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Biggest Tight End Breakouts of 2021 - Fantasy Football Year In Review

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There were several tight ends who made their fantasy football general managers very happy during the 2021 season. While Kansas City standout Travis Kelce had another scintillating season, and Atlanta rookie Kyle Pitts showed the football universe why he will be a fantasy force for the next decade, there were many tight ends who had seasons fantasy footballers did not expect.

Whether it was a top-five tight end who made his claim to be No. 1, a middle-of-the-road TE who had a career year, or a young up-and-comer who realized his potential, 2021 was loaded with breakout fantasy seasons from all sorts of tight ends.

Here were the biggest breakouts at the tight end position in fantasy football for the 2021 season!

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Fantasy Football Tight End Breakouts

Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

2021 Stats: 107 receptions, 1,361 receiving yards, nine TD

You wouldn’t normally think someone who was ranked in the top-five in most preseason fantasy tight end rankings could have a breakout season since he was already in the upper echelon at his position, yet that is exactly what Andrews did. Forget about what I said about him being a top-five fantasy tight end. Andrews has now cemented his status as one of the top two tight ends in fantasy football heading into 2022.

Andrews topped all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and targets and tied three others for the most tight end touchdowns on the season. What made this amazing is twofold. For starters, Baltimore has a run-first that is not normally kind to the fantasy values of its pass catchers. Secondly, Andrews played his best ball late in the season when starting signal-caller Lamar Jackson was injured. With understudy Tyler Huntley under center, Andrews flourished and racked up 43 receptions for 550 yards and four touchdowns over the final five games of the season when fantasy managers needed him the most. Considering Andrews never had 65 catches or 900 yards in a season before this past one, this was definitely a breakout performance.

Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

2021 Stats: 78 receptions, 808 receiving yards, eight TD

Schultz entered the season splitting tight end time in Dallas with the unremarkable Blake Jarwin and as an afterthought in a passing attack that revolved around a trio of talented wide receivers. Fantasy managers were not expecting much from him, and he was on more league waiver wires than rosters as a result. However, after Jarwin was phased out of the game plans during the first month of the season and eventually suffered a hip injury that knocked him out of commission, Schultz suddenly became the second coming of Jason Witten.

Schultz set new career-highs across the board in every major fantasy category. He finished with 10 more receptions and the same amount of touchdowns as Amari Cooper and with one less catch but two more scores than CeeDee Lamb, so he was arguably the most valuable fantasy pass catcher on the Cowboys when everything is considered. Schultz ended up being a top-five fantasy tight end at the season’s end and should be highly ranked headed into 2022. As long as Dak Prescott is his quarterback and Dallas’ receiving corps keeps secondaries busy, Schultz should be a hot fantasy commodity for years to come.

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

2021 Stats: 49 receptions, 587 receiving yards, nine TD

Knox showed flashes of brilliance towards the tail end of 2020, especially inside the red zone when he scored five touchdowns over his final nine regular-season and playoff games. This turned out to be a precursor of things to come. Despite Buffalo’s top target Stefon Diggs hogging most of the pass plays, Knox carved out a niche in the Bills' offense as soon as the ball got inside the 10-yard-line. He tied for tops among tight ends with nine touchdowns in 2021 and he did so playing in just 15 games due to a broken hand forcing him to miss a pair of contests. Knox also doubled his yardage output from the year before as he only managed 288 receiving yards during his sophomore NFL season.

The Buffalo passing attack is in amazing hands thanks to franchise quarterback Josh Allen, so the fact that Allen aims at Knox so often in the end zone has to please any fantasy footballers who rostered Knox in dynasty or keeper leagues. Knox will enter the 2022 campaign as a surefire top-10 fantasy tight end and could end up in the top-five if his yardage totals keep increasing while he hauls in double-digit touchdown tosses from Allen. The sky is the limit for this rising fantasy star.

 

Other TE Breakouts Receiving Votes

Tyler Conklin, Minnesota Vikings

2021 Stats: 61 receptions, 593 receiving yards, three TD

Conklin went from a block-first backup to Minnesota’s top tight end when Irv Smith Jr. suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Conklin obliterated his previous career highs in every major category and had at least 40 yards in eight of his outings on the season. While he might not bowl any linebackers over or outrun any defensive backs, he is a steady performer who helped fantasy managers in tight-end pinches throughout the season.

C.J. Uzomah, Cincinnati Bengals

2021 Stats: 49 receptions, 493 receiving yards, five TD

Uzomah returned after a torn Achilles ruined his promising 2020 season and set new career bests in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Instead of just being a safety valve in a high-powered passing attack that had the terrific threesome of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd at receiver, Uzomah became a top target of Joe Burrow for many weeks. Uzomah had two games where he blessed his fantasy managers with 90-plus yards and two touchdowns. He also showed no signs of slowing down during the postseason, where he amassed 13 receptions for 135 yards in Cincinnati’s first two playoff victories, so his fantasy outlook for 2022 is bright.



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