Football

Fantasy Football tight end rankings 2021: Early expert rankings of all TE1s ranked from 1-12

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Now that the 2020 regular season is over, we’re starting to look ahead to the 2021 campaign. It’s never too early to start preparing for the upcoming Fantasy season, and we want you to be ready. Obviously, things will change with free agency and the NFL Draft, among other things that will happen this offseason. But this is our first look at the top 12 tight end rankings in 2021 for me, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings and Chris Towers.

These rankings will change many times between now and August. But based on what just happened in the 2020 regular season, as well as what we project to happen in the future, here’s how we view the top 12 tight ends for next year.

Experts’ 2021 Positional Rankings: QB | RB | WR

As a reference point, here are the top 12 tight ends in 2020 based on total Fantasy points for the season on CBS Sports. The scoring is based on six points for all touchdowns.

1. Travis Kelce 305
2. Darren Waller 271
3. Logan Thomas 169
4. Robert Tonyan 168
5. T.J. Hockenson 166
6. Mark Andrews 163
7. Mike Gesicki 154
8. Rob Gronkowski 142
9. Noah Fant 141
10. Hayden Hurst 141
11. Dalton Schultz 140
12. Hunter Henry 140

And here are the top 12 tight ends in 2020 based on points per game.

1. Travis Kelce 20.3
2. Darren Waller 16.9
3. George Kittle 14.9
4. Mark Andrews 11.6
5. Logan Thomas 10.6
6. Robert Tonyan 10.5
7. T.J. Hockenson 10.4
8. Mike Gesicki 10.3
9. Dallas Goedert 10.1
10. Hunter Henry 10.0
11. Noah Fant 9.4
12. Jonnu Smith 9.0

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The rankings

Jamey Eisenberg

1. Travis Kelce
2. Darren Waller
3. George Kittle
4. Mark Andrews
5. T.J. Hockenson
6. Dallas Goedert
7. Robert Tonyan
8. Mike Gesicki
9. Noah Fant
10. Hunter Henry
11. Irv Smith
12. Zach Ertz

Dave Richard

1. Travis Kelce
2. Darren Waller
3. George Kittle
4. Mark Andrews
5. T.J. Hockenson
6. Robert Tonyan
7. Dallas Goedert
8. Mike Gesicki
9. Hunter Henry
10. Logan Thomas
11. Noah Fant
12. Rob Gronkowski

Heath Cummings

1. Travis Kelce
2. George Kittle
3. Darren Waller
4. Mark Andrews
5. Dallas Goedert
6. Noah Fant
7. Evan Engram
8. T.J. Hockenson
9. Hunter Henry
10. Robert Tonyan 
11. Mike Gesicki
12. Logan Thomas

Chris Towers

1. Travis Kelce
2. George Kittle
3. Darren Waller
4. Mark Andrews
5. Logan Thomas
6. Hunter Henry
7. T.J. Hockenson
8. Noah Fant
9. Zach Ertz
10. Mike Gesicki
11. Dallas Goedert
12. Hayden Hurst

Kelce has been the No. 1 PPR tight end in every season since 2016, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down after nearly leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2020 with 1,416, which was second behind Stefon Diggs (1,535). With Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid on his side, Kelce is worth drafting in Round 1 in all leagues.

 For the past two seasons, Waller had at least 90 catches and 1,145 yards, but it was great to see him score nine touchdowns in 2020, which will hopefully become the norm. 

Kittle was once again exceptional when healthy in 2020, but he missed eight games due to injury. The 49ers also could move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, and his replacement could impact Kittle’s value. Both Waller and Kittle should be drafted toward the end of Round 2 in all leagues.

Andrews saw a decline in production from 2019 (13.8 PPR points per game) to 2020, but he still has the potential to post elite production as the No. 1 option in the passing game for Lamar Jackson. Andrews will be drafted no later than Round 4 in 2021.

Hockenson saw an increase in targets (59 to 101), catches (32 to 67), yards (367 to 723) and touchdowns (two to six) from his rookie campaign, and we’ll see if Year 3 is even better, especially if he gets on the same page early with Jared Goff. Hockenson will likely be drafted in Round 4 or 5 in all formats.

The reason I like Goedert is because Zach Ertz is expected to leave Philadelphia, and Goedert could be a star in the featured tight end role for the Eagles. He played nine healthy games in 2020, and he scored at least 11 PPR points in four of them.

Henry is a free agent this offseason, and we’ll see where he ends up to finalize his Fantasy value for 2021. A return to the Chargers would be welcomed given his already established rapport with Justin Herbert.

Fant showed flashes of greatness in 2020 with five games of at least 11 PPR points, but he also scored one touchdown after Week 2.

Tonyan and Thomas were two of the best surprises in 2020, and hopefully they can still play at a high level in 2021. I like the upside for Tonyan if the Packers don’t overhaul their receiving corps behind Davante Adams, and Tonyan was tied for Kelce with the most touchdowns for a tight end with 11. 

Thomas could also be in a good spot if the Washington Football Team doesn’t significantly upgrade its receiving corps, and the quarterback situation in Washington still needs to be settled. 

Some other tight ends we have ranked include Irv Smith, Ertz, Hurst and Pitts. We’ll talk more about Pitts following the NFL Draft, but I like Smith the best of this group. He scored at least 16 PPR points in two of the final four games with Kyle Rudolph out, and the Vikings could decide to move on from Rudolph this offseason.

Ertz could still be a top 12 tight end if he lands in the right situation, but Chris is the only one who has Ertz ranked in the top 12 as of now. And Chris is also the only one with Hurst ranked in his top 12, and hopefully Hurst picks up where 2020 ended. He scored a touchdown in each of his final three games to cap an inconsistent season.

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