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Way Too Early Tight End Rankings for 2021

By Andrew Swanson | 3/13/21 |

Travis Kelce proved to be a cheat code for his fantasy managers yet again in 2020, finishing as the TE1 for the fourth consecutive year. Not only was Kelce the top tight end in both total points and points per game, but his consistency score of 33.66 was also twice as good as the No.2 tight end of the year, Darren Waller.

Just how good was Kelce? His 13.8 fantasy points per game would have placed him third among wide receivers, just behind Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill and ahead of Stefon Diggs.

He has been the model of consistency and enters 2021 with the same coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterback from last season. Assuming Kelce can continue to avoid the injury bug, he is worthy of a first-round pick in all formats and will once again be the steal of the second round if he falls out of the top-12 again this year.

Below are my way too early tight end rankings for 2021. Keep in mind that free agency, the NFL draft, injuries, and roster moves over the next six months will significantly affect these rankings.

Travis Kelce

1) Travis Kelce, KC

The peripherals are there for Kelce to smash again in 2021, and he is the clear-cut No.1 TE. You could make the argument that he should be ranked as high as 10th overall in drafts, but he will likely go in the second round as owners continue to draft running backs 6-12 over taking the more sure thing in Kelce. The only concern is age and the fact that he has avoided injuries every year since 2014.

2) Darren Waller, LV

Most rankings will have Waller ranked behind both Kittle and Andrews, but I would prefer the volume that Waller presents over those two, especially if Derek Carr is under center for the Raiders in 2021. Waller led all tight ends in catches with 107 in 2020 and will once again be the primary target unless the Raiders make a splash by adding Kenny Golladay in free agency.

3) George Kittle, SF

Kittle is the No.1 all-around tight end in the league when you combine his pass-catching skills along with blocking. No tight end is better in the open field, and he is a beast when attacking opponents with the ball in his hand. The problem is Kittleís rough running style and relentless blocking lead to more injuries than Kelce or Waller, as referenced by the fact that Kittle has played just one full season in his four-year career. He also has not caught more than five touchdowns in any season.

4) Mark Andrews, BAL

Where he lacks in volume, Andrews more than makes up for it in receiving touchdowns. Assuming he can play the whole season, he is a lock for around nine touchdowns and 800 yards. He lacks the elite upside of the other three players ranked above, but he provides a solid floor.

5) Robert Tonyan, GB

I donít typically chase breakout tight ends from one season to another, especially when that tight end went from two combined receiving touchdowns in 2018 and 2019 to 11 last year. But I make an exception when that player has an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers. I also like that the team has the same coach and coordinator, and they will likely not add another big-name receiver to take away targets.

6) T.J. Hockenson, DET

I have Hockenson a little lower than most people because of the uncertainty surrounding changes to the offense and quarterback. Goff has a history of targeting tight ends, and there is frankly nobody else to throw to, but I am tempering my expectations based on the unknowns with Anthony Lynn calling plays.

7) Rob Gronkowski, TB

Gronk and the Bucs slow-played fantasy managers and NFL opponents by slowly incorporating the future hall of famer into the Tampa Bay offense. Gronk caught all of his eight touchdowns from Weeks 6 through the Super Bowl, including a pair of scores against the Chiefs (He should have been the MVP and not Brady).

8) Hunter Henry, LAC (FA)

Henry is somewhat of a wild card as he could end up on a new team in 2021. Henry continues to be an injury risk with no full 16-game seasons on his resume, but he has a nice floor as a red zone threat and has the ability to jump into the top-5.

9) Dallas Goedert, PHI

Assuming Zach Ertz is out, Goedert is primed to take over as the starting tight end for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. The former second-round pick from South Dakota State is 26 years old and in the prime of his career. He is one of my favorite breakout candidates, especially if the Eagles do not add a marquee free agent wide receiver in free agency.

10) Noah Fant, DEN

Fant has all of the physical tools to be a stud tight end, but he is hampered by subpar quarterback play, and the Broncos have a ton of talented young wide receivers surrounding him in the passing offense. I donít see Fant getting enough volume to be an elite fantasy tight end, but he could be in line for 5-8 touchdowns.

11) Mike Gesicki, MIA

Gesicki saw 85 targets last season with the Dolphins and posted career-highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He has all of the physical tools to be a stud, but the Dolphins are reportedly in the market for a wide receiver or two in free agency and the draft. I feel very confident Gesicki will once again finish as a TE1, but I worry his upside may be tapped at what we saw in 2020.

12) Logan Thomas, WAS

The former quarterback turned tight end finished with a whopping 110 targets for the Washington Football Team in 2020. With 54 combined targets in his three previous seasons, his 2020 was a breakout in the fullest sense of the term, as Alex Smith and the other Football Team QBs opted for a ton of underneath passes to Thomas and running backs. That could continue this year, but Washington could add a QB and WR in free agency that could make them a more down-field throwing offense.