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Fantasy football tiers: Tight Ends

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You want more positional tiers, you say?

Ask and you shall receive ... this time, with a look at the tight end position. While tight end left a lot to be desired a season ago, there are a lot of young up-and-comers who could turn the position into a more productive and reliable option for fantasy fans in 2019.

For those still unclear, tiers sort players based on their projected level of production and ADP (average draft position). Using tiers assists fantasy owners in knowing where there's a potential decline in value among a position group, thus allowing owners to make a more educated decision on whether or not to draft a position based on who's been picked and who's still on the board. Tiers are useful for all sorts of drafts, and you can adjust them as needed to suit your league and scoring system.

Here are my own personal tight end tiers, which I will be updating (as needed) right up until the start of the regular season:

Tier One - Catching Kelce


Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Notes: Kelce has become "the" elite tight end to own in fantasy football, leading the position in points in each of the last three years. Kelce is now a surefire second-round pick across the fantasy board.

Tier Two - Elite Ends


Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Notes: Ertz isn't on the same level of Kelce, but he's darn close. In fact, he ranks first in catches, second receiving yards, third in touchdowns and second in fantasy points over the last two years. Kittle is coming off one of the best receiving seasons of all time. In fact, he set a new single-season record for the most receiving yards by a tight end. He's clearly in the top three at the position and has been moving into the third round in some re-drafts. That's a little too rich for my blood, but I digress.

Tier Three - Ready For Stardom


Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
Evan Engram, New York Giants
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints

Notes: Henry, Engram and Howard have all shown flashes of being top tier tight ends in their short NFL careers, but I think this is the season all three make their move toward fantasy stardom. This trio has all seen their teams shed targets in the offseason, meaning there should be plenty of opportunities to stuff the stat sheets. I expect all three of these tight ends to be off the board in the top-70 picks. Cook is coming off his best fantasy season, as he was the main pass catcher for Derek Carr in Oakland. That won't be the case in New Orleans, but he'll still see plenty of targets in the offense.

Tier Four - Mid-To-Late Round Veterans


Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts

Notes: McDonald is a big-time sleeper in a Steelers offense with a lot of available targets. He has top-10 upside. Njoku is a borderline No. 1 tight end in what figures to be a powerful Browns offense. Walker had been Mr. Reliable until he injured his ankle and missed most of last season. He looks to be back at 100 percent, however, so Walker could be a draft bargain. The veteran remains a borderline No. 1 fantasy tight end. Ebron is a big-time regression candidate, at least in the touchdown department, but he's on the TE1 radar in the Colts powerful pass attack. I would temper expectations, though.

Tier Five - Upside Late Rounders


Trey Burton, Chicago Bears
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

Notes: Burton and Hooper could improve on last season's totals, but neither is expected to be a target monster for their respective teams. Consider both No. 2 options who have the potential to be low-end No. 1s. Reed avoided long-term injuries last season but still ranked just 14th at the position. Regardless, he could lead the Redskins in targets in 2019. I'm a big fan of Andrews, who showed some flashes at the end of last season and now figures to see a bigger target share for the Ravens. He's a wildly popular sleeper candidate in most leagues and could turn into a solid bargain in drafts.

Tier Six - Oldies But ... Goodies?


Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Notes: This quartet has had a lot of combined fantasy success, but not lately. Doyle is coming off a lost season due to injuries and will share targets with Ebron. Graham was one of the biggest fantasy busts of 2018, and Olsen missed most of the year with a nagging foot ailment. As for Rudolph, he finished seventh at the position in what was a bad year for tight ends. All four are draftable in the late rounds as No. 2 options, but I'm not seeing any major comebacks from any of them this season.

Tier Seven - For Those About To Rock


T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
Chris Herndon, New York Jets
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

Notes: Hockenson and Fant are the two big rookies at the position, but we all know that first-year tight ends typically don't make a major impact. Still, both are viable TE2s if you're looking to take a late-round flier on potential. Herndon would have been in the "Upside Late Rounders" tier, but he's been banned the first four games and might not be drafted in 10-teamers. Unfortunately, the presence of Ertz puts a pretty sizable cap on Goedert's statistical ceiling. On a positive note for his re-draft league value, the Eagles ran 12 personnel on 34.3 percent (2nd-most) of their plays last season.

Tier Eight - Late-Round Fliers


Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals
Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
Jordan Thomas, Houston Texans
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
Geoff Swaim, Jacksonville Jaguars

Notes: Four or five of these players won't be drafted in 10-team leagues. Eifert is the most likely to be picked, but he has to avoid injuries (and that's been a huge problem in his career). That's been his biggest bug-a-boo. If you want a big-time deep sleeper, keep tabs on Waller in Oakland.


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for the latest fantasy football news and analysis!

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