Top 15 Dynasty Tight Ends Heading Into the 2021 NFL Season

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The “Dynasty GMs” are back to give you our top-15 dynasty tight end rankings. Make sure to check out our previous dynasty quarterback rankings, running back rankings, and wide receiver rankings as well. We will update these rankings as time goes on. We are also developing a “Dynasty GMs” podcast that will feature other rankings, all dynasty news, redraft fantasy news, keeper league news, waiver wire picks, start em’ sit em’, buy/sell, etc. But before we get into all of that, take a look at the top-15 dynasty tight end rankings below. 

 

 

1) George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers

49ers: We should have seen George Kittle's meteoric rise coming

Travis Kelce is playing this position at a level we have never seen before and could very well take this top spot. This is dynasty though, and Kelce is going to be 32 this season. His years at the top are numbered, and we aren’t sure how long he has left to play at an elite level. Enter “The People’s Tight End” George Kittle.  Yes, he missed time last year, but he finished as the TE19, and he played in just eight games. He finished with the third best points per game average. Kittle also finished as the TE3 in 2019 and the TE2 in 2018. He is going to turn 28 this season, so he has an additional three seasons of elite level play on Kelce. This move is solely based on the premise of taking a top flight player to yield a longer return of elite play. We are here to make moves for the future my friends. 

 

 

2) Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs

Travis Kelce leaves Chiefs vs Texans game with hamstring injury

It’s easy to admit. Seeing Kelce’s name anywhere outside of the top tight end spot is a little peculiar. For these rankings, we obviously have Kittle as the TE1 and Kelce as the TE2. Before justifying the reason, let’s look at how dominant Kelce has been the past five years. For starters, he has been the TE1 in fantasy for three seasons in a row. He’s also finished as the TE1 four out of the last five seasons (Gronkowski was TE1 in 2017). He’s simply AUTOMATIC in the fantasy world. Even in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he finished top-10 in fantasy points (ninth, seventh). So why is Kelce below Kittle on this list? First of all, this is dynasty football we are talking about. The dominant tight end of the past seven seasons isn’t going to be the most dominant in the next seven seasons. It just can’t happen. We look at possible production in the next four-to-six years. Kelce will absolutely keep crushing fantasy for the next few years, but Kittle’s upside is a little higher right now. It’s also hard to imagine any other tight end, besides Kittle, to outproduce Kelce for the next four years. He’s a very safe and reliable player to have on your team. 

 

 

3) Darren Waller – Las Vegas Raiders

Darren Waller closes in on Tim Brown reception record | Las Vegas Review-Journal

We understand the concern here is that Waller is about to turn 29, and we just preached to you the importance of playing the age game when building a roster. The consistency of the tight end position is so hard to achieve though. If you miss out on the top-2 guys, you are really going to be scrambling somewhat for consistent week-in and week-out production. Waller has solidified himself as the top option in this offense in a way Kelce and Kittle have not. Waller, this last season, drew about nine targets per game and caught about six of those targets. When seeing a number like that, it could be easy to blow off, sure, but his average depth per target was 11.9 yards per catch. This means that per the law of averages, every time Waller earned a reception, he gained a first down! Waller has incredible size at 6’6″ while also moving that frame downfield like a train on a track. His 4.46 40-yard dash time gives him the ability to blow a simple crossing route into a big play. Waller will see too much consistent volume going for the foreseeable future to simply ignore.

 

 

4) Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons

Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts will wear No. 8 this season

Yes, it’s very scary placing a rookie tight end as the TE4 in our dynasty rankings. Usually it takes a couple of seasons for a tight end to really step on the gas. It’s also a position that’s seen high-upside rookies fall short of expectations. For example, O.J. Howard was drafted 19th overall by Tampa Bay in 2017. He finished as the TE10 in 2018, but other than that, his best finish was as the TE17 his rookie season. Those aren’t the best finishes for someone who was drafted that high in the draft. Now let’s get to Pitts. The Florida product was selected fourth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in this year’s NFL Draft. It’s safe to say that he is the most anticipated and highest drafted tight end to come into the league EVER. He shows off a skill set that hasn’t been seen at his position. He runs a 4.44 40-yard dash, he recorded a 129” broad jump, and he stands tall at 6’6” while weighing 240 lbs. He has the skill set of a wide receiver and the look of a tight end. It’s almost like he’s a young Julio Jones? Alright let’s not go too far just yet. Speaking of Jones, it looks like he could be traded out of Atlanta soon, and that only helps Pitts’ fantasy value. Playing alongside Calvin Ridley will open up plenty of opportunities for the 20-year-old generational talent. We already know what Pitts is capable of. He finished his college career with a “dynamite” season in 2020. The former Gator hauled in 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games. Even if he gets off to a slow NFL start, he will surely become a top-five dynasty tight end within the next couple of years. 

 

 

5) Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens

Ravens TE Mark Andrews: 'Opting Out Never Really Crossed My Mind' - PressBoxOnline.com

Andrews had what felt like a down year this past season compared to his stellar 2019. Let me give you a reason to not be frightened. The passing attack of the Ravens relies on multiple tight ends. Hayden Hurst left in free agency and Nick Boyle was injured most of the season and missed several games. This really affected the scheme for Greg Roman, the offensive coordinator. With this complication, the running game struggled, which then led to a less effective play-action pass. Although the receptions were nearly the same from 2019 to 2020, the yardage disparity was rather large with over 150 yards differential and three less touchdowns. Andrews is still the go-to-guy here in this offense, but make no mistake, Roman will always look to establish the run first. Even with all this being said, the pure talent of Andrews will ensure that he gets plenty of looks over the course of the season, as he has the trust of young quarterback Lamar Jackson. The best thing that can help Andrews is more opportunities in the red zone. If that happens, he is the clear-cut option in that area of the field. 

 

 

6) T.J. Hockenson – Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson could make offense elite in 2020

Hockenson is considered a huge breakout candidate for this upcoming season. He plays for a Lions team that doesn’t roster a lot of receiving talent outside of himself. Let’s look at the other pass-catching options for Detroit. You got Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Quintez Cephus, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Javon McKinley, and Darren Fells. Maybe even throw in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams as threats? These players aren’t going to take anything away from Hockenson’s pass-catching opportunities. We might see a ton of Goff to Hockenson this season. The young tight end is also just 23 years old. In his first two seasons in the league, he finished as the TE32 (2019 as a rookie) and the TE5 (2020). The third-year-pro took a giant leap last season, and he should be looked at as a consistent top-10 tight end for the next few years. It helps that Hockenson is coming off a breakout season where he caught 67 of his 101 targets for 723 yards and six touchdowns. Of course, that was with Matthew Stafford as his signal-caller. Now he has Jared Goff, a player that loves to throw the ball all over the field. Maybe Goff gets the other pass-catchers involved a lot, but Hockenson is surely his top target in Detroit’s offense, and he’s the only legitimate red zone threat as well. 

 

7) Noah Fant – Denver Broncos

Fantasy football Week 2 players to start and sit: Noah Fant, Emmanuel Sanders – The Denver Post

Fant was hailed in a similar fashion coming out that Pitts was. Denver obviously believed in him enough to select him with their first-round pick. He has yet to live up to his draft status quite yet, but it takes a big adjustment period for tight ends coming into the league. It took Kelce, Kittle, and Waller a couple seasons to ease into things before really making the position theirs. Fant has great measurables; he took a major step forward before injuring his ankle in Week 2, and he simply wasn’t the same the rest of the season. Fant can’t quite catch a break. He dealt with horrid quarterback play last season from the circus of signal-callers Denver had to deal with. In fact, Denver rolled out four different QBs in Fant’s sophomore season and three his rookie year. It has been very tough for this incredible tight end prospect to gain any traction, or confidence, when there was a revolving door at the quarterback position! Denver seems to be going all in on Drew Lock this season though, and Lock looked Fant’s way often last year. Look for a dose of heavy volume, especially in the red zone as Fant is the top option until Courtland Sutton returns to 100 percent in this Denver offense.

 

8) Hunter Henry – New England Patriots

Patriots: Analysis of TE Hunter Henry signing with Bill Belichick

Hunter Henry did what!?! He left Justin Herbert and an up-in-coming LA Chargers team for Bill Belichick, Cam Newton, and the New England Patriots. Oh, and he’s also playing alongside Jonnu Smith. All of these factors look to hurt Henry’s fantasy value on paper, but what if we were to tell you it might just solidify it even more. Think about it. Henry will now play on a team that lacks positional value at the wide receiver position. Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, N’Keal Harry, and Jakobi Meyers aren’t going to take away Henry’s opportunities. Jonnu Smith, a player that’s never produced a ton of receiving yards, won’t either. Newton loves to rely on a tight end in his offense. We saw it in Carolina when Greg Olsen was consistently a Pro Bowler every year. Smith will take away Henry’s red zone targets, but that’s about it. Henry could easily lead this team in receiving yards this next season, and he’s only 26 years old. He also has a great pro career track record. He finished as the TE15 last season, the TE8 in 2019, the TE12 in 2017, and the TE11 in 2016. He’s easily a top-10 dynasty tight end right now. 

 

9) Robert Tonyan – Green Bay Packers

What about Bob? Can Robert Tonyan maintain his massive first month? - Acme Packing Company

Aaron Rodgers asked for a first round wide receiver to help the passing attack, and Brian Gutekunst told him to shut up because he had….Robert Tonyan. That may not have been the exact conversation but Tonyan was certainly a factor around the red zone this past season for the Packers. He isn’t the most gifted receiver in the world, but the Packers don’t have a whole lot of options outside of Davante Adams in this offense. Tonyan didn’t have a single game over 100 yards receiving in 2020, and we would expect that to be a similar theme for this year. He didn’t draw more than seven targets in a game either, so his volume isn’t outrageous. The two things he has going for him is that head coach Matt LaFleur loves to go his way in the red zone. And Rodgers may be throwing him the football, so he will yield us consistent production, albeit a little touchdown dependent. 

 

10) Logan Thomas – Washington Football Team

Washington Football Team: Five bold predictions vs. Giants in Week 9 - Page 2

Thomas has come a long way from playing college ball as a quarterback. He’s played in the league as a tight end for the past four seasons. Last year was his first season playing for Washington, and man did he break onto the scene in the fantasy world or what? He hauled in 72 receptions for 670 yards and six touchdowns while catching passes from four different starting quarterbacks. He finished as the TE7, and he’s still just 29 years old. That’s not bad for someone who was drafted as a quarterback in 2014 and then converted to a tight end in 2017. He’s got great size for his position (6’6” and 260 lbs), and he might be playing with a better quarterback this season (Ryan Fitzpatrick). “Fitzmagic” loves to rely on his tight ends. Last season, he turned Mike Gesicki into an up-in-coming tight end star in this league. Expect Thomas to be in good hands with Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball. Even if the veteran quarterback gets benched, we already know that Thomas is capable of producing good fantasy numbers with any quarterback. It’s also encouraging that Thomas is still new to his position, and that he is getting better and better each season. 

 

11) Irv Smith Jr. – Minnesota Vikings

Tight End Irv Smith Jr. Has The Tools To Help Minnesota Vikings Offense Step Up In 2020

LET’S GET WILD. Big Irv, come on down! We know head coach Mike Zimmer wants to be more defensive-minded. Newsflash, this team isn’t great at defense. This means that the offense, led by Captain Kirk….Cousins, will have to keep them in games. We know about Adam Thielen, we know about emerging star Justin Jefferson, and we know about star Dalvin Cook. Smith Jr. is going to have to replace the production from Kyle Rudolph now that he is out of town. This is going to be a big step forward for him, but Thielen and Jefferson are down the field threats, which means that this offense is going to need somebody underneath. We expect Big Irv to thrive and eat up targets. Cook can’t run the ball the whole game, and if he does, the play-action boot pass to the tight end will be wide open! Big Irv is going to eat this season. We are speaking this into existence my friends. 

 

12) Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles' run game dealt big blow with injury to tight end Dallas Goedert | Early Birds

Goedert is another prime breakout candidate going into the new season. He’s clearly taken over as the TE1 for Philadelphia over Zach Ertz. He finished last season as the TE20 after producing 46 catches for 524 yards and three touchdowns. He regressed from his 2019 season where he finished as the TE10 after catching 58 passes for 607 yards and five touchdowns. He’s surely a good dynasty tight end to have, but he falls outside of the upper echelon at his position. He’s still a young (26) and up-in-coming player, but the big concern for him is that his starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, has only started four career games thus far. Nonetheless, he shows consistent numbers, and he should become a decent dynasty tight end for your team if you miss out on the guys ahead of him on this list. 

 

13) Austin Hooper – Cleveland Browns

Updated AFC playoff picture after Week 16

Hooper didn’t continue the elite production at the position we have grown accustomed to seeing from him. He was working with a veteran quarterback and feeding from Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in 2019. Hooper definitely struggled in a sense with Cleveland last year, but he is still only 26. He was in a new system, with a new quarterback, and a rookie head coach. There was a lot of growing the team had to do to familiarize themselves with one another, and to do it with no offseason to boot. Now Hooper gets a full offseason to work out with his quarterback, understand his head coach’s system, and earn a better role in this offense. 70 receptions might be unattainable in this run-first offense, but 46 is too low, especially at the low yardage he achieved too. Look for Hooper to catch somewhere in the 55-60 reception range for at least 600 yards. He will be dependent on some touchdowns, but Baker has shown us he likes to spread it around on the goal line. This means Hooper’s numbers could spike and we hit a home run with this selection!

 

14) Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins new offensive coordinator must fix this part of the offense

Gesicki, like others on this list, is a young talent (25) who has just recently broken onto the scene in the fantasy world. He’s now entering his fourth season in the league, and he’s coming off of back-to-back 550 plus receiving yard seasons. Two seasons ago, he finished as the TE11 while hauling in 51 receptions for 570 yards and five touchdowns. He improved his numbers last season by finishing as the TE6 and while producing 53 receptions for 703 yards and six touchdowns. So why is he lower on this list? It’s simply because of the teammates surrounding him. First of all, his starting quarterback is Tua Tagovailoa. The second-year signal-caller has yet to justify any reason why anyone can trust him. He’s a “dink and dunk” quarterback that doesn’t rely on his tight end as much as he should. Gesicki’s numbers were slightly better with Fitzpatrick as his quarterback instead of Tua last season. Also, rookie Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller have been added to the offense. This will certainly hurt Gesicki’s fantasy value. Nonetheless, he should still see ample amounts of opportunities, and he’s simply gifted enough to produce top-15 tight end numbers for the next few years (maybe even longer). 

 

15) Jonnu Smith – New England Patriots

Patriots give Jonnu Smith $50 million deal in NFL free agency

Look, we love Smith, but when you break down at his overall numbers, they weren’t as reliable as we would have liked. In 2020, he caught 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns. This means that he was very touchdown dependent to achieve his fantasy production, and beyond that, he relied on his athleticism to create opportunities. When looking for consistent production from a receiver, it is preferred that we look for yards in the air, as that is a greater predictor of sustainable success, or in this, case success to be duplicated. When a receiver makes it all happen on the ground, it can be left to a variety of factors like game plan, the team of athletes playing on defense, offensive game plan, etc. Those yards through the air mean that we can predict an average for the receiver, or at least a good range, which will give us a safer bet on what to expect. The good news is Smith is going to a new offense. The bad news is that he is in an offense playing double tight end sets with Hunter Henry. The Patriots have found a way to make double tight end sets very sustainable and successful in fantasy football in years prior, but Smith is brand new to the team, and his quarterback is a struggling Cam Newton. For all the good things about Smith that would raise him on this list, there is an equal amount bad things that knocks him down. Draft him as a high upside/low floor option in a position that is hard to find sustainable success. 

 

You might be wondering why you didn’t see a few names on here. Remember, these are just rankings, and you have to keep in mind, this is also dynasty football. You have to factor a few things when ranking positions. Keep in mind the players’ age, the teammates surrounding him (especially his quarterback), his track record, his injury history, and his value for the next four-to-six years. Here are some notable mentions to include: Evan Engram, O.J. Howard, Tyler Higbee, Cole Kmet, and Adam Trautman. Remember..It’s all on you. YOU ARE THE DYNASTY GM OF YOUR OWN TEAM. 

 

Did you enjoy this article and want more fantasy content? Make sure to check out our recent posts, and stay tuned for other fantasy content in the future. You can also follow us on Twitter @dirrim23 and @ClaytonHoffard, where we love talking about all things fantasy football!

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