Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 20 Tight Ends

Photo: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back for year two of The Draft Network’s preseason fantasy football rankings. The following is some quick background on how these rankings were determined. 

More than 40 hours of research went into the ranking process. It started by coming up with custom stat projections for more than 200 NFL players. From there I adjusted the order you’ll see below based on upside, injury risk, likelihood of reaching the projected total, etc. It’s important to keep in mind that the rankings are not simply in descending order of projected fantasy points. Finally, I placed each TE into a tier.

All of my rankings reflect the order in which I would take players if I were drafting today in a 12-team PPR league with ESPN scoring and no bonuses. These rankings will be updated weekly throughout the offseason, so be sure to check in with The Draft Network often to gain an edge on your league-mates.

If you have any specific questions or want to know more about what I think of certain players, hit me up on Twitter (@JaimeEisner). I’d be happy to chat with you! Also, tune in to the TDN Fantasy Podcast for in-depth audio breakdowns of these rankings and all the latest fantasy football news. 

For access to TE rankings 21-35 and stat projections, please click here and become a TDN Premium member.

Other rankings: QB | RB | WR


TIER 1


1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Not breaking any new ground here, Kelce and Kittle are the class of this position in real life and in fantasy. Their production is unmatched, they’re the focal points of their respective offenses, and none of that is changing in 2020. You’ll have to pay a second-round price to get them, but you’ll have a major advantage over the rest of the field. Expect both players to exceed the 1,200-yard mark with more than 130 targets if healthy.


TIER 2


3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

4. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

5. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

Admittedly, this is a pretty wide tier. Ertz is probably closer to Kittle than Waller, but because of the presence of Dallas Goedert and Carson Wentz’s injury history, he’s risky enough to fall into this tier. Andrews played only 41% of Baltimore’s offensive snaps last season and is primed for a bump now that Hayden Hurst is gone. However, passing touchdown regression for Lamar Jackson will result in receiving touchdown regression for Andrews. Waller is coming off a remarkable season, but the addition of Henry Ruggs III and a healthier Tyrell Williams may cut into his final totals. 

In summation, this tier has tremendous upside but isn’t without risk. Fantasy managers must come to terms with the wide range of outcomes this tier can provide, while also understanding that the risk only increases in the tiers below. 


TIER 3


6. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

7. Evan Engram, New York Giants

Let’s call this the “unknown” tier. Higbee looked phenomenal over the final month of the season, relegating Gerald Everett to the bench once he returned from injury. However, we really only have four weeks of elite production to call back to and Everett will be on the field more in 2020 than the single-digit percent of snaps he played in Weeks 16 and 17 last season. The Rams should use more two-tight end sets this season after the trade of wide receiver Brandin Cooks, but we really don’t have a true baseline to predict Higbee’s output. Engram is a top-five tight end that falls here because he simply can’t stay on the field. His unknown is games played, but I’m projecting 12 starts for him in 2020. If you roll the dice and he plays a full season, he’ll come at a massive draft value. 


TIER 4


8. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints

9. Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons

10. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

11. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

12. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The back portion of the TE1 tier is fairly condensed. Cook really developed chemistry with Drew Brees in the red zone late last season and could be a touchdown monster in 2020 (even with limited targets). Hurst assumes Hooper’s old role in Atlanta, which should continue to see a high volume of targets even with a more unproven player in that spot. Henry is a top talent, but can’t stay healthy and will have questionable quarterback play this season. Hooper is a good fit in Cleveland because Baker Mayfield throws a high percentage of his touchdowns to tight ends, but the addition of new head coach Kevin Stefanski will likely limit the Browns’ passing offense as a whole. Then there’s Gronkowski.

The former WWE 24/7 Champion is a semi-unknown after sitting out the 2019 season. His fantasy production was in decline in 2018 and he joins a crowded tight end room with the Buccaneers. However, he reunites with Tom Brady and, with no clear No. 3 wide receiver in Tampa Bay, tight ends should be featured prominently. He’s worth the risk as a low-end TE1, but don’t overpay for his name value.


TIER 5


13. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins

14. Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys

15. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

16. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

17. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

18. Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

19. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

20. Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers

The top of the TE2 class is fairly interchangeable. All players in this tier are, at most, 1.25 fantasy points per game apart from each other in my projections—1.25 points isn’t nothing, but considering the wide range of outcomes for these eight players, it isn’t something to overly fret over. What does your gut and research tell you? 

Gesicki broke out last season and will continue to have a major role in Miami’s offense as long as Ryan Fitzpatrick is the starting quarterback. Jarwin assumes the TE1 role for a Cowboys offense that will have plenty of passing volume. Hockenson is a tremendous talent with a year of NFL experience under his belt and a returning Matthew Stafford at quarterback. Doyle welcomes in new starting quarterback Philip Rivers, who has never been afraid to target tight ends. Fant flashed as a rookie and will have a significant role in a much more exciting Denver offense. Smith also flashed at times in 2019 when Ryan Tannehill took over as the Titans’ starter. Goedert is on the field a lot and will have a productive role even with Ertz alongside him. Thomas is the new TE1 in Carolina for Teddy Bridgewater and should serve as his non-Christian McCaffrey safety blanket. 

None of these players have the upside of the Tier 4 guys, but any of these eight players can finish as top 15 tight ends in 2020.


For access to TE rankings 21-35 and stat projections, please click here and become a TDN Premium member.

Written By:

Jaime Eisner

Managing Editor

Managing Editor of The Draft Network. He’s a former editor for Sports Illustrated, FanRag Sports and Arizona Sports. He’s the co-host of the TDN Fantasy Podcast and has an extensive background covering fantasy sports and sports betting.

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