As is the case every year, tight ends are a forgotten commodity in fantasy football. Fantasy managers underestimate the value of having another legitimate pass-catcher on their roster. A solid starting tight end can easily contribute 50 catches, 700 yards, and six touchdowns and could be the icing on a championship cake. All of these rankings will be based on ESPN’s PPR (Points Per Reception) scoring format, as a disclaimer.
#1: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
2020 Position Rank: 1
2020 Stats: 105 Receptions, 1416 Receiving Yards, 11 Receiving TDs
There is no question Kelce is the number one tight end entering the season. He finished second in receptions and targets, first in yards, and was tied for first in touchdowns. Kelce put together arguably the best fantasy season of a tight end since Gronk in 2014 and could be highly motivated after an embarrassing Super Bowl defeat. If you find yourself drafting near the end of the first round don’t be afraid to take Kelce, he won’t disappoint.
#2: Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
2020 Position Rank: 2
2020 Stats: 107 Receptions, 1196 Receiving Yards, 9 Receiving TDs
Waller has emerged as a dominant pass-catching option out in Vegas. He averaged 17.4 fantasy points per game, more than Justin Jefferson or DK Metcalf for context. While Henry Ruggs III operates as a downfield threat, and new addition John Brown may command some targets, Waller is the undisputed number one option and is the equivalent to a high-end wide receiver.
#3: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
2020 Position Rank: 19
2020 Stats: 48 Receptions, 635 Receiving Yards, 2 Receiving TDs
As is the case with the entire 49er’s organization, injuries prevented Kittle from posting his usual stats. When healthy Kittle is more than capable of putting up over 1000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. His elite blocking ensures he remains on the field for a majority of the team’s offensive snaps, provides yardage after the catch, and is fun to watch play on Sundays. The continued rise of Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk could limit Kittle throughout the season, but his standing as one of the game’s best tight ends is unquestioned.
#4: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
2020 Position Rank: 5
2020 Stats: 67 Receptions, 723 Receiving Yards, 6 Receiving TDs
With Kenny Golladay sidelined for most of the 2020 season, Hockenson emerged as a primary pass catcher in Detroit. While he never managed to break 100 receiving yards in a single game, he produced ten games in which he managed double-digit fantasy points. With a weak receiving corps and new quarterback, Hockenson will be called upon to operate as the best pass catcher in the Motor City.
#5: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
2020 Position Rank: 6
2020 Stats: 58 Receptions, 701 Receiving Yards, 7 Receiving TDs
With Lamar Jackson at quarterback Andrews will undoubtedly have weeks where the Baltimore passing attack is forced to take a backseat. But, his presence as the primary red-zone threat in Baltimore makes him a weekly touchdown threat. His 23 end zone targets are first among tight ends over the past two seasons and he did miss two games in 2020 which likely kept him from increasing his receiving yards and touchdown totals.
#6: Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team
2020 Position Rank: 3
2020 Stats: 72 Receptions, 670 Receiving Yards, 6 Receiving TDs
The breakout tight end of 2020, Thomas showed how dominant he could be in week 15 when he exploded for 13 catches for 101 yards. While he was held under 10 receiving yards three times during the season, he still finished second in targets and catches. With the veteran gunslinger, Ryan Fitzpatrick, set to take snaps in Washington Thomas could see his touchdown numbers and downfield opportunities increase as well.
#7: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
2020 Position Rank: N/A
2020 Stats: N/A
Pitts is the first rookie to make an appearance on these top ten rankings. The upside he possesses in a pass-heavy offense could lead to outstanding production. Still, he is a rookie at a notoriously thin position. Calvin Ridley will command the most attention from Matt Ryan and there are questions if Pitts will be able to handle the physicality that comes with blocking duties in the NFL. But, his upside and potential for redzone production could see him follow in the footsteps of receiving tight ends such as Kelce or Waller.
#8: Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers
2020 Position Rank: 4
2020 Stats: 52 Receptions, 586 Receiving Yards, 11 Receiving TDs
Tonyan is was extremely efficient in 2020 bringing in 52 of his 59 targets for an 88% catch percentage. He also tied with Kelce for the most receiving touchdowns in 2020. But, there are two possible red flags with Tonyan. The first is the continued uncertainty with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. If Rodgers is unavailable at any time in 2021 Tonyan could see far less production. Also, it may not be wise to expect him to score 11 touchdowns again as he only managed two touchdowns across his previous two seasons. Regression is likely for the Packer.
#9: Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
2020 Position Rank: 7
2020 Stats: 53 Receptions, 703 Receiving Yards, 6 Receiving TDs
Gesicki showcased some serious boom or bust potential in 2020. He had three weeks in which he posted 23 fantasy points. On the other hand, he scored under three fantasy points in three games as well. If Tua manages to progress as a passer Gesicki could become a prominent member of a strong passing corps, featuring talented receivers Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller.
#10: Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
2020 Position Rank: 8
2020 Stats: 62 Receptions, 673 Receiving yards, 3 Receiving TDs
Fant is one of the most physically gifted tight ends in the league. At 6’4, 250 pounds he has the physical profile to dominate games. Unfortunately, the Broncos’ uncertain situation at quarterback is problematic for his fantasy outlook. Drew Lock has failed to develop chemistry with Fant and Bridgewater did not utilize his tight ends well in Carolina. With Jerry Jeudy looking to take another step forward, and Courtland Sutton primed to return from injury, Fant has great upside but ultimately could be handicapped by the questions marks in Denver.
A high-quality tight end can give you an advantage during any week; particularly if you roster a player like Kelce or Waller. Neglecting any part of your roster can make winning difficult and it is time fantasy owners realized that tight ends are people too.