As dynasty fantasy football drafts continue to fire up for the 2021 season, differentiating between the elite players at each position can come down to the slimmest of margins. While factors such as age, production, and the supporting cast all play their part, we are here to help you disentangle all of that and make an informed decision. Here are the top 10 dynasty TE rankings for the 2021 season.
2021 Dynasty TE Rankings | 6-10
Who are the most consistent playmakers at the TE position? In a shallow player pool, having a reliable starter on your roster can give you a considerable advantage each week.
TE10) Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
Mike Gesicki has served as both the Miami Dolphins’ tight end and primary slot option for the past two seasons. Having spent over 90% of his snaps split out wide, Gesicki saw the second-most targets for the Dolphins in 2020 with 85. He recorded career-high totals in receptions (53), yards (703), and touchdowns (6) while playing 58% of the offensive snaps.
In PPR formats, Gesicki finished the fantasy season as the TE7 and averaged 10.6 ppg. Sure, 10.6 ppg at first glance appears low, but consistency is key. The majority of tight ends will not win you leagues, but consistency can be just as hard to find.
Last season, Gesicki benefited from the lack of pass-catching options on the Dolphins’ offense. With Preston Williams missing half the season and the team lacking a WR3, Gesicki proved to be an integral part of the offense. In 2021, Miami addressed this by drafting Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle and signing Will Fuller in free agency. The new additions will push Gesicki down the progression. Nevertheless, he’ll remain a threat in the red zone.
What will be worth watching is the development of contract talks. Gesicki is entering the final year of his contract, and Miami selected Hunter Long during the NFL Draft. Long could be their fall-back option in 2022 and beyond should Gesicki leave in free agency.
TE9) Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings
Opportunity breeds success. Irv Smith Jr. showed last season that he could be a phenomenal fantasy option when given the opportunity. Although he finished as the TE33 in 2020, that is not indicative of either his talent or the trend we saw last season that should carry over into 2021.
If you glance at his stats, Smith was not impressive. He caught 30 of 43 targets for 335 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 7.6 ppg. However, he was buried behind Kyle Rudolph on the Vikings’ depth chart.
In the four games without Rudolph in the lineup, Smith averaged 12.83 ppg with a 16-game pace of 60 receptions on 80 targets for 732 yards and 12 touchdowns. Now, I don’t expect those touchdowns to carry over. Regardless, I can see Smith receiving between 5 to 6 targets a game.
Rudolph is now with the New York Giants, and there is the concern that Adam Thielen will begin to decline. Although Thielen was a WR1 for fantasy, his season was salvaged thanks to 12 touchdowns.
The Vikings have tunnel vision when it comes to their playmakers. Alongside Justin Jefferson and Thielen, I expect Smith to be a game-in and game-out producer. He is currently not being valued as a player inside the top 10 of 2021 dynasty TE rankings.
TE8) Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Although he dealt with injuries in 2020 and shared the field with another elite tight end, Dallas Goedert confirmed what we all know — he is very good at football.
In 11 games, Goedert registered 46 receptions for 524 yards and 3 touchdowns. While he was TE20 on the season, he ranked as the TE9 in ppg at 10.6. From a point per opportunity standpoint, Goedert averaged 1.79 pts/opp — 14th amongst TEs with 40 or more opportunities.
Since 2018, Goedert has averaged 11.9 ppg when Zach Ertz was unavailable. Furthermore, this could become the new reality should Ertz get traded. In Ertz’s absence, Goedert has averaged 6.6 targets per game which would extrapolate to 110 targets, a number only five tight ends cleared in 2020.
No one has targeted tight ends more over the last two seasons than the Eagles at 34.35%. If Goedert is the only player receiving these targets in 2021, he could push inside the top five dynasty TE rankings.
TE7) Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
Despite playing through an ankle injury and dealing with one of the worst QB situations, Noah Fant still manages to give dynasty managers hope for the future. Fant ended the season with 149.3 PPR points in 15 games. Averaging 10 ppg, Fant hauled in 62 of 93 targets for 673 yards and 3 touchdowns.
With Courtland Sutton returning from his torn ACL, Fant’s target share could dwindle. Still, Fant should be the third option in this passing game and hover around the 5-to-6 targets per game range.
Few TEs in the NFL can lay claim to the athleticism Fant possesses (7.2 yards after the catch per reception). While he may never see 100 or more targets in a season, Fant’s upside, along with youth (23 years old), places him well inside the top 10 dynasty TE rankings.
TE6) Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
If this were redraft, Mark Andrews would be the TE4 for the 2021 season. Yet, in dynasty, we have to look forward and try to project career arcs and what players could be rather than where they are right now.
For the last two years, Andrews has been the primary target of Lamar Jackson and the player who makes their passing game tick. Since 2019, Andrews hauled in 122 receptions on 186 targets for 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns. He ended 2019 as the TE5 (13.8 ppg) and 2020 as the TE6 (12.2 ppg). The difference is that we all expected it in 2020, whereas Andrews was a sleeper the year prior.
The Ravens’ wide receiver room over that span was near the bottom of NFL ranks, with the only “notable” receiver being the consistently inconsistent Marquise Brown. They rectified this need by signing Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafting both Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace.
Like all other Ravens’ pass catchers, Andrews is limited by the volume at which the team throws the ball. Given their success as a franchise, I would not expect this to change anytime soon. Still, Andrews operates over the area of the field Jackson targets the most. Therefore, he’ll still linger in the mid-80s to the low-90s target range.
The primary issue is how long will he be on the Ravens?
Andrews is entering the last year of his contract. After the New England Patriots essentially reset the TE market with their recent signings, Andrews is likely to command a hefty price and have plenty of suitors next offseason. He has the talent to maintain his value anywhere but lacks the upside of others ahead of him in 2021 dynasty TE rankings.
2021 Dynasty TE Rankings | 1-5
Getting a top-five TE on your dynasty team gives you a massive weekly advantage. Targeting any of these TEs in our 2021 dynasty rankings will have you well on your way to a championship.
TE5) T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
If you didn’t pay attention — and in fairness, no one does to Detroit — you likely missed the season T.J. Hockenson produced in 2020. As a second-year player, Hockenson was a must-start, a rare occurrence for a tight end. He reeled in 67 of his 101 targets for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns. Amongst other TEs, he was fifth in targets, fourth in receptions, and third in yards.
In 2020, Hockenson was the TE5 in PPR, scoring 175.3 points and 11.0 ppg. To put that into perspective, including Hockenson, tight ends have only crossed this threshold 24 times since 2016.
The Lions are a team undergoing a massive change. They brought in new coaches in Dan Campbell and Anthony Lynn. They lost critical playmakers in Kenny Golladay, Matthew Stafford, and Marvin Jones but brought in Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the process.
Everything from the moves to the rhetoric suggests Hockenson will be a focal point of the offense. He may exceed the totals he generated from the year prior. Hockenson has quickly asserted himself inside the top five of dynasty TE rankings for 2021.
TE4) Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Have we seen Kyle Pitts take a single snap in the NFL? No. Do I even care? No, but in Spanish.
It came as no surprise to see Pitts break the record as the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. Selected as the fourth overall pick, Pitts joins a loaded offense and now pairs with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, who are both perennial 1,000-yard receivers. Also, Matt Ryan is still playing at a very high level, having thrown for over 4,000 yards for 10 straight years.
The ceiling for Pitts is the best tight end in the game. There is no one else who you can say that about. He is a unicorn in every sense of the word. Sure, you don’t expect rookie tight ends to do much in their first season, but Pitts is that exception. Even in redraft, he is a low-end TE1. While he may not be the TE1 in 2021 dynasty rankings, he likely carries the highest value given his enormous upside and age.
TE3) Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
Pop quiz! Who led all tight ends in receptions and tied for the most targets in 2020? That’s right. Even though most assume Travis Kelce swept all stats, it’s Darren Waller.
Leading the NFL with 107 receptions on 145 targets, Waller turned those into 1,192 yards and 9 touchdowns. Only he and Kelce were able to surpass 1,000 yards in 2020.
Waller has quickly established himself as one of the elite fantasy options. More importantly, he’s reinvented his career as off-field issues threatened to end it before it ever started.
Waller led all tight ends with 27 red-zone targets and 21 red-zone receptions. In truth, he was the only consistent pass catcher on the Raiders last season. That should remain the same for 2021 as Waller proved his 2019 breakout season (TE3) was no fluke. Averaging 17.4 ppg in 2020, Waller is a locked-in top three TE in dynasty rankings for 2021.
TE2) George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
2020 was a disappointing season for George Kittle as he only played in eight games due to injuries. Still, when he was on the field, Kittle was a nightmare for defenders. In half a season, Kittle recorded 48 receptions for 634 yards and 2 touchdowns. While he finished as the TE19, Kittle was third in points per game at 15.6 PPR.
On a per-game basis, Kittle was third in targets (7.88) and second in receptions (6) and yards (79.25). That is the player you expect to have on your team when you selected him. After all, he was coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and set a single-season yardage record (1,377) in 2018 — only to have Kelce break it 2020.
The 49ers’ offense is even scarier now, with Trey Lance at the helm. From Lance’s rushing ability to Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel, I honestly don’t know how defenses can account for all the options the 49ers have at their disposal.
If anyone can dethrone Kelce in 2021, it is Kittle. At 27 years old, compared to Kelce’s 31, there is a valid argument for Kittle as the TE1 in 2021 dynasty rankings.
TE1) Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce has already cemented himself as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. Moreover, he’s coming off his best season yet in 2020. Kelce set career-highs across the board with 105 receptions, 1,416 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns. Additionally, Kelce has registered over 1,000 yards in every season since 2016 and established a new NFL record for the position last year.
He averaged 20.9 PPR points per game (TE1) and would have been the WR4 in scoring (312.8). Not only do you get the best tight end, but you are also getting a top-tier receiver on the NFL’s most potent offense. At a position that takes a beating week-in and week-out, Kelce rarely misses time. He has played in 15 or more games every season since he took over the starting role for the Chiefs in 2014.
In both dynasty and redraft, Kelce is the TE1 in 2021 rankings. He’s shown no signs of slowing down while further solidifying his eventual place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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