The tight end position is something of an anomaly when it comes to fantasy football. Options are plentiful at the wide receiver position for fantasy managers to fill out their lineup. While the running back group can often feel top-heavy, there are still a solid number of players to roster and even more logical choices to peg as future break-out candidates. The landscape at tight end outside of the top three options has long been barren, which creates a significant positional advantage if you do happen to have one of the few elite options on your roster. Is this the year for fantasy managers to find the next great tight end in rookie drafts?
Tier One: A Cut Above the Rest
One of the true premier pass-catching options in the entire draft class, Florida’s Kyle Pitts is the clear top option at the tight end position. We see athletic tight ends touted as the next big thing on a fairly regular basis but Pitts is special. He is a bonafide mismatch nightmare for defenders. Not only is he too fast for linebackers and too strong for safeties but he is also capable of winning on the outside against cornerbacks. You can make an argument for ranking Pitts as a top-five dynasty tight end before he even takes a professional snap. Even though tight ends notoriously take longer to transition to the NFL, Pitts looks set to contribute from day one. At worst, he will be a legitimate red-zone weapon in his rookie season.
Tier Two: Solid Starters
Though it may take some time for him to develop into a full-time player, Miami’s Brevin Jordan possesses the type of upside worth a second-round selection in rookie drafts. He needs to develop a bit more as a route runner, but he can be moved all around the formation as a pass-catcher. A young quarterback’s best friend is often a reliable tight end and Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth fits that description perfectly. He’s sure-handed and will be a factor in the red zone early on in his career. After scoring eight touchdowns as a freshman and seven as a sophomore, Freiermuth only found the end zone one time in four games in 2020. Look for that to change in a hurry in the pros. A proven pass catcher, Boston College’s Hunter Long is ready to produce immediately as a pro. He trailed only Kyle Pitts in receiving yards for tight ends in 2020 as the focal point of the Eagles’ offense. He isn’t the flashiest option at the position but looks set to be a steady contributor.
Tier Three: Patience is a Virtue
As mentioned earlier, tight ends often take some time to transition to the professional game. While that can seem frustrating on the surface for fantasy managers, the savvy players can strike with superb values late in their rookie drafts. Even though he only caught 35 passes in his college career, Notre Dame’s Tommy Tremble has a unique skill set with room to grow as a receiver. He is a supremely gifted blocker and will find himself on the field early and often to help in that regard. If a team can develop him as a receiver, he has the athletic upside to be a steal late in rookie drafts. After transferring from Temple to Ole Miss, Kenny Yeboah enjoyed a bit of a break-out as a redshirt senior. Not only did he record career highs in receiving yards (524), receptions (27), and receiving touchdowns (six), he also averaged just shy of 20 yards per reception (19.4). He flashes great physicality and athleticism and is precisely the type of tight end prospect worth drafting late and stashing for a few years.
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