Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings
In May 2020, we delivered the RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series, bringing you a look at the top 12 rankings for each position. As we enter August and Redraft season we have updated our rankings. We rap up the updated series with the Updated 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings.
The RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series brings you a look at the top 12 rankings for each position. In Redraft Leagues, your team roster starts fresh each season. The RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series takes a deep dive into those players that we feel are at the top of their positions entering 2020. Engage with passionate fantasy football managers, and let the RotoHeat content team know what topics YOU want to hear about by visiting our RotoHeat Redraft Fantasy Football Facebook page.
The TE position over the past three seasons has had considerable movement in and out of the top 12. Since the start of the 2017 season, there have been 24 different TE’s that have posted a top 12 season–3 have done it all three years, 6, twice, and the remaining 15 only once. Since 2010 it has taken, on average, 146.30 PPR points to have a top 12 TE season, and since 2017 it’s dropped to take 133.1.
2019 was the highest of the past three seasons, as 136 points was the price of admission into the top 12. 8.5 PPR points a game is all it takes. Don’t reach for a TE in your drafts. If you miss on one of the big 3 or 4, it’s time to wait as there is value in the later rounds. The TE position is also a very stream-able position as well.
13. Honorable Mentions
16. Blake Jarwin – Dallas Cowboys (Previously 19th)
Blake Jarwin signed a new four-year contract. The deal has a base value of $22 million and includes $9.25 million guaranteed. Combine the contract with the departure of Jason Witten and it adds up to opportunity for the 4th year TE. Jarwin can’t block a lick and I am banking on the Cowboys investing in him as target for Dak Prescott in this offense. If Witten at 37 can produce a top-12 season, I like the chances of Jarwin to breakout. As a result he jumps up to 16 in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
15. Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles (Previously 15th)
Dallas Goedert finished 2019 as the TE10, so having him at 15 in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings at first glance may seem somewhat short-sighted. Goedert remains the second TE in Philadelphia behind TE Zach Ertz, and because of this Goedert’s upside is limited. Still, he’s shown flashes of elite ability himself in his first two seasons. If you believe in his talent enough to overcome low target numbers, you can get Goedert late in drafts, but beware of a low floor every week.
14. Rob Gronkowski – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Previously 9th)
Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason and decided he wanted to have his old buddy join him. After a trade with the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement. The last time we saw Gronk was 2018, a season in which he was limited to 13 games and finished as TE11. 2017 was his last dominate season, where he was TE2 and averaged 17.5 fantasy points a game.
It’s possible the one-year retirement let his body fully heal. It’s also possible people expect too much out of Gronk heading into an offense that hasn’t shown much interest on relying on the TE position. News out of camp is that he is struggling and there are rumblings that in terms of snap count Gronk will be their No. 3 TE. His snaps will likely be when it counts and that keeps him relevant. I have moved him back from 9 to 14 in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
13. Hayden Hurst – Atlanta Falcons (Previously 18th)
The Falcons allowed Austin Hooper to walk via free agency and traded for Hayden Hurst. Hurst enters an offense with targets a plenty. Hooper was targeted 97 times in 2019 (in 13 games) and 88 times in 2018. Combined in those two seasons, Hooper totaled 146 catches, 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Falcons did nothing in the draft to address tight end, so you expect Hurst to be first in line to get most of the targets thrown to the tight ends in that offense.
I do not expect Hurst to be as productive as Hooper but is 60% as good really too much to ask? I think not. If Hooper can stay healthy he should flirt with top 12-15 TE status. Not too shabby for a TE with an ADP of 163 and TE 20. Considering his best season to date is a TE36 finish, I’d call Hurst a bargain, a breakout, and my 13th ranked TE in the Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
12. Jonnu Smith – Tennessee Titans (Previously 17th)
In his fourth season in Tennessee, Jonnu Smith is finally a starter. In a limited role in 2019, Smith finished as TE19 with 69.7 PPR fantasy points. In 2019, Smith showed that he could be an efficient receiver with the limited opportunities he did receive. He ranked eighth in yards per route run among tight ends who were targeted at least 25 times, and he finished third in avoided tackles after the catch among that same group of players. The two TEs that avoided more tackles after the catch were Travis Kelce and George Kittle.
The Titans targeted the tight end position 25% of the time last season (eighth-highest), but because of their run-heavy play calling, the total targets for tight ends ranked middle of the pack (17th-most). In 2020, those targets are going to increase and Jonnu Smith is going to break into the top-12 of TEs for the first time in his career, thus landing here at 12 in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
11. Noah Fant – Denver Broncos (Previously 13th)
Noah Fant has an above average athletic ability for a TE, and I love athletes on my fantasy roster. Denver spent a lot of draft capital improving their offense through the draft. Perhaps the best offseason acquisition for the Broncos was the hiring of former New York Giants Head Coach, Pat Shurmur, as the teams new Offensive Coordinator. Shurmur has a great track record with tight ends dating back to 2016. In 2016 and 2017 as the OC in Minnesota, Kyle Rudolph finished as the TE2 and TE8. In 2018, Evan Engram finished as the TE13 in 11 games.
In 2019, Engram was limited to 8 games and finished as the TE18 on a 16 game pace that would have seen him finish as TE4. In Weeks 13-17 without Engram, Giants TE Kaden Smith was the TE8.
The biggest challenge for Fant comes down to Drew Lock. Shurmur got career years out of Sam Bradford and Case Keenum, and I am fairly confident that Lock can deliver in this offense. Noah Fant is a TE I love in Dynasty and one that I feel belongs in the top-12 in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
10. Austin Hooper – Cleveland Browns (Previously 11th)
Austin Hooper leaves a pass heavy offense and a Coordinator that liked getting him out in the flat and joins an offense that should be more run focused and keeps him in the middle of the field. Hooper broke out in 2018 and continued in 2019 prior to his injury. He was the TE1 through eight weeks before getting injured.
In the end, the Falcons decided he wasn’t worth the cost of a new contract, but the Browns did. Hooper will still be fantasy relevant, but as third option (at best) in the Browns offense, it’s unlikely that Hooper will manage to see the target volume necessary to remain an elite tight end. Where I see Hooper making his impact is in the red zone for the Browns. TDs are a massive separator in TE fantasy scoring and as a result, I am sliding him up one spot in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
9. Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins(Previously 12th)
Like many Tight Ends, it took Mike Gesicki a while to get comfortable at the pro level. In the back half of 2019 we saw the talent of Mike Gesicki. Gesicki finished the season as TE12 and from Week 9 on, Gesicki was the TE8. He blocked on 2.5% of his 2019 snaps, so it is clear why he is on the field. With recent opt outs in the Dolphins offense, primarily in the slot, it gives Gesicki the upside of a top 7 TE finish, and he could very well complete the breakout in 2020. As for now, he will move up three spots in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
8. Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers (Previously 6th)
When Hunter Henry is on the field he has the potential to perform as an elite level Tight End. The ongoing challenge for “Double H” is he is often injured, thus impacting his overall value and making him a risky investment on draft day. In 2019, he finished as TE9 with 150.2 PPR points in 12 games played. He played in Week 1 and wasn’t available again until Week 6. From Week 6-17 Henry was TE5 averaging 12.8 points a game.
There is concern in Los Angeles now with the transition from Philip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor that the risk in 2020 no longer matches the rewards. It’s a valid concern. As pointed out when ranking the Wide Receivers, Tyrod loves the middle of the field and within 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. After all, this is a QB that made Charles Clay fantasy relevant in 2015 and 2016. Hunter Henry is a vastly superior talent to what Clay ever was. Where it gets complicated for me is how much volume will there be. I expect, Keenan Allen to get his and Austin Ekeler his. I also expect the passing volume to decrease from previous years. I remain a fan of Hunter, but with limited targets and the ongoing health concerns, I am sliding him back in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
7. Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams (Previously 7th)
I’m not as high on Tyler Higbee as some. The main reason, as I mentioned in the 2020 Redraft Wide Receiver Rankings when discussing Cooper Kupp, is I am not sure what offense we are going to see out of the Rams in 2020. Is it the first half offense where the Rams run very little 12-man personnel formations or the second half when there was plenty? The other factor is Gerald Everett and the role he may play in 2020.
Higbee went nuts to close out the 2019 season. Through Week 12, Higbee was TE35 with 53.2 fantasy points. In Weeks 13-17 Higbee was the highest scoring TE in fantasy. He went from averaging 5.3 PPR points a game to 21.4 PPR points a game. He had 4 straight games of 100+ yards. With the uncertainty of the Rams offense and the role Gerald Everett will play in it, I am taking the conservative approach and ranking Higbee at 7 in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
6. Darren Waller – Las Vegas Raiders (Previously 8th)
Darren Waller came out of nowhere to break out in 2019. To say that Waller, at the age of 27, had a surprise breakout is an understatement. He had 27.9% of his team’s total receiving yards and ended up TE3 in overall scoring with 221 fantasy points.
In 2019 the Raiders passing game was limited. In addition to Waller, they had Tyrell Williams who was limited by injury, Hunter Renfrow, and little else. In 2020, the Raiders move to Las Vegas and will have a dramatically different look as they have added three rookie wide receivers: Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden. We saw last season that when Renfrow was more involved, Waller faded. The additions to the passing game will impact Waller’s target share, and as result he regresses and finds himself at 8 in the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings. I believe that my initial ranking of Darren Waller at 8 was a little too low. I have moved him up as a result in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
5. Evan Engram – New York Giants (Previously 4th)
Similar to Hunter Henry, Evan Engram has struggled to stay on the field. Engram has played a total of 14 games the past two seasons after appearing in 15 games as a rookie. In that rookie season, he finished as TE5, only the second TE since 2010 to finish in the top 5 as a rookie. Daniel Jones has shown signs of being the real deal, the Giants made improvements on the offensive line this offseason, and they will bring a balanced offense attack in 2020.
I believe that Engram will excel in this offense–especially in the red zone. I have Engram matching his TE5 rookie season finish in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
4. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles (Previously 5th)
Zach Ertz had himself a record breaking 2018 season, and as a result I was all about regression for him in 2019. When you break the NFL record for receptions at 116 and targets at 156 for the tight end position, regression is inevitable. He did regress, but not nearly as much as I had anticipated. A 280 points and TE2 finish in 2018 turned in to a 216 points and a TE4 finish in 2019.
From Weeks 1-8 last season Ertz was TE7 averaging 10.7 points per game. Other than DeSean Jackson, the Eagles were for the most part healthy. During the back half of the season when the Eagles were ravished by injury at WR, Ertz was TE3, averaging 16.8 points per game. In addition, Dallas Goedert was becoming more and more involved in the Eagles offense–especially in the red zone.
Alshon Jeffery is looking like he is headed to the PUP list, and outside of DeSean Jackson, the passing game is thin and young. Dallas Goedert will impact Ertz, and likely Jalen Reagor will at some point as well. Look for Carson Wentz to continue to heavily target Ertz, especially in the early portion of 2020. Those targets and his proven ability are why he move up to 4 ahead of Engram in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
3. Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens (Previously 3rd)
Mark Andrews broke out in 2019 as one of three NFL players with at least 10 receiving TDs. Baltimore proved to be a run heavy offense last season and likely will be again in 2020 after adding J.K. Dobbins in the draft.
Despite being in that run heavy offense, Andrews led the team with 98 targets, which was 5th most among TE’s. What really jumps out from a year ago was how often Andrews was on the field. He played 467 snaps a season ago (39th among TEs). To put that into perspective, Travis Kelce led the league in snaps and fantasy points. He scored .26 PPR points a snap in 2019 while Andrews averaged .44.
Hayden Hurst is off to Atlanta leaving 466 snaps payed on the table. Andrews snap count will rise in 2020, likely into the 650-700 range at a minimum. Lamar Jackson has proven to target him when he is on the field, and as a result of that happening in 2020, Andrews lands at 3 in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
2. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers (Previously 1st)
Prior to last season, in my Dynasty analysis I labeled George Kittle a “sell”. After breaking the single-season record in 2018 with 1,377 receiving yards, I expected regression. He did regress in 2019 as expected, but he still topped 1,000 yards in 14 games played last year.
Kittle finished 2019 with 15.9 PPR points per game–the exact same number as Travis Kelce. The Niners attempted 478 passes a year ago compared to the Kansas City Chiefs 576. San Francisco will remain a heavy run offense in 2020, but I expect the pass attempts to increase over the total from a year ago. My initial thought was if George Kittle plays in all 16 games in 2020, he will be the top TE in fantasy. Then Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd were injured and the likelihood of double and triple coverage is real. He remains a TE to covet, but he is sliding back to two in my Updated 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
1. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs (Previously 2nd)
When it comes to fantasy Tight Ends over the past four seasons, it doesn’t get any better than Travis Kelce. Kelce has been truly elite – finishing as the top TE in each of those four seasons.
The 30-year-old has four years in a row with at least 83 catches and 1,038 yards. In the past two years with Patrick Mahomes, he has 286 targets, 200 catches, 2,565 yards and 15 touchdowns. Travis Kelce didn’t land at two in my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings because of a lack of talent and upside, he was at number two because of the talent and upside of George Kittle. Kelce was my 1B, and due to my ever so slight concern with George Kittle, it propels Kelce back to his comfortable spot at number one in my Updated 2020 Redraft Rankings.
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