While I believe tight end is hyper-thin, I went ahead and provided the 20-deep, completely correct tight end ranks for those of you who don’t take my advice and draft one of the big 3. Enjoy!
1. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce does a nice Collinsworth slide into the void left by Gronk’s retirement. Kelce is a dominant force on one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. Taking a tight end in the first round has long been a controversial move, but by taking Kelce at the end of the first, you lock in a positional advantage over every one of your opponents.
Don’t be afraid to take Kelce anywhere from about 1.07.
2. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
Kittle is a fantastic consolation prize if you miss out on Kelce. A hyper-athletic tight end in the Kyle Shanahan system is as close to a can’t-miss fantasy prospect as you can get. Even if you don’t believe Jimmy Garoppolo is the 2nd coming of Steve Young, I’d bet you would say Jimmy is better than the guys who propelled Kittle to record-breaking heights in 2018. Kittle is firmly in play for me in the middle of the 2nd round.
3. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz is the last tight end worth a valuable draft pick. If you miss out here, you may just want to punt on tight end. The only knock on Ertz is concern that the Eagles have added so many pass catchers that his prolific target totals are due for a big regression. While we may see Ertz get fewer than the 156 targets he got in 2018, I’d take fewer targets from a better quarterback in Carson Wentz. Ertz and Kittle are really tied for the #2 spot in my ranks, so Ertz is in play from the middle of the 2nd.
4. Hunter Henry -Los Angeles Chargers
Henry tore his ACL early in the pre-season in 2018, and so he’ll be a full year removed from that injury well before the 2019 season kicks off. While there is always risk with a player coming back from such a serious injury, we may get a nice discount as people forget about Henry’s promise of becoming the next big thing in a league bereft of fantasy caliber starting tight ends.
5. Evan Engram – New York Giants
I probably need to move Engram up a little bit, but I am having a real hard time imagining much success from the Giants offense this year. Still, Engram should be one of their top-targets, and even an anemic offense can make a couple of pass-catchers viable fantasy options.
6. David Njoku – Cleveland Browns
Absolute beast of a player who we haven’t seen really break out yet. I really believe Baker Mayfield is a budding star, though, and so that is enough for me to bet on Njoku having a nice, middle-of-the-tight-end-pack season.
7. O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Howard is an unbelievable athlete with a relatively unknown potential. Worries around how tight ends will slot into the Bucs offense and Cameron Brate sticking around hurt Howard in these ranks.
8. Jared Cook – New Orleans Saints
I’m not overly excited about Cook going to New Orleans, but If you miss out on the top 4 TEs, you could do worse than going to Jared.
9. Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings
This is why you should draft a tight end early. But… if you don’t, Rudolph is a very safe option in the Vikings, Kubiak-style offense.
10. Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts
Luck and Doyle have been muy simpatico, but Ebron showed he’s no slouch in 2018, capping Doyle’s upside. The Colts tight end situation seems likely to turn in to a big mess… I might just need to move Doyle out of my top 100.
11. Vance McDonald — Pittsburgh Steelers
McDonald is a serviceable tight end in a prolific offense. The Steelers will be looking for a few ‘new’ contributors in the passing game with Antonio Brown’s departure, and McDonald has enough talent to take advantage of more opportunity.
12. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans
Walker has had a pretty star-crossed career. He’s always good-to-borderline-awesome when he plays, despite playing in one of the more boring offenses in the NFL. This is a solid, low-upside, medium-floor play for your tight end.
13. Mark Andrews - Baltimore Ravens
There is plenty of excitement around Mark Andrews going in to 2019, and I expect the Ravens passing game to expand greatly in Lamar Jackson’s second season. Andrews is well worth a later-round pick as the upside guy in a committee, or you could even take him and just go for the ride for a few weeks to see how things turn out.
14. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers
I’m likely a little low here, as it appears Olsen is back to full strength. Cam Newton and Olsen have had a good connection for years, and despite Carolina adding some young, electric pass-catchers, Olsen should still serve as that known, safe option for Newton.
15. Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts
Ebron will likely step back from his outstanding performance last year, but he’s still a talented tight end in what will be a high-flying offense. Assuming Luck is healthy, you could do a lot worse with your plug-and-play tight ends than Erik Ebron.
16. Dallas Goedert - Philadelphia Eagles
It’s pretty easy to start seeing those huge fantasy weeks when you look at Goedert’s size and relative quickness. I think taking him any higher than this, though, is more wishful thinking than sound draft strategy. Now, if we see a few injuries in Philly... Dallas might become a coveted waiver wire pickup.
17. Jordan Reed – Washington
Reed has shown us incredible talent in the past, but his injury history and a lackluster outlook for Washington’s offense as a whole keep Reed’s draft cost, and should keep your expectations, low.
Update: Reed may have suffered a concussion in Washington’s 3rd preseason game. If so, I’d move him out of my top 20.
18. Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons
Hooper will likely be on the field a great deal for the Falcons, and that translates to ‘fantasy-viable’ with the dearth of fantasy stars at tight end. I’d consider Hooper nothing more than a bye-week fill in, or ‘just get me something’ floor guy in a committee.
19. Trey Burton — Chicago Bears
While things didn’t pan out last year, I like taking a shot on Burton super-late in drafts. We sometimes expect young quarterbacks to be polished products too soon, and our dashed expectations last year may be unfairly clouding our judgement for ole Trubes in year 3.
20. Chris Herndon – New York Jets
Really disappointed to see Herndon getting suspended. I’ve thrown him on this list as my last tight end not so much to recommend you draft him, rather, to suggest you pick him up a week before his suspension ends. Herndon looked really good as a rookie tight end, and that is not something we see very often. This is as much of a sleeper as there is at tight end with that suspension looking.