Hello folks, we’re back again with another installment of our top fantasy performers brought to you by a play on words. If you haven’t noticed from my first article, I am a big fan of movies along with my long-lasting love of football. And what’s not to love about the tight end position. They are often dubbed as a quarterbacks “security blanket” and for good reason.
This time around, I’m not going to post the top 15 performers of last season, I’m just going to jump right into who I think will be the top performers for fantasy in the 2020 season. As per my first article on quarterbacks, I’ll leave you with my fantasy sleeper, some honorable mentions, and a super sleeper.
Hot Takes incoming.
2020 Fantasy Football Rankings: The Tight End Rises
Tight Ends 11-15
15.) Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
Doyle is entering his 8th season in the league, all with the Colts. The veteran looks to build off a good campaign where he drew his second Pro Bowl nod. But Pro Bowls don’t matter in your fantasy league, you want consistent points. This is where Doyle can see an uptick from last year. He won’t be splitting time with fellow TE Eric Ebron who left in free agency for Pittsburgh. His only other competition will be with Trey Burton, if he can stay healthy.
Another great thing for Doyle is he’ll have big Philip Rivers throwing him the ball this year. Rivers loves to throw the rock around the yard, evident of his seven straight seasons of 4,000+ yards. I don’t think anyone needs a reminder also of Rivers’ favorite target for the Chargers: Antonio Gates. Look for Doyle’s receptions and yards to see an uptick this year.
14.) Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins
It’s the Dolphins, I know, but Gesicki is one of the young talents down in South Florida. Though his starts (5 out of 16) may cause for pause, he paced the team for second in targets, receptions, and yards on a team that many thought were going to go 0-16. He’s a big target standing at 6-6, 250 lb, and has top tier speed for a TE (his 40 yd was a 4.55 at the 2018 combine).
He’s young and looking to take over that TE room in Miami as the #1 guy. He has a good rapport with Ryan Fitzmagic and has raved about Tua Tagovailoa. Though FItzmagic is the Week 1 starter, I still expect Gesicki to have a solid season if Tagovailoa were to be inserted mid-season.
13.) Dawson Knox – Buffalo Bills
Knox is looking to build off of a good rookie campaign in Buffalo. His year consisted of 50 targets for 28 receptions, 388 yards, and two scores. His targets and yards were third on the team behind leading receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley. Now I know the addition of Stefon Diggs may give fantasy owners pause, but I believe it should give you just the opposite.
With guys like Diggs and Brown whose ability to stretch the field will draw doubles, the security blanket of Knox is going to come at a premium for the Bills. The former walk-on will look to establish himself in year two as one of the premier tight ends of the future.
12.) Jared Cook – New Orleans Saints
Jared Cook looks to build off a solid first year in Louisiana. The 11-year veteran posted a career-high in TD receptions at nine. The nine TD’s were also tied for the team lead with Michael Thomas. Though he was third in targets and receptions, he was second in receiving yards. So what does that mean? He capitalizes on his opportunities after the catch. He led his team with 16.4 yards per reception, good enough to rank 11th in the league last year. He was the only tight end in the top 25 in that statistical category.
Another scenario similar to Dawson Knox, the Saints added another weapon for Drew Brees to throw to in Emmanuel Sanders. Like Knox, I believe this will give Cook very favorable match-ups and zones to exploit throughout the year.
11.) Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers
Henry had a great bounce-back year after he missed the 2018 season with a torn ACL. He posted career highs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. He was also third on the team in TD receptions with five. Now, this spot is a little tricky given this will be his first season in his young career with a new quarterback. Most likely to be Tyrod Taylor for most of the season, I think he’ll do fine even if the Chargers move to rookie Justin Herbert later in the year.
He’ll be competing for targets from a trio of teammates in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams (Williams is currently nursing an AC Sprain), and Austin Ekeler. He’s the biggest however at 6-5, 250 lbs, and that should give the quarterbacks a reliable target to throw to.
Tight Ends 7-10
10.) Darren Waller – Las Vegas Raiders
Last year’s 3rd best fantasy TE takes a bit of a slide this year. The slide has nothing to do with talent, as I believe last year’s numbers were no fluke. The reason being is that the Raiders went all-in on getting Derek Carr as man weapons as possible. One of them being future Hall of Famer, Jason Witten, at TE.
Tyrell Williams did just go down with a season-ending injury, so the slack will have to be picked up. The Raiders still have a good receiving corps that will get their fair share of targets this season. I think Waller still puts up solid numbers, just not to the eclipse of what he did last year.
9.) Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have two solid TEs in Higbee and Gerald Everett but Higbee is Goff’s clear favorite. He’s gotten better every year and last year posted career numbers in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Though the Rams have solid weapons on the outside, Sean McVay is a creative coach and I can see him drawing up more plays for Higbee in year five.
Another big target at 6-6, 255 lbs, Higbee was third on the team in targets, receptions, and yards. Look for the trust between Goff, Higbee, and McVay to build in year five for the TE.
8.) Austin Hooper – Cleveland Browns
Hooper had a career year across the board for the Falcons in 2019. That earned him a nice payday to fly up North to Cleveland, a team in desperate need of a solid TE. His 2019 season saw career highs in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Those numbers were good for second on the team in Atlanta, except for yards where he was third.
The Browns in 2019 had a very lackluster showing at the TE position. Their leader was Demetrius Harris who compiled 15 receptions for 149 yards and 3 scores. Under new Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, the Browns look to make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Look for Hooper to be a cornerstone in that turnaround and a solid security blanket for Baker Mayfield.
7.) Noah Fant – Denver Broncos
Noah Fant impressed in his rookie season for a Broncos team that had high expectations. Regardless of the team’s success, Fant was able to finish second on the team in targets, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Though the Broncos have a pair of young TEs alongside Fant, none pose a threat to his snap count.
The thing that most excites me is the connection he’s been building with Drew Lock since the end of last season. Although the sample size was rather small, in their second game starting together, a week 14 win in Houston, Lock and Fant were able to connect on all four targets for 113 yards and a score. The Denver offense has some young firepower, and Fant is going to be right there in the middle of it.Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for, my top 6 fantasy tight ends for the 2020 season.
Tight Ends 1-6
6.) Rob Gronkowski – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Gronk is back in action. Part of me wanted to make him a top 3 guy, (which he could be) but the rationale for the six spot is simple: he hasn’t played in a year and he’s not the only weapon down in Tampa. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are also some very talented young TEs looking for reps and targets this year. Matter of fact, both Brate, and Howard were practically identical in stats last year.
The big thing here to remember is Gronk is one of Tom Brady‘s favorite targets. In Gronk’s seven healthy seasons, he’s been 1st in targets, 2nd three times, 3rd once, and 4th twice. If Gronk can stay healthy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does better than my current rank.
5.) Evan Engram – New York Giants
Since entering the league in 2017, Evan Engram has shown a lot of promise. Injuries have slowed him though over the past two seasons. He missed four games in 2018 and eight in 2019. Even with the emergence of Darius Slayton as a rookie and Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard returning, I believe Engram needs to take that next step into becoming a long-term piece for the Giants. He’s in year four, so he’ll be vying for that fifth-year option that will guarantee him a cool $6 million, per http://spotrac.com/nfl.
4.) Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens
Mark Andrews made a big step in year two due to the emergence of Lamar Jackson. Andrews takes a step up from last year’s rankings, and I believe his production will increase a little more. He was Lamar’s favorite target last year as he led the team in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. If year one is any indication, Jackson and Andrews have built a good rapport with one another.
Furthermore, Andrews doesn’t have much competition who will be taking reps from him at the TE position. The Ravens traded Hayden Hurst to the Falcons this off-season and while Nick Boyle did get his fair share of action, Andrews is still the top dog for the Ravens.
3.) George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
Last year paid off big for Kittle as he recently signed the biggest contract for a TE in NFL history. He led the team in all four receiving categories: targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. He’s Jimmy G’s number one target and that role could be much bigger in 2020. The injury bug has been making its rounds in the 49ers WR group as Jalen Hurd and Tavon Austin have been placed on IR.
Deebo Samuel and 2020 first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk both got the bug as well but could be ready by the season opener. All things considered, Kittle is a sure-fire bet to be on the top fantasy tight ends this year.
2.) Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
As I’m writing this, the Eagles are shopping veteran Alshon Jeffery in hopes to get something in return instead of cutting him. Though this isn’t good for Eagles fans or Jeffery, it can be a positive for Ertz. The team leader again in all four receiving categories, Ertz has been Carson Wentz‘s favorite target since entering the league. For the past two seasons, he’s led the pack in those categories, and in Wentz’s first two years, he led 3 of 4 and 2 of 4 respectively.
He’s as reliable as they come in PPR leagues and in standard formats as well. You can’t go wrong with drafting him as high as the 4th or 5th round.
1.) Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
One of the best TEs in the league, he too, like Kittle, was rewarded handsomely for his play that helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl. Besides his rookie campaign, he’s never had a season below 800 yards and the past four he’s gone over 1,000+ yards. He’s also seeing a healthy 100+ targets the past five seasons. Kelce is built like a TE but moves like a WR which gives him tremendous upside for long receptions and run after the catch.
Lastly, he has Patrick Mahomes throwing him missiles and dimes all day. The Chiefs look to defend their title in 2020 and expect Kelce to be a major factor again in 2020.
T.J. Hockenson – Detroit Lions
Hockenson came hot right out of the gate in 2019 with 6 receptions for 133 yards and a score in his first game in the league. His production petered out after that though as he’d finish the season with 32 receptions on 367 yards and two scores. If both he and Matthew Stafford can stay healthy, expect those numbers to increase dramatically.
Darren Fells – Houston Texans
Fells had his best year in the league last year with 34 receptions for 341 yards and 7 scores. His TD receptions are what intrigue me as he and Watson seem to be on the same page in the red-zone. Given that the Texans have an abundance of weapons at receiver and in the backfield, Fells probably won’t break the top 15 but can still bring value during a bye week for a starter.
Greg Olsen – Seattle Seahawks
The injury bug hit Olsen in 2017-18 and his production was obviously down. Last year he started to make the trend back up with 52 receptions for 597 yards and two scores. He’s in a new system with Russell Wilson and company who seem to be making their rounds with veteran TEs. Jimmy Graham didn’t work out well, but Olsen could be poised for a big year.
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph has the potential to see more targets this year as the departure of Stefon Diggs leaves himself and Adam Thielen as the most viable options for Kirk Cousins. One thing that can be of intrigue is if Gary Kubiak will utilize Rudolph more in the passing game. Rudolph will still get his red-zone touchdowns, but his receiving yards could use a boost.
Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles
In leagues 10 people or less, I personally wouldn’t spend anything in the top 8 rounds on Goedert, but if he falls into your lap past that, pick him up. Zach Ertz was the leading receiver in all four categories for the Eagles; Goedert was second in all four categories. There is a lot of upside for having him on your roster as a possible flex play or as your starter if you play in a 12-man league.
Super Sleeper: Dan Arnold – Arizona Cardinals
You probably laughed, I know. Wondering who this guy is and what kind of logic I’d have to make him my first ever super sleeper. Here’s all I got, in week 17 of 2019 he was the third-best fantasy TE with 17 points. They have weapons in Arizona but look for Arnold to get his share of targets with most of the coverage being focused on the WRs.
With all that has been said, remember that it is your own gut and intuition that will go into your fantasy draft. Though I think there is some good value to be had in this assessment, the final decision ultimately falls on you. Just give me a shout out once I’m right. 🙂
Agree with my analysis? Disagree? Let me know on Twitter, @RealsleeepyG.
All stats courtesy of https://www.pro-football-reference.com/.