Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


2019 NFL Draft Class Preview - Tight Ends

Continuing on with this NFL Draft class preview, today, we'll take a look at the tight end position. Recently, we looked at the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver positions.

If your team is in need of a high-upside tight end, this is the draft class for you. There are still questions about which player will be the first taken, but there's depth unlike most seasons.

The order shown is based on the rankings at NFL Draft Scout.

Editor's Note: Get any rest-of-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive DFS Tools, Lineup Optimizer and Premium DFS Research through the Super Bowl. Sign Up Now!



For tight ends, the NFL combine is a fairly large part of the evaluation process. The forty, bench press, vertical jump, and broad jump have been found as potential indicators for future NFL success. But since we're still missing that portion of the evaluation, we'll take a look at each player similar to a WR with a great emphasis put on size, touchdowns, and final season production.


T.J. Hockenson, Iowa

Height: 6' 4''
Weight: 250 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.5

Hockenson isn't the name that most casual fans would have expected to see at the top of this list, but his 2018 made a big impact on scouts. He entered college as a three-star high school prospect ranked as the 66th TE in the class of 2016. But don't let the ranking fool you, Hockenson was clearly a talent out of the state of Iowa. He was named elite All-State first team as a senior after he had already been named first-team all-state as a sophomore and junior.  He finished his senior year with 85 catches for 1,219 yards and 17 TD.

T.J. Hockenson G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2017 10 24 320 13.3 3 0.13 0.11 0.12
2018 13 49 760 15.5 6 0.26 0.22 0.24
Career 73 1080 14.8 9 0.20 0.17 0.18

Hockenson's career production isn't overly impressive which is somewhat expected. But his final season's improvement is noteworthy. As part of an Iowa offense that consistently featured two TEs on the field, Hockenson became a reliable option for his QB leading the team in receiving yards and finishing second in receptions. Of note, Hockenson essentially doubled his production across the board and it shows with his jump in market share.

What separates Hockenson for scouts isn't entirely shown in statistical production.  The staff at The Draft Network ranks Hockenson as either the top or second TE prospect in the class. What stood out to Kyle Crabbs during his film study was his versatility. He noted his weakness as deep speed, but in his conclusion he stated, "The challenge for Hockenson’s tape? Listing a weakness. Hockenson is comfortable in any number of roles, giving comfort that he’ll be fine in WCO or vertical passing offenses alike. He’s a scheme transcendent prospect." Scheme transcendent is high praise which is why he should be an exciting option for fantasy. Hockenson is projecting as a first round pick that could go as high as top ten. He should be one of the first two TEs off the board in rookie drafts and should be considered as early as the last three picks of round one.


Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

Height: 6' 3''
Weight: 241 lbs
Final Season Age: 20.4

As part of a versatile Alabama offense, it can be difficult to stand out, even for a strong prospect. Smith was a three-star prospect out of the state of Louisiana.  He ranked as the 22nd TE in the class of 2016 and the 528th prospect overall. As a senior, he caught 31 passes for 558 yards and four touchdowns. He the son of former New Orleans Saint, Irv Smith.

Irv Smith Jr. G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2017 9 14 128 9.1 3 0.05 0.11 0.08
2018 15 44 710 16.1 7 0.15 0.13 0.14
Career 58 838 14.4 10 0.11 0.13 0.12

The uptick in overall passing offense was clearly helpful for Smith's production. With 30 more receptions in 2018 compared to his 2017 campaign, Smith became the fourth-most productive receiver for Alabama. Smith's market share of yards isn't super impressive in either of his two seasons, but with four above-average WRs around him, that's not overly surprising. The positive is that he managed to turn his limited usage into yards with a 16.1 average per catch and that he made himself a viable option near the end zone.

The biggest positive for Smith is his youth. At 20.5, he's the youngest TE in this group and one of the youngest prospects in the class regardless of position. The Draft Network unanimously ranked Smith as the third TE in this class. Smith's route running and blocking were identified as his biggest strengths and his weakness was found to be his contested catches. John Ledyard concluded about Smith, "Smith may never be a top 2-3 tight end in the NFL, but he’s fully capable of being among the best in the next tier." Being a strong blocker won't translate to fantasy, but it could earn him early playing time which is key for eventual fantasy success. Smith should probably be taken as the third TE at the end of the second round.


Noah Fant, Iowa

Height: 6' 4''
Weight: 241 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.1

Fant entered the year as the most well-known TE prospect in the class and despite Hockenson emerging as a viable option, Fant remains a top TE prospect. Fant was a three-star prospect who ranked as the 31st athlete, nationally, and the top overall prospect in the state of Nebraska in 2016.  In high school, Fant played both TE and defensive end and earned all-state and All-Metro honors, in some capacity, each of his final three seasons. He holds his school record for single-season and career receptions and touchdowns.

Noah Fant G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2016 6 9 70 7.8 1 0.04 0.06 0.05
2017 12 30 494 16.5 11 0.20 0.41 0.30
2018 12 39 519 13.3 7 0.18 0.26 0.22
Career 78 1083 13.9 19 0.15 0.27 0.21

Of this group of TEs, Fant is the only one with multiple seasons over a 0.2 dominator and the biggest reason for that is his TD production during his final two seasons. Despite Hockenson leading the team in yards and receptions, Fant led the Hawkeyes in TDs and he still finished second in yards despite having the third most receptions. His 2017 campaign was a bit more dominant as he finished with more than double the next closest receiver.

Fant established himself as a top redzone option during his 2017 campaign while playing on a low volume offense. The Draft Network ranks him as either the first or second TE in the class. Through film study, they found his run after catch ability to be his biggest strength while noting his power at the point of attack to be a weakness. Kyle Crabbs wrapped up his profile by saying "Noah Fant has the physical skills and receiving chops to be the next big thing at the TE position in the NFL. The league has never been friendlier to flex targets and Fant runs like a receiver and leaps like a basketball pro." With Fant's upside as a touchdown scorer, there's a good chance he'll be the top TE off the board in rookie drafts and should be considered at the back end of the first.


Kaden Smith, Stanford

Height: 6'4''
Weight: 252 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.7

Had he not played alongside the TD machine, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, there's a decent chance that Smith's production would be significantly better. Smith was a four-star prospect in the class of 2016 and ranked as the second best TE in the class and 38th overall prospect.

Kaden Smith G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2017 11 23 414 18 5 0.16 0.22 0.19
2018 9 47 635 13.5 2 0.18 0.07 0.12
Career 70 1049 15 7 0.17 0.13 0.15

Smith lacks TD production. There's no denying that, but with 40 percent of TDs going to one player, there's some excuse that can be given. Smith's yardage production is strong for the TE position. His 18 percent MS led to him being third in yards for Stanford and, even with only two scores, he was tied for third in receiving TDs. His 15 yards per catch is strong for the TE position and while it doesn't indicate a strong likelihood for field stretching, it shows that he's capable for more than just short yardage routes.

Smith's frame provides some expectation that his TD ceiling will improve in the NFL which would greatly improve his fantasy value. The Draft Network's staff ranking ranged from fifth to ninth best TE in the class. Kyle Crabbs found his vertical receiving to be his best asset and his power at the point of attack to be his worst. He concluded, "Smith has skills and promise but shouldn’t be tasked to play a large percentage of snaps until he fleshes out his game." With the question marks about his development needs, Smith should probably be avoided until late round three.


Caleb Wilson, UCLA

Height: 6' 4''
Weight: 235 lbs
Final Season Age: 22.5

UCLA was mostly a dumpster fire of a team in 2018, but Wilson's production can be classified as a bright spot. Wilson played QB and TE in high school and was rated as a three-star pro-style QB. As a senior, he threw for 610 yards while also accounting for 310 receiving yards. Adding to his athletic versatility, Wilson also play basketball in high school.

Caleb Wilson G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Yards MS TDs Dominator
2016 8 16 220 13.8 0 0.06 0.00 0.03
2017 5 38 490 12.9 1 0.11 0.03 0.07
2018 11 60 965 16.1 4 0.34 0.31 0.32
Career 114 1675 14.7 5 0.15 0.08 0.11

With 34 percent share of the team's yards, it's clear that Wilson was the primary target on the offense. However, this wasn't solely due to the coaching change. Wilson actually produced at a slower rate than he had the previous season, but he improved his yards per catch and became a viable option near the goal line. Ideally, Wilson would have scored more than five times over his three-year career, but his 14.7 yards per catch and heavy usage during his final season help alleviate some concerns.

Being a TE on a bad team doesn't typically lead to the great production that Wilson managed. Only one staff member, Ben Solak, at The Draft Network ranked Wilson within their top-10 for TEs. In his film study, he found Wilson's hands and ability to catch through contact to be strengths but noted that he's not overly big or quick.  Kyle Crabbs concluded that "Caleb Wilson is a low ceiling prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft, given some shaky hands and a less than ideal set of athletic tools." With that all in mind, Wilson is a last-round option in most leagues barring an unexpectedly strong NFL combine.


A Few Other Names to Know

Josh Oliver (San Jose State) is the sixth-ranked TE by NFL Draft Scout. He finished his 2018 campaign with 709 yards and four TD.

Alize Mack (Notre Dame) finished fourth on the team in receiving yards but made big strides during his final season.

Isaac Nauta (Georgia) isn't lauded as much as his teammates, but in many critical situations, Nauta was the intended target. He accounted for 430 yards and three TDs.

Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M) may have been the best receiving TE in all of college football, this season. After transferring for junior college, he amassed 832 yards and ten TDs.

Dax Raymond (Utah State) finished his career with two seasons over 300 receiving yards.

More NCAA Football Analysis

More Recent Articles


Bases Loaded Podcast - Relief Pitchers Preview

Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) is joined by Jorge Montanez, Zach Braff and Mike Simione as they jump into their relief pitcher preview! Subscribe to the Bases Loaded podcast, part of RotoBaller Radio's Podcast Network. Like and Subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!... Read More

2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Jose Urquidy

It's been a tumultuous winter for the Houston Astros. Not only were they embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal (which has, naturally, progressed apace to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about ever more sophisticated methods of cheating), but they watched staff ace Gerrit Cole sign a mammoth free-agent deal with the Yankees. Plenty of virtual ink has been... Read More

2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Mark Canha

Mark Canha had a solid 2019 campaign and is one player that probably deserves more attention heading into 2020 than he is currently receiving. He finished the season hitting .273/.396/.517 with 26 HR, 58 RBI, 80 R, and 67 BB in 410 at-bats. It was a very productive line for a guy that played in... Read More

Four Prospect Sleepers for 2020 Redraft Leagues

Recently, Rotoballer launched a list of the Top 50 MLB prospects for the coming year. The top of the list was populated by names such as Gavin Lux, Luis Robert, and Brendan McKay. These players, among others, feature a promising combination of talent and favorable playing time projections to suggest they’ll be the cream-of-the-crop among... Read More

ADP Cost Analysis – Robbie Ray vs Trevor Bauer

With fantasy baseball draft season in full swing, those of us who partake in this joyous game are now looking through as much draft data as possible in a bid to find players we love who have lower average draft positions (ADP) than we believe they should. All this to eke out as much draft... Read More

2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Second Base

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as "the extent to which a good or service (player) is... Read More

2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers – C.J. Cron

As another fantasy baseball season approaches, we once again have the chance to discuss C.J. Cron as a fantasy sleeper. Cron will be playing for his third team in three seasons. It is tough to wrap one's head around the idea that a player of Cron's talent continues to be undervalued by professional and fantasy... Read More

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Points leagues may seem like a slight variation from traditional 5x5 category scoring leagues but you must approach draft day with a very different strategy if you wish to truly compete. All preseason long, RotoBaller has you covered with the latest rankings for all fantasy baseball league types. Here we present our points league rankings... Read More

Second-Half Improvements: Buy Into These Starting Pitchers

The second half of the season is always put under a microscope for starting pitchers. Fantasy players have a love for the second half of the season, as the belief is that pitchers who take a step forward could carry over that success the next season and perhaps even build upon it. But, as we... Read More

How to Attack RP in SV+HLD Leagues

No position has seen as much evolution in recent seasons as the relief pitcher. Gone are the days where starters were expected to go seven innings as most teams have embraced the idea of "super-bullpening" and try to fit as many pitchers that can throw 95+ MPH into their bullpen as they can. Many fantasy... Read More

Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Pitch Info

One of the most fundamental questions in fantasy sports is if a player's current performance is sustainable. More than any other sport, baseball has a slew of statistical measures that can be dissected in numerous ways to analyze player performance. Pitch Info is a publicly-available pitch tracking system that provides a lot of different data to... Read More

2020 Fantasy Baseball Staff Rankings

Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More

Mock Draft Review: Best Late-Round Targets

Last week, some members of the RotoBaller staff completed a 12-team mock draft for standard 5x5 format. After the draft, we each broke down our strategy and some of our favorite picks, which can be found here. However, I want to take a closer look at one portion of the draft in particular. Since we know that... Read More

Faster and Furious: Pitchers with Rising Velocity/Performance

Welcome fantasy baseball players! I’m sure that you, like me, are anxiously counting down the days until your drafts and Opening Day. While the fantasy season may not start for several weeks, there are plenty of things we can do to start preparing for a successful season. One of those things is to take a good... Read More

James Karinchak Is A Relief Pitcher To Know in 2020

One of the lesser-known players that intrigues me for the 2020 MLB season is Indians relief pitcher James Karinchak. The former Bryant Bulldog was drafted by Cleveland in the ninth round in the 2017 draft and went on to have one of the most outrageous statistical seasons in minor league baseball history. As someone who... Read More

More Recent Articles


XFL Week 2 - Target Risers and Fallers

The XFL has made it past Week 2 and now we have eight games of data to analyze. No small feat, as nobody knew where this league was going just a few weeks ago. But here we are, just mere days from Week 3 matchups! With two dates already in the rearview mirror and plenty... Read More

NFL Draft Combine Preview: Quarterbacks

With the Super Bowl now behind us, it is officially NFL Draft season! It's time to speculate on draft picks for teams, who should land where, and which players should be valued over others. This also marks the unofficial start to the 2020 fantasy football season. Getting in the early preparation can give owners a... Read More

RB Opportunity Share and Impact (AFC South & West): 2019 Review

We roll on with coverage of each of the eight NFL divisions, discussing the teams that are part of them and the running backs that were part of those teams in 2019. To present those teams and players I use a set of easy-to-read charts: treemaps. The graphics will hold all of the players of... Read More

Dynasty Price Check - Anthony Miller

Many of you have already begun planning and building your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have assembled teams in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are inspecting the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued your process of relentless roster evaluation. As the... Read More

Is Lamar Jackson Worth a First Round Pick?

RotoBaller fantasy football analysts Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the idea of taking Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round of 2020 fantasy football redraft leagues. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure... Read More

Why Lamar Jackson Should Be a First-Round Pick in 2020

Sometimes I like to make noise and some headlines if I can. That is why I host shows six days a week on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio representing RotoBaller. If I can get people buzzing about a topic, calling in or responding on social media with passion and vigor, I am having fun. But whenever I... Read More

Dynasty Price Check - Darren Waller

Many of you have already launched into the planning process for your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have embraced the opportunity to draft in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are also monitoring the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued a pace of... Read More

Biggest Breakouts of 2019: Tight End

There were a lot of fantasy football busts at the tight end position in 2019, but there were also a lot of breakout stars. The 2018 season saw Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz break the NFL record for most receptions in a season by a tight end, while San Francisco’s George Kittle broke the record for most... Read More

Dynasty Price Check - Courtland Sutton

With the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV, football season is over for many people. But for anyone that plays in a dynasty fantasy football league, the season is never over. For the fantasy addicts out there, now is the time to start preparing. In today's column, we will take a look at wide receiver Courtland... Read More

Dynasty Price Check - Josh Allen

The NFL offseason has arrived, which means that it's time for us to go all-in on dynasty mode. The time between the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft is the time for dynasty players to make some moves and try to make their team better -- or worse, if you're rebuilding and looking for draft... Read More

RB Opportunity Share and Impact (NFC East & North)

With the season over and real-life free agency and April's NFL draft ahead of us, it's time to look at how each team split their targets and carries (both of them combined in what is called opportunities; sometimes it's receptions instead of targets, but I wanted to look at the overall volume and total chances instead)... Read More

Odell Beckham - Dynasty Buy or Sell?

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the dynasty value of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.. Will he bounce back in 2020 to return WR1 fantasy football value or is he no longer an elite receiver? Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us... Read More