Missing out on an entire section of talented players can leave you scrambling to fill the void, so utilizing a tiers system is the most efficient way of drafting. In the third installment of our 2020 fantasy football tier rankings, we’ll take a look at which TE’s to target in your upcoming fantasy football drafts. If you missed it when they originally released, make sure you also check out my QB, RB, and WR tiers to dominate your fantasy football drafts.
We would all love to live in a perfect world where we take our top-ranked player at every selection, but that’s just not realistic when building a formidable fantasy football squad. Each position has a different point where there’s a considerable drop-off in talent and opportunity. Understanding which round that drop-off comes depends on scoring settings and the flow of each individual draft, so always remain fluid as your draft shifts from one position run to the next. For now, let’s take a look at my TE tiers for the 2020 fantasy football season.
Tier One TE’s are high-ceiling difference makers in 2020 fantasy football
Tier One: Travis Kelce, George Kittle
Tier One tight ends Travis Kelce and George Kittle are difference-making tight ends worth taking in the mid-to-late second round of your 2020 fantasy football drafts. Kelce and Kittle are matchup nightmares attached to two of the best offensive head coaches in football.
Kansas City Chiefs standout tight end Travis Kelce has been consistently elite with TE1, TE1, TE2, and TE1 finishes over the past four years. Kelce averaged 15.9 PPR points per game in 2019, and his 254.3 total points would have finished as WR9 last season.
Despite only playing in 14 games, 49ers tight end George Kittle finished as TE2 in 2019 with 222.5 PPR points. Kittle might have finished with less total points than Kelce, but the former Iowa tight end averaged the exact same 15.9 points-per-game.
Kittle (85 receptions on 107 targets) receives far less volume than Kelce (97 receptions on 136 targets), but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is fantastic at scheming plays for the 49ers offensive focal point. After only securing five touchdowns each in 2019, both Kelce and Kittle are due for a positive regression there.
Tier Two are elite assets without the same ceiling as those above them
Tier Two: Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz
While a notch below the two beasts in Tier One, tight ends Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz are both terrific additions to your 2020 fantasy football squads. Andrews is the new kid on the tight end block after racking up a career-high 64 receptions, 852 yards, and ten touchdowns as 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson’s top passing target.
Andrews is due a negative touchdown regression after scoring as many reception TD’s as Kelce and Kittle combined for in 2019, but he should see an increase in volume with Hayden Hurst traded to Atlanta. Andrews has unlimited potential in 2020 after he and Hurst finished with an identical 41.36 snap percentage in 2019.
If Andrews is the new kid on the block, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is the experienced veteran that has been consistently above-average over the entirety of his career. Ertz hasn’t finished below a TE1 since 2014, and he’s been the TE4, TE2, TE3, TE6 over the past four NFL seasons.
Tier Three TE’s are risky, but talented prospects
Tier Three: Darren Waller, Evan Engram
Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller is coming off a breakout 2019 season in which he finished as the TE3 in PPR formats. Waller’s skillset was the perfect pairing with quarterback Derek Carr’s checkdown lifestyle, but there are questions about the tight end’s ability to repeat his 2019 performance. With Las Vegas drafting wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards in the 2020 NFL Draft, it’s fair to wonder if Waller will receive the same volume he did a season ago.
Evan Engram, on the other hand, is a sensational talent that just can’t seem to put it all together. The injury bug has held Engram to 34 total games in his career, including only 19 combined over the past two seasons. Engram has averaged 12.2 PPR points-per-game for his career, but the enormous injury risk drops him down to TE6 in my rankings.
Tier Four TE’s are the best value in 2020 fantasy football drafts
Tier Four: Tyler Higbee, Austin Hooper, Mike Gesicki, Hayden Hurst, T.J. Hockenson, Hunter Henry
If I’m not landing one of the top four tight ends this season, I’m usually waiting to attack Tier Four of my 2020 fantasy football rankings. There is ample value in this range, and you can generally snag one or two of these players in the double-digit rounds.
Tyler Higbee excelled down the stretch last season, but the return of Gerald Everett is problematic for his ceiling. Miami’s Mike Gesicki also flourished once wide receiver Preston Williams was lost to injury, but his stock was reignited with Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns opting out of the season. Gesicki led all tight ends in 2019 with a 71.8% slot rate, and it’s expected to be more of the same this season.
Austin Hooper went from a great situation in Atlanta to a mediocre one in Cleveland, but I’m still a firm believer that he stays a top-ten tight end. Cleveland welcomed Hooper as the highest-paid tight end (before the Kelce/Kittle extensions) in football, and they’re expected to run a large percentage of 2+ TE sets under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
Hayden Hurst never lived up to his first-round status in Baltimore, but replacing Hooper in Atlanta seems like an excellent opportunity for the former South Carolina standout. Wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are still expected to be the Falcons top two targets, but Hurst can easily finish as a top-six tight end in Atlanta’s offense.
Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson has breakout potential in 2019, but I’m mostly avoiding Chargers’ tight end, Hunter Henry, in 2020 fantasy drafts. The Chargers tight end has a difficult time staying healthy and now sees himself catching passes from ball-control Tyrod Taylor instead of the gun-slinging Philip Rivers.
Tier Five tight ends are your last chance at finding a starter
Tier Five: Jonnu Smith, Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, Jared Cook, Rob Gronkowski, Blake Jarwin, Ian Thomas, Irv Smith, Chris Herndon, Eric Ebron
My Tier Five TE’s are all solid players with the potential to severely outplay their current average draft position. Tier Five is a mix of grizzled vets (Jared Cook, Rob Gronkowski) and talented, athletic youngsters (Jonnu Smith, Noah Fant, Dallas Goedert, Blake Jarwin, Ian Thomas, Irv Smith) on the verge of breakouts.
Out of this group, I like Smith, Fant, and Goedert the most. Smith and Fant are both RAS superstars with insane athletic traits, but I have a bit of a concern about their volume in 2020. Smith is the third option in Tennessee’s ground-and-pound offensive attack, while Fant is sharing targets with wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Goedert is a tremendous talent that finished TE10 in 2019, but Ertz’s presence will forever cap his fantasy football ceiling.
Tier Six TE’s are waiver wire material
Tier Six: Jack Doyle, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph, Dawson Knox, O.J. Howard, Jimmy Graham, Gerald Everett, Tyler Eifert
The tight ends available in Tier Six of my TE rankings shouldn’t be counted on for more than bench fodder. Each of these tight ends could have impact weeks, but their path to TE1 status is pretty non-existent, barring something unforeseen.