struggles dropping the football. With Odell Beckham Jr. shipped to Cleveland and slot receiver Golden Tate acquired in his stead, the Giants will be in dire need of a downfield playmaker. Engram, at 6’3” and 240 pounds, runs a 4.42 40-yard dash and should assume that role given the flashes he has shown as a deep threat during his first two seasons. Concerns about Engram arise due to his health (he has missed 6 games in two seasons) and due to the potential lack of explosiveness in the New York offense. With Eli Manning under center and Saquon Barkley in the backfield, the Giants figure to be a running team. As such, Engram’s targets could be capped. Even still, his talent and track record cement him as solid Tier Two tight end worthy of being among the first non-Big Three members drafted.
Joining Engram in Tier Two is O.J. Howard of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Howard, before injuries ended his season six games early, was establishing himself as one of the best tight ends in the game. In just 10 games, he racked up 565 yards and five touchdowns, putting him on pace for 905 yards and eight scores over a full season. This year, I expect him to take another leap. DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries are gone, and Mike Evans alone cannot absorb their targets. Also, considering the uninspiring state of the Tampa Bay defense, the offense will be required to air it out early and often, leading to plenty of targets for Howard. If I had to pick one tight end from the second group to end up in Tier One by the time the 2020 fantasy drafts come along, I’d pick Howard.
As far as true sleepers go, I recommend that drafters keep an eye on Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens and Chris Herndon of the New York Jets. Both players enter their respective second seasons a little bit under the radar, despite the success they both enjoyed last year. In 2018, Andrews finished with 552 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores of over 60 yards, proving his worth in a crowded Baltimore tight end corps. Considering how rare it is to find such big-play ability from the tight end slot, Andrews should be in line for even more targets and more production this year.
Herndon, with his 502 yards and four touchdowns, had an equally productive year. By the end of last season, he had made himself into an indispensable target for fellow rookie Sam Darnold. 27 of his 39 catches came during the season’s second half, and that momentum should carry over into 2019.
Players to Avoid
However, not all players come into this season with such rosy outlooks. More than a few players will falter and finish the 2019 season with a performance unworthy of their draft position. Among those players, I expect to find Indianapolis tight end Eric Ebron. 2018 was a magical season for Ebron. After years of disappointment with the Lions, he was finally able to put it all together so that his production matched his potential. In 16 games, he accumulated 750 yards and a whopping 13 touchdowns, and he finished as the fourth best tight end in most fantasy formats.
Unfortunately, I do not expect similar results from Ebron this season. Although he should finish firmly in the second tier of tight ends, he should not be drafted immediately after Kelce, Kittle, and Ertz. I fear that drafters will panic and scoop him up as soon as the Big Three are gone, treating him as a fourth member. Instead, drafters should recognize that those 13 touchdowns are unlikely to be replicated, especially with fellow tight end Jack Doyle in the fold. Thus, they would be better served waiting on Ebron until the second round of tight ends are drafted. If you treat him as just one of many in Tier Two, you’ll be fine, but if you think of him as the fourth Tier One guy because that’s what his 2018 numbers indicated, you’ll get burned.
A second tight end that I expect to underwhelm this year is Greg Olsen. The Panthers great and former ironman has been plagued by injuries for the better part of two seasons. Expecting him to be on the field for most of the year is a dangerous game, one that drafters shouldn’t play in the earlier rounds. Name alone might get Olsen drafted among Tier Two players, when, in reality, he’s at the bottom of Tier Three if not the top of Tier Four.
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