I’ve been torn this week between the television and iPad keyboard. As a compromise, I have the Euro Cup 2021 in the background while I research and write college fantasy football tight end profiles. Needless to say, it has been a tremendous couple of days.
In 13 years managing CFF teams and eight seasons ranking players, the tight end crop is deeper than ever. There are so many good ones available that I decided to highlight the Top 12 tight ends for the first time. In all of my drafts so far, I have plucked a tight end in Rounds 7 or 8 from among the Summa and Magna Cum Laude tier and selected a backup from among my Top 16 players at the position.
In search of this year’s playmakers, I placed the tight end profiles in tiers—Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude—to provide flexibility for CFF managers based on their league’s scoring format, roster construction, and starting lineup requirements.
It is clearly more appropriate to provide college fantasy footballers with player tiers. In addition, Nicholas Ian Allen, @CFBWinningEdge, has provided projections for receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns and fantasy points per game.
For more on these tight ends and all of CFF, please check out my 2021 CFF Player Rankings!
Enjoy my fellow CFF diehards!
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2021 CFF Tight End Player Profiles, Rankings, and Projections
Summa Cum Laude
Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M
Coach Jimbo Fisher packed his National Championship ring he won in Tallahassee and moved to College Station. The Aggies alumni expect Fisher to win one for the “12th Man” faithful. In three seasons, the Texas A&M coach has won 26 games but has not been able to capture the SEC West against Alabama and LSU. If Fisher wants to reach the SEC title game, he must get the ball into the hands of his Second Team All-SEC tight end last year.
In 2019, Jalen Wydermyer was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after starting 11 games. During his first two campaigns on campus, the 6’5” and 255-pounder has registered 78 receptions for 956 yards and 12 touchdowns Wydermyer stands atop my position rankings; yet, he is the third tight end off the board with an ADP of 112 overall. A nice value in CFF drafts.
Receiving Yards: 677
Fantasy PPG: 14.3
Greg Dulcich, UCLA
In the past three years, the Bruins have not found a difference-maker at receiver. Even so, UCLA did uncover a star at tight end. Greg Dulcich walked onto campus, worked his tail off and finally earned a scholarship in March 2020.
Last year, the redshirt junior rewarded coach Chip Kelly’s confidence and faith. Dulcich recorded a whopping 19.9 yards per catch, which was the second best in the nation among tight ends. He was named Second Team All-PAC-12 after logging 26 receptions for 517 yards and five touchdowns. He also recorded two games—USC and Colorado—with over 100 yards.
At 6’4” and 242-pounds, Dulcich soars over defenders and beats safeties vertically. QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson is one of the top dual-threat passers in the nation, and Dulcich commands targets in the aerial assault. The Bruins’ pass-catcher is in a perfect position to prevail over opponents in 2021.
Receiving Yards: 877
Fantasy PPG: 15.1
Cole Turner, Nevada
The Wolf Pack offense, orchestrated by offensive coordinator Matt Mumme, ranks among the most coveted aerial assaults by college fantasy footballers. Of course, QB Carson Strong is the most desired piece in the passing game. CFF diehards also crave Cole Turner, who is the first tight end selected with an ADP of 84 overall.
At 6’6” and 240-pounds, Turner is the epitome of the modern-day, pass-catching tight end: He looks like a big receiver, runs great routes, and physically imposes his will. In 2020, he garnered First Team All-Mountain West honors. Turner tied for the conference lead in touchdowns (9) with teammate Romeo Doubs and finished second on the team in catches (9) and yards (605). There is no questioning Turner’s talent and fantasy production. Are CFF drafters willing to pay the price?
Receiving Yards: 856
Fantasy PPG: 16.8
Twitterverse on Fire!
There is disagreement among CFF experts in regard to the top tight end in college fantasy football. Who Ya Got as the No. 1 tight end in 2021?
- Jalen Wydermyer, Texas A&M: 42%
- Charlie Kolar, Iowa State: 19%
- Cole Turner, Nevada: 24%
- Greg Dulcich, UCLA: 15%
“Cole Turner is the top tight end in CFF this year. However, his ADP has him being taken three rounds ahead of the next TE, and it’s just not worth it! Wait and grab a guy from the next tier!” @CFF_Jared
“You can wait. I’ll take him (Turner) right where he is at. You’ll have plenty of breakout WRs, RBs and QBs. You won’t have many breakout TEs.” @KHookem
“Cole Turner, Cole Turner, Cole Turner…Oh ya and Cole Turner.” @SportsfanaticMB
“It’s Jalen Wydermyer.” @DJBadgerTrap
“Jalen Wydermyer, but don’t be surprised if Jahleel Billingsly rises this year to a top two tight end in the 2022 draft.” @LindholmCasey
Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
While Breece Hall receives most of the accolades and press clippings at Iowa State, Charlie Kolar deserves more notice by the national college football media. In the offseason, the redshirt senior let a coin flip decide his future. Luckily for CFF diehards, the coin landed on Iowa State, and Kolar returned for a fifth campaign on campus.
In the last two seasons, Kolar was named Third Team All-American by the AP and finalist for the Mackey Award. He became the first two-time All-American at Iowa State since Troy Davis in 1995 and 1996.
At 6’6” and 260-pounds, the Cyclones’ tight end has logged 95 receptions for 1,288 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2019 and 2020. Last year, he paced the Big 12 in catches (44), receiving yards (591) and touchdowns (7) among tight ends. Expect Kolar to once again garner a plethora of post-season awards in 2021.
Receiving Yards: 710
Fantasy PPG: 13.3
Magna Cum Laude
Brant Kuithe, Utah
Since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011, coach Kyle Whittingham has guided the Utes to a 76-45 record and twice (2018 and 2019) lost in conference title games. Last year, Utah only played five games because of COVID-19 restrictions and posted a 3-2 mark. In order to return to a title game, Whittingham must find a quarterback to lead the offense between former Baylor QB Charlie Brewer and redshirt sophomore Cameron Rising.
Whoever wins the competition during training camp, can rely on Brant Kuithe in the passing game. He is a two-time Second Team All-Pac-12 member (2019 & 2020) and paced the Utes in receiving each of the last three seasons with 20, 34 and 25 catches. Kuithe also carried the football 12 times for 152 yards and three touchdowns in the last two campaigns. During his three-year campus tenure, he has posted 79 catches for 1,065 yards and seven touchdowns. Kuithe is a terrific starter on CFF teams.
Receiving Yards: 475
Fantasy PPG: 10.8
Sean Dykes, Memphis
After missing nearly all of 2019 with a knee injury, Sean Dykes made a spectacular return to the gridiron last year. In the first game, he opened many eyes with an outstanding performance against Arkansas State. Dykes logged a career-best 10 receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and CFF managers flocked to the waiver wire to pick him up.
At 6’2” and 224-pounds, the redshirt senior is the nephew of Hart Lee Dykes, who was selected in the first round of the 1989 Draft by the Patriots—I am old enough to have watched the older Dykes play at Oklahoma State in the Eighties.
The Tigers’ playmaker earned Honorable Mention All-AAC last year after catching 47 passes for 581 yards and seven touchdowns. Memphis will rely on Dykes in the passing game, and he will finish among the most productive fantasy tight ends in 2021.
Receiving Yards: 600
Fantasy PPG: 12.1
Isaac Rex, BYU
While studying QB Zach Wilson as a NFL Draft prospect, Isaac Rex continually landed in the end zone. A freshman last year, Rex took off in the second half of the season. In the Cougars’ final seven games, he scored 11 times and crossed the finish line twice in five contests. He finished the season with 37 receptions for 429 yards and 12 scores, grossing Freshman All-American by the Athletic.
At 6’6” and 247-pounds, Rex was a consensus three-star recruit in football. He also played basketball in high school and was a first team All-South Coast shooting guard in California. Watching Rex play last year harkened back memories of former Cougars’ tight ends Dennis Pitta and Todd Christensen. In 2021, Rex could place his name in the BYU record books alongside the former Provo dignitaries.
Receiving Yards: 392
Fantasy PPG: 10.2
Twitterverse on Fire!
In 2021 College Fantasy Football drafts, Who Ya Got as a late-round target at tight end?
- Austin Stogner, Oklahoma: 18%
- Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama: 38%
- Cade Otton, Washington: 24%
- Grant Calcaterra, SMU: 20%
“Based on his usage late last year and in the spring game, I would assume Jahleel Billingsley’s usage is going to mirror WR usage. Plus, there really isn’t another established option after John Metchie.” @sharperreview
“I am grabbing Jahleel Billingsley in every draft. For what you are going to pay for him, the upside is too great. And if it doesn’t work out, you only used a mid-teen pick Billingsley.” @JustinNottingh6
“I like Cade Otton for a safe pick, but Grant Calcaterra is the best ‘swing for the fences’ in that SMU offense.” @FF_banterman
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
A four star-prospect, Michael Mayer chose to lace up the cleats in South Bend, Indiana. Coming out of Kentucky, Mayer was rated as the top football player in the state, earning the 2019 Gatorade Kentucky Player of the Year, and No. 2 tight end prospect in the nation.
As a true freshman last year, he was named Freshman First Team All-America by The Athletic and Third Team All-ACC. Mayer logged 42 receptions for 450 yards and two touchdowns for the Fighting Irish. Devy fanatics are already excited about Mayer’s NFL potential. He still has two more years at Notre Dame, and CFF managers can enjoy his fantasy production in the meantime.
Receiving Yards: 602
Fantasy PPG: 11.8
Tre McBride, Colorado State
I really want to project a monster season for Tre McBride. However, with coach Steve Addazio in charge, I just cannot foresee a pass-happy scheme. The former Boston College coach prefers a physical ground game and enrolled RB David Bailey—who played for Addazio at BC and will be the centerpiece of the offense. I am also concerned about the quarterback play for the Rams in 2021.
There is no denying Tre McBride’s talent and fantasy potential. In 2019, the junior was named First Team All-Mountain West and last year, he earned Second Team All-Mountain West. In 16 games over the last two crusades, the 6’4” and 260-pounder has accumulated 67 catches for 890 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 13.3 ypc. McBride’s ceiling is enticing in CFF drafts.
Receiving Yards: 838
Fantasy PPG: 15.2
Cade Otton, Washington
A tale of two offensive narratives in Seattle, WA. The Huskies return all five starters along the line and anchor an offense capable of leading the team to the Pac-12 Championship game. Nevertheless, can returning starter QB Dylan Morris limit mistakes and keep the chains moving? Coach Jimmy Lake must identify a reliable signal caller from among Morris, transfer Patrick O’Brien and five-star freshman Sam Huard.
Despite playing only four games last year, Cade Otton netted a trio of impressive accolades: First Team All-PAC 12, Honorable Mention All-America by Phil Steele, and John Mackey Award semifinalist. In three seasons, the redshirt junior has stockpiled 63 catches for 776 yards and eight touchdowns. Otton is the leading pass-catcher for the Huskies and in line to establish new career highs in all statistical categories.
Receiving Yards: 815
Fantasy PPG: 13.9
Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
National prognosticators are all in on Isaiah Likely in the upcoming campaign: preseason PFF Third Team All-America, Phil Steele First Team All-Sun Belt, and Athlon Sports First Team All-Sun Belt. Time to buy a ticket on the Likely Express by CFF diehards in 2021.
Last year, the Chanticleers ranked 18th in the nation in scoring, producing 37.2 ppg., and 25th in Total Offense, accumulating 449.8 ypg. Likely was an integral component in the passing game. The senior garnered Second Team All-America by PFF after snatching 25 passes for 517 yards and four touchdowns. If you bypass the more well-known tight ends, the Coastal Carolina pass-catcher is a great option with an ADP around 132 in CFF drafts.
Receiving Yards: 528
Fantasy PPG: 9.7
Jahleel Billingsley, Alabama
Who wants a pass-catcher in Tuscaloosa, AL? The Crimson Tide have been the most explosive aerial assault in the nation with two quarterbacks and four receivers selected in the first round of the past two NFL Drafts. Scrutinizing the depth chart at Alabama, there is a new quarterback (Bryce Young), one returning upperclassman (John Metchie, III) with extensive experience at receiver and many highly-touted underclassmen battling for targets at wideout.
During spring practices, Jahleel Billingsley amassed adulation by the coaching staff, and more importantly, new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who emphasized the position in New England and Houston, calls the plays. “He (Billingsley) was just killing out there last year. I have never seen a tight end run routes that smooth. He was a wide receiver on the field, and he was just blowing by guys. He is going to have an incredible year in the fall,” proclaimed former Alabama tight end Hale Hentges (tdalabamamag.com).
Seeking a tight end with the highest ceiling? It might be the Crimson Tides’ future All-American. In high school, Billingsley was a four-star prospect, No. 5 ranked tight end nationally and third-rated prospect in Illinois. At 6’4” and 230-pounds, the sleek junior is in a prime position to take a giant leap forward in fantasy production.
Receiving Yards: 459
Fantasy PPG: 9.3
*Fantasy Projections by Nicholas Ian Allen, @CFBWinningEdge
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