Quickly

  • From the three studs at the top to the streaming options at the bottom, ranking the top 35 tight ends heading into fantasy draft season.
By Kevin Hanson
August 01, 2019

Welcome to my 2019 fantasy football positional rankings series. This post has been updated slightly as news has changed. You can also check out my QB, RB, WR and K/DST rankings.

Today I’ve turned my attention to tight ends. While it’s a top-heavy position that lacks depth, there are some intriguing streaming options for those who wait as well.

Note: Rankings and references are based on half-PPR scoring with auction values assuming a $200 budget and 12-team league size. Average Draft Positions (ADPs) used are from Fantasy Football Calculator.

With that said, below are my top 35 fantasy tight ends for the 2019 NFL season.

Scroll down for a chart with each player’s ranking.

TIER 1

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye: 12, Auction: $37)

Absolutely dominant at fantasy's most top-heavy position, Kelce (243.1) led tight ends in fantasy points last season and actually doubled up fantasy's TE7 (Trey Burton, 120.1). He's now finished as the TE1, TE2 and TE1 over the past three seasons, respectively. In addition to briefly holding the single-season yardage record for tight ends, Kelce was the only player in the league (at any position) to have at least five catches in 15 games last season. Regardless of how you slice it, Kelce is the odds-on favorite to once again lead tight ends in fantasy points.

2. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye: 10, Auction: $31)

We could call 2018 a breakout season, but Ertz now has four consecutive 800-yard seasons. Leading the position in targets (156) in 2018, Ertz converted that volume into the single-season tight end record for receptions (116) for a career-high 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns. His 116 catches were 38 more than his previous career high (78). Last season, only DeAndre Hopkins (11) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (10) had more games with double-digit targets (Ertz had nine) and only Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs (eight each) had more games with at least eight receptions (Ertz had seven).

3. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (Bye: 4, Auction: $29)

Kittle may be third on this list, but he set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2018, with 1,377. Even better in the second half of the year, Kittle had a 51/793/3 (15.5 Y/R) stat line over his final eight games. Along with Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, Kittle is a slam-dunk top-three option at the position.

TIER 2

4. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye: 7, Auction: $16)

Injuries have cut short each of Howard's first two NFL seasons, but he has been extremely efficient with his opportunities. Howard's 11.46 yards per target over the past two years is the highest in the NFL among players with at least 50 catches during that span. In addition, his 16.62 Y/R leads all tight ends over that span. Only three other tight ends—Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis and George Kittle—have averaged more than 13.0 Y/R during that stretch. With good health, he's the best bet to challenge the top three this season.

5. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye: 12, Auction: $13)

He missed the 2018 regular season with a torn ACL, but Henry was productive in his first two seasons. He ranked fourth in Y/R (13.05) and third in Y/T (9.19) at the position in his first two NFL seasons (2016-2017). During that stretch, only nine players, including two tight ends—Kyle Rudolph and Jimmy Graham—had more targets inside the 10-yard line than Henry’s 17. Henry was tied for third at the position with now retired ex-teammate Antonio Gates. In other words, my projection for him of 6.4 touchdowns (fourth-most amongst TEs) could prove to be too conservative.

6. Evan Engram, New York Giants (Bye: 11, Auction: $13)

Through his first two NFL seasons, Engram has been a prolific fantasy producer on a per-game basis. He scored the fourth-most PPG as a rookie in 2017 and seventh-most in 2018. Returning from injury just in time for Odell Beckham's four missed games last season, Engram had a 22/320/1 line over that stretch to end the season. Engram has five or more targets in 21 of 26 career games. In the five games he fell short, Engram played fewer than 20 snaps in three of them and had four targets in the other two. With OBJ now in Cleveland, Engram's consistent volume should see an increase above his career average of 6.88 targets per game.

7. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints (Bye: 9, Auction: $10)

Oakland's passing game had virtually nothing last season and Cook paced the team by leading them in targets (101), receptions (68), yards (896) and touchdowns (six). Setting career highs across the board, Cook finished as fantasy's TE5 last season. While target share should dip year-over-year, the upgrade to Drew Brees and the Saints from last year's version of Oakland's offense could offset some of that dip.

8. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (Bye: 7, Auction: $8)

In his age-22 season, Njoku finished 2018 with 56 catches, 639 yards and four touchdowns to end last year as fantasy's TE9. Cleveland's offense will continue to blossom as Baker Mayfield enters his sophomore campaign, but Njoku will move down a spot in the team’s target pecking order with Odell Beckham moving to the front of the line.

9. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 6, Auction: $8)

Breaking out in his first season with the Colts, Ebron parlayed 110 targets into a career-best 66/750/13 line. When sorting my projections by position group and team, the Colts tight ends rank first in projected touchdowns compared to any other team's group of tight ends. Even so, I still expect significant regression in Ebron's touchdown output. Ebron's snap counts will decrease if Jack Doyle stays healthy, as Doyle (332) played more than twice as many snaps as Ebron (165) did in the six games both were active last season. In addition, the Colts added the big-bodied Devin Funchess to their receiving corps, who should steal some red-zone targets.

TIER 3

10. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye: 7, Auction: $7)

Essentially playing a full season last year after missing multiple games in each of the previous four seasons, McDonald performed as a top-10 fantasy tight end and set or tied career highs in catches (50), yards (610) and touchdowns (four). As the team replaces the targets vacated by Antonio Brown's departure, it stands to reason that some of those could go McDonald's way. At a minimum, returning last year's value (TE10) seems to be a likely outcome for the Steelers’ tight end.

11. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons (Bye: 9, Auction: $7)

Not necessarily doing so in exciting fashion given his career-low 9.3 Y/R last year, Hooper ranked fourth at the position in receptions (71) and set career highs across the board (71/660/4). Only five tight ends scored more fantasy points in 2018. Ranking eighth in snaps played (809, 76%) at the position last season, Hooper is a high-floor option for fantasy owners that punt the position.

12. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (Bye: 11, Auction: $5)

Walker (ankle) played just one game in 2018, but he had more than 100 targets and at least 800 yards every year from 2014 to 2017. Entering his age-35 season and coming off a serious injury, Walker's days of 100-plus targets and 800-plus yards may be over, but he's a borderline TE1/TE2 given the weakness at the position.

13. Trey Burton, Chicago Bears (Bye: 6, Auction: $5)

Burton's 54 catches for 569 yards and six touchdowns were career highs and the former Eagle ended 2018 with the seventh-most tight end fantasy points. That's the good news. Even if you exclude all tight ends that played fewer than 10 games, the bad news is that Burton's per-game production was worse (TE11) and he failed to exceed the 40-yard mark after Week 7.

14. Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (Bye: 10, Auction: $4)

Seemingly every year, "only if (he could stay healthy)" was the phrase fantasy owners used for Reed. Before last season, he had played 12-plus games only twice and finished those seasons as fantasy's TE2 (2015, 14 games) and TE9 (2016, 12 games), respectively. Playing the first 13 games last season (before missing the final three weeks), Reed was more solid than great as the TE10 through Week 14. Training, instead of rehabbing, for the first time in three years, Reed recently told ESPN's John Keim, “My feet are definitely getting stronger, way stronger than last year. I feel more explosive, and I feel a lot better.” Take that with a grain of salt, but there is some upside compared to his TE19 ADP as the best receiving option in Washington.

15. Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers (Bye: 11, Auction: $3)

The 55 catches, 89 targets and 636 yards weren't the problem last year; the two touchdowns were. A year removed from double-digit touchdowns, Graham scored just twice. Aside from an 11-game season (2015), it was the only other time in his career that he finished with fewer than five scores, but fantasy owners should expect some positive regression in 2019.

16. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (Bye: 7, Auction: $3)

Now 34 and coming off two injury-riddled seasons, Olsen had 27 catches for 291 yards and four touchdowns in nine games last year. While I project a larger target share for running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver D.J. Moore, Olsen could turn in a top-12 performance if he's able to maintain good health. For tight end streamers, Olsen has a favorable early-season schedule with five favorable (top-half) matchups in the first six weeks.

TIER 4

17. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (Bye: 8, Auction: $2)

Looking back at rookie tight ends since 2000, only six of them had more receiving yards than Andrews had (552) last year. Only three had more than 600 yards, so the gap between Andrews’s rookie season and the best of the bunch isn’t very wide. Going into year two, there was no shortage of glowing offseason reports for Andrews, who, despite the team's run-first approach, could be poised for a breakout. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec recently wrote that Andrews has been the team's “most dangerous and productive offensive player.”

18. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings (Bye: 12, Auction: $2)

Rudolph had a four-year low in touchdowns (four), but he still finished as fantasy's TE8 last season, as his 64 receptions and 634 yards were both the second-most of his career. With the Vikings drafting Irv Smith in the second round and the team's adoption of a run-first approach under Kevin Stefanski, Rudolph's 2019 targets may dip compared to 2018.

19. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (Bye: 6, Auction: $2)

After missing 10 games last season, Doyle (hip) will likely play more snaps than Eric Ebron when the two are both healthy. The team begins the year with tougher matchups (at LAC, at TEN and vs. ATL), but then Doyle becomes an outstanding streaming option for those planning ahead. Their next eight games feature opponents that ranked last year among the 10 most generous fantasy defenses to opposing tight ends.

20. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye: 10, Auction: $1)

If it weren't for Zach Ertz, Goedert would be hyped for a second-year breakout. The Eagles could employ more two-TE sets in 2019, but Ertz almost never comes off the field (1,000 snaps last year, 92%). Philadelphia's tight ends coach Justin Peelle has described Goedert's development as “phenomenal” and the second-year tight end has top-six upside if Ertz were to miss any time.

21. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (Bye: 5, Auction: $1)

Only four tight ends have been drafted in the top 10 over the past 20 years, including Hockenson himself. The only concern is the difficult transition rookie tight ends encounter, but he's one of the more complete tight end prospects entering the NFL in years.

22. Chris Herndon, New York Jets (Bye: 4, Auction: $1)

As noted earlier, rookie tight ends often fail to make significant fantasy impacts, but Herndon scored the sixth-most fantasy points at the position from Weeks 6 to 16. Herndon would be a fringe TE1, but unfortunately, he will begin the season serving a four-game suspension. The suspension downgrades him to a waiver-wire target as we get closer to Week 6, his first game back since the Jets have a Week 4 bye.

23. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye: 9, Auction: $1)

Productive on the field (12.08 Y/R with a TD per every 9.9 targets over his career), Eifert has played just 28 games over the past five seasons. The per-game production should be better than TE23, but given his recent (lack of) durability, it's difficult to trust that he'll give you even double-digit games.

24. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bye: 7, Auction: $1)

Brate has 22 touchdowns and a minimum of six per season over the past three years. With O.J. Howard missing multiple games each season and the Bucs offense throwing it often, Brate has a reasonable chance to score five or so touchdowns again in 2019.

TIER 5

25. Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (Bye: 8, Auction: $0)

Coming out of retirement in large part to help mentor the team's young tight ends, Witten is a low-upside safety blanket for Dak Prescott, who says that Witten has “gotten better, stronger and faster.” In his season before retiring, Witten had 63 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns, which would seem like a best-case scenario.

26. Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders (Bye: 6, Auction: $0)

Sitting atop Oakland's depth chart at tight end, Waller has a chance for a breakout with Jared Cook now in New Orleans.

27. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos (Bye: 10, Auction: $0)

Fant is an athletic mismatch at tight end, and Joe Flacco has a history of targeting tight ends early and often.

28. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (Bye: 5, Auction: $0)

As a rookie, Gesicki converted his 32 targets into 22 scoreless receptions for 202 yards (9.2 Y/R). One of the most athletic tight ends in the league, the second-year tight end should make more of a receiving impact in 2019.

29. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams (Bye: 9, Auction: $0)

The problem with Everett (or Tyler Higbee) is that the team has four (or more) weapons—Todd Gurley and a trio of wide receivers—ahead of either tight end in the competition for targets. So, at best, Everett will be the team's No. 5 option in most weeks.

30. Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks (Bye: 11, Auction: $0)

Dissly had a monster first week (3/105/1), but the rookie tore his patellar tendon in Week 4. Even though he'll be ready to go for Week 1, reliable fantasy production may elude the second-year tight end.

31. Ben Watson, New England Patriots (Bye: 10, Auction: $0)

With Rob Gronkowski retiring, Watson could become a viable TE2/streamer once he returns from his four-game suspension. The 38-year-old tight end had 35 catches for 400 yards and two touchdowns in New Orleans last season.

32. Matt LaCosse, New England Patriots (Bye: 10, Auction: $0)

If you're looking for a tight end in this range of the rankings, LaCosse is worth a look as a potential streamer, at least during Watson's suspension and while Gronk is retired.

33. Rob Gronkowski, Free Agent (Bye: N/A, Auction: $0)

There's no guarantee that Gronk won't un-retire. Whether those odds should be 10%, 40% or more is unclear, but a possible late-season return makes him at least an option in this range.

34. Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers (Bye: 7, Auction: $0)

Over five December games, Thomas had 25 catches for 246 yards and two touchdowns. With Olsen returning for another season, fantasy owners will likely have to wait another season for a breakout from the sophomore tight end.

35. Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins (Bye: 10, Auction: $0)

Given Jordan Reed's durability track record, the 35-year-old Davis has a chance for a few usable games in 2019. Davis had just 25/367/2 last season, but he had a combined 1,231 yards over the two seasons before that.

Rank

Tier

TE

Team

Bye

Price

1

1

Travis Kelce

Kansas City Chiefs​

12​

$37​

2

1

Zach Ertz

Philadelphia Eagles​

10​

$31​

3

1

George Kittle

San Francisco 49ers​

4​

$29​

4

2

O.J. Howard

Tampa Bay Buccaneers​

7​

$16​

5

2

Hunter Henry

Los Angeles Chargers​

12​

$13​

6

2

Evan Engram

New York Giants

11​

$13​

7

2

Jared Cook

New Orleans Saints​

9​

$10​

8

2

David Njoku

Cleveland Browns​

7​

$8​

9

2

Eric Ebron

Indianapolis Colts​

6​

$8​

10

3

Vance McDonald

Pittsburgh Steelers​

7​

$7​

11

3

Austin Hooper

Atlanta Falcons​

9​

$7​

12

3

Delanie Walker

Tennessee Titans​

11​

$5

13

3

Trey Burton

Chicago Bears​

6​

$5​

14

3

Jordan Reed

Washington Redskins​

10​

$4​

15

3

Jimmy Graham

Green Bay Packers​

11​

$3​

16

3

Greg Olsen

Carolina Panthers​

7​

$3​

17

4

Mark Andrews

Baltimore Ravens​

8​

$2​

18

4

Kyle Rudolph

Minnesota Vikings​

12​

$2​

19

4

Jack Doyle

Indianapolis Colts​

6​

$2​

20

4

Dallas Goedert

Philadelphia Eagles​

10​

$1​

21

4

T.J. Hockenson

Detroit Lions​

5​

$1​

22

4

Chris Herndon

New York Jets​

4​

$1​

23

4

Tyler Eifert

Cincinnati Bengals​

9​

$1​

24

4

Cameron Brate

Tampa Bay Buccaneers​

7

$1​

25

5

Jason Witten

Dallas Cowboys​

8​

$0​

26

5

Darren Waller

Oakland Raiders​

6​

$0​

27

5

Noah Fant

Denver Broncos​

10​

$0​

28

5

Mike Gesicki

Miami Dolphins​

5​

$0​

29

5

Gerald Everett

Los Angeles Rams​

9​

$0​

30

5

Will Dissly

Seattle Seahawks​

11​

$0​

31

5

Ben Watson

New England Patriots​

10​

$0​

32

5

Matt LaCosse

New England Patriots​

10​

$0​

33

5

Rob Gronkowski

Free Agent​

N/A​

$0​

34

5

Ian Thomas

Carolina Panthers​

7​

$0​

35

5

Vernon Davis

Washington Redskins​

10​

$0​

Kevin Hanson joins SI for the 2019 season. His fantasy rankings have placed him in the Top 20 in each of the past two seasons among all the industry experts tracked by FantasyPros.com, and he has been in the Top 25 in six of the past eight years.

You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)