2019 Tight End Tiers
Everyone knows that tight ends are the thinnest position in fantasy football. Like I did with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, I took a look at all the tight ends with fantasy relevance and placed them into tiers.
If drafting a tight end early is your thing, these are the three that are worth your consideration.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs—Kelce is so good that he needs to be looked at more like a wide receiver than a tight end. He plays on the best offense with the best quarterback in the NFL, which increases his draft stock greatly.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles—Gone are the days when fantasy owners worry about Ertz’s next injury. He’s shown himself to have a great ability to get open and he is clearly Carson Wentz’s favorite target.
Next best if the Superstars are gone
The superstars are most likely going to be drafted in Rounds 1-3. These are the guys who you can get in Rounds 5-7 after you build up your arsenal of running backs and wide receivers.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Bucs—He’s in an offense that is going to throw the ball a ton, and he seems like he is improving with each passing year. Howard is the one player from this tier who could ascend to the top tier in the future.
Evan Engram, New York Giants—The Giants have always run a tight-end-friendly offense, which helps Engram considerably. With Golden Tate out the first four weeks of the season, he might get even more volume.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers—Both Philip Rivers and fantasy owners alike missed Henry for most of last season. I expect him to flourish in 2019 and think that 70-plus receptions is a distinct possibility.
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints—QB Drew Brees lacks a true WR2, so it might be that Cook will be able to step in and be a complement to Michael Thomas. Cook has looked disinterested at times in the past, but this could be his finest season yet.
You can still win with these guys
These guys will most likely go in Rounds 9-11 and are solid performers who will contribute on a consistent basis.
Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers—His snap count is expected to be controlled, but he will play for certain on obvious passing downs. There’s plenty of targets available with Antonio Brown gone, so I expect McDonald to have career year-type numbers.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns—Njoku is an enormous target and fantasy owners have been waiting for him to breakout for quite some time. I doubt that with Odell Beckham aboard the breakout comes this season, but it is on the horizon.
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens—Andrews stood out last year as a rookie and has continued to impress the Ravens’ coaching staff throughout training camp. The Ravens are not a big-time passing offense, but QB Lamar Jackson has shown a liking for throwing to Andrews.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans—Before his injury, Walker was one of the more reliable tight ends in the league. He is determined to get back to his old Pro Bowl level, but a lot will depend on the play of QB Marcus Mariota.
Forrest Gump types
Life is like a box of chocolates with these tight ends. You never know what you are going to get from them on a week-to-week basis.
Trey Burton, Chicago Bears—Burton has good hands, but he is clearly down the pecking order in terms of targets. To make matters worse, backup Adam Shaheen often sees the field in the red zone due to his immense size.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts—Doyle is the tight end to own in Indy between the 20-yard lines, but he occasionally disappears in the red zone.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles—If Zach Ertz were to get injured, I would catapult Goedert into the second tier with little hesitation. He does have stand-alone value on his own, but it is tempered by the fact that he is only on the field for about half the team’s snaps.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings—The sound you hear is Rookie TE Irv Smith Jr. breathing down Rudolph’s neck. Rudolph still has decent value in standard leagues, but I don’t trust him in PPR formats.
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers—There will certainly be some fantasy owners who think that Graham will rebound from last year’s disappointing season. I think his decline will continue and expect him to have one of his worst years to date.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers—If I only knew that Olsen could stay healthy, I would certainly push him up one or two tiers. He could be one more foot injury away from retirement.
Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers—I am placing Thomas here only if Olsen goes down with an injury. Thomas is the tight end heir apparent in Carolina. The only question is when, and not if it happens.
Hype train players
The hype train is rolling along for these players. I like their upside, but I am also prepared to abandon ship if they are not ready for prime time.
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions—Give this guy two years and he might end up being the next great tight end in the game. Look for him to be respectable this season (think 600 receiving yards and 6 TDs) with much more to come.
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos—Fant has everything you look for in a tight end: size, speed and strength. All he needs now is time to mature and develop as he learns the pro game.
Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders—Waller is clean and sober for two years and appears ready to make an impact for the Raiders. I love his size and speed and he will have every opportunity to seize the job and make an impact.
Chris Herndon, New York Jets—Herndon will be out on suspension for the first four weeks, but he is a guy I love taking in the later rounds of my draft and stashing on my bench. He clearly had a good rapport with QB Sam Darnold and I think he can take the next step up this season.
J-A-G-S (Just a Guy)
These are players who can fill out your bench at the end of drafts.
Jordan Thomas, Houston Texans—There are a lot of bodies in Houston at this position. Thomas is the most ready to contribute, but he will never see that many opportunities considering the talented receivers around him.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys—This future Hall of Famer might surprise, but for now I have little confidence that he will comeback and make an impression on offense.
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams—Everett has potential to improve, but it’s hard to see him getting more receptions with Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp demanding so much attention.
Geoff Swaim, Jacksonville Jaguars—QB Nick Foles likes throwing to his tight end, but Swaim is more of a journeyman talent than a future star. He could also lose playing time once Rookie TE Josh Oliver returns from injury.
Ben Watson, New England Patriots—Watson will miss the first four weeks of the season but should be the team’s starter when he returns. He’s a safe player capable of three to four receptions per game.
Matt LaCosse, New England Patriots—LaCosse will be the starter as the team waits for Watson to return from suspension. He could surprise for a game or two but doesn’t have the pedigree to be the fulltime starter.
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins—He’s got the size and speed, but he is an awful blocker and is taken off the field in all non-obvious passing situations. He might see some garbage time action this season, but he is a work in progress.
Will Dissly, Seattle Seahawks—In an offense that rarely likes to throw the ball, Dissly is nothing more than a player who could have one or two decent games all season.
Jesse James, Detroit Lions—He’s more of a blocker and mentor to T.J. Hockenson than a receiving threat.
Just say no
I will not draft these guys in any format.
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins—There is no way that Reed will stay healthy for an entire season.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals—Eifert is one back injury away from early retirement. I feel badly as I always thought he could have been a great red zone target for QB Andy Dalton.