The tight end position may very well be the biggest enigma in fantasy football. Dominant players at the position can change not only games but seasons, and some of the TEs listed below as having had the most fantasy football points in a single game were huge impact players. However, modern-day NFL fans looking down the top TE scores for fantasy football will notice some big names from the current game missing. Let’s examine which TEs sit among the top 10 for the most fantasy points scored in a single game and which score sits atop the list.
Top 10 most fantasy football points scored in a single game by a TE
While the NFL has a rich history dating back over 100 years, for this series of articles we have set the cut-off date as the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Before the merger, the NFL looked like a very different sport, with positions and player usage varying wildly over time. Therefore, we set the baseline at the merger as a logical “starting point” for recording the highest fantasy point performances in history.
Additionally, the scores listed below are of the non-PPR or “standard” variety. The reason we have chosen this scoring setting is that PPR scoring has only become more common in recent years. Thus, using non-PPR scoring reflects the type of game many fantasy managers played over the last 50 or so years. Nevertheless, with PPR scoring becoming more common, the top 10 most fantasy points scored by a TE in a single game using PPR scoring are listed at the bottom of the article.
10) Antonio Gates | 32.5 fantasy points
Over the course of his 16-year career, Antonio Gates was a huge impact player at the TE position. Therefore, it is fitting we start this list with him, and we have to go all the way back to his third year in the league to find it. In a face-off against another tremendous tight end in Tony Gonzalez, Gates stood tall in a performance that gave his Chargers a 28-20 victory.
Over the course of the game, Gates caught 10 of the 16 passes thrown his way by Drew Brees. Three of those 10 receptions saw him score a touchdown as he also amassed 145 receiving yards.
9) Johnny Mitchell | 32.6 fantasy points
The name of Johny Mitchell may not be one you expected to see on this list. His career spanned just five years with 159 receptions, 2,103 yards, and 16 touchdowns. Three of those touchdowns and 146 of those yards would come in this Week 5 contest against the Jets.
Unfortunately, the performance was somewhat in vain as the Jets lost 35-30 to the Eagles. Additionally, Mitchell’s performance may not have helped many fantasy managers. Coming off the back of a two-catch performance for 52 yards and with just nine catches for 159 yards in the first three weeks, Mitchell may not have been in many starting lineups.
8) Rob Gronkowski | 32.9 fantasy points
In contrast, Rob Gronkowski certainly would have been in a number of starting lineups for this performance. It is somewhat surprising that one of the most dominant TEs in history is only on this list of the most fantasy points in a single game once. However, Gronkowski’s calling card as a fantasy asset was consistent contributions rather than huge standout performances in a single match.
In this 2014 game against the Bears, both Gronkowski and the Patriots had monster days. As New England racked up 51 points, Gronkowski found the end zone three times. His final stat line was an extremely impressive nine catches from nine targets for 149 yards and three touchdowns.
7) Todd Christensen | 33.2 fantasy points
After a slow start to his career, Todd Christensen put together a fantastic four-year stretch between 1983 and 1986. This particular standout performance came in the first of those seasons in a 38-36 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. Christensen bookended the scoring with two of his three touchdowns as he caught 11 passes for 152 yards.
6) Shannon Sharpe | 33.3 fantasy points
Our first appearance on this list of the most fantasy points by a TE in a single game from Shannon Sharpe comes from his seventh season in the NFL. Sharpe would finish with 13 receptions from 13 targets for 153 yards and three scores in a 28-17 victory.
5) Shannon Sharpe | 33.4 fantasy points
Sharpe’s second — and final — appearance on this list comes from the penultimate season of his career. Returning to the Broncos after two years in Baltimore, Sharpe struggled to have the same impact he had earlier in his career. However, his performance in Week 7 against the Chiefs rolled back the years as he helped Denver come back from 34-20 to win 37-34.
Compared to the previous performances on this list, this one looks slightly different. That is because Sharpe only found the end zone twice but made up for it with 214 receiving yards on 12 receptions from 14 targets. This game saw Sharpe register nearly a third of his receiving yards for the 2002 season and two-thirds of his touchdowns.
4) Kellen Winslow | 34.2 fantasy points
Fourth on our list of the most fantasy points scored by a TE in a single game is our first appearance from the legendary Kellen Winslow. During his fifth season in the league, Winslow posted a three-touchdown, 162-yard performance as the Chargers defeated the Chiefs 41-38. Coming in Week 15, this performance may very well of delivered fantasy managers straight into their title game, making it arguably the most impactful performance on this list.
3) Jimmie Giles | 35.6 fantasy points
Jimmie Giles had an intriguing career spanning more than a decade from 1977 to 1989. He made the Pro Bowl four times but never topped more than 800 receiving yards in a single season. His biggest single-game performance from a fantasy perspective came in 1985 in a 41-38 defeat for the Buccaneers against the Dolphins.
Giles was responsible for 24 of the Buccaneers’ 38 points as he scored four touchdowns on just seven receptions. He added 116 receiving yards to lift him to third place on our list of the most fantasy football points by a TE in a single game.
2) Rich Caster | 38.4 fantasy points
Rich Caster may not be talked about among the greatest players at the position, but the start of his career — which coincided with the merger — was an extremely solid run of performances. His best single season came in 1972, thanks in part to a huge Week 2 performance against the Baltimore Colts.
Caster may have caught just six passes, but he made the most of them. The Jets tight end scored three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, as New York won 44-34. Those final two touchdowns saw him go for 159 of his 214 yards to earn him second place on this list.
Which TE has scored the most fantasy points in a single game?
1) Kellen Winslow | 44.4 fantasy points
Kellen Winslow holds the record for the most fantasy points by a TE in a single game with his Week 12 performance in 1981. Perhaps appropriately, we finish with a Hall of Fame player who is considered to be one of the best tight ends of all time. Winslow’s greatest single-game performance from a fantasy perspective came in his third season as the Chargers won 55-21 against the Raiders.
With the Raiders leading 21-14 in the second quarter, Winslow took over the contest. He scored two touchdowns to end the first half before adding three more in the second half. He ended the game with a mind-boggling stat line of 13 receptions, 144 receiving yards, and five touchdowns.
Most PPR fantasy points by a WR in a single game
10. Antonio Gates | SD vs. KC | 42.5
T-8. Keith Jackson | PHI @ WAS | 42.6
T-8. Jimmie Giles | TB @ MIA | 42.6
7. Todd Christensen | OAK @ SEA | 44.2
6. Rich Caster | NYJ @ BAL | 44.4
5. Darren Waller | LV @ NYJ | 45.0
4. Shannon Sharpe | DEN @ KC | 45.4
3. Shannon Sharpe | DEN vs. SD | 46.3
2. Kellen Winslow | SD vs. KC | 48.2
1. Kellen Winslow | SD @ OAK | 57.4