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Tight End Dynasty Rankings - Tiers and Analysis


2018 was probably the best year for tight ends in the history of fantasy football.

Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz set the NFL single-season record for receptions by a tight end with 116, while San Francisco’s George Kittle set the single-season record for receiving yards for a tight end with 1,377. What’s crazy is that neither of them might have been the most valuable tight end in fantasy football, and that neither led the position in touchdowns despite their record-breaking years.

The fact is that the tight end position is more important as ever in fantasy football, especially in dynasty leagues where you can hitch your wagon to a great one for several seasons. Here is my analysis of RotoBaller’s 2019 dynasty rankings at tight end, as they stand now. Note: incoming rookies will be added after the NFL Draft takes place.

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Tight End Dynasty Rankings

Position Rank Position Tier Player Name Overall Rank Overall Tier
1 1 Travis Kelce 19 5
2 1 George Kittle 28 6
3 1 Zach Ertz 30 6
4 2 O.J. Howard 60 10
5 2 David Njoku 63 10
6 2 Hunter Henry 72 11
7 2 Evan Engram 80 12
8 3 Eric Ebron 99 14
9 3 Trey Burton 118 14
10 3 Dallas Goedert 127 15
11 3 Austin Hooper 128 15
12 3 Jack Doyle 130 15
13 4 Rob Gronkowski 140 15
14 4 Chris Herndon IV 143 16
15 4 Kyle Rudolph 146 16
16 4 Vance McDonald 149 16
17 4 Mike Gesicki 159 17
18 5 Jared Cook 165 18
19 5 Mark Andrews 167 18
20 5 Jordan Reed 171 18
21 5 Ian Thomas 178 18
22 5 Delanie Walker 182 18
23 5 Jimmy Graham 187 18
24 5 Hayden Hurst 197 19
25 5 Cameron Brate 198 19
26 5 Gerald Everett 199 19
27 6 Jonnu Smith 203 19
28 6 Greg Olsen 204 19
29 6 Adam Shaheen 215 20
30 6 Tyler Eifert 217 20
31 6 Austin Seferian-Jenkins 228 21
32 6 Nick Vannett 232 21
33 6 Ricky Seals-Jones 245 21
34 6 Will Dissly 246 21
35 6 Demetrius Harris 249 21
36 7 Blake Jarwin 265 22
37 7 Maxx Williams 273 22
38 7 Jake Butt 280 22
39 7 Jordan Thomas 284 22
40 7 Jesse James 289 22
41 7 C.J. Uzomah 302 23
42 7 Charles Clay 306 23
43 7 Jason Witten 350 23

 

Tier 1

Kelce might not have set any NFL records like Kittle and Ertz, but he was arguably the most valuable player at the position fantasy-wise. He ranked second in receptions and yards behind the record holders and was also second among tight ends with 10 touchdowns. Did I mention he has only missed one game over the past five seasons? With Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback, Kelce definitely deserves to be ranked No. 1 entering the 2019 campaign.

All Kittle did was set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season, and he did it with Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard as his quarterbacks for 13 of the 16 games thanks to Jimmy Garoppolo’s torn ACL. Imagine what he can do if Jimmy G. stays healthy for an entire season?

Ertz’s record-breaking season blew all of his previous career highs out of the water, and he was just as effective whether Carson Wentz or Nick Foles was throwing spirals to him. I would not be surprised to see a small stats regression from him, but 90 receptions for 975 yards and seven scores would be just fine for fantasy owners.

 

Tier 2

O.J. Howard surpassed Cameron Brate as Tampa Bay’s top tight end and could have ended up with 900 receiving yards and eight touchdowns if a knee injury did not rob him of a half-dozen games at the end of the season. Njoku came close to doubling his reception and yardage totals during his sophomore season, and with emerging superstar Baker Mayfield as his signal caller, Cleveland’s starting tight end is primed for a breakout year. Both Howard and Njoku have high ceilings and long careers ahead of them.

2018 was a lost season for Hunter Henry thanks to a torn ACL, but fantasy players with long memories remember that he hauled in a dozen touchdown tosses from Philip Rivers over his first two seasons. This ranking might be generous for Henry considering his injury history, however. Do not let the final stats fool you with Engram. He missed five games, so if you project his numbers over a full season he would have ended up with around 65-800-5. Engram finished the season with four straight games of 75 yards or more.

 

Tier 3

Obviously, Matthew Stafford and the hapless Detroit Lions had been holding Ebron back all this time. Ebron meshed perfectly with Andrew Luck and the Colts and ended up having the best year of his career, leading all tight ends with 14 total touchdowns. Ebron should see some stats slippage if former top tight end Jack Doyle returns from injury and splits the targets with him, however.

Trey Burton obliterated his career-highs across the board in his first season as a starter in Chicago, but 2019 could be an even bigger year for him if quarterback Mitchell Trubisky takes his game to another lofty level like Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson have.

Austin Hooper has rounded into a dependable fantasy option after two years in the league. He finished fourth in receptions among tight ends but still provides only average numbers in the yardage and touchdown categories. Goedert is tough to trust when he has Ertz in front of him on Philly’s depth chart. Same goes for Doyle when it comes to Ebron sharing the field with him, although Doyle at least has proven to be a proven PPR commodity before.

 

Tier 4

“Gronk” may or may not retire, so his ranking is the most dubious and curious out of the upper-tier tight ends. After having 1,000-yard years three of the four seasons leading up to 2018, his numbers and fantasy value plummeted this season and his fantasy future is one of the biggest question marks among top tight ends this offseason.

Herndon had a decent rookie campaign while building a solid chemistry with fellow rookie Sam Darnold. The fantasy needle is pointing upward for both of them heading into next season. The good news for McDonald is top target Antonio Brown and fellow tight end Jesse James probably will not return to the Steelers in 2019. The bad news is he finished the 2018 season with 10 straight games where he could not crack the 50-yard barrier.

 

Tier 5

One of the few bright spots in a downright horrendous season for the Raiders was Cook, who finished fourth among tight ends with 896 receiving yards. The impending free agent should make millions, but fantasy players know he has only scored 25 touchdowns in 10 seasons and is not an upper-echelon tight end.

Graham was viewed as a disappointment by many fantasy players considering he only had two touchdowns with Aaron Rodgers throwing to him after scoring 10 times in 2017 with Russell Wilson passing his way in Seattle. His cranky knees have sapped his speed and leaping ability.  Walker’s 2018 was ruined thanks to a gruesome ankle injury suffered in the opening contest of the season. His 2019 outlook is uncertain as he has a formidable rehab in front of him if he wants to be ready by training camp in August.

 

Tier 6

Olsen was the most durable tight end in the NFL for almost a decade (no games missed between 2008-2016), but now chronic foot fractures have rendered him as a question mark and not a fantasy factor. He is a retirement risk at this juncture.

Jonnu Smith caught three touchdown tosses over his last five games before suffering a season-ending injury. He shapes up to be a solid sleeper and a dynasty keeper if the aforementioned Walker is not ready to go. Ricky Seals-Jones cannot be taken seriously unless the quarterback play improves dramatically in the desert.

 

Tier 7

At 6’5” and 280 pounds, Houston's Jordan Thomas should be battling Brock Lesnar in WWE or UFC. Instead, he is a red-zone terror whose fantasy value is totally dependent on whether or not he scores. Charles Clay had the worst year of his career in 2018 yet was somehow rewarded with a one-year, $3.25 million contract from Arizona. Go figure.

Uzomah is a block-first tight end who posted career-high numbers last season simply because Cincinnati had no other healthy tight ends on the roster who could catch after the Tylers (Eifert and Kroft) went down with major injuries.

Witten is an NFL and fantasy football Hall of Famer (although not a Hall of Fame broadcaster). That said, all signs point towards the soon-to-be 37-year-old being a role player and not a frontline player for Dallas in 2019, and that will not do fantasy players any favors.

More Dynasty League Strategy


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.




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