As we’re rolling along this offseason. We’re laying the groundwork for early best ball drafts, new dynasty startups and everything else under the fantasy sun. So far this week, we’ve already laid out early ranks for quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. The league’s landscape is going to shift a lot through free agency and the NFL draft, but we’re starting that early outlook with positional ranks. These will move and be updated throughout the offseason, so keep tabs on them through the spring. We’ll also have a more linear list of the top-200 players once all the initial rankings have been released that will be updated throughout offseason movement. This early ranking is all about the tight ends. You can take a look at long-running production and fantasy trends for the tight end position here.

Tight end rankings

  1. Travis Kelce: Has led the position in overall scoring in each of the past four seasons and has averaged over 6.0 receptions per game playing with Patrick Mahomes. A positive touchdown regression candidate on top of things after scoring just five times in 2019.
  2. George Kittle: Led all tight ends in team target share (28.3%) in games active and has paced the position in yards after the catch in each of the past two seasons. Has yet to turn in a big touchdown season while he ran 212 fewer pass routes than Kelce in 2019 and 83 fewer in 2018.
  3. Zach Ertz: Stayed a target-magnet due to the plethora of injuries suffered by the Philadelphia offense. His yards per target have dropped three straight seasons from the year prior, but has reached 100 targets in each of the past five seasons. 
  4. Mark Andrews: Led all tight ends in touchdowns (10), share of team air yards (28%), and target rate per route run (32.9%).  Had 98 targets (fifth) despite ranking 25th in routes run (295).
  5. Evan Engram: Averaged a career-high 5.5 receptions and 58.4 yards per game, but has now missed 13 games over the past two seasons while scoring six times in 19 games after scoring six times in 15 games as a rookie. Engram had 6-113-1 in his first game with Daniel Jones, then combined for 21-190-1 over his other five. 
  6. Darren Waller: Third among all tight ends in targets (117) while trailing only Kelce in receptions (90) and receiving yards (1,145). Found the end zone just three times and did his best work late in the season when Hunter Renfrow was out. Waller was the average weekly TE14 with only two games of double-digit PPR points in the final six games with Renfrow active, but did have 18% of the team targets in those games. 
  7. Tyler Higbee: Closed the 2019 season on a scorching five-game tear that saw him catch 43 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns after catching 86 passes for 884 yards and five scores over his first 58 career games. Stability of his role from the end of season targets got a boost with the release of Todd Gurley and trade of Brandin Cooks. 
  8. Austin Hooper: Not flashy per opportunity (10.5 yards per catch for his career), but Hooper’s per game output has risen in each of his first four seasons. Exiting the pass-heavy Atlanta offense for a potential low-volume passing game in Cleveland, but a significant contract should ensure heavy volume. 
  9. Hunter Henry: Henry has been the TE10 and the TE8 in points per game over his past two seasons played. Downside is that he has yet to play a full season, missing 23 career games in four years. Receiving the franchise tag from the Chargers, Henry will have a new quarterback situation entering the season. 
  10. Hayden Hurst:  43-512-3 over 28 games in his first two NFL seasons and TE12 in yards per route run in 2019 (1.69). Leaves lowest-volume pass offense to the team that threw the most in 2019.
  11. Noah Fant: Surely to be a favorite to breakout in year two, Fant led all rookie tight ends in targets (66), receptions (40), and yards (562) while averaging a robust 14.1 yards per catch. Posted 10-188-1 in five games with Drew Lock on 9.2% of the team targets. 
  12. Rob Gronkowski: In a surprise move, Gronk rescinded his one-year retirement to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. The last time we seen Gronk in action, he averaged 3.6 receptions and 52.5 yards per game, his lowest yardage per game since he was a rookie. That said, he did still average 14.5 yards per reception, which ranked fourth among tight ends with more than 25 receptions on the season that year. He was also still the TE11 in points per game (10.1) in PPR formats. Being a functional tight end for fantasy is a low bar to clear, but Gronk will also be 31-years-old removed from football for year and sharing the field with two target-rich wideouts.
  13. Mike Gesicki: Appeared to be a lost cause after a 15-153-0 line through seven games, but Gesicki bounced back as the TE8 Weeks 9-17 (36-417-5). Benefitted from running the third-most routes at the position while running a league-high 72% of his routes from the slot. Gesicki averaged 7.3 targets per game after Preston Williams was injured compared to 3.9 per game prior and may have to play through a rookie passer in year three.
  14. Dallas Goedert: Injuries and scheme elevated Goedert to TE10 in overall and TE12 in points per game in 2019. The Eagles used multiple tight ends on a league-high 55% of their pass plays last season. Top-five upside if Ertz was ever absent, Goedert posted 13-156-1 on 22 targets the final two weeks of the season with Ertz dealing with injury.
  15. Jared Cook: Will turn 33 years old this offseason. Cook set career-highs in touchdowns (nine) and yards per catch (16.4) in his first year with the Saints. A 13.9% touchdown rate masked his 4.6 targets per game, which ranked 19th at the position. 
  16. Chris Herndon: A post-hype breakout is still on the table after a 39-502-4 rookie season in 2019. Got on the field for just 18 snaps due to early-season suspension and a hamstring injury. 
  17. Blake Jarwin: Dallas has been slow to commit to expanding his role, but Jarwin has averaged 11.7 yards per catch and 8.7 yards per target over the past two season while all other Dallas tight ends have posted 8.9 yards per catch and 6.6 yards per target.
  18. Jonnu Smith: Second among all tight ends last year in yards after the catch per reception (8.1), but Smith hasn’t taken off the past two seasons with Delanie Walker playing in just eight games. Smith totaled 29-342-3 on just 36 targets over the final 10 games of 2019.
  19. T.J. Hockenson: Hit the ground running with 6-131-1 in his first NFL game and then followed up with 26-236-1 over his next 11 games before missing the final four weeks of the season. Was tied for fourth in the league in end zone targets while Matthew Stafford was active.
  20. Ian Thomas: In nine games without Greg Olsen over his two seasons in the league, Thomas has caught 35-of-55 targets for 348 yards and three touchdowns on 16.6% of the team targets, but is at best the fourth option in his passing game.
  21. Jack Doyle: Averaging a career 9.0 yards per catch and 6.6 yards per target, Doyle is a player who needs volume. Could get there with Eric Ebron (52 targets) leaving town to go along with the potential addition of Philip Rivers.
  22. Eric Ebron: Crashed back to reality after a touchdown-spike in 2018. The unrestricted free agent has finished higher than TE12 in points per game in just one of his first six seasons. 
  23. Irv Smith Jr.: Not long before he threatens to surpass Kyle Rudolph in the receiving game. Smith tallied 36-311-2 on 47 targets as a rookie while Rudolph posted 39-367-6 on 48 targets.
  24. Greg Olsen: 35 years old and has missed 18 games over the past three seasons. Likely a split with Will Dissly in some capacity if he’s ready to go at the start of the season. Seattle tight ends combined for 76-728-7 in 2019 with 10 end zone targets. 
  25. O.J. Howard:  Howard’s output plummeted in 2019 down to 2.4 receptions for 32.8 yards per game with just one touchdown. In the final year of his contract and the team adding Gronkowski, Howard will be limited once again in 2020 if he remains on the Buccaneers.
  26. Jace Sternberger: Only logged 60 snaps over six games during the regular season, but the pending departure of Jimmy Graham can clear the runway for elevation in his sophomore season. 
  27. Dawson Knox: 28-388-2 on 50 targets as a rookie, Knox found the end zone two more times than he did all of his collegiate career. Had more than four targets in three games as a rookie. 
  28. Devin Asiasi: The second tight end selected in the draft will compete with fellow third rounder Dalton Keene for year one passing opportunities.
  29. Kyle Rudolph: Reduced to a red zone only option, Rudolph had just a 39-367-6 line in 2019 while averaging 22.9 yards per game.  
  30. Gerald Everett: Flashed during a hot run of 28-322-2 on 49 targets over the six games Weeks 4-10, but then picked up an ankle injury and never reclaimed a role as Higbee went bonkers to close the season. 
  31. Tyler Eifert: The soon to be 30-year old tight end appeared in a full 16 games for the first time in his career in 2019, but was only a part-time player, averaging 44% of the snaps on his way to a 43-436-3 season line. Move to Jacksonville gives him a new opportunity, but the dreams of reaching his 2015 levels of production are all but washed away at this stage.
  32. Darren Fells: Was third among all tight ends in touchdowns (seven), but 27th in receptions (34) and 30th in yards (341).
  33. C.J. Uzomah:  27 years old and still under contract for the next two seasons, but ran a pass route on just 39.6% of his snaps in 2019, which ranked 64th among tight ends to play 100-plus snaps on the season. 
  34. David Njoku: Will still only be 24 years old at the start of 2020 and will get a fresh start with a new staff that used multiple tight ends on 47% of their pass plays in 2019, but at best is the fifth option in the passing game and buried as a TE2 behind Austin Hooper.
  35. Will Dissly: Has six TE1 scoring weeks in 10 career games and six touchdowns on 41 targets, but has suffered two brutal season-ending injuries for a big man with a torn patellar tendon as a rookie and then an Achilles last season.