With the RB and WR markets still awaiting a few major signings, I’m going to look into the Tight End landscape first as things are much clearer.
It’s debatable that every team knows their starter (or starting pair) except for the Jags and whichever team ends up drafting Kyle Pitts. I’ll deal with the draft early here. Pitts is one of those rare players who is a Tight End who can make an impact straight away for any team. Usually rookie Tight Ends take a year or so to settle into their role and learn the position unless they have to hit the ground running out of necessity. Pitts is likely to end up as part of a 2TE set, but for a team like the Eagles or Titans it would work well. In reality, apart from the Patriots, Raiders, Chiefs, 49ers and maybe the Lions, he’d make sense and make an impact anywhere.
With Pitts awaiting his landing spot we can have a look into the often maligned Tight End market for fantasy. The situation is similar to last year. Fantasy Tight Ends can be split into tiers and the gap between some of the tiers is vast. Tier 1 is Travis Kelce and he’s basically a tier unto himself. Kittle and Waller make up tier 2 while tier 3 is a little wider and a little less predictable.
Mark Andrews needs a bounce back year (the Ravens need him to), TJ Hockensen will continue to improve and the likes of Irv Smith, Fant and Gesicki can all bring through this new generation at TE. I will continue with my unhealthy obsession with Dallas Goedert here too and I think Ertz will be leaving town and it’ll be his turn to shine.
Austin Hooper, Robert Tonyan, Tyler Higbee, Cole Kmet, Logan Thomas and maybe Jared Cook would debatably make up tier 4 along with Full10Yards favourite #AlwaysJarwin. It’s at this point where the “Tight End by committee” approaches from New England and Tampa Bay can be considered and the last few spots in this tier depend on what happens to Zach Ertz and Evan Engram.
The Giants have paid Kyle Rudolph and had already talked about trying to ship Engram. Zach Ertz similarly has been allowed to seek a trade from the Eagles but could well end up being cut if he doesn’t. Either of these options could end up with Trevor Lawrence at the Jags which would help their value. I’d love to see Engram in Jacksonville and Ertz go to Arizona as they shoot their shot at the Superbowl (not least because of the response a certain podcast would have to that news also).
Both could end up in that 4th tier and after that you’re looking at leagues with a heavy TE premium or 2TE starting rosters. Of course you’ll end up using a few as streaming tight ends, and there’s going to be plenty of options there. Hayden Hurst, Dawson Knox, Eric Ebron, Adam Trautman, Chris Herndon, Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Firkser, CJ Uzomah, Ian Thomas and my other odd obsession last year of Colts Tight Ends (This year Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox) will all be usable when necessary but not weekly starters.
Tiers 1 to 4 have 22 Tight Ends but in reality I’d expect most people to have their own top 10 and for no 2 people to have the same agreed top 10. The top 4 or 5 may be consistent but that back half will be a minefield where some feel they’re getting values and others will feel like they’ve overpaid. I have 14 Tight Ends that I would be fine having on my rosters depending on where Pitts, Engram and Ertz end up playing. The gap between the top 3 and the rest will be a big topic of discussion during mock draft season, but let’s get the draft done first shall we.