Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been the best player at his position for a few years now. He has been the most targeted tight end in the NFL over the past five seasons and it’s not a coincidence that he’s been a top performer in fantasy football.
Kelce has recorded a record-setting five straight NFL seasons with over 1,000 yards receiving. With Patrick Mahomes as his starting quarterback over the past three seasons, Kelce has lifted his level of play more than ever. He has averaged 102 receptions, 1,327 yards and nine touchdowns per season over the past three seasons.
That is consistency that we can all get behind, and it puts Kelce in the conversation as not only the best tight end in the NFL but as one of the best pass-catchers across the board.
Kelce has had an average fantasy football draft position in the second round, but he continues to creep up draft boards to the point where he can now be considered at the end of the first round in some leagues.
When there is such a significant drop off in production after missing out on top-tier tight ends like Kelce, Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller, and, if healthy, San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, it makes the position even more desirable for fantasy owners.
Kelce was among the league-leaders in receiving yards heading into the final week of the 2020 season, and some mentioned him in the Offensive Player of the Year conversation before he and other Chiefs starters were rested in Week 17.
There are less than a handful of wide receivers I would draft before Kelce heading into the 2021 fantasy football season. That’s how elite Kelce has become and another reason you want to keep an eye on how things are shaking out at the end of the first round into the turn of the second round.
As a guy who loves drafting at the end of the first round for fantasy football purposes, having the option to take Kelce right there is a dream scenario for fans looking to add the best tight end in the league.
Some are wondering how long Kelce can keep up this pace. It's a good conversation starter among friends in the draft chat. The Chiefs may want to slow his usage down over the next couple of seasons to be able to utilize him through the end of his contract with the team, which was recently extended through the 2025 season. At that point, he would be 36 years old.
The Chiefs may have been looking at the long game when trading up in the fifth round to draft Duke tight end Noah Gray. Kelce still has plenty of tread left on the tires, but it would be wise if the Chiefs didn’t need to overwork Kelce this year.
Kelce will likely still get all of the scoring opportunities we’ve been used to seeing and should be among the most-targeted tight ends in the league. However, if he lands just short of 100 receptions on the season to help keep his legs fresh for the playoffs and future seasons, that could be a win-win for Kelce and the Chiefs.
This is where Gray can become a key contributor. While there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the rookie, he has reportedly looked good early in training camp. According to coaches and teammates, Gray has shown the ability to make good cuts and tough catches. He has some of the "wiggle" that Kelce has become known for as his career has progressed.
If the Chiefs can utilize Gray when Kelce needs a breather and if they can get him involved a little bit more as the season goes along, this could help the team out long-term. Gray seems to have the early edge for the Chiefs' TE2 spot, but Blake Bell will be the other guy he is battling with for the job.
If — stop reading if you're squeamish — for some reason Kelce has to miss a few weeks due to injury, Gray could potentially be a nice plug-and-play option whether you have Kelce on your team or not.
Gray isn’t a guy you’re going to want to draft in standard leagues as most fantasy teams don’t need a tight end handcuff. Most fantasy owners don’t even need to use up a spot for a backup tight end unless you play with a deep bench. Gray will be a guy that you can keep an eye on as the season progresses, just in case.
In the event you’re lucky enough to get Kelce on your fantasy football team, you’re not only getting the top tight end in the NFL, but one of the best mismatches for defenses in the league. With head coach Andy Reid calling plays and Mahomes throwing the ball his way, Kelce’s value isn’t going down in 2021 and he should be a top priority with your second-round fantasy pick.