With just about a month until the first game of the NFL season, the NFL Draft Bible team has been putting the final touches on our positional dynasty rankings. We will have weekly updates throughout the season, helping to prepare you for your dynasty leagues. Some of these may come as a surprise, but our rankings are a consensus of some of the best minds in the industry.
In this article, we will discuss our top ten tight ends going into the 2021 season.
10. Mike Gesicki - Miami Dolphins
Entering his fourth NFL season, the time is now for Gesicki. He has grown into a better player accruing more catches, yards and touchdowns each year of his career. He is entering the final deal of his rookie contract, and the Dolphins selected his potential replacement in the third round of this year’s draft, Hunter Long. A revamped offense and second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ready to go and some more weapons on the field should allow Gesicki the chance to break out with less attention on him and him using his size and athleticism to dominate over the middle of the field. He will be 26 years old in October and has no injury history so if he were to hit free agency next season, there would be a big market for him which keeps his long-term value in play despite the expiring contract.
9. Robert Tonyan - Green Bay Packers
Another tight end on our list that has slowly grown more integrated into his team’s offense. Tonyan burst onto the scene last year, but the question around his finish of the third-best tight end in fantasy is how sustainable is it? He scored 11 touchdowns on just 52 catches, which gets you to 21% of his catches being touchdowns with some simple math. Match that with Aaron Rodgers throwing a touchdown on 9.1% of his throws which is well above his career average; it is not a rate that is sustainable. Aaron Rodgers' touchdown rate will assuredly fall back to earth which will inherently lower Tonyan’s totals making him less relevant unless his target share goes way up. Splitting targets with Aaron Jones, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb will hinder that, but he should maintain his target share and be a good option.
8. Dallas Goedert - Philadelphia Eagles
At the beginning of the offseason, there was a renewed optimism by the Dallas Goedert crowd with what it looked like the plan was for the Eagles. At this point, though, it is tough to tell what the plan is for the Eagles. There are reports out of the Eagles camp that Ertz is going to hang around. There are some reports that Jalen Hurts has not been as consistent as some would like to see. There are even rumors about a possible Deshaun Watson trade to Philadelphia. It all just looks pretty volatile and smells like something to avoid. However, if Watson is traded to the Eagles (and able to play) and if Ertz is a cut casualty, there is a real chance we finally see the Goedert break out that people have been clamoring for as he enters the final year of his rookie deal.
7. Noah Fant - Denver Broncos
As far as potential breakout seasons, Noah Fant needs to be at the top of your list. Yes, the hype around Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson is fun to get on board with, but it is also fun to go against the grain and not follow the mob. Take Clyde Edwards-Helaire last season, for example. He was the Twitter darling, and everyone wanted a piece of the pie, and everyone who got it was left disappointed. Everyone who got Jonathan Taylor or D’Andre Swift after was a lot more successful. This year, everyone wants to draft Pitts first in rookie drafts and Hockenson super high in startups because Hockenson is the second coming of George Kittle and Kyle Pitts will fill the Julio Jones void on day one. Both are great players without question, but why is Fant getting zero of the same hype when he has been better than Hockenson through their first two years with, by far, worse quarterback back play? Pitts is going to an offense that, at first glance, seems pass-heavy but just hired a head coach who ran the ball almost 700 times over the last two years? This is in no way slanderous to Hockenson and Pitts; it is trying to open your eyes to the fact that Noah Fant is outstanding, and you would do well to come away with him in any startup draft or trade you might try to acquire him in.
6. T.J. Hockenson - Detroit Lions
T.J. Hockenson is agreed on as one of the top tight ends in football. However, what isn’t as agreed on is how it will project to fantasy football, which is why we are all here. Is Hockenson the next George Kittle? The answer is no. Kittle is hyper-athletic, where Hockenson is sturdier. He runs a 4.52 40-yard dash while Hockenson runs a 4.70. Does this stop Hockenson from being a good tight end in fantasy football? Also, no, but with a qualifier. He will need a lot more touchdowns to be considered an elite tight end in fantasy football. Where Kittle has the explosiveness to get the extra yards because of his speed, Hockenson will not blow anyone away and will try to bully his way for more yards which inherently equals fewer yards which equal fewer points. We have Hockenson here for those reasons, and unless his touchdowns start to creep towards or even into double digits every year, this is where he will be in most yearly rankings.
5. Kyle Pitts - Atlanta Falcons
OK, everyone, please, calm down. Everyone, take a step back and put your realistic expectation glasses on for one minute while you read this. Some of you probably wonder why we have Kyle Pitts so low on our list based on where he is going in rookie drafts and even in redraft leagues. He is a 20-year-old rookie tight end going into an offense that is schemed by a coach who ran the ball almost 700 times in two seasons as offensive coordinator with the Titans. In college, during his junior year, his touchdown rate was nearly 28% which is the last thing people remember. Just using common sense, this number will not carry over into the NFL. However, with his frame and his seemingly natural ability, does he have to potential to put one of the top fantasy football tight ends? Yes, we believe he does, but it will take time to get there, and that is OK. His sheer size and athleticism will eventually make him a force, but there is a significant adjustment period like any tight end. The best PPR fantasy season by a rookie tight end since the year 2000 was Jeremy Shockey in 2002 when he had 74 catches, 894 yards, and two touchdowns which proves that a rookie tight end making an immediate impact is extremely rare. Proceed with realistic expectations and patience on Kyle Pitts.
4. Mark Andrews - Baltimore Ravens
The water gets murky with five through seven in the rankings and is based more on personal preference and who your guy will be if you miss out on the top four options. The last of the four is going to be Mark Andrews. He had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2019 with 852 yards and ten touchdowns. It felt like during the 2020 season that he and Lamar Jackson were just a touch out of sync, and even though he had over 700 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, it felt oddly empty with only three touchdowns scored after week four. Mostly, this was due to the lack of receiving threats the Ravens had. Defenses could lock onto Andrews and eliminate him from the Ravens' offense. Entering 2021, he will now have some of the pressure in the passing game take off of him with the addition of Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins. This year, J.K. Dobbins should be in line for more work and will create a more diverse offense in 2021 as Mark Andrews attempts to regain his form from 2019.
3. Darren Waller - Las Vegas Raiders
Waller was otherworldly in 2020. The focal point of the offense and favorite target of Derek Carr, Waller was able to haul in 107 catches, 1,196 yards, and nine touchdowns in a dominant season. However, when writing this, he is dealing with an undisclosed injury in training camp, which makes this extremely difficult. He has missed over a week straight of practice, and without any information to go off of, we cannot see any end in sight. If he is healthy, you will get a repeat of the 2020 season. He is still Derek Carr’s favorite weapon no matter the chatter about Bryan Edwards or Henry Ruggs. If he is going to miss a significant amount of time, depending on the injury, it might be time to sell on Waller while the vision of last year is fresh in everyone’s head. He is about to turn 29, and if it is a lower-body injury like a knee or a hip, we have seen guys of that size struggle to come back. AJ Green, Julio Jones are both excellent examples of guys who, as they approached age 30, got hurt and have only gotten more beat up with the same nagging injuries. Pay close attention to this situation as we get closer to the start of the season, and do not be afraid to pull the trigger on trade while you still can.
2. George Kittle - San Francisco 49ers
One of the most unfortunate parts about the 2020 season was not getting to see Kelce, Kittle and Waller going back and forth every week until the end to see who would be the best tight end. Kittle was on pace for nearly 1,300 yards but had his season derailed due to a knee injury early that hampered him until he hurt his foot which caused him to go on injured reserve. He will be coming back at full health this season and will step right back into form. His elite athleticism from the tight end spot makes him much more dangerous than most others in the league and makes him a force for fantasy rosters. Kittle is unquestioned the number two tight end for the foreseeable future and will prove that in 2021.
1. Travis Kelce - Kansas City Chiefs
There is generally a rule for fantasy football that the age of 30 is a tipping point where you want to start selling that player because with age comes a diminishing return. Skill position players have a hard time playing at an elite level after that barrier is crossed. Every once in a while, someone comes along and completely shatters that mold, and that is Travis Kelce. If possible, he somehow gets better with age as he broke the record for most receiving yards ever (1,416) by a tight end last season and now is the only tight end in NFL history with five straight seasons of over 1,000 yards. He plays with Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, which keeps defenses confused about who to cover and what to try to take away, and plays in a scheme with one of the most creative offensive coaches ever with Andy Reid. Until proven otherwise, even though he is approaching 32 years old, Travis Kelce is undoubtedly the number one tight end in fantasy football. If you are lucky enough to have him, congratulations to you.