Our fantasy experts are back with our PPR Tight End Rankings for the upcoming 2021 season and it remains extremely top-heavy! How crucial is it to draft one of the big three in Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle, or is there value to be had later in the draft? Find out below from our analysts who to avoid, who will breakout, and more!
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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Meet the Rankers
Below are the analysts that will be breaking down our consensus PPR Tight End Rankings over the next few months. We have three analysts from you to draw from. We’ve included their initials so you know who is who in the rankings table, and also their Twitter handles so you can give them a follow and let them know what you think of their PPR wide receiver rankings.
- CM – Colin McTamany – @LincoCammyTan
- MQ – Michael Quintero – @WeekendMike
- MO – Mike Omelan – @mikeomelan
CM – The tight end position is extremely top-heavy when it comes to rankings. Travis Kelce leads the way as the TE1, with a legitimate debate as to who is the TE2 and TE3 between Darren Waller and George Kittle. All of these players will likely be gone by the end of Round 3 in 2021 fantasy football drafts. If you’re not spending a top draft pick on one of these guys, you are often hoping your starter scores a touchdown to make his weekly start worthwhile. Not every NFL team utilizes a pass-catching, fantasy-friendly tight end and, those that do, aren’t always players fantasy managers can feel confident about on a weekly basis. If you don’t happen to land one of the “Big Three” tight ends, try to find a player in the later rounds you feel good about for at least the first few weeks of the season based on projected target share and opponents early in the season. From there, I would monitor free agency and see if there is a diamond in the rough along the way. More often than not, you’re facing another manager’s team who is playing the odds just as much as you are at the position. Let’s just hope the odds are in your favor.
MQ – Knowing when to draft a tight end can probably be the most nerve-racking position to draft for. It all comes down to where you’re drafting at. The tight end pool shrinks dramatically after Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle go. The only way I take Kelce is if I have the number one or two picks. Then I can snag him at the end of the second and have a quick turnaround for a wide receiver or running back. If I can’t grab Kelce, I’m taking Waller in the fourth no matter what pick I have. The only reason I would take a high pick on Waller or Kelce is that they both are wide receivers the way they play. Think about it as you’re drafting a top wide receiver in these two but, you get to plug them in at your tight end slot. Other than that, I would wait on a tight end and try to find a sleeper in Tyler Higbee or Logan Thomas. If those guys go too, I would play the streaming game hard until you find someone solid. If you can average 10 fantasy points per game at the tight end slot, you’ll be fine.
MO – As usual the tight end position is the big-three and then everybody else but it’s pretty clear where the best value is. During the second half of last season, Darren Waller produced literally the exact same stats as TE1 Travis Kelce. Waller should be drafted one pick after Kelce and not 25-30 making him an easy decision in the late-3rd rounds of drafts and of the better values right now with his current ADP. Draft the target share monster Waller and don’t look back at another pro-bowl season on the horizon. If you miss, I’m willing to gamble on rookie Kyle Pitts who really is an athletic freak. The Falcons are going to be trailing more often than not so Pitts may become a garbage-time killer in 2021. My favorite sleepers to target further along are Tyler Higbee, Hunter Henry, Gerald Everett, and Cole Kmet.
CM – Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans
With the departure of the tight end Jonnu Smith to the Patriots, Anthony Firkser is slated to be the Titans’ starter at the position in 2021. Firkser will likely benefit in 2021 from his new offensive coordinator, Todd Downing. Downing was promoted from Titans tight ends coach where he spent the last two seasons coaching Firkser. Firkser had his best season as a pro last year posting a 39/387/1 stat line on 53 targets. Jonnu Smith leaves behind 65 targets of his own at the tight end position that he turned into 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns. While the Titans did just add Julio Jones, Firkser could still breakout if he sees closer to 70 to 80 targets in 2021 in Downing’s offense led by veteran quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. Pencil Firkser in as a tight end target who is practically free in fantasy football drafts.
MQ – Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers just suffered an Achilles injury that will have him out for the season and with the pool of free-agent running backs low, I expect the Rams offense to focus even more on the passing game with Tyler Higbee. Like I said above Kelce, Waller and Kittle will easily be gone by the fourth round at the latest. But, Higbee will be set for a huge year with the addition of Matt Stafford and the exit of Gerald Everett. Last season Higbee had five touchdowns on 521 yards with Jared Goff as the quarterback but, he only had 60 targets. Stafford targeted T.J. Hockenson 101 times last season. Hockenson has emerged as a top tight end in the league and is ranked fourth among them and Stafford is a big impact on his growth as he favors tight ends. The beauty about Higbee is he could be snagged around the seventh or possibly eighth round. With not much competition on the Rams depth chart besides Jacob Harris. He was drafted in the fourth round this year but is set as the fourth string right now.
MO – Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks
I also love the Tyler Higbee call as I expect big things for him in LA with Stafford but what about Higbee’s former teammate in Gerald Everett!? Sign me up and the very athletic TE (86th percentile sparq-x score) definitely deserves some more buzz heading into the 2021 season. Everett showed glimpses of great play with the Rams but never quite put it together with Tyler Higbee capping his ceiling. Everett did score his lone touchdown last season in the only game that Higbee missed. Coincidence!? I think not! Everett now moves over to the Pacific North West and becomes the team’s third option, something they haven’t had for quite some time. Russell Wilson has been raving about new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron who knows Everett’s skills well and helped the Rams offense rank second in plays per game over the last three seasons whereas the Seahawks have 27th in pass attempts during that span. So, that means it’s ‘Let Russ Cook’ time baby. Wilson has averaged 9.4 TD passes thrown to the TE over the past five seasons… I’m going to have to keep raising Everett up the ranks with that QB-TE combo. It will be UNLIMITED!
CM – Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
Noah Fant was the TE3 in half-PPR formats after dominant back-to-back games to open the 2020 season. He was a top target for quarterback Drew Lock, logging nine receptions for 138 yards and two scores through the first two games. However, Fant came back down to earth and finished as the TE14, scoring only once more from Week 3 to the end of the season, and averaging just four receptions per game. Fant is a top, recognized name at the position, but I am skeptical of his 2021 outlook. Wide receiver, Cortland Sutton, is returning from injury and joining an already stacked group of pass catchers including Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, and KJ Hamler. Fant is coming off the board with an ADP of TE7. I find it hard to believe he finishes as such in this crowded offense. Not to mention the Broncos could struggle with a positional battle at quarterback between Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. I would fade Fant and look elsewhere.
MQ – Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
Mark Andrews is ranked fairly high at sixth among tight ends. He did have two decent back-to-back seasons going for 10 touchdowns on 852 yards in 2019 and seven touchdowns on 701 yards last season. The numbers look nice, but the consistency is terrible. Last season, Andrews scored under 10 fantasy points in nine games, with the high being seven and the low being two. The year before he had eight games under 10 fantasy points despite his 10 touchdowns.
I see Andrews as a touchdown boom or bust player because he isn’t getting the receptions that would benefit in a PPR league. Also, it is hard to trust Lamar Jackson in the passing game, when he is a run-first quarterback. I would easily take a risk on Kyle Pitts over Andrews this season.
MO – Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rob Gronkowski’s Super Bowl performance and top-10 fantasy finish last season always get fantasy owners excited and the future Hall-of-Famer is starting to climb up rankings in the low-mid teens and it’s something you just have to pass on. Gronkowski had three receptions or less in 11 of his 16-games last season and O.J. Howard only played in four games. We love the Gronk entertainment on social media these days but landing outside the top-15 in weekly fantasy scoring over 60% of your games is no laughing matter. Hard pass for me and look for O.J. Howard to supplant as the no.1 TE in Tampa…at least for the regular season.
2021 Consensus PPR Tight End Rankings
|13||Irv Smith Jr.||MIN||7||13||12||18|
|31||Chris Herndon IV||NYJ||6||30||31||30|
Are you digging our PPR Tight End rankings? Then, you’ll also want to check our Consensus running back rankings for 2021 Fantasy Football.
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Good call on Gronk. It’s not like he was coming back from total retirement the previous year, and took a while to get his bearings in TB. There’s no way he will reproduce that SB performance ever again in his life. Ever.