One of the positions many overlook when it comes to their fantasy football draft strategy is the tight end. Let’s face it, it’s not a position on your fantasy football roster you think a lot about, but for your fantasy football draft strategy, it’s becoming more important.
Having a bigger body receiver that can block and haul in catches is vital in today’s NFL offenses and we are seeing this position really emerge as a major factor when it comes to winning NFL championships and fantasy football championships as well. As we get to crunch time with your fantasy football draft strategy, you’ll want to chart a clear course and plan for how you’ll acquire the tight ends you need to win your league.
Here are my Top 10 tight ends to bake into your fantasy football draft strategy as we barrel toward the start of the 2021 season.
Fantasy football draft strategy: Tight ends you should draft
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
Throwing my Raiders bias aside, and putting my fantasy football draft strategy first, Travis Kelce has been the top tight end in the league over the last five years and is someone that should be looked at and considered in the first round of PPR leagues. Kelce has posted five straight 1,000+ receiving yard seasons and is coming off of a career year where he eclipsed the 1,400 receiving yard mark, had 105 receptions and brought in 11 receiving touchdowns which were both career highs. The tight end position is a premium position and with Kelce recording top receiver-like numbers, he should be a safe pick to consider towards the end of the first round.
Darren Waller – Las Vegas Raiders
Another tight end that has really separated himself from the rest of the pack is Darren Waller. Waller has emerged as the top receiving option for our very own Las Vegas Raiders and is a true matchup nightmare due to his size and overall abilities. Waller has produced back-to-back 1,000 receiving yard seasons and is coming off of a career-high in yardage, receptions, and receiving touchdowns. The Raiders offense does tend to spread the ball around a bit but one constant is that Waller will be a major focal point for this team and will feature him in almost every game. You can’t go wrong having Waller your No. 1-2 tight end when building your fantasy football draft strategy.
George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
Rounding out the top tier of tight ends that you should focus on in the first three rounds of your fantasy football draft strategy is George Kittle. Kittle is coming off of a rough 2020 season where he only played eight total games due to injury, but in those eight games, he was able to haul in 48 receptions on 63 targets while totaling 634 receiving yards and two touchdowns. As long as Kittle can stay healthy, this 49ers offense is looking to take the next step this year and Kittle could be a very valuable piece to have for your fantasy football team.
Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens
The next tier of tight ends are guys that could be selected in the fifth or sixth round of your fantasy football draft strategy. The first one to look at outside of the big three is Mark Andrews of the Ravens. Andrews has been a consistent fantasy option over the past couple of seasons and has emerged as a big-time red zone receiving option for this Ravens offense. Andrews has hauled in 20 touchdown catches over the last three seasons (17 over the last two) and he looks to be one of the safer tight end options relative to the mid-rounds in which he is being drafted.
Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons
Big things are on the horizon for rookie Kyle Pitts and he is one that could easily be considered as a top-five tight end option for your fantasy football draft strategy. Pitts was the fourth overall player selected in the 2021 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons and he is another physical specimen that is a very tough matchup for opposing defenses. He has incredible size as he is 6’6” and ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the combine. The Falcons have moved on from longtime Falcons legend, Julio Jones, but Pitts could easily serve as the big-body receiving option that Jones has been since 2011. Pitts had a dominant senior year at the University of Florida as he brought in 43 receptions for 770 receiving yards and also recorded 12 receiving touchdowns in only eight total games. If rapport can be established early with quarterback Matt Ryan, Pitts could have a big-time rookie campaign and would be one of the higher scoring tight ends from a fantasy standpoint.
TJ Hockenson – Detroit Lions
Hockenson took a big step forward in 2020 as he doubled his receiving production by totaling over 700 receiving yards and tripled his touchdown total from 2019 as he brought in six touchdowns last season. The Lions did a major overhaul in the off-season and with Jared Goff coming into town as the new QB, Hockenson could be leaned on as a security blanket which would be ideal from a fantasy standpoint. While he could be in the mix for your fantasy football draft strategy, the Lions are projected to have a rough season. With Detroit potentially playing from behind in most games, it could only lead to Hockenson getting additional targets and receptions which means more fantasy points!
Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins
Mike Gesicki really emerged as a top target in this Dolphins offense over the past two seasons and is coming off of a career year as he surpassed 700 receiving yards and recorded a high in receiving touchdowns (6) and receptions (53). He’s a legitimate Top 5 candidate for your fantasy football draft strategy. He finished second on the team with 85 targets and built really good chemistry with Tagovailoa as the season progressed. This Dolphins offense added a few additional receiving threats to stretch the field which should only benefit Gesicki in the middle of the field so he is in the third tier of tight ends that could be looked at in the middle rounds of drafts (rounds 7-10).
Logan Thomas – Washington Football Team
Thomas had a big-time 2020 campaign as he hauled in 72 receptions and found the end zone six times which was a team-high for receiving touchdowns. Thomas finished with the third-most receiving yards and third-most receptions on this team and despite some newer receiving options being added to the mix, Thomas could still be leaned on in the passing attack. We could easily see Thomas end up with the same or more yardage due to the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick might push the ball downfield more than Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins in 2020 which is encouraging for his fantasy stock heading into 2021. He’s one tight end to keep an eye on when your building your fantasy football draft strategy.
Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles
I am a little hesitant on taking Dallas Goedert earlier than other tight ends as he is competing with a lot of receivers for targets and receptions while still battling with Zach Ertz for the top tight end role. You always have to have situational awareness when it comes to your fantasy football draft strategy. He had a solid 2020 season as he had over 500 receiving yards on just 46 receptions in just 11 games played. While he was on pace for career-highs in 2020, the injury bug got the best of him which is always concerning. Goedert should be a top-10 tight end taken but just know there is some risk with all of the other receiving options on this Eagles roster which hurts his upside.
Noah Fant – Denver Broncos
Noah Fant has been slowly emerging as a reliable fantasy target at the tight end position and with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, Fant is one to consider for your season-long teams this year when building your fantasy football draft strategy. Fant had a career-high in receptions, receiving yards, and tied his personal best with three receiving touchdowns in 2020. One thing that really stands out is that he saw the second-most targets last year as he had 93 but with all of the different receiving options on this squad and with Courtland Sutton coming back into the mix, his target total could take a slight hit. Look to Fant later in the draft as he could be a good value pick if you can grab him in rounds 9 or 10.