2024 Pre-Draft Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Tight Ends

We are starting to lay the groundwork for the 2024 season.

Kicking things off in that capacity, we are digging into this incoming rookie class for Dynasty rookie drafts, startups, and even the potential impact these young players can have on 2024 seasonal formats.

We have also covered the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.

Even before the actual NFL Draft in April, rookies are available in Best Ball formats across all platforms that are currently open.

If you are new to how I evaluate rookies, my process is more of an evidence-based approach.

I am not always 100% in alignment with my prospect models, but I also am not an NFL Scout nor do I have a background in that area.

We will get more nuanced at other positions than this one. Now that the NFL Combine has passed, we have a plethora of new athletic data on this upcoming rookie class.

That information can be applied to athletic models and used to shape the full portfolio for prospects to go along with production profiles, which is a general overlay of what these players put on tape for NFL teams.

As we get more athletic testing data coming in through Pro Days, we will add notes here to those prospects.

However, athletic testing has a low correlation to actual fantasy output overall, and when it does, it is typically counted twice when looking at a productive player in the first place.

But when a prospect has subpar athletic testing paired with a limited or nonexistent production resume, then we are playing with fire when attempting to elevate or count on that player for NFL production.

Post draft we’ll have the added influence of draft investment and landing spot to add to the layout.

Those two components carry the most influence in predicting immediate player usage, so things will be shaken up a bit come April. We will revisit these ranks and adjust accordingly.

However, even before we get to that point, I would express caution early on allowing those elements to dramatically alter your approach to a player.

With all of that set up out of the way, let’s dig into the top prospects of this class of players at the tight end position.

This class is coming off the heels of a decorated 2023 class that lived up to the hype.

During the NFL regular season a year ago, rookie tight ends combine to catch 341 passes on 469 targets. Those are the highest totals ever at the position for an incoming rookie class.

We had two rookies in Sam LaPorta (86) and Dalton Kincaid (73) elevate those totals, but that is part of the point we are making here.

It was the first time ever we had two rookie tight ends go over the 70 reception mark in the same season.

If you are an elite prospect, you are finding an avenue to play more than ever with the amount of defensive two-high and defenses leaving the middle of the field open.

We saw six tight ends selected in the opening two rounds a year ago with nine players at the position selected inside of the top 101 picks.

This class is a bit different in lacking the front-end billing that we saw a year ago.

We have an uber-prospect in Brock Bowers, who is projected to be selected in the opening half of the first round, but just two other tight ends are currently inside of the top 100 selections at Mock Draft Database.

There is a chance we see some of the players here get higher draft investment than projected, but this class carries far less cache than the crop of players we had a year ago.

Outside of Bowers, this is a wide-open field of players when looking through a Dynasty lens.

You can go back and find the 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 versions of this article to look at the hits and misses along the way.

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Tier 1 Rookie Tight Ends

Brock Bowers, Georgia

Final Year Age: 21.1

Bowers is the top tight end in this class by a wide chasm.

Many early mock drafts have him going no later than pick No. 18 with many having him flirting with being a top-10 selection due to the scarcity of talent at the position paired with a lack of front-end defensive talent.

Bowers did more than enough on the field to justify that projected draft capital.

As the only two-time John Mackey Award winner since the title was awarded in 2000, Bowers led this draft class in career receptions (4.4) and receiving yards (63.5) per game while catching a class-high 26 touchdown passes over three seasons at Georgia.

For good measure, Bowers also rushed 19 times for 193 yards and another five touchdowns.

He is also the second-youngest tight end who was invited to the Combine. Bowers will not turn 22 years old until December of his rookie season.

From an age-adjusted production stance, only Kyle Pitts has a higher career production score than Bowers in my prospect model for all tight ends going back to 2000.

Perhaps the largest feather in the cap for Bowers is that he led Georgia in receiving yards in each of the past three seasons.

For added context, Bowers posted 882 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman while Adonai Mitchell and Ladd McConkey (two of the wide receivers receiving the most post-Combine hype in this class) combined for 873 yards and nine touchdowns.

There were some early whispers that Bowers was perhaps too much of a tweener to find a full-time home at the NFL level.

He played in-line for just 38.8% of his snaps in 2023 per Pro Football Focus, which was ahead of only Dallin Holker (26.2%) in this draft class.

But checking in at 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, Bowers is right in line with where Sam LaPorta was (6-foot-3 and 245 pounds) a year ago at the Combine.

Bowers may not be George Kittle in the run game, but his ability to move with the football is unmatched in this draft class.

In 2023, Bowers accumulated 486 yards after the catch, which led all tight ends in this draft class. That mark would rank 10th in this class among wide receivers.

67.8% of the receiving yards Bowers posted in 2023 came after the catch, which was third in this draft class among all tight ends and wide receivers.

Bowers forced 18 missed tackles last season per Sports Info Solutions, which led all tight ends in this class and ranked fifth among wide receivers.

One interesting note with Bowers is that a lot of those after-the-catch numbers were manufactured by his role in the offense.

This past season, 40.9% of Bowers’ targets were screen passes, a number that led all tight ends in this class by a significant margin.

29 of his 56 total receptions (51.8%) came on screen passes. That trailed only Malachi Corley (53.2%) among all tight ends and wide receivers in this class.

Bowers totaled 27 targets behind the line of scrimmage (38.0%) while the next closest tight end in this draft class had 14.

That could be viewed as a knock on his game needing more context, but with his unique role and Georgia simply wanting to get the football in his hands, Bowers led this group of tight ends with 3.42 yards per route run against zone coverage.

The next closest player in this draft (Cade Stover) was nearly a full yard lower (2.44 yards per route).

Bowers is more of an incomplete prospect who still takes some projection at a position that has had a lot of front-end misses.

He had only had nine total targets last season against man coverage. That 12.7% target rate against man coverage was the second-lowest rate in this draft class.

His 0.46 yards per route run against man coverage ranked 15th in this draft class out of 16 players invited to the Combine.

That said, the current NFL has seen an increase in the use of zone coverage from the season prior in each of the past four seasons. In 2023, NFL defenses ran zone coverage on 71.6% of all passing plays, the highest rate that TruMedia has recorded in a season.

But with his current game already showcasing spades that are best equipped for what he will face at the NFL level, any concern that he was not tested in route nuance to beat NFL defenders is reduced.

There will be a level of anticipation of rational coaching for whatever team selects Bowers.

But with the expectation of premier draft capital coming along with that selection, there should hopefully be a solid foundation of expectations that the team understands the assignment of getting the football into his hands and taking advantage of his ability after the catch.

Even with any remaining questions in the air, Bowers is head and shoulders the TE1 in this class.

The conversation about Bowers in rookie drafts this spring will be about where he fits with the wide receivers in this class if we have several first-rounders at that position.

Tier 2 Rookie Tight Ends

Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas

Final Year Age: 20.8

As noted in the intro, there is a massive gap in the expected draft capital that Bowers will receive compared to the TE2 and the remaining field at the position.

For Dynasty purposes, there is not another player in this draft class worth an extreme conviction on them being a Day 1 starter in the NFL.

That does not mean we cannot uncover some useful prospects along the way, however.

The secondary tier of the position opens up.

Let’s start with Ja’Tavion Sanders, who is the tight end most often mocked as the TE2 in this draft class.

Sanders is the youngest tight end in this draft class. He will turn 21 years old just a few weeks (March 27) before the NFL Draft.

Sanders played with heavy competition in the Texas passing tree with Xavier Worthy and Adonai Mitchell, which did depress his production compared to surrounding members in this tier.

His two touchdowns on 45 receptions (4.5%) ranked the lowest in this draft class at the position.

But even with the depressed 2023 touchdown totals, Sanders still ranked fourth in this draft class among tight ends in career receptions per game (2.5) and fourth in career yards per reception (13.1).

He led this draft class in yards per reception (15.2 yards) in 2023.

Sanders did play more traditional tight end than this group, lining up in-line on 63.9% of his snaps per Pro Football Focus while tying for a class-low rate of slot usage (20.8%).

He was one the best tight ends a year ago in contested catch situations, converting 7-of-13 (53.9%).

Sanders was not credited with a single dropped pass on 67 targets last season, the most targets without a drop in this class.

No tight end in this class could have a better catalog of impressive receptions.

Sanders also does come with ability after the catch.

His 346 yards after the catch were third in this class a year ago while his 7.7 yards after the catch per reception ranked fourth.

Sanders is also on the leaner side of the equation with Bowers (6-foot-3 and 245 pounds). His 4.69 time in the 40-yard dash did not blow anyone away, but it was in the 52nd percentile for his position adjusted for his weight. He has enough speed.

Theo Johnson, Penn State

Final Year Age: 22.8

Johnson could end up as a favorite tight end in this draft class for Dynasty purposes with the required draft capital needed to select him compared to others. We just need to see where his actual NFL draft capital lands.

He takes more projection than both Bowers and Sanders do next level and is more of a traits-based prospect, but Johnson is a Gibraltar at 6-foot-6 and comes in at 259 pounds.

He also ran a 4.57 at the Combine, which puts him in the 92nd percentile adjusted for his size.

A huge target, Johnson should make an immediate impact in the red zone at the next level.

His seven touchdown receptions in 2023 were second in this class while 15.6% of his career receptions at Penn State were touchdowns (also second in the class).

28.9% of his targets came inside of the red zone, the highest rate of any pass catcher in the draft this season.

The question for Johnson will be what are we getting outside of a projectable red zone presence?

His 16.7% target rate per route run ranked 13th among these 16 tight ends invited to the Combine.

Despite being fast for his size as a straight-line runner, Johnson did next to nothing after the reception in college.

He had the lowest missed tackle rate per reception (5.9%) of any tight end in this class.

While Johnson does come with some concerns in overall dynamism, scoring touchdowns carries significant weight at his position for fantasy purposes and can be enough to carry him even if he tops out as a touchdown-dependent option.

Ben Sinnott, Kansas State

Final Year Age: 21.5

Sinnott is perhaps the biggest wild-card of the position.

To lead things off, he is among the best of this draft class in terms of production and measured athleticism.

Sinnott was second in this class with 18.8% of the Kansas State targets.

He led the team with 676 receiving yards while his 56.3 receiving yards per game was third. With 21.4% of the team receiving yards, Sinnott led the class.

Sinnott matched Bowers with a class-high 1.57 yards per team pass attempt.

From an athletic stance, Sinnott registered a 93rd athlete score in my prospect model for the position.

At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Sinnott registered a 4.68 time in the forty (65th percentile adjusted for size)

Where he broke the bank in overall physical profile, however, was logging the highest explosion score (vertical plus broad jumps) and the best weight-adjusted agility scores in combining the 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drills.

The only tight ends in this class that are younger are Sanders and Bowers.

The issue we run into with Sinnott is projecting how the NFL views him.

There is already enough smoke that teams view him as more of an H-Back than an actual tight end to signal there is fire here in that being a reality.

Sinnott is a converted fullback (he did only rush 10 times in college for three total yards, however) who played a class-high 6.1% of his snaps in the backfield last season.

We do not want Sinnott to end up as a niche player in the league or even as a wild card that has better real-life functionality as we have with Kyle Juszczyk.  The worst case is he ends up like Josiah Deguara.

We do not have many examples of that type of player creating a large fantasy impact, which creates so much projection tied into Sinnott than the other players here. We are more at the mercy of how an NFL team views him as a playmaker.

The interesting thing with Sinnott is that even though he did have added versatility in terms of alignment, he had the highest depth of target of this draft class in 2023 (10.1 yards downfield).

Sinnott led this class in targets (12) and was tied with the most receptions (five) on throws over 20 yards downfield.

After the catch, Sinnott forced a missed tackle on 29.2% of his receptions, which was third in this class behind Bowers (32.1%) and Jaheim Bell (30.7%) despite having just nine targets on screen passes while Bowers totaled 29 and Bell totaled 19.

Jaheim Bell, Florida State

Final Year Age: 22.5

Transferring to Florida State in 2023, Bell was right in the neighborhood of both Keon Coleman (658 yards) and Johnny Wilson (617 yards) with 503 yards receiving in 2023.

At 6-foot-2 and 241 pounds, Bell is a touch smaller than both Bowers and Sanders while his usage stemmed around targets near the line of scrimmage.

He trailed only Bowers with 19 targets and 19 receptions on screen passes in 2023, but he was far less effective with those opportunities.

Despite those screens accounting for 36.5% of his targets and 48.7% of his receptions, Bell’s 100 yards on those screen passes only accounted for 19.9% of his receiving yards.

What is interesting here is that Bell was far more effective after the catch when not tasked with bunny targets.

His 8.1 yards after the catch were third in this draft class despite the lackluster production on screens.

Bell averaged 3.76 yards per route run when used as an isolated receiver, which was second in this draft class. He was targeted on 39.0% of his routes when used as an isolated receiver, which was also second in this class.

Bell played 44.3% of his snaps in the slot, which was fourth in this class.

He takes a bit more squinting paired with a significantly lower floor, but Bell could end up as arbitrage on the top two tight ends in this class in his range of apex outcomes.

Tier 3 Rookie Tight Ends

The third tier here has some intriguing options based on production or projected draft investment, but all of these players also come paired with red flags.

Dallin Holker, Colorado State

Final Year Age: 23.7

Holker is a tougher objective eval because all of his production came in his final season as an older prospect transferring from BYU to Colorado State.

In three seasons at BYU, Holker caught just 42 passes for 521 yards and three touchdowns before catching 64 passes for 767 yards and six touchdowns this past season.

Holker would not be the first pass catcher to take advantage of friendlier conditions exiting school, but that paired with being older than all but two tight ends in this draft class casts an added cloud on his production.

The only tight end prospect to enter the NFL older than Holker who also had a spout of fantasy TE1 viability at the next level was Dennis Pitta, and that was short-lived.

Holker also had a friendly environment for boosting production outside of leading this draft class in the share of team targets (22.2%) and air yards (22.2%).

He played inline on a class-low 26.2% of his snaps while lining up out wide on a class-high 23.0%.

Holker led this draft class with 46.9% of his receptions and 46.7% of his yardage coming via the slot.

All of that elevated the counting stats for Holker in his final seasons.

He ran 485 pass routes per Pro Football Focus, which was nearly 100 more routes than the next closest tight end in this class, who was at 395 routes run.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 241 pounds at the Combine, Holker ran a 4.78 time in the forty, which was a 16th percentile score adjusted for his weight.

Erick All, Iowa

Final Year Age: 23.3

Following the shadow of previous Iowa tight ends, All produced impressive rate stats in 2023.

He averaged 2.62 yards per route run, which was second in this draft class behind Brock Bowers (2.65).

He was targeted on 29.8% of his routes in 2023, which was the highest of this class of tight ends.

Similar to Sam LaPorta a year ago, All was a focal point in the passing game when available for the Iowa offense.

He was targeted on a class-high 54.2% of his routes when used as an isolated receiver. The next closest tight end was at 39.0%.

He averaged 3.74 yards per route run against man coverage, which led this class by far. The next closest tight end here was at 2.46 yards per route against man coverage.

All was productive per snap, but he comes with significant injury baggage paired with being on the older side for a prospect.

He played in just seven games this past season due to an ACL injury in October. That forced him to miss any testing at the Combine and should compromise his Pro Day.

That followed a 2022 season in which he suffered a season-ending back injury after just three games.

All is a later-round rookie flyer for fantasy circles, but we need to see when and where an NFL takes a shot on him with his limited sample size paired with his injury history.

Jared Wiley, TCU

Final Year Age: 23.2

Wiley is a five-year prospect who led this draft class with eight touchdown receptions in 2023.

At 6-foot-6 with 33.25-inch arms, Wiley has the frame to back up his usage near the end zone.

A class-high 16.7% of his collegiate receptions went for touchdowns. In 2023, only Theo Johnson (28.9%) had a higher rate of red zone targets than Wiley (23.1%), who led this draft class with 11 red zone receptions.

Wiley accounted for 29.6% of the TCU touchdowns (second in this class) but just 13.9% of their receiving yards (TE8) and 14.7% of the receptions (TE7).

Wiley forced a missed tackle on just 6.4% of his receptions, which was the second-lowest rate in this class.

Wiley could be a discounted version of Johnson in this draft class as a touchdown-dependent profile, but playing against worse competition, checking out as a worse athlete, and projecting for much lower draft capital, the ceiling range of outcomes is far thinner to achieve.

Cade Stover, Ohio State

Final Year Age: 23.6

Stover had his best collegiate season in 2023, catching 41 passes for 576 yards and five touchdowns.

He is a converted linebacker who averaged more yards per team attempt (1.42) than both Bell and Wiley.

Stover led this draft class in yards per route run as an isolated receiver (4.0), but that also came with a 20.2% route rate as an isolated receiver (11th in this class).

Only Bowers averaged more yards per route run than Stover from the slot (1.65 YRR) while Stover ranked fourth in this draft class in routes rate (50.0%) from the slot.

At 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, Stover is another mid-sized tight end in this class. He checked out in the 58th percentile in total athletic score, which puts him above the base rate.

What hurts Stover is that he is another prospect on the older side of the spectrum paired with back-loaded production at that seasoned age.

His career production profile is only in the 40th percentile.

Tanner McLachlan, Arizona

Final Year Age: 23.7

McLachlan is the last of these productive albeit older prospects in this class.

McLachlan was second in this draft class in career receptions per game (3.2) and yards per game (39.4) but only logged two seasons at Arizona after opening his collegiate career at Southern Utah.

He was aided as an older transfer to a pass-friendly environment that gave him added opportunities than his peers here.

He ran a class-high 35.4% of his routes as an isolated receiver per Sports Info Solutions but ranked 10th in yards per route run (1.84) on those routes.

McLachlan was 10th in this class in average depth of target (6.9 yards downfield) while running the second-most pass routes (395) in this class.

Tier 4 Rookie Tight Ends

We are wrapping up the NFL Combine invites with the tight ends who are projected to be selected on the third day of the draft or go undrafted.

Devin Culp, Washington

Final Year Age: 22.1

Culp ran a class-best 4.47 time in the 40 at the Combine, but he did so at a class-low 231 pounds.

Running that fast still could get him drafted, but Culp has next to zero production on his resume to go along with that potential carrot.

Culp had a class-low 4.3% of the Washington receptions in 2023, receiving 34 fewer targets than his teammate Jack Westover, who is also in this class.

If looking to find anything that matches Culp’s clocked speed in his production profile, he did average a class-high 9.4 yards after the catch per reception in 2023, but his 16-catch sample size is the lowest of all of these tight ends from a year ago.

Tip Reiman, Illinois

Final Year Age: 22.3

Reiman has a wide gap in athleticism score and career production at Illinois.

He exited the NFL Combine with a 95th percentile athletic score in my prospect model but also a career production score in the eighth percentile.

Reiman ran a 4.69 time in the 40 at 271 pounds (90th percentile) with a combined agility score (11.28 seconds) that ranked only behind Sinnott (11.05), who was 250 pounds.

He averaged a class-low 1.1 receptions and 11.1 yards per game in college.

Reiman’s 9.9% target rate per route run was the lowest rate of any tight end in this class in 2023.

AJ Barner, Michigan

Final Year Age: 21.7

Barner is going to be drafted as a run blocker who is unlikely to offer much in the passing game.

He averaged a class-low 9.5 yards per reception in college while ranking 14th out of these 16 tight ends in the share of team targets (9.1%) in 2023.

Trey Knox, South Carolina

Final Year Age: 22.4

After posting 385 yards as a freshman at Arkansas in 2019, Knox never matched that total over the past four seasons.

Transferring to South Carolina from Arkansas, Knox took over a role vacated by Bell switching schools.

Knox caught 37 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

His 8.4 yards per reception last season in 2023 were the fewest of this draft class.

Brevyn Spann-Ford, Minnesota

Final Year Age: 24.0

Spann-Ford is an older prospect who ranked 15th out of 16 tight ends here in yards per route run (0.99) in 2023 while accounting for a class-high 19.6% drop rate a year ago.

Jack Westover, Washington

Final Year Age: 24.6

Westover projects as more of an H-Back at the NFL level but lacks any of the bells and whistles Sinnott has going for him.

Westover is the oldest player at the position in this class.

His 9.8 yards per reception over his career are second to last in this class while ranking 13th here in career rate of touchdown receptions (6.9%).

To compound matters, Westover’s 3.4 yards after the catch per reception in 2023 was the lowest rate of this class.

2024 Rookie Tight End Fantasy Football Rankings

RankPlayerCollegeFY AgeTier
1Brock BowersGeorgia21.11
2Ja'Tavion SandersTexas20.82
3Theo JohnsonPenn State22.82
4Ben SinnottKansas State21.52
5Jaheim BellFlorida State22.52
6Dallin HolkerColorado State23.73
7Erick AllIowa23.33
8Jared WileyTCU23.23
9Cade StoverOhio State23.63
10Tanner McLachlanArizona23.73
11Devin CulpWashington22.14
12Tip ReimanIllinois22.34
13AJ BarnerMichigan21.74
14Trey KnoxSouth Carolina22.44
15Brevyn Spann-FordMinnesota24.04
16Jack WestoverWashington24.64