Austin’s Official Tight End Rankings 2021

TEs

You’ve gotten my quarterback rankings. You’ve gotten my running back rankings. You’ve been given my wide receiver rankings. Are you not entertained?! Alright, fine. It’s only right that we go over my top tight end rankings as well. I rocked the boat with some of my other rankings, so you have a fair warning that this will be more of the same.

  1. Travis Kelce

Big shocker, I know. The dude is just in his own stratosphere of fantasy production. I can’t argue with a single soul for wanting to take him in the first round of drafts. He’s a total cheat code at the position.

2. Darren Waller

How good is Travis Kelce, you ask? Good enough for Darren Waller to finish as the TE2 last season even after being targeted 146 times! While I don’t project Waller to see 146 targets again this season with the additions of John Brown and Kenyan Drake, along with the hopeful development of Henry Ruggs, Waller is still the key to this offense and could still likely be the first read.

3. George Kittle

It’s no secret that Kittle is an elite tight end. It’s understandable for some experts to have him as their TE2, but there are quite a few mouths to feed in that offense. Regardless of how many people need touches, Kittle presents major upside and his massive contract guarantees that he will get his.

4. T.J. Hockenson

When it comes to the tight end position for fantasy football managers, there are your obvious big 3 (above) and then a huge tier break. If you miss out on, or simply don’t want to pay up for one of the big names, you’re left looking for breakout candidates that can return major value in the mid-to-late rounds. Hockenson is my pick as that guy for 2021. He finds himself in a unique situation where he may very well be the first read in the passing game and Jared Goff has been known to heavily utilize his tight ends, particularly in the red zone.

5. Kyle Pitts

What I’m about to say may upset many of the Pitts truthers out there. As much as I believe in him as a talent, he has no business being drafted as the TE4 off the board. The hype is so unreal, that anything short of the greatest rookie season of all time is going to result in disappointment for his fantasy owners. Furthermore, if he does put up the greatest tight end rookie season of all time, he can’t pass Kittle, Waller or Kelce’s production, so there’s no value to be had there whatsoever. If he somehow manages to slide down your draft boards to say the TE7 range, then I’m all in.

6. Mark Andrews

Sometimes the most difficult part of being a fantasy football analyst is deciphering what is “coach speak” and what is legit. Usually the quickest way is to look at what the team’s actions were. What did the Ravens do this offseason? They went hard after nearly every single free agent wide receiver on the market. They whiffed and had to settle on Sammy Watkins, but they still went for it. The draft rolls around and they select very talented receivers in Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. Lamar Jackson now has some legitimate weapons to throw to, but Sammy can’t stay healthy and the rookies are…well, rookies. While there may be more mouths to feed on a team with low passing volume, Mark Andrews will remain Jackson’s security blanket and primary red zone target.

7. Noah Fant

Fant is one of the most talented tight ends in the league, but finds himself in a situation that is incredibly frustrating for fantasy managers. There are far too many mouths to feed in this Broncos offense ran by a subpar quarterback. He will be safe enough to roll out every week, but his ceiling isn’t as high as what his potential says it should be.

8. Mike Gesicki

I was very bullish on Gesicki early in the offseason. At one point, he was my TE4, but I’ve cooled off with the additions of Fuller and Waddle that are sure to take away valuable targets from Gesicki. Regardless, he’s going to get quality looks inside the red zone and this offense as a whole looks to take a major step forward. As a result, he’s going to have plenty of scoring opportunities.

9. Tyler Higbee

Higbee took over for an injured Gerald Everett at the end of 2019 and ended that season on fire. As a result, there was a ton of unrealistic hype that he would be able to continue that trend in 2020 with a healthy Gerald Everett returning and he burned people that bought into that hype. Now, nobody seems to want to even think about drafting him and his ADP is falling. Everett is gone and Higbee is the clear TE1 for the Rams. The team is going to have to lean on the passing game more than anticipated with Cam Akers being lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles. There are plenty of mouths to feed, but Stafford loves throwing to his tight end and Higbee should be wide open with all the other talent on the field drawing the extra coverage. Amazing value in drafts.

10. Hunter Henry

When you think about terrible wide receiver groups, the Patriots have to be near the top of the list. Cam Newton is going to be the starting quarterback and will struggle hitting his receivers. I bring these points up because Henry may end up becoming the first read as a result and we do have plenty of historical data to support Cam utilizing his tight ends.

11. Adam Trautman

Trautman had the best blocker rating of all tight ends in 2020 – as a rookie! Cook and Hill are gone. His blocking ability means the team has no reason to pull him off the field. MT is out for several weeks. The other receivers are among the worst in the entire league and are already battling injury problems. Trautman is going to have a ton of opportunity to produce this season and could become the second read in the passing game.

12. Robert Tonyan

Tonyan far exceeded even the most generous projections in 2020, but if you’re drafting him expecting top-6 type of production again, you’re bound to be very disappointed. Rodgers convinced the team to bring back Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard is back healthy. Tonyan capitalized on the situation last season, but will be knocked back down the pecking order.

13. Anthony Firkser

The Titans have targeted their tight ends at a whopping 30% of their passing attempts. Firkser did such a great job filling in for Jonnu Smith last season that the team felt no obligation to bring Jonnu back. Julio Jones has joined the team, though, and will demand his share of the passing volume so I’m not projecting a 30% target share for Firkser, but with such a long history of targeting tight ends, there will not be a complete shift away from it either.

14. Evan Engram

He was the target leader in New York last season, but couldn’t do anything with all that volume. Now, Saquon is back and Kenny Golladay has been brought in. Engram somehow managed to turn 109 targets into a TE16 finish last season. How is that even possible? It’s a contract year, though and the team says they are committed to his involvement in the passing game.

15. Rob Gronkowski

Gronk’s days as a top-10 TE are long gone, but Brady loves to target him in the red zone. He’s going to score enough touchdowns to stay in the TE15 range.