TOP 30 PPR TIGHT ENDS
- Travis Kelce, Chiefs
- George Kittle, 49ers
- Mark Andrews, Ravens
- Darren Waller, Raiders
- Austin Hooper, Browns
- Zach Ertz, Eagles
- Evan Engram, Giants
- Tyler Higbee, Rams
- Hunter Henry, Chargers
- Jared Cook, Saints
- Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers
- T.J. Hockenson, Lions
- Mike Gesicki, Dolphins
- Noah Fant, Broncos
- Dallas Goedert, Eagles
- Greg Olsen, Seahawks
- Hayden Hurst, Falcons
- Jack Doyle, Colts
- Eric Ebron, Steelers
- Jonnu Smith, Titans
- Ian Thomas, Panthers
- Chris Herndon, Jets
- Will Dissly, Seahawks
- Darren Fells, Texans
- Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
- David Njoku, Browns
- Dawson Knox, Bills
- O.J. Howard, Buccaneers
- Blake Jarwin, Cowboys
- Irv Smith Jr., Vikings
a) Travis Kelce earns the No. 1 spot here, based on a three-year average of 94 catches, 1,201 yards and 7.7 touchdowns, along with a two-year accumulation of 200 targets.
Here’s another thing to celebrate: Of his last 31 regular-season outings, Kelce notched six or more targets a staggering 29 times; and one of the so-called ‘clunkers’ yielded five catches, five targets and 95 receving yards.
There is one downside to acknowledge, moving forward: Of last year’s 10 worst defenses against tight ends, the Chiefs will encounter only three of these opponents in 2020 (four games total — Titans, Bucs, Raiders twice).
b) The 49ers invested a first-round pick on a wide receiver in April (Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk), but that move merely offset the loss of Emmanuel Sanders during free agency (Saints).
As such, it’s reasonable to assume George Kittle (two-year average: 87 catches, 1,215 yards, 5 TDs) will remain the club’s unquestioned leader in targets and receptions.
Of course, if Kittle cannot improve upon the two-year average of five touchdowns … his chances of becoming the No. 1 overall tight end seem remote, at best.
The best way to remedy that: Kittle must take full advantage of the two meetings with the Cardinals, who surrendered an NFL-worst 16 touchdowns to tight ends last season.
c) Mark Andrews easily brought the most value to his position last year, notching 64 catches, 822 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Not bad for a guy who was primarily a mid-to-late round pick in the August drafts.
Now comes the real question: Will fantasy owners over-extend themselves to land Andrews in the early rounds, knowing the Oklahoma product’s 2019 rate of one touchdown for every 6.4 catches will almost certainly decline this fall?
Here’s some food for thought: While it’s true that Andrews collected seven touchdowns in his final nine regular-season outings … he also posted middling averages of 3.3 catches and 49 yards during the same span.
d) From our perspective, Darren Waller (90 catches, 117 targets, 1,145 yards, 3 TDs last year) has a rock-solid chance at becoming fantasy’s best tight end by season’s end. Here’s why:
**Of his final 11 games last year, Waller owned solid averages of five catches, 72 yards and 0.3 TDs.
**For that same stretch, Waller enjoyed a catch-to-target ratio of 71 percent.
**The 2020 Raiders draw the Browns, Bucs, Chiefs, Jaguars, Falcons and Colts, comprising some of last year’s most forgiving defenses against tight ends.
**The front office inexplicably passed on Alabama wideout Jerry Jeudy in the April draft. The upside to that mistake: Waller should be a healthy lock for another campaign of 90 catches and 115-plus targets.
e) Obviously, new Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (11-year average: 4,375 yards passing, 31 TDs) has a pre-existing rapport with Rob Gronkowski, with the all-star duo connecting for 521 receptions, 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns from 2010-18.
However, that’s more of a real-world perk for the Bucs, who are apparently very serious about upending the Saints for this year’s NFC South title.
From a fantasy perspective, Gronkowski (now 31 years old) averaged only 12 games played from 2013-18; and for his last three campaigns, Gronk produced middling averages of 47 catches, 769 yards and 4.7 touchdowns.
It’s also worth noting: Gronkowski barely had any tight end competition during his final years with the Patriots.
With the Bucs, it’ll be interesting to see how the repetitions and targets are doled out among O.J. Howard (34 catches, 459 yards, 1 TD last year) and Cameron Brate (36 catches, 311 yards, 4 TDs) — neither of whom have yet to turn 30.
And do we even need to cover the inevitable trouble with touches, in terms of any other Bucs playmaker garnering consistent attention away from wideouts Chris Godwin (86 catches, 121 targets, 1,333 yards, 9 TDs) and Mike Evans (67 catches, 118 targets, 1,157 yards, 8 TDs) — the fantasy world’s most lethal 1-2 punch last season?