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5 Dynasty Sleeper Tight Ends (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Vaughn Dalzell | @VaughnDalzell | Featured Writer
May 22, 2020

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Drafting tight ends in fantasy football is tough. You have to decide whether or not to reach for talents like Travis Kelce and George Kittle — or whether to settle for Zach Ertz or Hunter Henry. You could do what I do, and just grab a sleeper and hope it all works out. The tight end position is the only spot where a guy can land you under 10 points per game and still be considered sufficient.

Drafting the TE5 in Ertz, who finished like that in standard leagues (127.6), equated to taking the WR30. His points pinned him between Seattle’s rookie D.K. Metcalf and Cleveland’s Odell Beckham Jr. in 2019. The TE10 (Dallas Goedert) finished with 86.7 fantasy points per game, putting him as a WR51 behind Pittsburgh’s James Washington and ahead of Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins.

Depending on your view on the tight end position, you either have to take one of the bonafide studs or dive deep into sleepers. Let’s take a look at five sleeper options for tight ends in dynasty leagues that are worth drafting this season if you haven’t already. Every player on this list will have an average draft position of the 11th round or later, putting meaning behind the word sleeper.

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Mike Gesicki (MIA)
Gesicki is the most well-known tight end on the list after breaking out for a TE11 finish in standard leagues (85.0) and TE12 finish in PPR leagues (136.0). He scored all five of his receiving touchdowns in the final six weeks of the season, including three in the final two games, which both resulted in wins. He scored in three of their five wins last season and finished second on the team in targets (89), receptions (51), receiving yards (570), and receiving touchdowns (5).

Gesicki’s ADP is 123.7 overall in PPR leagues per Fantasy Football Calculator. That looks like 131.9 in standard 12-man leagues. He’s being drafted as the TE15, but FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings peg him as TE11/12 in most formats. He had 13 deep targets in 2019, ranking him third among tight ends, and he had a total target distance of 867 yards with Ryan Fitzpatrick last season. Gesicki is sure-handed, dropping only two passes in 2019, and he’s only going to get better with Tua Tagovailoa as his future signal-caller.

Gesicki was one of 11 tight ends to average over five fantasy points in standard leagues, and 2020 should be his best as the definite TE1 and secondary receiving option in Miami.  He caught 20 of 30 passes (66.67%) against AFC East opponents last season for 205 yards and one touchdown. Most of the Phins’ success in 2020 will come within their division, so Gesicki must step up behind DeVante Parker as the No. 2 option. Chances are he’s going to thrive in that role.

Hayden Hurst (ATL)
Hurst played the role of TE3 with Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle in Baltimore last season despite showing promise in his second season. Leaving Baltimore for Atlanta this offseason should benefit Hurst, especially since Austin Hooper left Atlanta for Cleveland — that might be a first.

Hurt’s ADP in dynasty leagues, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, is coming in at 152.6 on average in PPR leagues, which pegs him a very late sleeper option. FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings have Hurst as a TE18 entering 2020 as Atlanta’s starting tight end. Hurst caught 30 of 39 targets in 2019, posting an impressive 75% catch rate (11th) and a 90.90% true catch rate. That was sixth among all tight ends per PlayerProfiler.

Hooper had the second-most receptions (75) and targets (97), third-most touchdowns (6) and receiving yards (787) in 2019. Hurst will have a large number of Matt Ryan’s targets to make up, but with Devonta Freeman replaced with an injury-riddled Todd Gurley, Hurst has plenty of room for production. Hurst produced 16 first downs on 30 catches and 21.8 yards per catch in a very limited role with a rushing quarterback.

Matt Ryan averaged 41.06 pass attempts per game last season and 616 attempts in 15 games, the third-most in the league behind Jared Goff and Jameis Winston. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Freeman, and Hooper all missed time in 2019, and Ryan still posted a career-high in passing attempts. Expect Hurst to receive more targets than most people anticipate in his first season with Atlanta.

Blake Jarwin (DAL)
Jarwin enters 2020 as the No. 1 tight end for Dallas after splitting reps with Cowboys legend Jason Witten in 2019. Jarwin posted 54.5 fantasy points in standard leagues (TE25) and 85.5 fantasy points in PPR last season (TE28).

FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings set Jarwin as the TE20 entering the season, and given the Cowboys’ passing attack, he could very well find himself as a breakout candidate in that offense. The addition of CeeDee Lamb takes away potential targets, but Witten received 83 last season compared to Jarwin’s 31, and Jarwin scored one fewer touchdown (3) than the 38-year-old tight end. Jarwin out-produced Witten in yards per receptions (11.8 to 8.4) and yards per target (8.9 to 6.4) as a deep option for Dallas.

Prescott is coming off a career-high season, and Jarwin had a 92.70% catchable pass rate from Prescott in 2019, per PlayerProfiler. Prescott has progressively increased his completions, attempts, and passing yards since 2017. The Cowboys’ offensive line finished fourth last season per Pro Football Focus’ 2019 rankings and should give Prescott plenty of time to find Jarwin.

Dawson Knox (BUF)
Knox saw 50 targets as a rookie, the third-most on the team, and he caught a pass in 16 out of 17 games — including the team’s postseason loss to Houston. Knox finished fourth on the team in receptions (28), third in receiving yards (388), and tied for third in receiving touchdowns (2). Coming into his sophomore season, Buffalo brings in Stefon Diggs, who could take away his targets — or free him up with more attention on the receiving corps. Diggs joins John Brown and Cole Beasley as Knox’s main competitors for targets.

Knox ranked sixth in deep targets (10) among tight ends last year. He had a 56% catch rate and a 6.8 target quality rating from quarterback Josh Allen. Knox is a TE25 in PPR and TE27 in standard league scoring, according to FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings. I believe that Knox has a TE14-16 ceiling this season if Greg Olsen’s 71.7 fantasy points earned him the TE15 tag.

Knox finished 2019 ranked 29th (51.7) in standard and 32nd in PPR (79.7). In only one week in standard-scoring formats did he finish above 10 points on the season, but he accomplished this in PPR three times. At 23 years old, Knox will continue to find his role in this new and slightly improved offense. Draft Knox before Gerald Everett, Jonnu Smith, and Ian Thomas if you’re grabbing a tight end in the 12th round or later.

Cole Kmet (CHI)
Yes, the Bears have one million tight ends on the roster, and yes, rookie Cole Kmet is the most talented of the million, but should you draft him? Probably not. Kmet is going to be a solid tight end in this league, and for a position that averages five to six fantasy points per game, he could accomplish that.

Chicago is in the middle of a quarterback controversy, as Mitchell Trubisky will have to compete with veteran Nick Foles for the starting role. Foles has always been in tune with his tight ends. While playing for the Eagles, he targeted Ertz 46 times in six games during their magical 2017 Super Bowl run, and he targeted him 65 times in the seven total games during their 2018 season together. He relies on the tight end, and it’s obvious that Kmet is no Ertz as of right now, but that does give me hope that he can impact this struggling Bears offense almost immediately.

In 10 games as a junior at Notre Dame, Kmet caught 43 passes for 515 yards and six touchdowns. Against Georgia, Michigan, Stanford, and USC, Kmet had some of his best performances of the season. He started his 2019 campaign off with nine receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown versus Georgia, who lost in the National Championship Game months prior. He scored against Michigan and USC, racking up eight receptions for 86 yards and two touchdowns in back-to-back games.

At 21 years old, Kmet is just entering the breakout stage of his athletic career as PlayerProfiler peg his breakout age at 20.5. He ran a 4.7 40-yard dash, and at 6-foot-4 and 262-pounds, he could very well be a red-zone threat to Foles that Ertz was, but it will take some time. I’d recommend at least keeping an eye on him in all formats, and if you’re in a dynasty league with a spot on your bench available for a rookie, he’s a solid option for the future.

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Vaughn Dalzell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Vaughn, check out his archive or follow him @VaughnDalzell.

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