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Best Ball Strategy

Best-Ball TE Tiers

by John Daigle
Updated On: March 25, 2020, 2:31 am ET

Jump to: QB Tiers I RB Tiers I WR Tiers

 

Tier One

                

Travis Kelce (TE1) -- Four consecutive seasons as the overall TE1 keeps 30-year-old Kelce cemented as the only mandatory player at his position in any and all first-round mocks. Averaged 8.3 targets in 16 full games with Patrick Mahomes last year, playoffs included.

George Kittle (TE2) -- Confidently finished atop his position in fantasy points per game (16.5) before auditioning for a famous disappearing act (8/71/0) in three lopsided postseason tilts.

 

Tier Two

 

Zach Ertz (TE3) -- Ertz's yards per target dipped to a career-low (6.8) despite keeping heavily involved in Philadelphia's makeshift offense. 100-plus looks in five consecutive seasons remains tough to ignore given the team's lack of surrounding playmakers.

Mark Andrews (TE4) -- Andrews finished second to George Kittle (3.11) in yards per route run (2.89) among tight ends in only his second year in the league. The 23-year-old's team-high 23 percent target share figures to increase in 2020 with 15 tight end routes per game vacated from Hayden Hurst's departure.

Darren Waller (TE5) -- Targets per game (6) plunged in seven contests alongside Hunter Renfrow from Week 8 on. An undisputed role for the latter in three-wide sets — not to mention the addition of Jason Witten in free agency — leaves Waller as a player to bet against in 2020.

Evan Engram (TE6) -- Engram accrued a team-high 28.9 percent target share in the lone start he made with both Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate. Could reportedly lose favor in New York's front office and be moved after missing a combined 13 games the past two seasons.

Tyler Higbee (TE7) -- December's five-game sprint with 12.8 fantasy points and 11.2 targets per outing would have landed Higbee as the overall TE6 if extrapolated for the full year. Gerald Everett's surprising survival beyond the first wave of free agency pits Higbee in an unknown role next season.

Austin Hooper (TE8) -- If seeking a positive spin, only the Eagles (53%), Texans (37%), and Titans (36%) ran more 12 personnel than Kevin Stefanski's Vikings (35%) this past year. Unfortunately, 25-year-old Hooper arguably projects as Cleveland's fourth mouth to feed behind Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Kareem Hunt.

Hunter Henry (TE9) -- Spiked career-highs in catches (55) and receiving yards (652) despite missing four games with a tibia fracture. Los Angeles' questionable situation under center still paints an unknown picture for Henry's outlook.

 

Tier Three

 

Dallas Goedert (TE10) -- DeSean Jackson's long-haul injury ultimately forced the Eagles into two-tight end sets, allowing Goedert to finish as the overall TE7 from Week 4 on. The 25-year-old again finds himself as Philly's No. 2/3 option barring multiple rookie additions to the team's receiving corps.

Ian Thomas (TE11) -- Thomas' receiving lines in his last six starts for Greg Olsen: 9/77 > 2/14 > 4/48/1 > 5/61/1 > 5/57/1 > 2/23.

Jared Cook (TE12) -- Cook averaged an absurd 13.6 yards per target in 10 full starts with Drew Brees last year, but he'll be hard-pressed to match seven receiving scores on just 4.6 targets per game from the 41-year-old cornerstone again. Cook's slot participation (67.9%) — the third-highest rate among tight ends — also figures to plummet with veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders suddenly onboard.

Mike Gesicki (TE13) -- Essentially left for dead following his forgettable rookie year (22/202/0) with coach Adam Gase, Gesicki (6'6/250) morphed into a slot receiver under Brian Flores, lining up from the middle of the field on a position-high 71.8 percent of his snaps. Somewhat concerning the 24-year-old averaged 3.9 targets with Preston Williams available and 7.3 in eight games without.

Noah Fant (TE14) -- Suffered the same fate as Courtland Sutton down the stretch as Fant was peppered with 6.3 targets per game from Brandon Allen but merely averaged 2.8 in Drew Lock's five starts.

T.J. Hockenson (TE15) -- The Iowa product ran a route on 63.8 percent of his offensive snaps in the seven performances prior to his season-ending ankle injury, but that enticing usage only amounted to 17/180 and 5.2 yards per target in that stretch.

O.J. Howard (TE16) -- Howard averaged 11-plus yards per target in his first two years out of Alabama, a feat Rob Gronkowski was only able to accomplish once across nine Hall of Fame seasons. This ranking is a bet that those marks, coupled with being one year removed from averaging 2.24 yards per route run in '18, weren't flukes.

Hayden Hurst (TE17) -- Baltimore's No. 25 overall pick two seasons ago, Hurst lost out to former teammate Mark Andrews despite setting South Carolina's school records for a tight end in catches and yards. 27 in August and, above all else, an inline receiving threat, Hurst will undoubtedly open camp as the Falcons' de facto tight end in place of Austin Hooper.

Jack Doyle (TE18) -- 29 routes and six targets per game without Eric Ebron, who has since signed with Pittsburgh, over Indy's last five contests.

Blake Jarwin (TE19) -- Dallas committed $9.25 million guaranteed in a new four-year contract for Jarwin, who has quietly averaged over 11 yards per reception and 8.5 yards per target in a limited role in back-to-back seasons. Jason Witten's exit logically paints the 25-year-old as the team's every-down successor in spite of questionable blocking skills.

Chris Herndon (TE20) -- Slapped with a four-game suspension ahead of his sophomore follow-up, Herndon tragically made one appearance before sustaining a season-ending ribs injury in Week 10. The 24-year-old tight end remains the most logical candidate for a Darren Waller-like breakout if only for the rapport he showed from Sam Darnold (27/380/4) in 13 games together as rookies.

Jonnu Smith (TE21) -- Like A.J. Brown, Smith leveraged his own athleticism into 12.3 yards per touch across 13 games with Ryan Tannehill rather than depending on the smattering of targets (3.4 per game) the team failed to afford him. Totaled 39 routes run to Anthony Firsker's 27 in three postseason games.

 

Tier Four

            

Irv Smith (TE22) -- Routes run per game jumped from 15.2 through Week 8 to 24.1 in Minnesota's last 10 bouts while Adam Thielen nursed a soft tissue injury. A pivot to Gary Kubiak's stretch-zone scheme entails Smith work with Kyle Rudolph rather than behind him.

Greg Olsen (TE23) -- Only 7.0 fantasy points per game while working with Kyle Allen and Will Grier last year, but Olsen arguably enters the best offensive situation he's seen the past four seasons in signing with Seattle. Per Warren Sharp, Russell Wilson targeted tight ends at the league's second-highest clip (33%) from 2016-18 before fighting through Luke Willson's and Jacob Hollister's tenures this past season.

Dawson Knox (TE24) -- Logged 70-plus percent of Buffalo's offensive snaps in 6-of-8 starts to close the year. Fully expected to return as the team's every-down starter.

David Njoku (TE25) -- More than capable of finishing as a TE2 if Cleveland unleashes his 97th-percentile arm length (35 1/4") and stout frame (6'4/246) alongside Austin Hooper in goal line territory.

Jace Sternberger (TE26) -- Began the year on injured reserve (ankle) then ultimately failed to eclipse eight routes run in any of his eight rookie appearances. Nevertheless, Sternberger remains only one season removed from recording 48/832/10 in his lone season with Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference.

Darren Fells (TE27) -- Non-zero chance 34-year-old Fells leads Houston in receiving scores following DeAndre Hopkins' swap to Arizona.

Will Dissly (TE28) -- The overall TE1 through six games before tearing his Achilles' in November, Dissly's best-case scenario is an even split on passing downs with 35-year-old Greg Olsen.

Eric Ebron (TE29) -- One year removed from spiking a career-high 13 touchdowns with the Colts, a healthy Ben Roethlisberger would go a long way in rejuvenating 27-year-old Ebron on his third squad in four seasons.

 

Tier Five

   

Josh Oliver (TE30) -- The third-round rookie's lengthy arms (33 1/2") and massive hands (10 3/4") only made four appearances before shifting to injured reserve with a mid-season back injury. Raw but gifted, minimal competition stands in Oliver's path following the releases of TEs Geoff Swaim, Seth DeValve, and Nick O'Leary.

Vance McDonald (TE31) -- Initially projected to return as Pittsburgh's every-down inline option, the addition of Eric Ebron obviously tempers any bounce-back expectations for 30-year-old McDonald ahead of camp.

Kyle Rudolph (TE32) -- Lathered in touchdown deodorant while Adam Thielen was sidelined, Rudolph impossibly turned 36 catches over the Vikings' last 12 games into seven receiving scores. Merely out-targeted Irv Smith 41 to 36 from Week 8 on.

Gerald Everett (TE33) -- A speculative league-winning dart if unleashed, 25-year-old Everett ranked as the overall TE4 in October before sustaining a knee injury and losing any semblance of a job to teammate Tyler Higbee at season's end.

Kaden Smith (TE34) -- The direct beneficiary if any trade rumors involving Evan Engram come to fruition, Smith quietly tallied an impressive 30/267/3 on 97 percent of New York's offensive snaps from Week 12 on.