The RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series brings you a look at the top 12 rankings for each position. Next up in the Series – 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings. 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.
Next up in the RotoHeat 2020 Redraft Rankings Series we tackle the Tight End position. 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 TEs 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 season 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.
2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings
13. Honorable Mentions
16. T.J. Hockenson – Detroit Lions
In 2019, T.J. Hockenson finished his rookie season as TE 31 with 87.1 fantasy points. He exploded in Week 1 against the Cardinals, though what we know now that we didn’t know then was the Arizona Cardinals were the “free space” on the bingo fantasy card for TEs in 2019. He followed his impressive debut by averaging 18 yards a game in the next 6 weeks. It’s hard to depend on a rookie TE in fantasy, and in 2019, Hockenson was no different. That said, he battled injury in year one and played half the season without Matthew Stafford. Hock certainly has the ability to put up big fantasy numbers, but he likely needs another season or two before he’s ready for the top 12. As a result, he lands at #16 in my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings
15. Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Goedert finished 2019 as the TE10, so having him at 15 in my 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. Eric Ebron – Pittsburgh Steelers
Eric Ebron finds himself on another new team; this time he’s a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Playing in Pittsburgh with Big Ben is a good situation for Ebron, especially in the red zone. He had a career year the last time he had viable quarterback play that targeted him in those situations. I don’t expect much form Ebron between the 20’s, as it’s the red zone where he does his damage. He did end up on the IR last year with ankle injury, and does have a history of injury. He will need to stay healthy to remain relevant and be worthy of this spot in the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
13. Noah Fant – Denver Broncos
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 largest 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 just missed a top 12 spot in the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
12. Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins
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. I’d likely have Gesicki higher on this list if it were not for the somewhat uncertainty at quarterback and the return of Preston Williams to the offense. Gesicki has the upside of a top 7 TE finish, and he could very well complete the breakout in 2020. As for now, he will reside at 12 in my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
11. Austin Hooper – Cleveland Browns
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. As a result, he lands here at 11 in the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
10. Jared Cook – New Orleans Saints
Jared Cook has quietly turned into a very reliable fantasy TE. Cook is one of only three TEs to deliver a top 12 season the past three years. Cook finished 2019 as TE7, but from the time Drew Brees returned from injury in Week 10, Cook was the TE2 the rest of the way. Even with the addition of Emmanuel Sanders, Cook should remain a high priority in the passing game. Jared Cook is a great value at his current 8th round ADP value and belongs here on the list in the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
9. Rob Gronkowski – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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 TE. 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. If he’s healthy, it’s really hard to see him not finishing in the top 10 at the position; after all, Brady wanted Gronk in Tampa for a reason, and I can’t imagine that is to block. It is also unlikely that we see the dominating top 3 TE that he once was. Coming in at 9 in the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings seems like a logical spot for Gronk.
8. Darren Waller – Las Vegas Raiders
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.
7. Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams
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 the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
6. Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers
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 the Los Angeles now with the transition from Philip Rivers to Tyrod Taylor that the risk in 2020 no longer matches the rewards. I do not subscribe to this theory. 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. Let those that are down on Henry allow you to select him a round or perhaps two later and reap the rewards. All he has to do to justify this spot on the 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings is stay healthy.
5. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
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 he 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. I believe that these two TE’s cannibalize each other, and the additions of Jalen Reagor, and to a lesser extent, John Hightower, balance out the distribution in this offense. Ertz remains a top 12 TE, but let someone else take him at pick 36. Find your value later in the draft. Ertz comes in at TE5 in my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.
4. Evan Engram – New York Giants
Similar to Hunter Henry, Evan Engram has struggled to stay on the field. Engram has played a total of 14 games the past season 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 exceeding his rookie season finish in my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings, jumping into the top 4 at the position for the first time in his career.
3. Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens
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 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings
2. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
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 doesn’t land at two in my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings because of a lack of talent and upside, he’s at number two because of the talent and upside of the man I have at number one. Kelce should be ranked 1B, and if you prefer him at 1 vs. 2, I don’t have much of an argument against it.
1. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
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. If George Kittle plays in all 16 games in 2020, he will be the top TE in fantasy and the number one atop my 2020 Redraft Tight End Rankings.